Friday, April 27, 2007

Welcome To Our World


Elijah Kelly Dukes was born at 6:14 a.m. on Wednesday, April 25, 2007. He weighed 8 pounds and 14 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. We are rejoicing over his little life! As I sat alone in my post partum room, I watched the video of his birth. The words spoken by those around him at the time of his birth touched me, and I wanted to record a little transcript for him. I'll post more pics and his story later. Here goes my little transcript. . .
6:14 a.m.
Nurse Bernice (sweet African American woman who stole our hearts): Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Elijah! Happy Birthday to you!
Erik delivers the shoulders and body of sweet Elijah.
Me: Ahhhhh. . . . (The sweet relief of pain accompanied by the intense love of this new little life.)
Bernice: Hold him, Dad, you got him?
Erik: I got him, Bernice, don't worry 'bout that. I'm not going let him go. . .
Bernice: Elijah. . . You gonna be blessed. You already blessed.
Dr. Young patting Elijah: Alright Elijah, How ya doing?
Elijah: Wahhhhhhh. . .
Everyone sighs with relief. . .
Me (completely forgetting the intense pain I experienced just a few minutes earlier): That wasn't so bad. . .
Dr. Young: Well, let's do it again then. . .
Elijah: Wahhhhhhhh
Erik holding Elijah with great pride: This is my third boy. . .

Friday, April 20, 2007

Treasured Stored

Warning: I wrote this after a conversation with Erik on the way home from the OB (which by the way I was 3cm and 80% effaced ;-). The conversation resulted in this overly emotional 37 week pregnant mama crying because she didn't want her little boys to grow up. To say the least, I am a bit hormonal at present. This is just a little disclaimer! Love to you all!

Treasures Stored

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
Holding you close when you were brand new,
Staring at the two of us in the mirror,
Unable to comprehend why God would bless me so much.

You may not remember,
But, I will never forget,
The sound of your laughter ringing in the cool spring air,
As I chased you around the trees in the backyard,
Your joy filled my heart to overflowing.

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
Our afternoon snacks,
Sitting on the floor sharing cookies and milk,
And, listening to you talk, your imagination running wild.

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
Holding you close in our big brown chair,
Reading books to you over and over,
While rain fell softly on the roof.

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
How sweetly you love on me,
The way you grab my face with both hands and kiss me,
The way you hug my legs and reach up for me to hold you.

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
The way you smell after bathtime,
The softness of your sweet skin,
The silkiness of your baby fine hair.

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
The smiles we exchange in the rearview mirror of the car,
The tickles, the giggles, the bedtime routines,
The morning snuggles, the prayers, and the sound of you singing.

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
When you are older and grown,
And, I catch a glimpse of the child in you,
The child I held so closely and loved so dearly.

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
These blessings from God,
These precious memories of your early years,
of our time together.

You may not remember,
But I will never forget,
These treasures stored deeply in my heart,
And, I will ponder them often,
These sweet treasures stored.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Waiting Game

Waiting. . . This is new to me. Joshua shocked us! My first time ever to be "checked" by my OB, and this primagravita was already 3cm and 80% effaced. And, I had not felt a single contraction. . .

And, with JCT I never even made it to the appointment where my OB checks me for the first time. My water broke the night before I was to go to my 37 week appt. 4 hours later I was holding a newborn with one hand and scratching my head with the other. . .

Now, Elijah, his is a different story - and mostly this is my own fault. I started thinking he might come when I turned 36 weeks. Now as I am slowly approaching 38 weeks, he feels late. People keep asking me if I am feeling anything. My answer, "Nothing. I think he likes it in there." I think he likes it a little too much! This multigravita was a mere 1 cm at my last OB appt. 1 measly cm.

Erik pointed out last night that he thought it was a good thing. His statement was something like this. . . "We have been so busy with the renovation and gettting the house ready that we haven't spent much time thinking about Elijah. I think it is a good thing that for the past few weeks we have been focused on him." And, I agree that he does deserve some sweet attention. . .

But, come on, sweet one, I want to see you. I see your heels and fists poking through my skin, and Lord knows I feel them. But, I am eager for more of you. . . Come, my little one, come. I am thankful that God controls this process. This is making you unique already. The only child I have had to wait on. . . Is this a glimpse at what you will be like later? I can't wait to find out. But, one thing is for certain - you are worth waiting for, my little guy, definitely worth the wait! Inevitably, Godspeed, you will come. Though at times it feels that you may stay inside me forever, you won't. You will emerge. And, I pray that you will emerge with great vigor - a robust cry and good color! Erik will hand you to me, and finally, finally, I will hold this child for whom I have prayed! And, I will kiss your sweet newborn skin and marvel over your tiny fingers.

And, then it will hit me - the sleepless nights, crying spells, and breastfed stools are back. . .

Oh, my.

Maybe I can wait another week or two. . .

Nahhh. . . You are worth it - come, sweet love, come. We are waiting - whenever you are ready. . .

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Life-Long Running Partner


Once when I was at a Campus Crusade meeting, I heard a speaker make this statement:


"Keep your eyes fixed on God, looking straight ahead. Don't turn to the right and left, looking for someone to run with. Run your race at your pace. And, one day if you find that there is someone running beside you. And, you find that person is running your pace, and you find that he spurs you on, that he makes you run better. . . Then, lock arms with him and run with him."


Now that was not an exact quote, but that is what I took away from what he said. His point being, don't look for "the one," let God bring "the perfect one." Now, I am a runner - have been since high school, so this analogy truly spoke to me. Because I knew all about running partners - from personal experience. I am a distance runner, slow and steady, but enduring. I start and finish at about the same speed. And, I remember contemplating the speakers words late into the night after I heard them. I lay in bed that night thinking of my past running partners. Most of my running partners started off at a 6min/mile pace, but came to a screaching halt after a quarter mile. And, I had, also, run with those who ran so slow I thought it might be easier to just walk fast next to them. I had never really found anyone who ran my pace. And, not a lot of my college friends enjoyed a 5 mile run the way that I did.


I still remember the first time Erik and I ran together. We had been "friends" for about 6 months. Jen and I drove to New Orleans to see Erik graduate from medical school, and while we were there he talked me into going running with him. Erik is very athletic, so I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a tiny bit nervous about running with him the first time. I was also a little concerned about the difference in our leg length. He is 6'7" and I am 5'7". That is a foot difference - and I thought that might just be a problem.


But, it wasn't. . .


And, as we ran side by side, the words of that Campus Crusade speaker came back to me. . .


Little did we know as we started our little jog that day, that really it was a life long journey we had begun. . .


Now, I'd be telling a fib if I told you that we ran exactly the same pace. We didn't. We still don't. I am the pace car, and he is the motivator. He starts out a little faster, I pace him, keep him from over-extending himself too early. Then, towards the end, I continue to keep the pace spurring him on to keep going. He motivates my pace to be a bit faster than it is when I run alone, making me a faster runner. And, what does that equal? A perfect running combination.


And, eight years ago today in front of family and friends we vowed to run this race together until death separates us. Over the last 8 years, we have run together on a beautiful journey. We have run past amazing scenery. We have run through trials. We have run through some of the best memories of our lives, but most importantly we have run with arms locked and eyes fixed not on eachother - but on the One Who Created us, loves us, and gave us to eachother.


Happy Anniversary, Baby, I love you!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk. . . a.k.a. Mommy Blew it

When will I learn?

So, it all started off well and good. A white picnic blanket thrown on the living room floor, 2 sweet boys and their mommy eating a peaceful little lunch together in perfect harmony. Both boys ate a good lunch, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to break out the chocolate PB drop cookies that I had made and some milk. Now normally the three of us have what I like to call "community snacks." We all drink milk from the same cup and share one plate full of cookies. This is how we typically do our afternoon snack, that is, when we have one. . . Anyway, I put the cookies on a plate and poured a glass of milk with exactly 2 ice cubes. Perfect.

My pride was at an all time high at this point. What a mom! A picnic lunch on the living room floor, cookies made from scratch, and everyone happy. I felt like a cross between Martha Stewart and June Cleaver. But, we all know that pride comes before a fall. . .

So, Joshua says, "I want my own glass of milk like yours." I was drinking from a plastic veggietales cup. So, I got Joshua his own plastic veggietales cup. Normally, Joshua still drinks from a sippy cup, but he does very well with a regular cup, and on occasion we let him drink from a "big boy cup." So, today I let him. We walked over to the blanket, all three of us together. I sat down with JCT & my cup and the plate of cookies. Joshua just stood there. I looked up at him, and as soon as I did he dropped his cup. He just dropped it. I don't think he meant to do it, but it was so odd. He didn't trip. . . he just dropped it. Boom. . . Splash. . . A tidal wave of milk. . .I stared at him in amazement. And, before I could stop myself, a very disappointed "JOSHUA!!" came out of my mouth. I wish that was it, but I kept on. . . "If you want mommy to trust you with a 'big boy cup,' you need to hold it with 2 hands. You can't just drop it." You know, as if I have never made a mistake. Then, I put the cookies on the mantle, and spent the next five or so minutes cleaning up the floor, taking the blanket to the laundry room, etc. All the while, my son sat quietly never taking his eyes off the floor. As I cleaned I could hear Lisa Whelchel saying not to scold children for mistakes but rather for direct disobedience. I could hear my voice, my tone. Conviction set in.

After cleaning up everything, I got him another glass of milk. I handed it to him. He wouldn't look at me. He refused to hold it. I gave him some kind of a little lecture about how we all make mistakes, and we can't let them keep us from going on and living life. You know, the whole get back on that horse theme. And, yes, I apologized for my reaction, my over-reaction.

Right or wrong. . . I pretty much forced him to carry the cup into the living room. In some way hoping to remind him that he could do it. He could drink from a "big boy cup" without spilling. He has done it many times. I couldn't let him give up after a silly mistake - that his mother blew way out of proportion.

Okay, now at this point the sweet little guy is completely in his turtle shell. He has retreated, and I realize that I am going to have to work to get him to stick his little neck back out. And, all I can think is that none of this ever would have happened if I had immediately reacted with, "It's okay, honey, we all make mistakes. You didn't mean to do it. Mommy spills all the time!" He would have been just fine. But, no, that was not my reaction, and, honestly, I have no excuse.

So,he sat down on the blanket, and I handed him a cookie - actually I forced a cookie into his hand. He took a mouse sized bite and refused to drink the milk even when I offered to help and put it to his lips. That is when the tears started. You know, the kind my sweet boy is famous for. . . the kind of tears that break a mommy's heart. The silent tears. The kind of tears where the only sound you can hear are the soft sniffles.

And, my heart hurt, badly. Tears stung my eyes. When will I learn? Joshua is so hard on himself. He doesn't need me to come down hard on him. He hates to make mistakes. He doesn't need extra criticism - he is hard enough on himself. He keeps me at the feet of Jesus. I am ever praying for wisdom in rearing his sweet heart.

I wish I could say that the story ended well, but in all actuality it didn't. He never ate any cookies or drank any milk. It took a while before I could get my sweet turtle to stick his little neck back out for me to hug. But, I learned a lesson. Unfortunately, I have learned and forgotten this lesson more than a few times. . .

Think before you speak, Mommy, think before you speak!!

And, I guess you could say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I have not ceased beating myself up for over-reacting to his simple mistake since it happened. . .

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Favorite Bedtime Song for my Boys. . .

A friend of mine let me listen to a CD from a Family Life Marriage Conference that she attended several years ago. At the end of one of the sessions on parenting, the speaker sang this sweet song that she sings to her boys. I instantly fell in love with it not only because it is a wonderful prayer for my little men, but also because it teaches them the character traits of many great men of the Bible.

May he have the faith of Abraham,
May he have the boldness of Paul,
May he have a heart like David,
Always seeking God, always seeking God

Father God, bless my son,
May he grow to be a man of God.

May he have the wisdom of Solomon,
May he have the patience of Job,
May he be a leader like Joshua,
Always full of hope, always full of hope

Father God, bless my son,
May he grow to be a man of God.

May he have the courage of Daniel,
May he have the love of John,
May he know Your voice like Samuel,
And, always obey God, always obey God

Father God, bless my son,
May he grow to be a man of God.
Help him grow to be a man of God.

I love to sing this song over them, praying each word as I sing, meaning the words to my very core. That Joshua would have the courage of Daniel, the courage to face adversity. The boldness of Paul, the boldness to stand when those around him do not. That JCT would have the patience of Job, the patience to wait on God's timing, God's best for him. That like Samuel they would know God's voice and answer Him, "Speak for Your servant is listening." That they would be leaders like Joshua, strong and courageous. The love of John, the faith of Abraham, the wisdom of Solomon. . . This is the 2nd to last song that we sing to them every night. And, I absolutely love it. I often stare at their sweet faces as I sing - wondering what God has in store for them. What challenges, what blessings, what heartaches. . . And, I wonder, will they, like Job, come forth as gold?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ode to my Cleaning Lady

For years pride kept us apart.
I told myself, "Who needs you, I am a stay-at-home-mom, a homemaker, and I can do it all!"
I spent hours here and there cleaning bathrooms, dusting, mopping, etc.
As I cleaned, I patted my children's heads and sent them to their rooms to play.
For Mommy had work to do - important work, vital work, keeping our home straight & sanitary.
Hours I missed. . .
Hours of laughs and books and games. . .
Instead I worked and complained, but kept up just the same. . .

Then, after 2 children, a renovation, and another pregnancy, I broke down.
I admitted that I was tired.
I admitted that it might be nice to have a bit of help. . .
And, so I called you.
That was all it took. . .
And, now every other Wed. you come. . .
I take my children out to run errands and to eat lunch and when I return. . .
My house smells like Pine Sol, the floors smile with a beautiful shine greeting me, my bathrooms glisten, and I did nothing. . .
All I did was leave you a little check on the table - no amount could compensate you for the joy that fills my soul. . .
When I enter my clean house. . .

Have I ever told you that I thank God for you?
Every other Wed. I say a prayer of thanks for you.
May God bless you, my sweet cleaning lady.
You are trustworthy, sweet, hardworking, and never, no never, taken for granted.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hosanna

Maybe I knew it in years past, but if I did I had forgotten. So, when I learned this Easter that the word Hosanna meant "God Save Us," I was touched. "God Save Us!" they called out to Him as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. And, I can't help wondering what thoughts ran through His mind as He looked out at their faces, as He looked deep into their eyes - through to their souls. Because He knew each one of them, intimately. . . They were not just faces in a crowd. They were loved by Him, loved so much that He entered Jerusalem knowing that a cross would meet Him there. But, as He journeyed on, smiling gently at the crowd, reaching out and touching them, He heard them cry out to Him, "God save us!" Little did they know that saving them was exactly what He was on His way to accomplish. They meant for Him to save them from the Romans, but in their cries of "Hosanna," He heard a yearning deep in their hearts for Him to save them from much more than a human rule. He heard them crying out to be saved from their sins, a yearning to be brought into relationship with God. And, as He stared into their eyes, He saw their sins, He knew their stories, and He loved them deeply, so deeply it hurt. So, He made the ultimate sacrifice. And, praise the Lord, on the third day, He rose again!! This is Easter, and this is what it is about!





Erik and I used the Resurrection Eggs by Family life this year. I was amazed at how much the boys enjoyed it. They listened and chimed in here and there as Erik explained each egg and each symbol inside the egg. We will definitely make them a tradition. And, of course, we did hunt candy eggs, too!












Sarah, do you recognize the shirt?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thank you for THINKING of me!!

I only have a second, but I wanted to thank Deidre at For Such a Time as This, Momrn2 at My Quiet Corner, Gwen at Ivey Sirmans, and Kilikina at Live Each Moment to the Fullest, for thinking of me for the Thinking Blogger Award!! It means so much to me that you thought of me!! Each of their blogs are very thought provoking and have great spiritual depth. Each one has been a blessing to me! I am honored. Thanks so much.

I tried with all my little brain cells to figure out how to get the little Thinking guy on this post, but I could not do it!!! I will be thinking of my five to pass this award on to. . .

Thanks again so very much!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sweet Tea and Other Southern Goodness. . .


I was raised in the South by Midwestern born and bred parents. Though Dixieland surrounded me, my home was still very much a product of my parents' heritage though I did not realize this until years later. I grew up cheering for Bobby Knight's Hoosiers, and eating my veggies steamed. Butter beans? What are those? I grew up calling them lima beans. And, Mom was always called "Mom" or "Mommy" but never "Mama." Yes, we drank tea. I can still see my mom's jars of tea sitting in the backyard sunshine. We drank tea, but it was lacking a key ingredient found in Southern tea - sugar. We drank unsweet tea, and, believe it or not, we liked it, a lot.

Enter Erik.

I fell head over heels for this New Orleans boy, pure Southern goodness. He had a drawl, bears a strikingly similar resemblance to Harry Connick, Jr., and I think if one were to look up the word gentleman in the dictionary, there just might be a picture of him next to the definition. To say that I was taken by this Southern boy is an understatement. But, I'm going to try not to get sidetracked. Moving on. . .

I always thought adding sugar to tea was an unecessary addition of calories. But, for the first time in my life, I liked sweet tea, I really liked it. Something about sitting next to Erik on a porch swing sipping sweet tea seemed to be just about the sweetest thing I'd ever done. Erik used to tell me that good sweet tea is like the stuff they pour over snow cones - syrup.

I learned that there is a monumental difference between tomatoes purchased in the grocery store and the ones grown in his parent's garden. I had my first tomato sandwich with him - whoever heard of such! His absolute favorite meal is Cornbread (and don't insult him by making Jiffy - cornbread should not be sweet!) with all kinds of vegetables piled on top of it - butter beans, black-eyed peas, green beans, cream corn, etc. You can always throw a tomato in - he loves those. Oh, and then for dessert - Mississippi Mud Pie, Chess Pie, or simply a slice of watermelon with salt sprinkled on it will do just fine. And, molasses, he loves thick, sticky, ooey, gooey molasses on a biscuit. I don't care how adorably cute he is, I still can't stomach that one - not even after 8 years of marriage and 3 children.

When I finally had the awesome privilege of becoming his wife, I had to learn to cook all over again. Vegetables are to be cooked for hours, never steamed, never crunchy, always tender. They are best either from a can or bought fresh in a farmers market and cooked slowly, very slowly. And, gravy, I have yet to master this one. We didn't make gravy often at my house growing up. So, this has become Erik's job. Now when we visit my home for Christmas or Thanksgiving, my mom calls Erik into the kitchen to make the gravy. She has given him the illustrious title of "The Roux Master." Between Erik and Cecilia (my brother's wife) my family has truly changed. We even had Cornbread dressing at Thanksgiving this year. I had no idea what I was missing all those years! Southerners know how to cook. I didn't say it was healthy, but it is good.

And, Southern boys. . . I love them. Gentlemen. And, every now and then I see a glimpse of the South in one of my sons. Joshua will say something with a very evident drawl, and I will smile to myself. "Mama, I bumped my he-ead." He loves cornbread and homemade biscuits with strawberry perserves on them. I think the first two words he put together were, "Yes, Ma'am." And, just yesterday he held the door open for a complete stranger at Wal-Mart. (The only problem was that it was the bathroom door, and I was gagging as I watched his freshly cleaned hands touch the door. But, in the name of good manners, I kept my mouth shut and let him do the polite thing.) I am raising myself a little Southern gentleman. And, I love it. There really is no place on earth that I would rather raise my boys.

And, now the little story that made me sit and contemplate all this. . . As we walked our daily walk around the neighborhood the other day, Joshua said, "Mama, I want to name the horses." (There is a family that lives down the road from us that has 8 horses roaming their land. 4 of the horses are brown and 4 are white.) I said, "Sure, honey, go ahead and name them." He thought for a moment, and then very confidently declared, "The white ones are named Sugar. And, the brown ones are named Sweet Tea." I smiled to myself as I looked down at my little Southern Sweetheart. And, I felt my heart swell with a little good old Southern pride.
The picture above is of the land that the Sweet teas and Sugars usually roam, but unfortunately they were in the barn today. I don't blame them. I am not sure what happened to spring, but it is feeling a bit like winter around here lately. . .
My photo
Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.

 

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