Thursday, February 28, 2008

A series of unfortunate events

It all started simply enough. I wanted to bake some bread to add to the meal that I was taking over to a friend with a new baby. I've made it before and it was easy and good so I thought it was a great idea. But things don't quite as planned on Tuesday; not even close! The bread rose too high in the pan causing butter to pour over the sides and gather into a lovely puddle in the bottom of my oven. I opened the oven door just in time to receive a cloud of smoke in the face. This was at 10:30am and I had a lot of other cooking to do that day in preparation for Recipe Club that night. It was not a good way to start my day in the kitchen.

I called my neighbor, D, and asked her if I could bring my bread over to finish baking in her oven. I told her what happened and she started to laugh because she had baked the same bread recipe over the weekend and had the exact same problem. She kept forgetting to clean it out so there was still burnt on butter in the bottom of her oven. D agreed to quickly wipe it up and turn on her oven. It just so happened that I was going over there at that time because D needed me to stay with her baby while she walked down to the bus stop to pick up her middle daughter. D's car was in the garage and it was too cold to voluntary take her baby to stand out in the snow.

When D came back from the bus stop she got a call from her oldest daughter's school that she was sick in the nurses office and needed to be picked up. D has no car and I was still baking bread in her oven so I offer to go get my car so she can go pick up her daughter. It had started to snow by the time I ran across the street to get my keys and phone. I had to call my friend who I was taking a meal to explain why I wouldn't be there anytime soon. I drove my Jeep over in front of D's house and ran back inside so she could leave.

Now I have a Jeep, but it doesn't have four wheel drive. It has rear wheel drive, which is awful in the snow. When I pulled in front of D's house there was some slushy snow on top of the pavement, but not a snow drift by any stretch of the imagination. D leaves the house with all three girls busy doing something. She comes back in two minutes later because the Jeep is stuck. Stuck in slush!! I go out and try to get it out with no success. I then try to push while D drives with no success (and narrowly avoided a face plant in the slushy mess as I lost my footing!). The only neighbors home were the elderly ones who we wouldn't dare ask.

Our friend, M, is home but has had a rough few days with a sick baby and we hated to bother her. But we didn't have a choice! So M comes running out in her t-shirt and between the two of us we are able to rock and push D back onto the road and she's on her way. I made the mistake of standing by the stuck tire and wound up covered in wet slush as the tire spun out. I also happened to be on the side where the exhaust was blowing out. I smelled like I'd been in an explosion between that and the smoke that poured out of my oven.

Thankfully, things begun to look up. My oven cleaned itself and my daughter took a good nap. I got to spend a few minutes with a sweet little newborn and hang out with his mom. I managed to get everything done I needed to for Recipe Club with time to spare and enjoyed an hour of peace because Cale took Haven to the hardware store with him. I really enjoyed myself at Recipe Club and feel like all the women are getting more comfortable with each other. The food was good, too!

So crazy morning aside, it was a good day. I'm thankful for great neighbors to help and be helped by and for the little ways God throws us together just when we need it the most.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How could I forget?

It slipped my mind until just this very minute. I feel a bit guilty about that. Yesterday was my blog-iversary! One whole year together and 138 posts later. Hard to believe, but it's true.

Happy Blog-iversary to me! Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wake up

My brain has been on overload. I feel like I have too much to think about and not enough time to do it. That's why I found myself awake at 4:45am and unable to go back to sleep. The minute my eyes opened my brain kicked into gear and hasn't stopped yet. I decided that if I couldn't sleep I might as well be productive so I got up and exercised while it was still dark out. I then sat down with my Bible and my whirring head and tried to pray. It wasn't working so I decided to do some reading. I went with the super accurate, very biblical approach of just opening my Bible and reading there. I knew that I needed to get into the Word, I just hadn't a clue where at the specific moment so it seemed like a good idea.

And you know what, it was. Whether you agree with the approach or not (and I'm certainly not advocating it as a general way to approach Bible study) the Lord knew what I needed and met me right there in Psalm 37. I needed to be encouraged to delight myself in the Lord, to not fret, to trust in the Lord and do good and to be still before the Lord. In the midst of the chaos that was my mind, this was a heady passage to read. I can't imagine a better way to have started my day then by clearing my mind as I focused on delighting in Him, not mulling over things (read: fretting) that were beyond my reach. Yes, there is still a lot that I'm processing, but Jesus helped me to focus on Him first. The processing has continued throughout the day, but is going through the filter of Him.

The early morning wake up time was further redeemed by a sleeping child that allowed Cale and I to have a great conversation and prayer together before he left for work. That never happens and we might need to do something differently so that it does! I was able to share with Cale some of the things weighing me down and to be encouraged by the godly counsel of my husband and prayers offered on my behalf.

While I really would like to get a better night's sleep tonight (really tomorrow morning) if the Lord needs to get me out of bed at dark-thirty to speak to me like He did today, then sign me up!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Some more parenting firsts

Cale had Monday off so we set off in search of some family fun. We spent a good part of the day at COSI in Columbus. Haven had a wonderful time running around, exploring different displays and splashing around at the water table. The museum has a huge area for toddlers to play. There are several different play areas including a doctor's office and ambulance, a "park" that has slides, bridges, ramps and tunnels, little houses to "build" and "paint", huge blocks to build with and a water area. She loved it all and pitched a fit when we made her leave the water area because she was literally soaking wet!

Haven also loved playing in the little houses and would go in and paint and then wash her hands. We had a little incident though- her first bully! She had been coming and going between the two different houses and while she'd been gone a brother and a sister had taken over one of them. And by taken over, I mean that they were blocking the doorway with their bodies, pushing Haven when she tried to get by and yelling, "No! No!" in her face. Since this was my first situation with kids being directly mean to my child, I didn't know what to do. I know what I wanted to do, but that wasn't really appropriate. Their mother was not in sight. And this didn't just happen once. Haven tried to go back in there a few different times over the course of at least ten minutes and their mom did not appear. When they started shoving her it was time to go. Haven wasn't nearly as upset by this as we were. She just kept trying to get past them and do her own thing. She didn't push back or yell at them, she just wanted to play. While it made me mad to see other kids treating my daughter this way, it was interesting to watch her respond to them.

After we left the museum we drove around for a bit so Haven could get a nap in. We were staying in the area so we could have dinner with friends so a nap was necessary. Once she woke up, we headed to Easton for a bit of shopping. We had a nice dinner and were able to catch up with some of Cale's old friends. Twice while in the restaurant Haven had to go to the bathroom. After these two potty trips, we felt pretty confident that she would be okay for the car ride home. We said our goodbyes and then walked out of the restaurant into a snowstorm with horrible visibility. We knew it was going to be a long ride home.

Within ten minutes of being in the car Haven started asking to use the potty. We had just gotten on the highway and Cale was maybe going 20 mph becasue he couldn't see anything. Stopping at that point was really not an option. She kept fussing though so we knew something had to be done. I decided to reach into the back of the car and try to put a diaper on her while we were moving. Unfortunately, I was a bit late. While I was getting all the necessary items out of her bag, she kept saying, "Havetogopotty. Havetogopotty." And then she started saying it while also grunting. I'm pretty sure you can guess what happened without me going into the gory details! Let's just say that then my task evolved into removing her underwear with a surprise inside and then putting a diaper on her for the remainder of the trip. While she was strapped into her carseat and it's snowing so hard and Cale can't see to keep us on the road. Lovely. Once we got that situation taken care of she entertained herself for a bit before falling asleep. A trip that usually takes us a little over an hour turned into a 2 and a half hour drive home. It was not fun, but we made it safely home.

Despite our "incidents" it was a good day together as family, and as I think about, a good analogy of what life is really like. People can be mean and annoying and life is messy at times, but at the end of the day what really matters is who's by your side.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Busy, busy

Cale and I are very protective of our free time together in the evenings. Sometimes bordering on the selfish, even. Although I don't think it's a conscious decision to be selfish; it's simply that we like to be with each other more than anyone else. I think it's a wonderful thing that I can say without hesitation that my husband would rather sit next to me on the couch on any given night "doing nothing" than be anywhere else. I feel the same. (Well, a girls night thrown in now and again is always okay with me, too!)

With that being said, I am also a big believer in the ebb and flow of life. We ease into new seasons of life and new opportunities come our way. There are always good things that we could be doing with our time and we have decided that now is the right time for us to both be involved in some of those opportunities. But there is a cost. Our calendar is now filling up and there are 3-4 nights each week that we have standing commitments.

In many ways I'm a free wheeler; but at the same time, I enjoy a good plan. A contradiction, I know. I like to be able to do what I want when I want and don't like the pressure of someone telling me I have to be anywhere at a certain time. So it is a stretch for me to have three nights a week already planned out. Yes, they are filled with good things, but it makes me a bit uncomfortable. Reminding myself that it's only for a season gives me some peace.

It helps that I'm also really excited about what both our evenings will be consumed by. I am starting two new Bible studies in the next month. On Monday nights I am gathering with a small group of other mom's to study Hebrews together. I haven't done a formal Bible study in a long time- not since becoming a wife and mom. I am confident that God is going to use the other wives and moms in the group to challenge and encourage me in my ministry to my family.

The other study I'm starting is with the women in my house church. We have done accountability and prayer in small, same gender groups since we started our house church 2 years ago. While it's great to connect with the women on a weekly basis, we are always pressed for time and it's a huge challenge when we have new people coming and going. It's not exactly the prime situation for transparency. We have a strong core group of women who are committed to growing together and have decided to meet twice a month during the week to do a book study together. Without me really being aware of it, I'm now leading this study. I've already seen efforts to thwart our plans which makes me confident that we're on the right track. I am excited to see how the Lord is going to grow us stronger together and in Him.

Cale is also starting a new Bible study with the guys from house church. They are doing a discipleship book together and meeting every week. Cale hasn't been involved in a focused study since college really and I am excited for him. As much as I like being with him in the evenings, I know that this is time well spent. Anything that will encourage him in his walk with the Lord is going to make him a better husband and dad. I'm all for that!

So I will be alternating my Bible studies week to week (so I have one or the other every week) and Cale's gone every Tuesday night. Throw in house church every Sunday, house church prayer once a month, Recipe club, quilting and random life stuff and we are busy. But I know that this is just for a season and it's not just to be busy. Our hope for all these "extras" is that they will draw us closer to His side and make us more into His image.

I'm confident that on the other side of this busy season the cost will be well worth it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Weekend ready

Another week gone by and a full weekend ahead of us. My family is coming into town to do a belated birthday celebration. My oldest brother's birthday is two days after mine and my sis-in-law's is two days after that. And of course the recent birthday girl at our house will be included in the celebrations. Thirteen people under our roof for 48 hours. We don't have any grand plans except church tomorrow night and a stop here for dinner afterwards. I've got a clean house, beds ready and a fridge full of food. I'm looking forward to it (just not to the piles of laundry that await me Monday morning!)

I'm off to finish up a few more things before our home gets invaded!

PS- I don't know if you've been following the Compassion Blogging Tour, but you should be. I haven't been keeping up with everyone on the trip, but have been reading BooMama's and Shannon's posts and they are powerful. If you've got some time this weekend, head over here and read some excellent writing and maybe even DO something.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Two years old never looked this good before

We spent part of our Saturday morning with our neighbor, Chris, as he photographed Haven for her two year old pictures. He is really talented (as you'll see below) and we couldn't be happier with the way they turned out. He took well over 300 photos so these are a very small sample.

Let me know if you're looking for a great, inexpensive photographer. He's looking to start doing more of this on the side and we can't recommend him highly enough!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I've been tagged....4x4

Jess tagged me for this 4x4 meme. And because it's an easy out, I'm going to comply.

-4- Jobs I've had:

*Nanny- I spent several years while living in Cleveland working as a nanny for five different families. I worked for a fantastic family the year before we got married and I truly loved those kids. Their daughter was the flower girl in our wedding.

*Intern- I spent my first summer in Cleveland as a Children's Ministry Intern. This was a challenging time for me, but I got to work with some wonderful people and I learned so much. Little pay and lots of hours for minimal results build character. At least I hope they did!

*Personal assistant- This was hands down my favorite job. I have worked for two different people in this capacity and I loved never knowing what the day held. Sometimes I spent the day working in the office and others I was completely out and about running errands, taking care of business. There was even an occasional afternoon spent babysitting or doing laundry and because it was different all the time I really didn't mind. It was a fun job!

*Missionary/office manager/financial assistant/general laborer- I didn't have one specific job title while we served with Christ's Hope International, but really did whatever needed done that day. I certainly spent a good portion of my time in the office putting my administrative skills to use. Not "typical" mission wok, but necessary work (although sometimes not enough of it!).

-4- Shows I tivo:

*My tivo is called the VCR. Do you people remember these archaic devices? We do not have cable so our tv experience is pretty limited and we like it that way. That's not to say that there aren't a few shows that I always watch (or at least tape on the VCR to watch later). Hands down favorite is Friday Night Lights. It's the best show on television and if you aren't watching it you're crazy!

*We have been missing new episodes of The Office here at our house. Thankfully we have been able to get a fix by watching old episodes online.

*Since we don't have The Food Network, the closest I can get to a cooking show is The Rachael Ray Show. I could easily do without all the other stuff she does on her show, but suffer through it for the cooking, because (hate her if you want) the girl can cook. We are always trying out one of her recipes and there hasn't been a bad one yet.

*I can't really thing of a fourth show that I love. I think that's probably a good thing.

-4- Places I've been

*This is a hard one to narrow down since I am such a world traveller (um, right). I should probably pick the more exotic and exciting ones so it makes me sound cooler. We'll start with my absolute favorite- Cape Town, South Africa. Gorgeous city, tons to do, amazing history and delicious food. If we ever get a chance to go back to that part of Africa we will definitely go there again. I loved it there.

*Western Coast of Puerto Rico- I have been there twice on Spring Break missions trips. Life changing experiences in phenomenal surroundings. White sand beaches, the bluest blue water, mountains and rain forests. Puerto Rico has it all. I also love the Spanish culture and found it exhilrating and full of life. Cale and I always talk about going back together.

*The Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada- This is where we spent our honeymoon travelling around to three different lodges in three different towns. Breathtaking views, the love of my life and several hotel upgrades made for a fantastic trip.

*Cotonou, Benin, West Africa- I lived on the Mercy Ship Anastasis for three months while training with Youth With A Mission. I then lived out in a small village called Paou for three months. One of the most growing times in my life and where I began my love/hate relationship with the continent of Africa.

-4- Foods I Love:

*I'm pretty boring so my first one is pizza- traditional, bbq chicken, spinach, thai- any way i can fix it, we'll eat it.

*Bread- in almost any variety. I especially love my own homemade bread. I could live on that alone if it became necessary.

*I'm going to have to go with Jess and say clementines. We eat them like crazy during the winter and will be sad to see spring arrive and take them away from us. All good things must come to end I guess. There's always next year.

*I really love a good salad and eat at least one, if not two a day. Nothing fancy- romaine, spinach, mushrooms, red bell peppers, green onions, carrots and maybe some grape tomatoes when they are in season. Love, love, love them. Makes me want to go eat one right now. Oh and put some sunflower seeds or toasted almonds on top. Delish. Maybe some craisins or golden raisins, too.

That was actually a lot harder then I thought it would be. Who else will play along? Amber? Jenny? Any other takers?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Link love

Would you believe me if I told you that I had every intention of posting everyday this week? Yeah, me neither. But it did cross my mind! The busyness at the beginning of the week gave way to sickness at the end. Life happened and sleep didn't.

I've been "writing" a post in my head when I've lain awake the last few nights about our "investigation" and the "government agencies" and the "orders" against us. But it hasn't actually escaped my head yet so instead you find yourself reading this. I apologize. Since I don't have anything more to offer you I thought I might as well direct you to someone who does have something to say. The links below are some of the new blogs I have come across in the last several weeks.

Katherine at Raising Five (she's in the midst of home renovations before a move so scroll down a few posts to read some of her meatier posts)

Rahab's Thread is a source of encouragement through God's Word

Jeana at Days to Come wrote this post yesterday that actually might just nix my need to write the aforementioned post about our "investigation"

And if you're looking for some cute Valentine's last minute, has some cute, free cards to print off. We sent a few in the mail today!

Happy weekend!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Birthday Snapshots

Haven had a fun filled birthday weekend. A small gathering of friends Friday night left her running around the house in non-stop laughter. Great amounts of cake have been consumed by all the last three days. (It was kinda sad cutting into the little snowman, but he was delicious!) Haven loved it all- the attention, the snacks, the presents. Hopefully she knows how loved she is!

Posing with "Fosty"

Could the two of them be any cuter??!!

My little cheeseball in the midst of her party delerium

Ready to blow out her candles (which she did before we finished singing to her!)

Trying out her new trike

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ready or not, she's two

Today my baby girl turns two. It's hard to believe that it's only been two years since she joined our family because I honestly can't remember life without her in it. I don't recall a time when I wasn't her mama. I knew that having a baby was going to change my life and in many respects I thought I was prepared.

I wasn't.

I wasn't ready to feel the love that overwhelmed me when I first saw her little face. I wasn't ready to feel like part of my heart is stuck outside my body. I wasn't ready to care so much about another person's eating and sleeping and pooping schedule. I didn't know that her smile and laugh would delight me so much. I didn't know that someone sleeping peacefully could be so enthralling. I didn't know how impatient I was. Or how selfish (I thought I had learned enough of this in over three years of marriage, but oh, how wrong I was!) I didn't comprehend the weight of responsibility I would feel for her.

I didn't know her. I didn't know who she would be or how she would act. And while I still don't know all that the future holds for her, I know her. I know a sassy little toddler who loves to be silly and make you laugh. I know an intelligent girl with a hunger for knowledge and a desire to figure things out. I know a compassionate child who is always trying to help and cares about the well being of others.

Haven truly is the light of my life and the joy of my heart. (She is also the exasperator of my mind and the wearing of my patience, but we are focusing on the good stuff today!) I am thankful beyond words that God saw fit to allow me to be this girl's mom. I pray that I am worthy of this high calling. I look to the future with great anticipation as God molds and shapes her little heart and draws her to His side. May I not get in the way of His work, but be used to direct and guide her in the way that she should go.

Happy Birthday, Haven!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Faithful reminders

I have been busy this afternoon in preparation for a certain 2 year olds birthday. When I finally sat down to have my quiet time, almost on cue, this song began to play.

"Faithful" Ben and Robin Pasley




In His gentle and kind way, the Lord draws me close once again and reminds me what's important.