Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happy Two Months, My Little One!

You are wonderful. . . WONDERFUL, and I love you more each day, little guy! You are super sweet, always smiling. I took you to the Pediatrician last week, and you weighed in at 13 pounds and 3 ounces!! You are growing so quickly. The newborn-ness is fading away, and a bouncing happy baby boy is emerging!
You have learned to roll from your stomach to your back, and you can use your arms to lift your head and chest high up off the mattress, strong boy. I love to watch your little feet wiggle while I feed you - so sweet. You never cease to melt this mama's heart. Never worry, the gift that your life is to me will never be taken for granted. I love every inch of your sweet little baby body from the tip of your auburn head to the tops of your tiny little toes.

And, your sweet brothers still adore you. They often ask me to play "Elijah's song" which is Harry Connick Jr.'s song Elijah Rock. Yesterday JCT told me while holding up one finger that "God made one Lijah. One Lijah, jus one Lijah for our home. We don't need two Lijah's. Jus one Lijah for us, one Lijah." They love you so much, little man. We all do! We look forward to the months ahead, sweet one.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Marriage Challenge

I have seen on several blogs the marriage challenge by Christine, and I have finally decided to embark on this little 30 day journey. I love my husband tremendously, but I have come to the realization that nothing is harder on our marriage than the first 6 months after one of our children is born. Because we have no family close, dates are few and far between during these months. Our other children go to bed between 7:30 and 8:00, but the infant stays up until closer to 9:30 giving Erik and I less time alone without distractions. And, that is where we are right now - the infant stage.

Erik has a stressful job. And, it is truly my heart's desire to make home a restful, peaceful place for him to come home to. I want him to think of home when his day is long and hard. I want him to long to be home where he can be recharged and refreshed. But, to be honest, lately home has been, most likely, more stressful than work!!! Elijah is a sweetheart, but sometimes in the evenings he can be fussy. And, by the end of the day, the older boys are tired and whiney and their mama isn't much better! Dinner is often a mixture of 2 boys fussing because they don't want to eat the food prepared for them and a baby crying because he wants to be held. So, we usually end up taking turns holding Elijah while we eat which is tricky in and of itself. It is never the peaceful evening that I dream it will be. Often when he gets home, I just want to hand all 3 kids over to him and go for a jog, a long, a very long jog.

So, my goals for this week are:

1.) To make a conscious effort to smile more! Smiling makes a difference in how I feel, and I hope it makes others feel a little better, too.
2.) To make the evenings as peaceful as I possibly can - even if it means that I don't get a break.
3.) To encourage and uplift him daily.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Arrows in the hand of a warrior

Sons are a heritage from the Lord
Children a reward from Him.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
Psalm 127:3-5

Early in my pregnancy I was picking out new lighting for our home. I bought most of our new light fixtures at this really cool lighting store in a town near ours. While I was looking at lighting, I noticed a lamp that had a bow and a quiver full of arrows. I looked at my friend who works at this lighting gallery and said, "If we find out that this baby is a boy, I am going to buy that lamp for Erik next Father's Day." And, sure enough, Elijah was a boy, and so a few weeks ago, I headed back over to the lighting gallery to buy this lamp.

I made a card with the verse on it, and Erik's Father's Day present was complete!

It is easy to see why God chose to fill our house with boys. Erik has always had a heart for mentoring young men. When he was in medical school, he coached a junior high boys basketball team. He didn't just teach the boys the sport of basketball. He developed deep relationships with them. He did a Saturday morning Bible study with them walking with them through some of their most awkward years. He has always had a heart for training boys to grow into godly young men. And, now the boys that he is investing his time and heart into training are his own sons. He is an excellent father and a wonderful husband.

I can't mention Father's Day without mentioning my own precious father!! Thanks for all the love you have given me over the years!!

And, I also have to mention Erik's sweet Daddy who set an example of grace and selflessness for his son to follow.

So, to all the fathers that I love especially! Happy Belated Father's Day!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thanks and a Lesson

Thank you all so much for taking the time to lift our friends up in prayer! I know that they are feeling your prayers. Thanks. Now here is a little update on them:

Actually, I was mistaken - L chose to have a V-delivery instead of a C-section. She has had both in the past and was scheduled for a C-section. But, this past Saturday was her daughter's birthday, and she wanted to be able to celebrate with her. So, after some thought, they decided to go in Thursday night to induce labor so that she would feel well enough to take her older daughter to the movies on her birthday. Oh, yes, she did. She went in Thursday evening got induced, had baby B. Grace at 3:00 a.m., went home from the hospital on Friday, and took her older daughter to the movies on Saturday. L is one tough cookie, wouldn't you agree?

The graveside service was Sunday afternoon, Father's Day of all days. L looked simply beautiful. She wore a pink dress and B wore a black suit with a pink tie. The service was very short but very sweet. I was surprised at how sweet the whole thing was. . . precious. Another friend of ours sang Jesus Loves Me accapella to close the service. The words, "Little ones to Him belong," suddenly had such a special meaning. And, Erik and I agreed that we would never sing the song the same again.

I learned a very important lesson through this experience. You see, I am new to all this. The only funeral that I have ever been to was a funeral for the organist at my church growing up. I was in 9th grade. So, when other people grieve, I never know what to say or do. Mostly, I give them space. Partly because I don't like for others to see me hurting, so I assume they feel the same way. And, the other reason that I give them space is simply that I don't know what to say. L & B are in our Sunday School class. We have sons the same age, and we had the common bond of being pregnant again together. But, other than birthday parties and ballgames, we never see them outside of church. They are acquaintance/friends of ours. So, when I heard that their baby didn't have a heartbeat, I did what I normally do, I gave them space. I didn't feel that I was a good enough friend of hers to reach out that quickly after such a loss. So, I didn't see or talk to L until I saw her at the graveside service.

When the service was over, the family was enveloped in hugs from the crowd. And, as I made my way toward L, I heard the voice of Winnie the Pooh in my head saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." And, it was at that moment that I realized something very important. . .

It doesn't matter if I have words. It doesn't matter if I am close enough friends with someone who is going through a tragedy. It doesn't matter if I hardly know them at all. All that matters is that God gave me two arms, and I need to use them to reach out to the hurting. Because people like to know that they are not alone in their saddness. I am not sure that hurting people ever turn away friends. They find comfort in knowing that someone cares. And, I can do that. So, as I hugged L's neck, and whispered "I love you," in her ear, I vowed to myself never to hesitate again. We are never not close enough friends to others in the body of Christ. We are one body, and God gave us a great gift in making us one. He gave us the gift of friends who weep when we weep and rejoice when we rejoice. And, I will never take that for granted again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Please pray

Yesterday Erik and I got a very sad call concerning a friend of ours. L and her husband B were scheduled to have a C-section on June 29th. They went in for one of their last regular MD appointments yesterday, and the baby didn't have a heartbeat. The doctor sent them home to decide whether they wanted to have a C-section that night or the next morning. The opted to go ahead and have the C-section last night. No one knows why, and Dr. Y said that even after the baby is delivered that they will still likely not know what happened. Please pray for L and B and their family. They have a daughter who is 11 and a son who is 4. Their son is one of Joshua's little buddies. And, he was so looking forward to his little sister's arrival. As you read this please say a prayer for them - for peace, grace, and healing for their hearts. Thank you so much.

Friday, June 08, 2007

And all the world. . .

is well and good and wonderful and beautiful with one little smile from one little boy!!!

I have forgotten how precious those first smiles and coos are!!! The sweet sounds that he makes melt my heart!! You'd think with him being my third that I'd be accustomed to these things by now! But, I'm not! I marvel at him just as I did with my Joshua! Fearfully and wonderfully made - unique and perfect for our family! My goodness, I love you, my little man!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

For the Love of Cheese Dip

We are all about manners at el casa de erin!

There is just something irresistibly good about white cheese dip from our local authentic Mexican restaurant! I'd lick my plate too - if I weren't thirty something and supposed to be setting the example. . . It is that good.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A new day

I think I was born a perfectionist. I don't remember a time when I wasn't overly hard on myself for not doing something perfectly. Even as far back as my first gymnastics classes. I wasn't so interested in having fun. No, I wanted to be the best. The gymnastics training center that I attended had levels, as soon as I moved up a level, all I could think about was moving up to the next level. I have never lacked for drive nor zeal. At the cost of much joy, I have spent much of my life striving to be the best that I could be. Finding out that I was pregnant was no different. I attacked parenting with the same fervor that I attacked difficult college courses and unrelenting long-distances jogs. Like a hungry mama bear, I devoured book after book. I was determined to do this parenting thing right from the beginning. I read Babywise, Dr. Sears, Dr. Wisebluth, and everyone in between. I was going to do this parenting thing with excellence, and I was determined that I would not fail.

But, you know what? Those books didn't really help. I thought good sleep habits, disciplined routines, healthy eating, etc. was what parenting was all about. Wrong. What makes a good mommy is much more than that. It is much more than the subjects addressed in parenting books. Being a success as a mommy, unfortunately, is not something that you can be taught in a book written by man. It comes from being humble and dying to self. Being a good mommy comes from following in the footsteps of a Good God.

I wrote the post below this one on Thursday, and I was feeling quite good about myself as a mother that day. I had tasted a bit of success that day. But, as we all know, pride comes before a fall. So, you can imagine what Friday looked like . . .

There was no reading, no hot chocolate, no one on one time, etc. I guess you could say that if Friday was a test. . . I failed it. The day started off well. Elijah went down early for a nap, and I quickly got the boys ready to play outside. Now that we have an infant in the house, we have to take our outside playtime when we can get it!! So, I grabbed a monitor and took the boys down to the swing set.

As I was pushing the boys on the swings, it occurred to me that I ought to check in on Deana B. She has been out of town visiting her parents, and we haven't talked in a while. So, an hour or so later I got off the phone, Elijah woke up, and we headed back indoors. Soon after we got inside, Stephanie called to discuss a variety of things. We discussed everything from our public school's kindergarten curriculum to Fifths Disease. And, an hour or so later I got off the phone. JCT was stinky, Elijah was hungry, and Joshua was ready to go back outside. After feeding Elijah I decided that since I had done nothing productive with my children this morning that I might as well blow it big-time. . . So, I loaded them in the car and took them to Sonic. If I am going to feel guilty, I might as well feel really guilty, right? I ordered grilled cheeses for them and a large Sprite with Sonic's infamous ice for me. As I pulled out of Sonic my friend Sara called, so I drove around talking to her and letting the boys eat their lunches in the car. When I got home, it was naptime. You know, if you read the post below, Naptime.

I took JCT upstairs and put him down hurriedly. And, I told myself that Joshua needed a nap, too, since his grandparents were coming that afternoon and all. So, I put him down hurriedly as well. Then, the guilt hit me smack in the face. . . Honestly, I had felt it all morning, but I was trying to ignore it and just get through the morning. . . A few minutes later Erik called. I poured my guilty heart out to him, and he had only one thing to say. One sentence. "Erin, you're a good mother." Uggh. Yesterday, maybe, but today, no, I just don't feel like it. And, what do I tend to trust and rely on more than anything else? My feelings. My unstable, guilt-ridden, perfectionist driven feelings. But, that is all that they are, just feelings. I have come to realize that there is little truth in my feelings, and Satan loves to use them against me.

So, I sat down, held Elijah and read some blogs. I started out reading your comments on my last post, and I felt another twinge of guilt. Then, I read several other blogs with the same theme. It seems selfishness in mothering is on all of our hearts right now. After reading all of this, it occurred to me that my prayer for selflessness, my struggles in parenting, etc., they are not foreign to God. He has heard them for thousands of years. As long as there have been mothers, there have been struggles similar to ours. Being a mother is a job that makes demands of you 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and that can be difficult for any woman. Even working moms, they may not be at home all day, but no doubt their children are tugging at their heartstrings all the time they are doing their other job.

I sat on the back porch and pondered all this. And, I came to a few conclusions. . .

As mommys seeking to be Christ to our children, we tend to be so hard on ourselves. We are human. We will not be perfect day in and day out. And, guilt is not from God.

About selflessness, let me just give you my very humble opinion. We are innately selfish. Erik always says, "Hate is not the opposite of love, selfishness is." And, that makes sense to me. Because love is laying down your life for another's, and that is selflessness. I was fairly selfish growing up. Okay, I was self-centered and selfish. There, I said it. But, praise God, I am a work in progress, and He hasn't given up on me yet.

I think when we marry we give up some of our rights. We die to our self a bit for our spouse. We no longer base decisions solely on what we want. Now we have another person to consider. Our decisions affect them, and in order to have a happy marriage both parties must die a little. Oh, me, and then we have children. Watch out, beware, oh, selfish heart! It is time to kill off a little more flesh. We begin to have to sacrifice "me time." We sacrifice time doing our hobbies, working out, etc. because these little guys (or gals) come first. Even if we resent it, because we love them, we put them first. I remember looking at newborn Joshua thinking, "Okay, we are adults. We are like 10 times your size. But, somehow you have rocked our world. How could such a tiny little thing change our lives so much?" I whole-heartedly believe that God uses our love for our spouse and for our children to chip away at our selfishness. God is so wise. I can't think of a better way to refine us. He gives us these awesome gifts - a husband to love, protect and provide for us and children - beautiful children birthed out of love, and through them He chips away at the selfishnes in our hearts. He is making us beautiful whether we feel like it or not.

Now because we are attempting with all our hearts to be Christ to our children, Satan must feel trapped. I think he attacks us with guilt in order to make us feel defeated. But, we aren't defeated, not in the least! And, let's get real here. . .

Think of your very worst day as a mom. Maybe you lost your temper, were hard on your children for simply being children, fed them greasy fried fast food, or just simply resented having to be a mom and do all these things for them. Worst day ever. I bet if I were to watch a video tape of that day I could pick out some things you did that were great. I bet you gave some hugs, kissed some knees, and layed your life down in more ways than you realize. Because Christ is in you, I am certain He is flowing out of you. I am counting on that anyway.

So, I am going to attempt to not be so hard on myself. Dying is hard. And, we are doing that daily. I think parenting is, if you will let it be, a school for selfish hearts. And, in this school, if you will allow Him, God will teach you how to be humble, selfless, and truly beautiful, 1 Peter 3:3 beautiful. But, we have to do our homework. And, we will have many tests, many tests. So, let's not freak when we feel we have failed one. When God is the teacher, He uses a magnificant tool with which to instruct us, to keep us from giving up and going astray. He uses grace. What a beautiful word! Don't you just love the sound of it. . . grace. No grade is ever written in stone, never to be changed. If we make an F one day, He'll forgive it. He'll change the grade. He's that kind of teacher, and He's that kind of God. And, that is why I love Him with everything in my being, with every breath that I take. Grace. It makes all the difference.

Friday night, after my awful morning, God spoke to me through my husband and son. Erik was sitting on the ottoman holding JCT. Erik's legs were in a V, and JCT was straddling his waist. JCT leaned back until he was completely upside down, his hair hanging down touching the floor. Erik was holding both his hands, JCT's legs still tightly wrapped around Erik's waist. Erik, leaning down toward JCT, said, "Pull yourself up and give me a kiss." JCT laughing and beginning to turn red-faced said, "No, I can't!"

Now, this is what God whispered to me through this. . . Erik knew very well that his two year old son didn't have the strength to pull himself back up. He just wanted him to try. Erik let him dangle there until JCT gave an earnest attempt to pull himself up. And, when JCT tried, when he was obedient to his father's request, his father used his own strength and pulled him up. I sat back on the couch and pondered what I had witnessed. God just wants me to try. He will do it through His own strength. I don't have to muster up the strength, the energy, or the selflessness on my own. He just wants me to try, to attempt. He knows that I, myself, cannot do it. His grace and His strength alone will do it. I just have to learn to accept His grace when I fail. And, that can be hard for a perfectionist.

So, what is the point of this post? I guess that I am learning that guilt and being hard on yourself really does no good. I used to think that it is what drove me to succeed. I used to think in some weird way that it was an asset. It kept me from being lazy and unproductive. And, maybe it is an asset if your goal in life is to climb the corporate ladder. But, if your goal in life is to be like Christ, it is the farthest thing from an asset. It is a major deterrent. Bottom line: We are selfish. True. But, there is hope. We are in school, and we have the BEST teacher ever! And, He is lovingly chipping away at our selfishness. This doesn't feel good. And, it doesn't always appear that we are making strides in the right direction. But, when we fall short, we fall onto a big padded goose-down pillow called grace. All He asks is that we love Him, seek His ways, and if we do that, He will use His strength to work through us. He is faithful. That has been proven in all our lives. Now I just have to believe it!

So, Friday was a bad day for me as a mom. But, today is a new day full of grace and mercy. Today is a new day, and I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to today's lesson! Let's go to school!

Maybe we have bad days, but all in all, we are doing pretty well. Don't you think?
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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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