Monday, February 28, 2011

Downtime Gratitude. . .




My heart overflows. . .

*  For this time of year ~ windows open cool breezes flowing through the house.

*  For downtime with my oldest son.  Time to play UNO and Go Fish, to read aloud, to draw and paint, to sit together and do schoolwork, to sleep close by, to hear his little sleepy breaths, to be there when he needs me. . .  This has been such a blessing in the midst of something not fun.  I love being his mom.  I am so thankful.

*  For a doctor husband.  I don't have to be the bad guy and tighten the braces.  And, when Joshua scared me silly the other night by waking up, but yet not being really awake, shaking all over, speaking only in incoherent mumbles (until Erik asked him the capital of Iowa, and he very clearly answered Des Moines at which point Erik deemed him fine), I was so thankful to have a resident physician to look after him.  I was ready to call 911.



*  The trash talk between my older two!  Somehow it came up that Joshua wouldn't be able to play basketball for a while.  So, JCT said in a very threatening manner, "Well, I'm gonna be training hard over the next 4-5 weeks practicing my moves!!"  Like watch out, big bro, I'm going to be ready for you when you get back to playing!  To which Joshua quickly replied, "Well, I'll be watching basketball on TV over the next 4-5 weeks, and then I'm going to apply all my moves on you!"  Daddy loved this!!  He let out one of his deep belly laughs as he listened to his two big boys go back and forth.  I am so thankful for the relationship between these two little boys.  I pray God grows it richer and deeper year after year.

*  For a windy, rainy day.  For the peace that filled my home as we slowly worked through a day of school.  No rush.  No hurry.  Just four boys and one mama making it work.

*  For grace that covers all that I lack, all that I long to be, but seem unable to meet the standard.  For grace that holds me firmly in His hands, never letting me go.

*  For the hope of spring.  The green in the grass that is just beginning to arise from peaceful slumber.  For daffodils and lilies slowly making their way up and out ~ spring life surrounded by the dead leaves of winter.  A reminder of God's faithfulness throughout the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Road Trip. . .

Last Friday we loaded up and headed out to watch our local high school basketball team play a game in our state's capital.  This game is the game that would determine whether or not they could play for the state 3 A title.  So, we packed up the boys and drove 4 hours south to our state's captial city.  The game was at 10:30 in the morning, so we headed out around 6:00!! 


Erik Daniel clutching his two favorite things ~ his ball and his silkie!  He sleeps with both of them every night and holds them most all the live long day!!


This trip was very fun for so many reasons.  Our community hugely supports their team!  So, not only was school shut down for all grades and all schools, but literally hundreds of people came!!  The team we played is located not too far from the state capital, and even though our community is four hours away, we had 3. . . 4. . . possibly 5 times as many fans present!!!!  Our side of the gym was full!!  I told Shawna, the coach's wife, "It is like a home game!  Everybody is here!!"  I was overwhelmed at the support.  We passed car after car of friends from our town on their way to cheer for their Devils as we drove Friday morning!!  Erik would say, "Look, Erin, there's the So and So family!"  And, we'd look over and wave to them as we passed them on the road. It was so fun!

I am such a crybaby.  But, I couldn't hold back the tears as the announcer named the starting five!!!  I was so happy for them, and the amazing support from everyone moved me, too!!!




The crowd cheered wildly!  At one point when one of my favorite players scored a beautiful 3, I screamed as loud as I could right in my baby's ear!  Erik Daniel let me know that he! did! not! like! that!!!!


KP shooting free-throws. . .


My guys watching the game. . .


We clinched the victory in the fourth quarter.  So, we walked down onto the floor during the last minute to be close when the boys exited the court!  Poor Joshua was a major trooper.  He was hurting, but he wouldn't have missed the game for anything!!  He is a big fan!


The final minutes. . .


The crowd was on their feet!!  I loved watching Shawna cheer like crazy for her husband's team. She sat on the front row along with her mother and mother in law and her three small children.  Many times I looked down to see her cheering with her baby Clarke (her one year old) glued to her hip!  He was hanging on for dear life!!  Mama was into the game!!  :-) So cute!

I kept trying to get a good picture of the crowd, but my iphone camera just couldn't get it all.  This was the first level of fans. . .


The students sat in their own section which was so wild and crazy and fun!!!  Made me miss the good old days!!  They were so loud!!


As soon as the game was over, the Superintendent called off school for the day of the Championship game, so they should have a nice crowd once again!!

After the game we headed to Erik's Aunt Barbara's house for some delicious homemade fried chicken, butter beans, mac'n cheese, string beans, cornbread, and sweet tea!!!


The boys, even the biggest boy, napped well after all that!!!!!

Happy day!!! :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Broken

It is just a bone, I realize.  And, a small bone at that.  But, it was a first for Joshua, for me, and for our family.


Silly little accidental football injury.  He was tackled by a friend and hit the ground wrong ~ said he heard a pop when his shoulder hit the ground.  But, he was so brave, so strong, so absolutely, undeniably precious.  I sat on my friend's couch with him, running my hands through his hair, and noticing every cute little freckle.  His lips were pouty, and his whole body shook for a little bit.  We face-timed Daddy, and he did an exam via our iphones.

On the way to Erik's office Joshua got scared of how badly Daddy's examination of his shoulder/arm would hurt.  I reminded him that the only other option was another doctor.  He agreed that letting Daddy be the doctor was the best option ~ even if it hurt.

Sean checking out Joshua's collarbone. . .


Sean made me laugh.  He came into Erik's office, put his hand on Erik's shoulder and said, "Brother, not that I'm glad Joshua broke his clavicle or anything, but we are doing life together!!!"  The thought made me smile.  Memories.  Joshua will never forget this day ~ Daddy taking care of him and Sean trying to make him smile.

Joshua getting his first x-ray. . .


My sweet boy's little broken clavicle. . .


The two most uncomfortable parts were the exam, and the putting on of the brace.  Yikes!


But, Daddy was gentle, and Joshua was tough.  He hardly made a sound.  I love that little boy with all my heart, and I love his sweet doctor, too.


But, there is something odd about all of this.  After I got home and reflected a minute, I realized that something somewhere deep inside was bothering me.  What was it?


I struggled to put my finger on it.  But, I finally did.  Part of my son was broken today.  That has never happened prior to this.  I've never seen him hurt like he did today.  An accident happened, and it happened to my son.  Something unpredictable, unpreventable, something completely unusual happened.  How many times has he been tackled??  Many.  It was completely accidental, and that bothers me.  It was a reminder that I can't prevent things from happening to my boys.  I'm still wrestling with it all. But, I know that they are in God's hands not mine.  They will break bones, they will have accidents, and nothing I can do can keep them perfectly safe.  I'm not thrilled about that, but there isn't much I can do about it ~ except trust God, keep walking, and be so thankful that it was just his clavicle that was broken today.

Here he is after we got home. . .


He is sleeping in our big comfy chair tonight because it feels better to be propped up.


He is going to be okay, and I'm pretty sure my heart will be, too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lije, Rejoicing, and Monday's Gratitude (a.k.a. really random post)

Lije, my Lije, has kept a sweet smile on my face all day today.  Three is just the cutest of ages!!  At 3 children are old enough to really verbalize their thoughts well, and yet they are still figuring things out.  Thus, they get things a little mixed up which is so cute!

This morning sweet Lije told Erik and I that Batman "two-feeted da bad guy!" (defeated).  He was so animated and cute when he was telling us!! Fun, fun!  Then, a few hours later, I was doing school with the big boys, and I asked Elijah if he would rather play a game on the computer or the ipad?  He said very seriously as he stared out the bay window in front of our kitchen table, "Neither.  I'd rather just sit here on the bench and watch the wind blow. . ."  I agreed, and a few minutes later I passed by the kitchen table again and this is what I saw. . .

Sweet little man sitting on the bench with his mouth up against the screen of the open window, saying in a quiet voice, "God, God, can you hear me?  Are you there, God?"

I love this age!  Then, tonight he announced to me that, "When Joshua and James are at bastikball practice, I'm da big brudder!!!"  He was so proud!  He is going to love having the new baby!!  I can't wait to introduce the baby to my Lije!

I love the fact that I have gotten to rejoice with those who rejoice this weekend!!  One friend got engaged!! :-)  We all know how happy that is!!!

And, our neighbors and dear friends, the husband is coach of our local high school basketball team, led the team to win the north half of our state 3A championship, and now it is off to state!!  This is so fun especially in our small town that LOVES sports!!!  With each game they'd win, I'd text my friend and ask how many hours of sleep they got.  As they continued to win game after game, the sweet couple slept fewer and fewer hours each night!!  When they won the north half, I text her and asked if she'd like Erik to call them in some ambien!!  I think I've read her response a thousand times and pondered it even more times than that!!

She said, "Prob need something!!!!!  We both said when we sleep it makes the moment disappear so we would rather stay awake."  

Life so good you don't want to sleep for missing it!!!  How awesome!  I just loved it!  In 5 months she only missed 3 games, and she takes her 3 children (the oldest is 4!) with her to the games.  Not to mention the fact that she is 28 weeks pregnant with #4!!!! So supportive!

I am so thankful for. . .

* Open windows and fresh air flowing freely through my home.

*  Birthday cake and ice cream and Deana B who sent me home from her son's awesome birthday party with leftovers!!!!  Yum!!  But, even more than that I am thankful that God has given us the privilege of sharing life with Sean and Deana B.  I still pass Deana B on the road sometimes driving through town, and say to myself, "Oh. My. Goodness. She lives here!"  And, occasionally I see our husbands names together on the sign in front of their office and think, "Oh. My. Goodness. Erik always dreamed of this, and it is actually happening!"  I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I am so thankful for today, and for the moments that our families have shared over the past 4 years!

*  The little one who kicks crazily within me!

*  A weekend visit from Pop!  The way Erik Daniel ran around the yard like a wild man when his truck pulled in the driveway!

*  My sweet friend, Sara, who turned 35 on Sunday!!!!  We've been friends for 22 years now if I've counted correctly!  Whoa!!!  And, my sweet friend, Sarah, who turned 35 last Friday!

* Moments, sweet moments, and life so good you don't want to sleep for missing it. . .

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Box, the Love. . .

The will has surged today as it so often does.  He was born a leader, born strong, born with an inner drive and confidence that did not come from his mama.  He knows how he wants things, and he still, after years of working with him, struggles when things cannot be exactly the way that he wants them to be.  It is a good characteristic when it comes to his ability to tackle new things with the strength and confidence of an expert.  Ask him anything, he'll have an answer.  And, 9 times out of 10, it will be the correct answer.  He amazes me daily.  But, he, also, challenges me daily.

And, today was one of those days.  Off and on all day, he pushed, a little here, a little there.  And, so finally I had had it.  We were standing in the garage arguing over a box.  A box.  It is a cute box, I'll give him that.  It came from Land of Nod, and it has an airplane on the side of it.  And, he wants to keep it.  I see no reason to keep it.  We've had it for months now.  It just sits there looking cute.  It's time to recycle the box, but he is suddenly attached to it for whatever reason.  And so, he is arguing with me while his brothers stand around and watch.  Silly argument, I know, but we've been pushing each other's buttons all day, and finally we were face to face in direct disagreement.  So, I said, and I realized even at the time that this was a silly thing to say, but still I said it, "JCT, you act as if you love this box more than me!" (I know, I know, but I'm pregnant.  Cut me some slack.)  And, so he smiles a silly little grin, cocks his cute little strawberry blond head to the side, and says. . .

"I love you both the same."

Seriously.

Correct me if I'm wrong, JCT, but did I not give birth to you?  Endured hard labor, natural labor, to free you to life! And, need I remind you that you were sunny side up making your delivery just that much more uncomfortable.  And, that is just the beginning. . .

So, I say, "What?  You love us the same!  James, I'm your mom!" as his brothers stare with eyes like saucers, jaws dropped.

And, then, Joshua, my oldest, my voice of reason, my sweet defender, says, "James!  NOBODY loves a box as much as they love their mom!!  That's crazy!!"

So, JCT smiles, because he likes the way he has worked this situation, and he looks at me with eyes shining, and says, "Well," and he pauses as if he is thinking it through, "Well. . .  I love you a little bit more. . ."

Uggghhhh.  I quit.

I know my son.  I know he loves me.  This is the same son who if he had it his way would do all his schoolwork in my lap.  This is the sweet son who loves on me to the point I have to tell him to please. quit. hugging. me. so that I can finish making dinner.  He has asked on more than one occasion if he can live with me forever.  This is the son who every night when I kiss his forehead and cheek, he rubs my kisses in and spreads them all over his face.  I know he loves me, but some days. . .

Whew.

He can wear this mama slap out!

Tonight Erik had a ball game, so I was flying solo during dinner, bath, and bedtime.  And, when I came downstairs after the last book, song, prayer, and kiss, I smiled to myself and thought about how much I love being mommy to my four little men.  But, specifically, I was thinking of JCT.  Even after a will surging day, I am so thankful.  He adds so much to our family.  He is so unique and so fun to mother.  I love him with all my heart.  He's a great kid.  So, I paused in the kitchen and rested my tired body for a moment leaning into the counter.  I was completely worn out from all the outside playtime, from the bending and lifting, from the holding and carrying, from the mental and emotional challenges. . .

So, for a moment before looking at my to-do list for the next morning, I paused and took a deep breath in and out.  And, then I looked down at the counter, at my to-do list, and this is what I saw. . .


I took in the moment and smiled.

For every stress, for every strain of motherhood there are one thousand blessings.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Memorizing Moments. . .

Our week. . .


could be summed up by the above picture!  This has been beautiful, wonderful, and gentle (if I can use that word to describe our week:-).  I have spent several hours of each day outside watching my boys play.  With temps in the 60's all week, we have spent most of our free time outside soaking in the warm sunshine and the soft breezes.  Sometimes I choose to sit back in a fold up chair, sip hot chocolate, make lists, and watch, and sometimes I choose to join them in their fun. When I sit back and watch, this is what I see. . .

and this. . .


and a little of this. . .


Makes a mama's heart happy!!! :-)

And, all the play and sunshine has resulted in some very tired little men. . .


 And, all the while I have been watching them, and (to steal a phrase from Mrs. Voskamp) "memorizing moments," taking them in, holding them close, savoring them because time is fleeting.  The other day Joshua counted the years until he will be in our church's youth group.  I told him to be be quiet, please.  Please!  These days are so sweet, and I hope they do not pass too quickly.

Today Elijah fell asleep on my lap as I read aloud to him and his brothers.  He was 100% knocked out.  If you know Lije, you know he likes his sleep ~ except in the early morning ~ but that is another story.  I kissed his sweet sleepy cheeks at least a thousand times this afternoon while I held his sleepy, limp body in my arms.  One day he will be bigger than his mama.  One day those sweet cheeks will be full of rough, hairy stubble.  One day I will try with all my might to remember what it was like to kiss his soft, sweet, plump 3 year old cheeks.  Now I know, and I am attempting to memorize the moment.

Other moments that I am memorizing this week. . .


God's glory in the sky. . .


My boys friendships growing. . . They have so much fun together!  I asked Erik on the way to church the other day as we were being loudly serenaded by our four men, "What do you think it would be like to grow up in our family as one of four boys?"  He laughed and said, "I think it would be a lot of fun!!"  


I so hope that they look back and think it was fun!!  I'm having fun.  They are joy to my heart!  This week everything schoolwise has clicked and fallen into place so nicely.  They have gotten their work done faster than usual, and we have really been able to enjoy the beautiful weather!  We've eaten lunch outside every single day!!  The fresh air makes all of us feel so refreshed!  It is hard to believe that my yard was covered in snow last week at this time!  I can't decide which I like better???  I love them both!!!

The boys keep pointing this out to me. . .


They are so ready for spring!  It will not be long now!  The seasons pass too quickly these days.  Wasn't I just getting excited about the cooler weather of fall???  And, now it is time once again for spring!  Where do the days go?  The hours?  The moments?  They are gone in a flash.  So, here I am sitting back watching these little wonders, miracles walking all around me, running barefoot, sweet and free.  And, I am trying desperately to cling to the moments, to memorize their little feet, little hands, little smiles, little voices. . .


Moments, moments, moments. . .

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love, Sweet, Love!

We love because. . .


He first loved us. . .  1 John 4:19

My heart is full ~ as are my hands!!  But, ironically, it seems the more full my hands get ~ the more full my heart gets, as well!!  :-)


And, as I reflected yesterday on the love God has given me, I was keenly aware that it is, in fact, all from His hands, His heart. It is nothing of my own doing, nothing I could conjure up on my own.  Love is a gift, and I am so thankful to know the Gift-Giver.  I am so thankful the Gift-Giver makes Himself known and draws us unto Himself ~ wanting no one to perish, and never driving away those who come to Him.  As I explained to JCT this morning when he asked me the definition of the word stoop, the Bible says God stooped to look down upon us.  He stooped down to look us in the eye and tell us He loves us.  He stooped down to pick us up from the mire and to rejoice over us with singing.  And He loves us and fills us to overflowing with His amazing love ~ engraving us on the palm of His hands.  He knows you.  He knows me.  He formed us in our mother's womb, and He loves us ~ as He fully expressed on the cross.  And, that is True Love!  And, because of that love, we are able to love freely, fully, with all our hearts.


Yesterday was a sweet, albeit busy, day.  I love holidays ~ a reason to celebrate.  And, love is a wonderful thing to celebrate!  We had heart shaped toast with strawberry cream cheese for breakfast, pb&j's cut into the shape of hearts for lunch, spaghetti made with love for dinner, and heart shaped brownies for dessert.  Lots of love all around!


The boys made valentines for each other, and then they had fun delivering them to their brothers' mailboxes.


And, in the afternoon a homeschooling mom friend of mine who has five boys suggested we get our boys together for a Valentine party!  The boys had a really good time together making Valentines.  But, truth be told, they had more fun devouring their Valentine cupcakes and lemonade and playing football, basketball, romping through the woods, and jumping on the trampoline!!



It was a good day!  Love was celebrated ~ given and received!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bit by Little Tiny Bit. . .


As I sat cuddled on the couch with the boys reading, I noticed the first snowflakes fall.  I smiled, paused the story, and gave the snow it's appropriate welcome.  Then, I continued reading, looking up from time to time to see the beauty unfold before us just outside our window.  Later as I listened to JCT read, my mind was elsewhere.  I was watching the snowflakes fall, and thinking. . .

I've learned so much this year, and I've mentioned this recently, about slowing down.  But, there is something else that goes along with this lesson.  I am always in such a hurry.  I always want what I want and I want it yesterday.  I want God to change my ugly sinful heart into a beautiful, fruit-filled garden overflowing.  And, He doesn't seem to do it fast enough.  I pray.  I read.  I memorize scripture to fight spiritual warfare within my heart.  I hope and try and fight and nothing seems to change. . . nothing much.

So, as I sat with sweet son beside me reading about snow falling :-), my mind was drifting, pondering all these things.  And, God whispered sweetly to my soul that this is all so much like a winter snow ~ calm, slow, and steady ~ snowflake by snowflake, bit by bit.  What started as a snowflake here, a snowflake there, over the course of an hour, became huge flakes falling swiftly and a ground completely dusted in white.  The snow is having her way with us, and we are happy to oblige her!  Tiny and easily breakable, one snowflake by itself would go completely unnoticed ~ no threat to anyone.  But, an army of snowflakes falling simultaneously can close down country roads, large highways, schools, and basically shut down entire communities.  Blizzards, white-outs, power outages, you name it, and it all begins with a snowflake here a snowflake there.

And, God whispered that sometimes this is how He works. . . bit by bit, snowflake by tiny little snowflake.  The changes don't always come instantly.  It takes time, but be patient, over time His work is completed wholly, perfectly, beautifully.  Just as teaching a little one to read or do math, as I have learned this year.  It doesn't help to hurry them or push them ~ slow and easy does it.  Bit by bit, day by day, they grow and learn and then you look back at the end of a semester and go, "Wow!  Look how far we've come!"  When I explain a big, broad math concept to Joshua, I don't expect him to get it completely on day one.  We work at it, chip away at it, build on it, and then, boom, he understands it completely and with the depth he needs to be successful in the years to come.  But, it doesn't always come overnight.  If you've ever taught a child to read, you understand this.  One day they sound out words, then slowly over time, somehow, amazingly they read words they've never seen without hesitation.  And, you stare at them in wonder???  Bit by by, easy does it. . .


As I walked Rain, I noticed leaves covered in snow scattered in the yard and on the road.  And, I wondered to myself how many individual snowflakes it might take to cover just one little leaf?  And, so I thought, maybe, I am not as hopeless as Satan would like me to believe.  Maybe even if I don't see the changes as rapidly as I'd like, maybe, my sweet Father is at work in me chip, chip, chipping away making me new, fruit-filled, and beautiful. . .


But, it doesn't happen instantly.

It takes time, sweet, precious, time. . .

So, I am learning to slow down, relax, and not push so hard, but rather to trust and rest in Him and in His perfect timing.  And, as I have typed this my backyard has gone from nearly solid white with only the tips of grass showing to deep, smooth, soft, solid white everywhere I look.

And, it all happened ~ slowly, quietly, and peacefully. . .

 Let it be with me, as well. . .

Let me rest in His amazing love, bask in His sweet grace, and trust in His unrelenting faithfulness to complete His work in me. . .


Bit by tiny little bit.

Happy! Happy!



Time to hunker down and get ready for a little bit of fun in the form of soft white flakes!!  It's like a holiday around here today!!  The goal is to work hard this morning so that this afternoon the boys can choose between. . .

a.)  Going outside and catching snowflakes on their tongues, or. . .

b.)  If it is too cold to stay outside, we can curl up on the couch and finish our current read aloud ~ only 2 chapters left!!

Either way I am looking forward to a happy day around here!!!  In fact, since we've eaten all the remains of the boys' birthday cake, this may call for cupcakes to celebrate!!  Cupcakes and hot chocolate!!  Yay!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Monday's Gratitude

Today it is winter for sure. . .


Sometimes in the south one can be fooled into believing spring is around the corner by a splash of warm winter weather here and there. Yesterday we had such a splash with temps in the low 50's, and the boys played outside wildly! But, today winter is back ~ the wind is bitter, the clouds are grey, and the forecast suggested the possibility, albeit slim, of flurries. Two of my boys are fighting low grade fevers, and this slows them down a good bit, and so our day has been quiet, slow, and relatively calm.

I am thankful for. . .

* A warm house on a cold afternoon.

* Boys wrapped in blankets cuddled on the couch.

* The ripples of the wind moving the surface of the water on the pond out back.


* God everywhere! God in the sad, gentle eyes of my sweet, sick sons, God in the trees blowing, in the birds outside my window, in the peace filling my heart ~ peace only He gives, God in the music that fills my home, God in the laughter of my little boys, in the the tea kettle boiling on the stove, God in the schoolroom, God in history, in science, in His word, God in my heart, my bones, my every fiber, filling me, giving me strength, passion, perseverance, confidence, all that I need for this moment, this breath. God filling my husband, filling his patient rooms, his office, God filling our home~ room after room, each corner, each crack, each crevice.

* Another week beginning, another year beginning for my two oldest sons!

* The steam that surrounds the hot water as I pour from my kettle.

* The sweet one holding blanket and sucking thumb sitting on my lap!

* Taking Rain out on a cold, dreary day and staring into the windows of my home from the road ~ school room and kitchen alight with a radiant, soft, inviting glow on a bitterly cold day. The warmth that filled my soul as I looked on watching little bodies scurry to and fro in front of the windows. Thankful.

* The gift of the simple, the everyday, the ordinary!!

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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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