Sunday, November 06, 2011
Congratulations! You have reached your dream of being 4! For months now, I've thought of you as already four... not sure why... I always think of you as older than you are. Truthfully, that oversight on my part gets you into a lot of trouble. It's hard to remember to treat you as a four year old and have four year old expectations, when you tag along with your big sister all the time and are much taller than the average kid your age. But alas, you and I are bumbling along and I fully expect we'll emerge alright in the end ;)!
Hope, this year for your birthday you chose to have "bike ride birthday bash". You take great pleasure in riding along behind Daddy on the tag-along. You are pretty distracted and not much help in pedaling, probably because you are savouring the wind in your fluffy blonde hair or the trees whizzing by you in a blur. Bike riding is not exactly an athletic endeavor for you, but as in all of life, it is a magical adventure. You are such an emotional girl, and all of your adventures are either perfectly magical and bound in layers of imagination, or all together awful. It seems to be we are always riding the wave with you- to the heights of laughter, joy, and silliness. Then to the depths where you are nothing short of despondent and hopeless. What a ride!
Silliness. You have been such a fun kid to be around. We suspect you are the clown of the family (right behind Daddy, of course). You seem to have a knack for what will catch us off guard and make us giggle. You really get Eva and Esther going with your silly monologues or funny dance moves. Your friends seem to think you're pretty funny too, and they definitely motivate you to dig deeper (and sillier)! You and Hazel are still going strong as best friends. You are both extremely loyal to one another, and it seems a day at church or with friends just isn't quite good enough without Hazel around. Of course you roll together on the highs and lows of being four, so it is not always a tranquil scene to see you together. You always seem to make up though, and you spell out your great affection for each other regularly.
You seem to be a bit of a free spirit. I often wonder if there is any way that you and Eva are alike... the answer is probably only in your looks! You sort of wander carefree through life, taking it as it comes with a good measure of wonder and imagination. You thoroughly enjoy playing with others or by yourself. Your alone play is really amazing to listen to, so full of life and curiosity. Things that seem completely common and normal to the rest of us, fall completely dull on you. One example is food- our family likes to eat good food. You, however, don't really seem to care about food at all. You virtually refuse to eat meat, for the reason that it doesn't taste good to you, and you feel sorry for the animal. At a meal you usually ask, "Is this pig? or cow? or chicken?" Eva says, "it's pork, Hope. You'll like it!" And you respond, "Is that pig?", then you push it away. Hot dogs, of course, are a different story :). In fact, the only food you care anything about is junk food, as far as I can tell!
You love adventure, fun, and anything girly. On the flip side, you disdain structure, limits, and expected outcomes. This year, we continue to participate in the Preschool Coop. While you like to see your friends and listen to the story, you find the structure to be draining. You complain about calendar time, saying it is sooooo boring! I assume that it is good for you to practice paying attention to logical and sequential activities since, obviously, you won't be able to live forever in your fairy tale world. I am surprised, however, at your recent interest in letters and words! At your own pace, in your own time, I'm sure you'll come to love school and all that it entails.
Being the emotionally sensitive child that you are makes you a great snuggler and very affectionate. We can count on you finding your way into our bed almost every night, just to be near and snuggle! You really love a good wrestle with Daddy and or some time cuddling and reading with Mommy. In general, your emotional ups and downs are much less extreme if we keep that emotional love take FULL! You definitely challenge me to unearth the emotional, sensitive side of me, but I think it's good for both of us.
In general, you keep us guessing. Whether it's a new emotional roll, a mischievous act that catches me by surprise, wandering off to the neighbor's a few times each day, or your interpretations and opinions of the world around you. I'll think we'll be able to count on you to keep us on our toes and look at things from a different perspective!
I'm thankful that you are becoming a healthier child. Sometime in the last year, we took the plunge and tried giving you cooked egg whites. Your former severe egg allergy seemed to have been healed. You were so proud to be able to eat the whole egg with the rest of us! Last winter was pretty brutal with numerous ear infections and two ruptured eardrums, but you do seem to be getting stronger. You had a virus this week that ran it's course in only a few days, which was a real praise! Speaking of sickness, you remember to pray every day for your cousin Solomon Leo's fight with leukemia.
Things you love- pink, princesses, sweets and breads, jewelery, pretty things. You are a warm kid and always wearing the least amount of clothes possible... usually skirts and frilly shirts. You wear size 5 clothes, size 11 shoes, and your crazy self-imposed haircuts are finally starting to grow out so that we can do stuff with your hair. You are obsessed with boyfriends and people getting married. You tell everyone that you have a boyfriend named Isaac Boldt, even though I'm always responding that you don't actually have a boyfriend. You and Isaac do seem to like each other an awful lot though!
Oh Hope! You are wacky, fun, and full of new ideas. We laugh, shake our heads, sigh, and get white knuckles being your parents, but we wouldn't have it any other way! We're so thankful that God put you in our family and we pray for abounding grace for you in the future. Happy Birthday!
We love you so much,
Daddy and Mommy
Monday, September 12, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Eventually a critical mass began to gather by the fire. This was the Reece's S'mores debut, as well as the debut of a less than stellar gluten free apple crisp recipe that I tried in the dutch oven. Always fun to try, not always a success though!
The Gibsons and Nate,
Eric, Becca B., Lily, Bronte, Esther, Leah (Eric M. is cut off),
Small group camping trips always create a fascinating group dynamic. You are not necessarily camping with your best friends, or your children's grandparents, or avid outdoor adventurers, or people who even like camping! You are there simply to be together, get to know each other better and make some memories. So, here are some of my favorite memories from the trip:
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
So, what about the mundane? Suddenly this week with the beginning of the school year, everything is all about routine and schedule. Our lives, usually different every day and sprinkled with a variety of people, outings, sibling squabbles, and read-alouds, are now ruled by morning drop-off and the afternoon bus stop. We also throw in three meals and one afternoon nap. At times during the dizzying summer months, I longed for the boring winter routines, but this week has been a little too dull for my taste.
School itself is good though. Eva likes her teacher, Sra. Castro, and has nice kids in her class. She has two bus buddies, crisp, unstained school clothes, a gaping hole in her mouth left by one of her front teeth, and a decent ability to be responsible. All good things. Today she also had evening crying spells and angry meltdowns, which I can only attribute to her being a child (naturally) and harboring some unexposed emotional stress. Maybe she is a little overtired at the end of a full day immersed in her second language??? Perceptive, huh :). After tonight's bedtime train wreck, she shared all about the hard parts of her day: boys distracting her, teacher unintentionally embarrassing her, too short recess, coveting school lunch, etc... sounds like Jr. High to me!
Now for the mildly negative. We've been house hunting all summer in hopes of upgrading our digs. In early July we put an offer on a place, didn't get it, but it wasn't too big of a deal. Last week we found a place that we imagine HAS to be the very best thing for us. The house isn't amazing, and would need work, but the lot is HUGE and very private. Our prayer has been for a place that is centrally located in the city (or first ring sub burbs), but feels like the country. Kind of impossible, right? This house seems like the closest thing to that. So, we offered yesterday in a multiple offer situation, and found out today that our offer is the "runner up". This is a short sale, and apparently enough things can go wrong with short sales that they keep a runner up on deck, I guess. This news was pretty disappointing.
Now, we have certainty that God has good things in store for us, whether it be this short sale, a different house, or maybe staying put right here. BUT, of course I still felt a little deflated. We will keep praying, hoping that somehow our offer will move into first place. We will also keep praying that God would guide us to the right place... maybe this isn't it?!?
Alright, moving on to the quite negative news. We found out late last week that our nephew Solomon (Eric's brother Ryan's boy) has leukemia. Big bummer! We are so sad for his family and for him, knowing that they will have a long and arduous journey ahead of them. However, the doctors are giving him a really optimistic prognosis, so we are praying with full confidence for complete healing. Please pray for Ryan, Stephanie, Thor, and Solomon with us. We are confident that God has good things in store for them too!
Ok, now to end on a positive note. The beastly garden season is at it's peak right now, and my counters are covered with jars of lacto-fermented pickles, boxes of plump, red tomatoes, and bags of freshly dug potatoes. Vegetables are the name of the game, and the answer to any hungry plea. "How 'bout carrots? Baby tomatoes? Cucumber slices? Go pick some green beans"! Even though it can be overwhelming, fruit fly inviting, and labor intensive, I am proud of the produce and the hands that earned it. Gardening is rewarding!
Also on a positive note, we are going on our first camping trip of the almost-over summer (gasp!) on Friday with small group peeps. Everyone in our family is excited! Hopefully I'll blog again with pics after the outing.
Friday, August 05, 2011
At our house...
We don't have a pillow and a wooden spoon... We have a canoe and paddle.
We don't have stuffed animals... We have a pet shop or a zoo.
We don't have a bed rail on the bunk bed... We have a balance beam or sometimes a high wire.
We don't have a kiddie pool... We have a water factory.
We don't have an upside down Little Tykes car... We have a helicopter.
We don't have a picnic table... We have a dancing stage for pretty ladies.
We don't have a sandbox... We have a sailing ship.
We don't have piles of unpacked boxes... We have apartment buildings for Little People and dolls.
We don't have a bath tub.... We have an ocean full of sharks, whales, and octopi.
We don't have a couch and love seat... We have castles and forts.
We don't have a rocking chair... We have a royal throne.
We don't have big, black crow feathers in the yard... We have old fashioned pencils, and magical combs.
We don't have towels... We have superhero capes.
We don't have card tables and blankets... We have wild, scary caves.
We don't have mom and dad's wool socks... We have mountain climbing boots.
We don't have a play house... We have a McDonald's drive through.
We don't have tricycles... We have super, flying motorcycles.
What do you have at your house?
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Life is just busy and complicated around here. Here is a random sampling:
several house guests, including visits from family and friends
a "temporary" and often spontaneous "roommate"
a trip to Iowa City to visit the Thompsons
an overpriced pedicure at a beauty school, lasting 3.5 hours
looking at at least 25 houses for sale
making an offer on a house
"loosing" the house to a different buyer
prepping our current house for renting
five days at Hannah's cabin, doing every possible fun cabiny activity
riding bikes and trikes
4th of July day trip to Stillwater
lots of late nights
a bit of gardening
a handful of unauthorized haircuts
one unauthorized shaved eyebrow
throwing a successful surprise birthday party for Becca
helping Ashley plan and execute her wedding
Eric losing 20 lbs (and counting...)
laughing at Esther's way of making just about anything charming and hilarious
playing kickball (new favorite "sport") with Eva and Hope
listening to Esther talk and talk and TALK
So, that's an idea of what we've been doing. What we've NOT been doing, is sleeping.
Hoping for an early bedtime,
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
My Dear Eva,
You've completed a sixth year, and you're on to your seventh with great excitement! This has been a beautiful year for you. I confess, I never did write a birthday letter for you when you turned five. For several months surrounding your fifth birthday we were struggling. Always, constantly, heart wrecking, anger inducing struggling. I didn't know what to write last year, and I was so frustrated. You already know this, but moms get tangled up in their sin too, and I was really weighed down by it last spring. Well, this year is a little different. You seem to have moved past that rough patch, and by God's grace, made some major leaps forward.
To be honest, we noticed a significant change in you during last summer. Almost overnight you went from constantly combative to generally considerate and desiring to grow in godliness. We adventured all summer long- swimming, hiking, biking, gardening, imagining. I asked you tonight at dinner what your favorite memories of the last year were. "Playing with Katherine", you said. We remembered that super fun afternoon in Colorado when you and my cousin Katherine discovered the joy of building mountain forts and creating kingdoms among the huge rock outcroppings. You bravely climbed 20 feet in the air to be on top of the big boulders, declaring your reign and rule to every scraggly pine tree in the area.
You and Katherine threw pine cones at anyone who ventured near, but were eventually captured by courageous enemy knights otherwise known as your fathers. You had hiked so far to find your kingdom that I couldn't see you at all. But I could hear your strong voices echoing in the rocks. I sat at the picnic table, breathing deeply of the piny dry air and savouring this adventure with you. I thank you for transporting me back to my own childhood for a brief moment, reliving my own exhilarating, high altitude adventures of rocks and sticks and vertical endeavors.
Another big adventure for us all was "kinder". Senora Ponce Carmona welcomed you with a hug on the first day, and by now you are fiercely loyal to her. She has been a good teacher for you, recognizing your strengths, but pushing you to expand your repetoire and try some challenging things. Ahora puedes hablar todo el tiempo en espanol... por supuesto no pudes hablar con la reina de Espana de cosas muy altas, pero en casa y en la escuela eres muy capaz de comunicar. Nos gusta hablar en secreto y hacer chistes de tu papa. De vez en cuando, me dices algo que no comprendo, y yo realizo que vayas a hablar muy bien el espanol, mejor que yo, en poco tiempo.
Spanish immersion kindergarten was truly the right choice. I'm so glad that we humbly accepted the strong "gut" feelings that Daddy and I both had and let you out the door. It felt so early... you are little still. But school has given you much independence, stretched your brain in ways that I never could, and been such fun. Yesterday you did the Spanish version of "eenie, meenie, miny, moh" while you and Hope were playing, and it was so fun for me to listen and learn something new. We have loved watching your reading and writing absolutely explode in English and Spanish simultaneously. I think your favorite book to read in Spanish right now is "Es tu Mama una Llama?" and in English is "Come Back Amelia Bedelia". Of course you LOVE crossover books, and you are currently enthralled with the Spanish/English rhyming in "Say Hola to Spanish".
Friends are becoming very important to you too, although you are generally introverted and need plenty of alone time. Right now your best friends at school are Mari and Kate. Among our family friends, you really love to play with Kara, who has lived in our neighborhood for this school year. Some days you and Hope adore each other and play beautifully together, and other days you grate on each other's nerves the whole time. I guess that's how it goes with sisters! When it comes down to it though (like nights when you are scared of imaginary ghosts and shark attacks), it sure is nice to have a sister to snuggle with in bed.
In our family, you are growing into a fantastic older sister and helper. You've learned how to do a few simple cooking tasks like frying eggs, making toast, and getting drinks. We call on you often to get a snack for Esther or Hope and to help me set the table at dinnertime. You almost always respond with cheerful willingness, which is a real blessing to your busy parents. Esther loves it when you read to her, help her walk down the stairs, or play silly little games with her. You are becoming a wonderful role model for both of your sisters!
The biggest growth this year, the one we are most thankful for, is your heart towards God. You have always been interested in God and have easily grasped spiritual concepts, which is a good thing. However, your heart has not always been tender and soft towards Him. We realized that was changing one night this winter when you pulled Daddy towards you at bedtime to ask some very important questions. All the talking, thinking, praying, and learning about God was penetrating your heart, and you had a few things to clarify. That night Daddy encouraged you to confess your sins to God and put your full trust in Jesus' death on the cross to cover those sins. He told you that you couldn't do anything to earn God's favor, and from experience you already knew that you had done plenty of things against God. Later that night, and many nights since, we have heard you quietly thanking God for sending Jesus as the payment for your sin and confessing your love to God the Father.
As the eyes of your heart have opened to the gospel, we've watched in amazement as your behavior and attitudes have gradually been more and more governed by the Holy Spirit. Of course you are still a child and act as a child often (just as Mommy and Daddy still struggle with sin as well), but heart change is beautiful. The greatest thing we desire for you is that you experience the joy of knowing Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Body of believers. We are so happy to see that God is bringing you down that path and pray for more fruit in years to come!
This is a long letter, dear daughter, but it is only because Daddy and Mommy are so thankful for you and enjoy you so much! Little things about you right now that we want to remember- you love all things about school, but especially reading, science, math, and art. You draw all the time, and just this week figured out how to make shoulders look more realistic :). You create math problems in your head... this week it has been things like 50 x 10 = 500 or 30 x 10 = 300. Science right now is all about worms and seeds. You tell me (in Spanish, of course) tons of interesting tidbits about worms around the world. You are silly, love to laugh, and daydream about your plans for the future (currently including violin lessons, piano lessons, and getting a dog). You oppose cheese, but eat TONS of anything and everything else.
You are still competitive, contemplative, and cautious. When you grow up, you would like to be a Children's Librarian or a Veterinarian. You blush, get giddy, and show tons of interest in any kind of love story... you are probably a little boy-crazy already! Your favorite colors are blue and orange, and although you like jewelry and make-up, you don't prefer super girly stuff. Your weekend attire is always yoga pants and a baggy sweatshirt, so you and I match quite often! (Actually that's an understatement. You absolutely insist on wearing "comfy clothes" such as fleece pants, pajama pants, and sweatshirts as much as possible.) You are currently enjoying swimming lessons, but are patiently waiting for the "real deal", which will be ballet in the fall.
Basically, Eva, we love you so much and are blessed to be your parents. We're thankful that you are in our family! Happy 6th Birthday!
love, Daddy and Mommy
Friday, April 22, 2011
I like this as a nourishing breakfast because, among other things, it supplies lots of the following: fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, probiotics, and protein. Happy Healthy Eating!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Randomly, one of the most commonly drawn murals has been the solar system. It is never quite the same each time, varying in spelling, size, and alignment. At this age, precision matters little to me. I just love to see curiosity being expressed by our little girls trying to wrap their minds around this big world! Translation: the Sun, Jupiter, the Moon, Saturn, the Earth, Venus, and Mars. Considering she spends her whole day learning formal spelling in Spanish, I am very pleased with her attempts at English spelling! Watching kids create: yet another reason I LOVE MY JOB!!!
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
The girls burst into the backyard with heightened senses and well rested imaginations. Hope is mastering our fleet of tricycles, and Eva was slightly ashamed to find out that all of the other neighborhood kindergartners already ride 2-wheelers. Hallelujah- She is asking to learn to ride her bike! Esther is mastering nothing but her one finger walking skills. Although she walks on her own regularly now, she still insists on travelling any distance with a firm grip on one of our fingers. I am impatient and cannot savour this crawling stage any longer (going on 10 mths). Get up and run already, kid!
Hope's preschool co-op met at our house this morning, and we spent a lovely hour nature walking. Perfect weather, well behaved children, lots to see and explore. I LOVE the curiosity of preschoolers. After pasting pine needles, dried leaves, yarn, bark, and other treasures into little construction paper books, there were still several full bags of pine cones, leaves, rocks, etc. left for play. Esther spent a good 45 minutes of the afternoon on the picnic table, managing her own little science experiment. How many of these objects will fit through the umbrella hole? That's too big- that's too small- wow, that rock falls fast! The small mountain of organic matter under the picnic table speaks to a well spent afternoon of inquiry.
The older girls moved to Hawaii, where bikinis are essential. They rolled up their pants and shirts to their chests while Eva sang a little song about a bikini in Spanish. Their Hawaiian homes were constructed of cardboard boxes (left from our bulk food order yesterday) and pine boughs (yes, left from our Christmas tree). Eva was especially pleased with her thatch (pine) roof. Later the cardboard boxes transformed into sailing vessels and they made their maiden voyages to China, Florida, New Mexico, and Guatemala. Hope's British accent gave the whole adventure a very dignified edge, especially when she shouted again and again, "Oh Mother, there is a shark in the water!" Another afternoon well spent. And as Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage..."
I'm thinking garden... a few tulips and daffodils have poked through the mulched leaves. I'll probably pull back their covers tomorrow and hope for the best. No more snow, right!?! We ate strawberry spinach salads with leftover pork two nights in a row. Salad feels gloriously like summer.
Girls fell asleep the moment their heads hit the pillow tonight, and I am ready for the same.
Welcome back sunshine!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
It's not that I'm using Lent as a habit making or habit breaking, 40 day crash diet. No, this time around, I see Lent as an opportunity to explore my cravings and my longings. I want to be hungry for Christ and immeasurably grateful on the day that we celebrate his glorious resurrection. In my mind, each time I chose to meditate on Christ and his sufferings, I am inching closer to that happy Sunday morning. I am making a deposit of yearning in the joy tank of my soul. I have another opportunity to die to self and live to Christ, saying "I need YOU." As my yearnings, longings, cravings, hungers increase over a short 40 days time, I am believing that the Holy Spirit will come and transform desires into ache for Him, the crucified one.
You see, I am simple, sinful, addicted. After the long list of synonyms used above, you might be led to believe that I'm really suffering, making myself battle with basic needs in the hope of enlightenment. No, it's much simpler than that. All I'm saying "no" to is sweets, desserts, sugar treats. But however simple and silly that may be, I'm opening the window of my soul to say "yes" to more of Him.
Although it hasn't been a monumental struggle, I have been spent at times. And the needy one cries out to God, saying "More! Please. I need you." Can there possibly be a better place to find yourself? I am enjoying saying "no", believing that the Father says "yes! I will fill you. I will help you. I am."
Eva mulled it over and decided to give up arguing. She has had to plead with her sister to stop inciting her to anger for the sake of her fast. It is a beautiful thing to see her desperate, and ultimately longing for the help of the Holy Spirit. We yearn together and talk together.
Most of the time, I am happy to not be eating sweets. Anyway, my brain is less foggy this way and my energy more even through the day. But each time I say, "I need you", I am looking forward to Easter. Forward to victory, to resurrection, to the day when we shall see Him face to face. Longing is good for me.
Here is my inspiration to fast this year.
Elizabeth writes a compelling tale.
Ann's words simultaneously sting and sweetly heal.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The moments continued. There were other words, other Scripture, other prayers. The Holy Spirit was moving in and out and between his people, allowing us a brief taste of the joys of paradise forever with Him. Allowing us to see Jesus better.
It came to me again, "We are small." Then the picture became clearer. Ecclesiastes. Life is meaningless. There is nothing new under the sun. We are small.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternityHe loves us. We are small. he is BIG. He wraps us into his story. His redemptive story, which we cannot fathom. We are running after perfect houses, coordinating swimming lessons schedules, fluoride free toothpaste, matching picture-day outfits, new bathrooms. He is writing an epic story, transcending space and time, starting before the foundation of the world, the destination: HIM. I am undone.
in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from
beginning to end." (vs. 3:11)
I spend all of Friday and Saturday in my head. Thinking, feeling, yearning. I want to understand! Why is it so important that I know that He loves me? Do I know that? Do I feel that? I feel blessed. Refreshed. Fortified. The Holy Spirit's presence and surprise giftings excite me. I am exhausted still, but I cannot nap. I can only think. pray. read more of His Word. I am drawn, the Holy Spirit is working in me, drawing me closer. I can't explain this longing for more. It is not natural to me. It is otherworldly... a taste of Glory.
Sunday morning brings family conflict and struggle. It also brings peace. In the presence of other believers, I feel rest. I let the words of the songs swell and wash over me. I watch my girl earnestly singing next to me, fighting to keep pace with young reading skills. She knows. She prays each night into her pillow, "Thank you for loving me, even when I disobey you." She has childlike faith. She knows she is small.
Our dear friend and pastor stands to preach his final sermon. With trembling voice, he begins to share his parting words for us. If he were to share just one thing, this is it.
"For I decided to know nothing among you except Christ and Him crucified." (1He moves on to share the meat of his message from 2 Corinthians 5. Several bullet points, but I was unable to take any notes. For 45 minutes he gave fresh words to stale truths- I am calloused to the glory of the gospel! The righteousness of God, the wrath of God, the redeemed sinner, the ministry of reconciliation. The greatest weight of the sermon was on this point though,
"For our sake he made him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we
might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21)
And I was undone again. I sat next to my husband, tears falling on both of our cheeks. We're shaking. My view of my sin must be great. The view of Christ must be greater still! Again, "He. loves. us. We are small. He gave his son for us."
We stand with the congregation at the end singing, "Jesus Messiah. Name above all Names. Blessed Redeemer. Emmanuel. Rescue for Sinners. Ransom from Heaven. Jesus Messiah. Lord of All." Arms outstretched. Steady tears falling. Gasping for air. I am wrecked by this love. He has come hard after me in only a few short days. Why me? How can I know HIM more? How will he make me, small, wretched sinner, "the righteousness of God"? Why does he love us so?
All is grace.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I've been reading good books lately and thinking about important things. Soul work. I am slowly softened, continually regenerated. The Holy Spirit comes and guides me, purposefully it seems, to the stuff I need to hear, need to read, need to savour. This past week, a new wind began to blow in my devotions. Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, really), I sat with glazed eyes and watched Eric and Aaron play their 1,000th game of Tetris that night. It wasn't mind numbing though- real conversation was happening. The men were talking, building each other up, this is the technology-age take on sitting in the boat fishin' and talkin' about nothin'. You know how guys have to DO something to bond. Anyway, finally Aaron announced that he really needed to go. He had to get up early for Ecclesiastes, to read it. He said, "It's kind of blowing my mind." I asked why, and he told me.
Next morning, I was sucked into Ecclesiastes too. Solomon had done it all. He was the wisest man to ever live. The richest man in the land, he travelled the known world and tried it all: women, food, drink, adventure, power, insight, pleasure. His final word on all of it- "There is nothing new under the sun." Ultimately, life is a breath. In the end, we all die. In the end, your Nobel Peace Prize is going to rot. Your banking empire will be handed down to someone who will squander it. Even your lifelong investment in training and loving your own children may be all for naught. Again and again, Solomon declares "This too is meaningless."
Slowly, so slowly I was getting a picture. A feeling. Ecclesiastes compelled me. Instead of feeling disheartened and despairing by the "meaningless" state of life, I was stable, steady, at peace. Wednesday morning, Thursday morning, I read and read. I drank in the repetitive nature of the book,
"Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God willThursday evening, we travelled to small group. It was "full group", and the plan was for extended prayer time. I considered my week, full of late nights and early mornings (Ecclesiastes included), and thought I might actually fall asleep for extended prayer time. I arrived nauseated with exhaustion and car sickness. But joyful. Joyful in the fellowship of other believers, trusting that God was there.
call the past to account." (vs. 3:15)
Extended prayer time wasn't fatiguing. There were heartfelt petitions for employment, healing, refreshing. Tears were poured and hearts were laid bare, desiring more. More from God, would the Holy Spirit come and meet us? A Brother believed that God was giving him a tongue for the Body. Yes, that. Speaking in tongues at a small group. I'd never heard it before, but I *we* believe that it isn't outside the realm of possibility. We are open, and so we prayed and invited the Holy Spirit and all His giftings, including discernment.
He prayed and we listened, silently asking for interpretation. Willing, but travelling uncharted waters. Like a child who looks to their parent, "Is this OK dad? I've never done this before.", looking for the assuring smile and nod from Father. I sensed that more was coming. The Holy Spirit was moving, washing through the room, coming over me with warm pressure. Scared, dependent, shaking, on the edge of a precipice of faith. We're not used to following. It still feels scary, bringing an unfamiliar rush. This feeling is distantly familiar, but it makes the breath catch in my throat each time. Then the interpretation came,
"He wants us to know that He loves us. He loves us. We are
small. But He loves us. He. gave. his. own. son. for us. He
That was my voice, my tears. Those words were forced out, not by me. They had to be spoken. God was giving us a gift. My heart was stabbed through deeply. He wants to tell me that He loves me? That's it? Then in a moment of revelation, "It's that important that I we know that He loves us. And that we are small ." He gave the gift of a tongue and an interpretation to an unlikely audience. His message is important. I was struck through with the weight of this moment. A moment when, and just for a moment, we transcended the line between space and time, the mundane reality always at our fingertips and the invisible spiritual plane of glorification.
***to be continued***
***EDIT: After this post was read by a number of people who are far more educated than myself, my Senior Pastor pointed out that what I thought was the gift of interpretation of a tongue was probably the gift of prophesy instead. This doesn't make the evening less meaningful or negate the message. The only reason I post this edit is to help other believers deepen their understanding of the spiritual gifts and develop sound theology. Here is what my small group leader wrote in an email on this subject-
Becca Pat's words after the tongue was spoken was not an interpretation of the tongue, it was a gift of prophecy. How do we know that's true? If you read through 1 Corinthians 14:13-19, it describes the gift of tongues: "I will sing praise with my spirit....give thanks with your spirit". Reading directly from my notes from the Holy Spirit Seminar 2 months ago: "What are tongues? Speech directed towards God. Prayer or praise or thanksgiving to God.... The interpretation will always be prayer or praise or thanks to God. If not, it is not an interpretation."
Just thought I should clarify. Grace to you all!***
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The girls get outside often, but some days it is just too darn cold. Today it wasn't that cold, so Eva and Hope, in a sudden, rowdy fit of excitement burst through the front door. They ran up and down the sidewalk and around the side of the house wearing only socks and a single layer of indoor clothing. Eva, in a dress, even had bare legs. I didn't care. I just hollered out the door, "Come inside when you get cold!" They lasted a good three or four minutes...
Anyway, the video I am including here is to prove several things:
1. Happiness is an older sister who adores you.
2. Noise levels reach record heights immediately preceding bedtime.
3. Small houses have a surprisingly large capacity for fun.
4. Parents really do slack off on the rules the more kids they have. (In the name of good stewardship and safety, Eva and Hope were NEVER allowed in the doll stroller.)
5. I may have completely lost my marbles.
6. Esther's lack of walking ambition may be fueled by the obvious display of charity.
7. Spring (Real Spring, that is) couldn't come soon enough.
Friday, March 11, 2011
She stole the words right out of my mouth! Also, two follow-up comments:
1. Aren't we all trying to have it all on a budget that can't afford it all?!?
2. Even those who live in modest homes come to our house and magically feel like they own a mansion. And we're happy (sort of) to provide that service to any of you!
I was actually thinking about frugality in the kitchen this week, so here's one small way that I am pinching pennies: Cake mixes. And not just any cake mixes, the Holiday Funfetti cake mixes that were $.11 each after Christmas. I also grabbed several cans of premixed frosting (retro 70's green) for $.17 each. I thought to myself that I must, must, must (!) be able to find something to do with these for that price.
Now, I have to suspend my cake mix excitement for just a moment and offer this disclaimer. It is abnormal for us to eat boxed food. I don't recommend it. I don't like it. I'll go so far as to say, I loathe it. But, how many times have you been asked to bring a dessert or bars or cookies to some event? More than likely, you will bring your offering and never see it's ugly mug again. More than likely, you are feeding hoards of starving pubescent boys that don't care one bit about the ingredient list. They're the ones who hover around the potluck table and take several pieces of dessert in each hand, inhaling them before you can say, "Artificial food coloring" three times fast. This is the cake mix's moment to shine!
Personally, I'm saving my meager grocery budget to be spent on real food for more intimate hospitality or my own family's consumption. I'm not trying to be selfish or set a double standard here, it's just that age old balancing act- quality vs. cost. Let's face it, dessert ingredients can be quite expensive: real cream, butter, chocolate, berries, nuts, cream cheese... not the most frugal of characters. Sure, I love to splurge on them for a birthday party or a special night with friends, but not. the. potluck.
And, as it turns out the cake mixes have come in handy often! The whole "funfetti" thing has not been a hindrance since I just omit those little red and green Christmas trees. Without the funfetti, I'm left with a white cake mix that has become many things: Superbowl party cupcakes (frosted in the retro green with piped white goal posts), baby shower cupcakes (I dyed them blue and pink with contrasting frosting... gender confusion), peach dump cake, and tonight cake balls. The cake balls were especially satisfying to me because I used both the cake mix and the premixed frosting in one sitting- the green frosting easily translated to St. Patrick's day. Apparently people really like cake balls, and Eva and Hope really like to help make them. But here's my dirty little secret- I think they're kinda gross. Personal preferences aside, refreshments for Arts Night at church were something out of the ordinary and really easy on the budget.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Monday, March 07, 2011
We skied, quite a lot. Two days of downhill skiing and one day of cross country. As you can see, Beth is mega preggers, so she was not allowed on downhill skis. David and Beth humbly (and patiently) invited me to teach them the basics of cross country skiing, and they caught on quickly! Cross country is a great workout for a gestating mama!
Basically, it was 5 degrees in Minneapolis, and 35 degrees in Utah the whole time. It was paradise. The sun on my fair skin felt as good as a Triple Chocolate Coconut Raspberry Entirely Decadent dessert on my tongue. (I have a good imagination for things like dessert, and I really love sunshine). David (certified ski instructor) very generously spent most of two days teaching Eric to downhill ski. Although he is still struggling a bit, David dun good! Eric can remain in control at all times and actually wants to continue learning the skills. While they taught and learned and skied a bit together, and while Beth ran all our errands and cooked our food (thanks Mom!), I explored the resort solo. It was fun and exhilarating and challenging and refreshing!Then we met up and did a few runs together. David and I also got to (recklessly) ski together a bit, allowing me to ski some new runs with a companion. David also evaluated my skiing a bit and helped me to start unlearning some bad habits and catch on to some new tricks. I can't wait to hit the slopes again and practice!
When we weren't skiing, we were settling Catan, talking politics, eating delicious food, talking economics, watching Sundance films, talking A Capella, sleeping in, talking parenting, hot tubbing, talking science, looking for Eric's lost _______ (fill in the blank), talking religion, cooking, talking Jesus, gleaning Sundance freebies, talking major life decisions, and talking some more. It was a sweet time!
Thanks D & B for convincing us to make the trip, and of course taking great care of us!
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Literally moments after posting about Esther a few weeks ago, after declaring that she "refuses to walk" and "demands to be carried", I found myself clapping and cheering wildly for Esther's first few seconds of unassisted standing. Believe me, at almost 17 months, the whole house was ready to celebrate. We encouraged Esther to share her trick with any and every person to pass through our doors, and sure enough by day 2 of standing, she decided to take a few steps. Now just to be clear, that was about 2 weeks ago, and there is currently no running, jumping, ball-kicking toddler emerging yet...
Anyway, the toddlerhood explosion continued all last week. Suddenly I realized that Esther likes to feed herself with a fork and a spoon. I also realized that she easily forgoes the morning nap (if I had been paying attention, I would've realized that she was playing in her crib for most of it anyway). By the end of the week, she was "lovingly" loading a baby doll into her doll stroller and taking all kinds of trips around the house (and NOT on all fours!).
I took her to the doctor last week for a well-baby check, and I was actually surprised by several things. I thought she was a puny runt, but it turns out she is solidly in the 50th percentile. I also thought she was probably a little delayed across the board with development. On the contrary, as I filled out one of those developmental milestone questionnaires,
I was able to circle every skill up to 21 months. Of course, I laughed out loud at the thought of Esther kicking a ball, so I (obviously) didn't circle "running", "walking", or "kicking a ball". Her doctor, who we absolutely adore and love to recommend to others, thought she looked great and chided me for having any concerns about the lack of walking in light of her other normal growth.
Once I stopped to think (and blog) about Esther's words, I started to remember and notice many more than I thought she had. To add to my previous list: (sorry it is double spaced. Blogger and I fight. A lot.)
guk (yuck, in relation to poopy diapers)
col (cold, we DO live in Minnesota)
poo boo (peekaboo)
Esther has a very special relationship with Eva lately, but that will have to be for another post. For now, I am pleased to introduce our official TODDLER!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Anyway, I do believe in cheating occasionally, and snacks, treats, and convenience foods can be areas that see a lot of "cheating" if you're trying to stick to a real food, nourishing diet. So, based on last weekend's snack cravings, here are two of my winning cheats.
1. Hot cocoa made with coconut milk. I found this great, basically healthy, cocoa mix recipe here. BUT at our house last weekend, we had Swiss Miss in the big blue container on hand. So, in order to improve the value some, I heated up 1 part canned coconut milk and one part organic whole milk. We dumped in a few heaping teaspoons of cocoa mix and voila! The resulting cocoa was really rich, creamy, with a delicious hint of coconut. It was also loaded with beneficial medium chain fatty acids found in coconut products. Score!
2. Cheesy popcorn made with nutritional yeast. I think our usual popcorn recipe is nutritionally satisfactory and delicious, but with "cheesy popcorn" I faked the girls out while simultaneously maximizing the health benefits. If you're not familiar with nutritional yeast, it comes in a few different forms (we have a powder) and has a definite cheesy, slightly nutty flavor. Esther will eat it mixed into just about anything, but the older girls are sometimes a bit suspicious. Nutritional yeast packs a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals including a high level of B vitamins and protein. To make my popcorn, I use organic, non-GMO, yellow corn popped in a bit of olive oil or coconut oil, drizzled with melted butter. This time, I also generously sprinkled one big bowl of popcorn with about 3 T. of nutritional yeast. The girls loved munching it as they watched The Swan Princess, and I loved the added B vitamins and protein. Double score!
Now, I know I'm not the only cheater out there... if you have any other tips, I'd love to hear your comments on how you "cheat to win" (including an audio clip of your hokey hand clap is optional...).