Sunday, December 4, 2011

all good gifts...

211. that even sickness passes quickly
212. for a healthy baby girl over the last 16 months
213. teeth emerging after the difficulties that come with them in little mouths
214. our glider that makes comforting her comfortable for me
215. babysitting swaps with a sweet friend, date nights are possible without the additional cost of a babysitter
216. resting with Matt, doing nothing more than reading in one another's company
217. first birthdays and the thrill of a baby discovering cake :)
218. baby legs with ruffly socks and patent leather shoes... very classic in my mind

219. good books to read aloud with Moriah
220. quality music performed without the compromise and for God's glory, "Behold the Lamb of God"
221. lighting that matches music as it's played... especially when the lights suddenly shone as the musicians sang of the angels appearing and singing to the shepherds
222. considering our light in heaven will radiate from the True Light, wow
223. homemade cheesy potato soup
224. an unexpectedly warm day, perfect for taking a walk as a family
225. lovely nativities and ornaments made around the world and sold in our local fair trade store
226. homemade Christmas potpourri for the stove, that I'm excited to try
227. watching squirrels scamper with Moriah
228. the relief medicine can provide for fevered babies
229. blueberry muffins from my childhood "Fannie Farmer Junior" cookbook
230. Christmas cards arriving from near and far
231. the process of thinking about the Lord's work and composing a Christmas letter to share

232. wrapping gifts and the joy of surprising others
233. purple corduroy overalls with ruffles and a Peter Pan collared shirt
234. tiny tiramisu for treats
235. locally made marinara sauce from Lotsa Pasta
236. a husband who chooses to know my heart even when I struggle to communicate it well
237. catching up with friends far away
238. much needed naps
239. new light bulbs after becoming used to a half lit room
240. watching Moriah learn

241. the opportunity to encourage with Truth as we think through it together
242. a helpful devotional to draw my thoughts to the Lord's work in all of life, currently reading this one called "Contentment" but also recently finished "Joy"
243. asking "who is God?" as I read familiar passages in the Christmas story... seeing Him in the Word as He makes Himself known always
244. a thoughtful brother who loves being an uncle (or so it seems!)



245. God's protection over those I love during a car accident, showing His mercy
246. songs conveying Truth with creativity while requiring thoughtfulness, listen to "I Will Find a Way" at the bottom on a video link, then read the interview for background info about the fascinating song

Monday, November 28, 2011

choosing to notice

I've found that most of the contents on these lists are very normal, life moments, ones that I might otherwise pass right by, and too often do. Thinking thankfully challenges me to praise God and not whiz through life blind to Him and His very good work all around me. I want to live these days well and remembering is part of that for me...

183. rainy day naps
184. a baby who will nap at the same time
185. the glow of a Christmas tree
186. assembling the pre-lit tree correctly for the first time ever! all lights on :)
187. Moriah's interest in the angel on our tree and with each nativity
188. Moriah's newest word "geeze" (aka "Jesus") as she holds each baby Jesus in the nativities we've collected
189. noticing the strange phenomena of rain through the eyes of a little one marveling at it
190. exercise and the productive work of it
191. ironing for my husband to serve him in small ways
192. trail mix! the great snack of Cheerios, pretzels, m&m's, raisins, and cashews
193. mini pumpkin pies and homemade whipped cream
194. the generosity of believers who welcome us into their homes even on holidays like Thanksgiving
195. discussions of accountability with serious questions showing care and bringing about godliness in one another
196. the voice of a baby who's just discovered it
197. owl pajamas on my sweet girl
198. singing Christmas songs and thinking of Christ born as a baby
199. God's providence in an early Christmas bonus, just the right amount at just the right time, He knows our needs even before we do
200. bonus points = free pizza
201. reflecting on past goodness as I re-read old Christmas letters
202. proclaiming the Lord's work now as we are testimonies of it
203. 6 days in a row off work
204. Christmas crafts in planning stages
205. gift giving for those who've been an especially "big" blessing
206. the promise of bulbs blooming in days to come and the joy of watching their transformation
207. the opportunity to be Moriah's first teacher
208. for the many temptations the Lord has protected me from in His strength and wisdom, not my own
209. warm socks
210. a hard working husband who's finished his semester's school work

Friday, November 25, 2011

Photo Card

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Turn your family into a holiday card this season.
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

30+ reasons for gratitude lately

151. so many blessings they're hard to remember... thus I ought to be recording them more frequently!
152. a week at home, every night
153. a job that has taught me everything I know about flexibility, good for me to learn as routine is my comfort
154. Matt who is gentle in helping me live outside routines, but kind to tolerate them when they help us most
155. Trader Joe's and new tasty treats... chai tea mix and personal apple dumplings for a Friday night at home date
156. shared interests with dear Matt who enjoys sitting together in the quiet of turning pages as we read, maybe more than I do!
157. a healthy and BUSY baby girl

158. my little girl and her mouthful of teeth
159. lengthy cuddles and a basket of board books during an avoidance of napping today (by Moriah, not me!)
160. the thrill of Play-Doh for little hands
161. watching Moriah catch and scoop bubbles and plop them into her little bowl in the bathtub... her actions were very deliberate and intentional, though no bubbles were actually transferred
162. the joy of whispering with Moriah who likes to whisper back

163. a print shop on campus with a laminator I've learned!
164. preparations for a meaningful Advent
165. the new tradition and collection of objects for our Jesse Tree
166. the opportunity to buy gifts for others, especially Matt who I'm not able to surprise as often as I'd like
167. memories of the past from saints who've lived many years with the Lord
168. thank you notes scrawled onto simple paper in recognition of a church's gift to one in need

169. an middle aged son at church even without his elderly mom, coming willingly without her Godly influence
170. a feisty older member who's decided to take her prescription (for a sinus infection) so she can join us next Sunday to worship... she held off on her medicine for most of the week we were told

171. twins
172. a break from weekly classes for both Matt and I, every night at home!
173. hospitable strangers inviting us to join a Thanksgiving celebration
174. photobooks that capture memories

175. chai tea and apple cider, my favorite cold weather warm drinks
176. learning from my husband as I proof read his papers for class
177. recognizing more of God's big picture work in His Word after a Seminary Wives class devoted to surveys of the Old and New Testament
178. the excitement of new classes ahead... for me "Redeeming the Time", "Intro to Biblical Counseling" and "Spiritual Life of a Minister's Wife"
179. an extended visit with family ahead
180. to help Matt with joy in the Lord as I serve
181. conversations with a mentor and friend who's remained faithfully consistent over many years
182. rejoicing in the Lord's work


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

abundance

I haven't updated this list in what seems like a long time... hoping to remember all the little things that I don't want to miss as I thank the Lord for every good gift He gives...

126. generosity of family = two yummy weekend lunches out at Bluegrass Burgers and Lotsa Pasta
127. watching Moriah love her far away family every chance she gets
128. the spontaneous "please" Moriah is saying when she needs a bit of help these days (opening her cup to get the last bit of milk, getting down from the picnic table after climbing up bravely, or opening a toolbox of Mr. S' that latches shut!)
129. the joy of motherhood as an opportunity to serve the Lord all the time, I didn't always feel this way as the first few sleep deprived months are far more exhausting than I was prepared for initially... I think it's the sowing and reaping principle come to life
130. comforting Moriah and knowing that the Lord somehow uses my hugs, and arms to hold her as calming to her little spirit (before motherhood I always worried that I might not have the "magical touch" I witnessed from other moms with my own child)
131. the friendly dogs who romp on the dog hill at our lovely Cherokee Park
132. little children playing with one another without hindrance, even though they may be strangers... just amazing, probably the community we all ought to long for and have with other Believers, more to look forward to in Heaven when all is made right
133. friends who became moms right about the same time as me!
134. enjoying the company of those friends at the zoo with our little ladies
135. kindness of a friend and an amazing memory resulting in a yummy surprise chai tea
136. smooth outings with three children, I didn't think it would be possible :)
137. giggles of little ones together... heard during a "You Make Me Wanna Shout!" dance party last night... not the "witching hour" in this home for once
138. cooking a "real" dinner during naps just to make it possible
139. the calming help and mood booster of fresh air! I'm becoming old when I just want to go outside "to enjoy the fresh air"
140. toy tractors driving through the grass
141. the automatic fun balls bring to playing with children, especially in a racquetball gym
142. friends who will walk in the evening, even though it's dark (back to #139)
143. a new recipe for tasty pasta
144. the acquired tastes of life post-college: mushrooms, coffee, kalmata olives, tomatoes, fresh herbs, tiramisu, mangoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes, celery in soup, pimento cheese, onions on hamburgers, creamy tomato soups, pesto, and the list could go on...
145. sharing recipes with friends
146. praying with Matt and knowing we seek the Lord together for our wisdom and guidance
147. Trader Joe's and the fun of a new grocery store with unique extras
148. financial provision in the most amazing ways... an extra $100 then a car repair that wouldn't have been afforded otherwise, "overtime" pay for recent extra hours that will help with a Thanksgiving worthy feast
149. the potential for a long Christmas Break from work, just like my teaching days... WOW!
150. knowing that the Lord knows all things and has most lovingly ordained them, we are safely in His keeping

pardon the lack of pictures, I'll keep working on it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

more of His goodness...

112. children playing happily together
113. the potential of exercise while holding a little baby (thanks again to Mommy and Me at the Seminary)
114. the surprise of long naps from little ones who needed rest
115. cuddling to read books at any time of day (not just bedtimes!)
116. the Spirit who is our Helper as Jesus promised
117. the last of my hardest Seminary Wives Class quizzes tonight (Dr. Schreiner is a New Testament scholar, he thinks they're easy!)
118. the fresh feeling of a clean house
119. smooth outings with three children, I was overwhelmed at first, but the Lord's grace has been sufficient always
120. "pleee" = "please" from the mouth of our sweet girl
121. adorable purple corduory overalls from a very nice children's store thanks to Matt's generous co-workers
122. tasty breakfast options on an early morning at work
123. visits from more family members who don't like to be away from Moriah for too long
124. a job with holidays off, already looking forward to three leisurely days for Thanksgiving
125. the sweet companionship little children offer one another through tender hugs and kind kisses

Monday, October 31, 2011

why be thankful?

I just read this quote in a book I'm reading chapter by chapter whenever I have time, called The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink. I started out reading the chapter titled "The Knowledge of God" and have skipped around from there reading both "The Faithfulness of God" and most recently "The Goodness of God" where I found this quote...

"'O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men' (Ps. 107:8). Gratitude is the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence; yet it is often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it." from The Attributes of God, page 60

This seemed like a very timely chapter for me as I seek to be more aware of God's abundant goodness to me. Join me in thanking Him as "we daily experience it", both big and small. If you're looking for a brief book to read in addition to Bible Study I'd highly suggest this one, each chapter is about 2-3 pages long and full of material to lead your thoughts to the greatness of God in His infinite perfections.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

grace upon grace

81. the Word which provides us with more than enough spiritual food and "does not return void"
82. baskets of clean laundry
83. the feeling of starting a fresh week
84. visits from far away family

85. the generosity of others
86. the Lord's work on behalf of His people, even using unbelievers in accordance to His plans
87. eating brunch out at a yummy place, Wild Eggs, for my Louisville readers :)
89. sharing meals with Matt, our choices are great compliments to the other's preferences, and then there's more to taste
90. apple cider with extra spices to make it extra good
91. roasting a pumpkin whole for the real pumpkin puree
92. pumpkin bread for my husband, the farmer who gave us the pumpkin, the church member who let us fish in his pond, and our family visiting next weekend
93. Moriah's first fishing trip in the midst of a lovely fall day, beautiful property, and her grandpa too!
94. catching two little fish, a nice reward for the leisurely "work" of casting, reeling, and hoping
95. unexpected chili, sandwiches, and chocolate cake from kind people
96. great blue herons, so majestic to me
97. wild turkeys
98. a buck on a hill top with the sun shining behind him and fall trees in the background
99. crunching leaves under our stroller on a walk
100. excitement from baby girls, coming in the form of squeals and smiles

101. peanut butter m&m's, glad my dad shared his sweet tooth with me!
102. Rotel queso, reminds me of many college dorm nights... not a healthy snack every day, but a funny recollection now
103. Monday off work, makes recovery from the weekend possible
104. a husband who listens, thinks seriously, and shares with wisdom

105. church members joyfully giving to our first Operation Christmas Child collection
106. the Lords conviction, leading us to be more like Christ
107. lives that are changed and set apart by Him, for His glory
108. answered prayers in healthy pregnancies of friends who've longed and trusted God for His plans
109. Graeter's ice cream, "some of the best you've ever had... I promise" has been told to too many family members over the last four years in Louisville
110. just enough time to get out the door and on our way, even when the atomic clock changed earlier than scheduled for daylight savings time
111. bows on baby girls

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

more to be thankful for

61. a husband who accompanies me gladly on nanny overnights
62. an employer who lets us use her washing machine/dryer during the workday for Moriah's laundry (saves our quarters!)
63. a good morning with a happy three year old
64. the joy I watch from combine harvesters, cherry pickers, cement trucks, and other large vehicles while on the road with a little guy
65. a mellow baby girl to care for
66. working out with kind ladies who all desire to glorify the Lord with our bodies in the midst of a full life aside from "Mommy and Me" hour at the gym :)
67. the changing sounds of little babies as they learn all it means to talk! sing-songy gurggles are music to my ears
68. wild red curls on my baby girl's head... called "mad girls" by a teenage cashier when we were out and about one day, made me laugh a lot
69. meals that make plenty so that we have a week of freezer dinners already on hand
70. pacifiers to help soothe little ones in a pinch
71. beautiful autumn weather for playing at a park and spending time outside before cold winter air arrives to stay
72. preparing for a guest in the form of my dad coming to stay for a long weekend!
73. cleaning out a disheveled closet and enjoying the satisfaction of visible change
74. watching my husband grow in trusting the Lord each day while clinging to His Word, so thankful for his leadership
75. timely encouragement straight from the Word and food for thought from my counselor/friend
76. catching spit up early... not always a success!
77. sleeping through the night, Moriah's on the mend without such a runny nose to wake her up
78. going to bed early
79. a free gym and exercise class - back to #66
80. more welcoming friends in a community group over a pot-luck meal/feast!

Friday, October 21, 2011

life and life abundant

51. the Lord's power, most obvious through His Word and the Holy Spirit, which changes my perspective and values to be more like His, all for His glory and my joy
52. creation's interdependence, as I heard birds chirping in the trees I noticed the perfectly timed berries growing to fill their tummies, if He cares for them how much more does He care for us
53. consignment stores in abundance here, perfect for virtually all of Moriah's wardrobe needs
54. thoughtful and generous friends
55. my ring sling carrier which allows me to tote Moriah around while letting me remain free to use both hands for carrying a laundry basket or pushing a vacuum!
56. the recipe for a sparkling sink: clorox and hot water soaking for an hour, scrubbing with baking soda, rinsing clean, then a quick spray of Windex for shine
57. a much needed and very restful morning with a sweet girl, pajamas, breakfast, and books on the couch cuddled with a blanket - can't beat it :)
58. God's grace providing tenderness all night long while caring for a sick little one
59. humble teachers
60. friendly faces I recognize out and about, things like this make me feel at home in a funny sort of way

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

more of His goodness

26. slow starts on weekend mornings
27. spontaneous but intentional kisses from a baby girl
28. friends, to reconnect with whenever I'm given the chance!
29. rejoicing in the blessings of others, like a recent engagement of a dear friend :)
30. the best chocolate chip cookies thanks to a circulating "secret" recipe! (hint... bananas not eggs)
31. the comfort of pajamas
32. the wisdom of many compiled in stacks of great books
33. opportunities to teach my daughter bits of self-control even from a young age, with hope that she will ultimately surrender her will to the Lord
34. a job which gives me opportunities to remember Christ's words and purposes in molding us as we serve others
35. tucking my baby girl into bed with a blanket I made just for her
36. the simple fun of a pumpkin patch with tractors of course! (and little boys in tow)
37. friendship found in lots of places
38. play dough in little hands
39. a husband who is my best friend
40. a kind guard dog, who is actually just a Golden Retriever (on duty as I nanny overnight away from home!)
41. a mild mannered daughter (a specific answer to many prayers for a "peaceful" baby!)
42. organized exercise as infrequent as it may be
43. crock pot dinners
44. generous giving which blessed us (a kind church member gave us cash to go out to eat!)
45. the yummy lunch we enjoyed as a result of #45
46. eyes that are opened to the providence of God as a result of greater dependence and need
47. home (that means a lot, but to explain seems to rob it all)
48. fellowship with Believers who you just met, no other sort of "instant" friendship can be found
49. recognizing God at work, changing me through conviction and a deep desire to repent in a fresh way
50. elated laughter from my baby girl, especially when it comes as she's loving time with her wonderful daddy

Friday, October 14, 2011

a thankful heart

Lately, I've been meeting with a Godly woman for the encouragement that comes from wise counsel. The Lord has been very good and very near in His timing during this new opportunity and blessing in my walk of faith. After our meetings, I'm sent away with helpful "homework" to keep my focus upon the Lord and the things He's teaching me. One of my recent assignments was to begin a thankful list in keeping with 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I'm also reminded of James 1:17, stating "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." Throughout Scripture we are exhorted to be a thankful people, and to remember the Lord, and His work among us. I hope this list will communicate in a simple way my desire to glorify Him as I enjoy Him in daily life. This blog, A Holy Experience, by Ann Voskamp was the beginning of such lists for many, and is also greatly glorifying to the Lord.

As a side note, I'm often tempted to liken these lists to a favorite tear off calendar I used to buy year in and year out... "1,001 things to be happy about" it was called I think?! While I really enjoyed the calendar and found many uses for those pages (some involved being an RA in my dorm during college, others involved letters to friends, etc.), they weren't aimed toward praising God as the giver of all. Though my list may have many mundane and simple joys, I pray that it will be apparent that the Lord grants each blessing, and I'm thankful to see Him pointing me towards eternity in these joys.

So, let the list begin with today...
1. the Word which enlightens my heart and brings change
2. wisdom of others who have studied and learned at length then choose to teach in a humble way, I'm a benefactor in my Seminary Wives classes, most recently with New Testament scholar, Dr. Tom Schreiner
3. a husband who knows my heart
4. patient listening ears to the big and small moments of my days
5. Friday morning grocery shopping at a semi-leisurely pace
6. the kindness of strangers towards me, especially when they open doors, and help in general ways as I tote a sweet toddler to and fro
7. another month of bills paid while trusting the Lord
8. neighbors who enjoy our little one and gladly babysit
9. the opportunity to serve with Matt a small and faithful congregation of saints in the Lord
10. new friends who have already offered sincere fellowship, prayer, and accountability in a time when all are desperately needed
11. watching my baby girl learn, each moment holds a new fascination
12. the changing colors of fall leaves and a tiny bouquet of them we collected today
13. a place to call home which includes a public library within stroller-walking distance
14. gracious librarians who understand my late charges
15. my mom who is a friend (she always has been, though she didn't aim to be during times when I most needed a parent!)
16. four day work weeks
17. the blessing of shifted priorities and the opportunity to serve my family primarily in the home
18. the joyful sacrifices Matt makes on our family's behalf
19. generous and thoughtful employers who make work a joy
20. the love God has given me for children He's crafted
21. God's work throughout the world, we find ourselves in the midst of Believers from every continent (except Antarctica) in our Seminary apartment complex alone!
22. that God would desire to use His people to accomplish purposes He could certainly bring about without us
23. music that teaches Truth
24. a budding reader (a toddler who loves reading!) in our home, cuddling with books as she points and motions for more is an indulgence I'm glad to accept 25. a husband who leads, and our home without TV (this is good for us, and may not be for all)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a three ring circus of sorts...




This week I've started nannying full time again... while I've always been "full time" this summer has been more leisurely as my employer was on maternity leave after the birth of her baby girl. She's just gone back to work and is getting into the swing of things again, as am I... with three little ones now, instead of only two :) Today life looked like a three ring circus, though it was filled with much joy. Realizing this makes me seem as old as I feel, I really don't notice how tired I get until I sit down (at nap time) and feel sore getting up again! So if you'd been a fly on the wall today you could've enjoyed this wild scene, and you might have awarded me the grand prize on "America's Funniest Home Videos" if only there had been a camera filming us...



I decided to try a new method of painting with Mr. S. while Moriah napped this morning. I thought he'd like it, but didn't anticipate quite how much he'd love it! We filled small spray bottles (think travel sized hairspray bottles), with water and food coloring. This was a wonderful idea from Pinterest which has been my main source for fun from my nanny bag of tricks! I thought ahead enough to fill the bottles only half way so that our painting couldn't last too long (all good things must come to an end), and to take our project outside for completion. So Mr. S. sprayed and sprayed one, two, three giant pages of white art paper from his Melissa and Doug easel. Then we used three more pages of typing paper. Then baby girl MK woke up. Mr. S. walked with me as we carried her outside to drink her bottle while the fun continued! As we were out of paper, I told Mr. S. he could spray the grass and mulch around the yard since he was loving it. As I watched him spray he pointed to a rose garden near the back of his yard and asked to spray there. He was still within my sight, so that seemed fine. I could see him working to loosen the top of the spray bottle and told him that he was welcome to pour the remaining water mixture out. What I couldn't see from such a distance was that as he worked to open the bottle, he sprayed himself in the FACE... with RED food coloring! He looked like he was bleeding as you can imagine :) So I came to terms with the fact that the mess had already been made and we'd work on cleaning it up next. As I sat feeding baby MK her bottle a strong gust of wind blew one of the wet paintings over MK's head! Now this sweet baby girl was wet with the combo of blue and red food coloring and water spray! Oh my goodness, how wild :) I immediately consoled her, and wiped her clean only to realize that her very sweet white eyelet outfit had been stained. So at that point I wasn't crying, because my employer is SO kind, but I was really prepared for the worst. We all went inside after weighing down the remaining paintings. Praise the Lord, Dawn dish soap removes food coloring from skin with ease. I'd just cleaned off Mr. S.'s face when his mom came out from her home office to hear of our adventures. (We text throughout the day and I'd just sent her a message saying, "Be prepared for a good laugh when you come out for a break")



So I'm sure an eventful morning like this is the norm for many stay-at-home moms, but it felt quite wild to me! I think my idea of "calm" will be ever evolving as three little ones, three and under teach me how to stay on my toes and think ahead, from their perspective! In other news, Moriah slept through the adventures which was a blessing to me... though she boycotted her afternoon nap today throwing pacifier and owl (that she sleeps with) out of the pack and play in the midst of irrecognizable baby jabbering. This afternoon we enjoyed a bit of water play on the deck, although our strawberry milk excitement overshadowed the fun of water so we went in early to enjoy our special treat! What a day to say the least :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

homemade fun



As Moriah has grown, I've really enjoyed providing opportunities for her to play in helpful and fun ways! As a former teacher, I'm always curious as I read about developmental stages and milestones, which I know isn't the case for everyone :) I've enjoyed reading a few books that give me ideas from time to time, and also enjoy browsing blogs and Pinterest for other suggestions. The following ideas have been Moriah's favorites, and were all easy and very frugal (if not free!) Maybe your little one would enjoy this sort of fun too...

Our most recent fun game involves an empty milk carton and clothespins (or "doll pins"... without a metal spring). I simply cut an opening in the side of the milk carton and removed the lid. I also covered the edges of the hole with masking tape so that they wouldn't scrape Moriah as she reached her hand in and out. The object of this game is for your little one to drop a clothespin in the top of the milk carton and then remove it at the bottom after it fall through from the hole in the side. Remember babies learn in simple ways!

This is a helpful activity for your little child's fine motor skills, and fitting the clothespin through the relatively small hard is easier said than done for tiny hands. I made this for Moriah about a month ago (or more) when she was 10 1/2 months old or so. I showed her how to do it a few times (for maybe 10 minutes or so?!), and helped her by tipping the carton so that it was easier for her. She didn't have much success with it then, independently or not, but LOVED to hold and carry around the clothespins. While we've had it within reach of her since, she hasn't noticed it much and maybe played with it one or two others time at the most. Then, we had friends babysit this weekend while Matt and I went on a lunch date. They told us that Moriah crawled over to the milk carton and dropped the clothespin in right away to show them! I was shocked and hadn't seen her "new trick" in person at that point. When our friends left, Moriah was very interested in her new found skill and played with the milk carton and clothespins over and over uninterrupted. She's been happy to play with them for the last couple of days as well, and works independently now. She likes it most when I cheer for her after the clothespin falls in, and concentrates to complete the task.



It's amazing to watch as she's just at the point of indepedence while still being challenged a bit. (If you're a current or former educator you'll recognize this as Vygotsky's "Zone of Proximal Development" which I just checked on wikipedia to make sure my memory hadn't failed me!) This is right when learning happens and mastery is being gained. Matt and I have both shared that we can almost see the wheels spinning in her mind as she plays with toys like this. I originally found this idea here, from The Imagination Tree blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

battling anxiety

As Matt and I have discussed his recent anxiety, we've been graciously reminded that thankfulness to the Lord helps us combat anxious thoughts. Paul explains in Philippians 4:5-7...
5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Why thankfulness? In finding ourselves thankful to the Lord, we are recalling His past goodness to us. We are reminding ourselves that as He was faithful in the past, He is unchanging, and will be faithful even now in the midst of any circumstance that might otherwise be causing us to worry.

For Matt's belated birthday gift I made him the following gift which I hope will be helpful to our whole family. On each rock we are recording the small detailed ways that the Lord does indeed answer prayers all around us! Many times we are able to remember the ways the Lord worked in big things (meeting our spouse, providing a job, helping during a move, etc.) but we overlook His care in details that are easier to forget. My hope, is that we will write on our rocks His work and His answers in our midst. When our glass vase gets full, I'll transfer those answers into our journal and discard the rocks, buying more blank rocks to record more of the Lord's work. Sure, we could start with a journal and skip the rocks altogether, but a visual reminder is sometimes just what I need.

Here's the process:



the supplies I found at Hobby Lobby



some of the more "monumental" answered prayers of the past to start us out

I originally saw the idea for a Blessings Jar here, (at I Can Teach My Child) and thought it might be a great family tradition for the holidays. I hope to use this idea with Moriah and our children someday as well, in a more family worship way, in a living room etc. For now, Moriah would eat the rocks, throw the rocks, and break the vase so it will stay on the dresser in our bedroom instead :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

things I love about Moriah... right now :)

I've been reminded lately that there are many small and seemingly insignificant details about life with Moriah that I love! I don't want to forget these moments, and while they aren't huge developmental milestones they bring me such joy as her mom. I hope you don't mind my sharing. Again we praise the Lord that I'm with her and can enjoy each of these small things throughout the day. This is just what the Lord desired for us as a family, and we are thankful.

~her serious "ma-ma!" if she's restless as she falls asleep and thinks she needs me... this often follows the sound of her pacifier as it falls to the ground
~the click of her little tongue as she plays from time to time
~her sweet cuddles with her new tiny baby doll my mom gave her for her birthday (we're trying to capture a picture or video of her, it's SO adorable!)
~her enthusiastic grunts when she's ready to eat or sees something in particular that she'd like to taste... yesterday it was a peach smoothie, oftentimes lately it's been watermelon or at dinner cheese cubes or black olives (we're working on sign language and manners, but things are more urgent for her at the moment and she'll have none of it!)
~her love for dogs as we saw when she played with Grandma Nancy's Yorkie, Lucy and Grandma Theresa's German Shepherd, Pyper



~a mischievous sideways smile she flashes each time she's pulled up and wants us to notice her accomplishment!



~the funny thought process she must go through as she sees a bow lying around (because she's pulled it out) and tries to lay it on her head, knowing that's where it goes, but not sure how to make it stay



~her attempts to "learn" body parts with me as we name them and point... I think her favorite is "tongue" which she readily sticks out and grins

Monday, July 11, 2011

a book lover in the making...

If you've ever been to our home, you have no doubt that Matt and I both LOVE books :) While we own many books that we haven't read yet (not for lack of interest I assure you), I think it's safe to say that either he or I have read most books on our shelves. There are even a precious few that we've both enjoyed :) Oftentimes one of us will try to "sell" our most recent favorite read to the other, but we've come to terms with our differing tastes lately and instead concede to read lines, paragraphs, or pages out loud to satisfy the desire to share a good thing! As a result of our love of books, Ms. Moriah can't help but find herself to be a book lover too, right?! I know it's never good to force interests, but a love of reading can be tailored to any age or personality so while we wait to discover what she'll enjoy on her own we're having fun finding our own favorites as we read to her. These are her most loved reads lately...



All Asleep... I picked this up a Half Price Books soon after Moriah was born and loved the rhyming text (I am a former Kindergarten teacher who could talk for awhile about the pre-reading benefits of rhyme!), and whimsical illustrations. This is the perfect bedtime story which we read nearly every night. Moriah's favorite parts? When I read "Whisper softly, take one last peek the babies are all fast asleep" in a whisper voice!



Big Red Barn... a classic! We don't own this book as a board book (it is stashed away in our storage unit with my farm animal books in a bin), but did enjoy it from the library. I renewed it many, many times as it was the longest book Moriah has been engaged by to date.



Am I Big or Little? I found this book in my early days of teaching at Tuesday Morning while browsing with my mom. I think I was initially attracted by the red headed little girl. Now I love reading this sweet story to my own little red head :) The little girl in this book is asking "Am I big or little?" to her mom who explains that while she's big enough to do some things, she's still little enough for others. So sweet! It reminds me as I read to enjoy the moments now with Moriah as my baby before she's all grown up and these days are behind us.



Teddy Bear Teddy Bear... another Half Price Books find :) Moriah likes the rhyme I think, and also seems to enjoy the illustrations (she's even giggled while reading with me). I remember singing this song and jump roping... the final pages of the book explain the motions to the jump rope chant which we'll enjoy in a few years I'm sure!



A Good Day... we spend a lot of time at Half Price Books and before Moriah was born I was very concerned that I didn't have a board book library for her, so I started buying them frequently! This book caught my eye because it was written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes who is a favorite children's book author and illustrator (look him up... Chrysanthemum, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Owen, Julius Baby of the World, etc.). This story is simple and sweet and the illustrations remind me a lot of wood carvings which enchant me.



Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes came from a Scholastic Book Order (which is miss from my teaching days!) before Moriah was born. What a sweet book it is full of baby illustrations portraying children all over the world. In spite of their different homes and clothing each baby has "ten little fingers and ten little toes"... at the end enjoy reading about the next baby born "who was mine all mine"

As I started this post, the list of favorite read alouds grew and grew. I'll have to add another follow up post in the days to come with more of our most loved books. I'm so thankful that Moriah enjoys reading and hope that she will continue to be a reader throughout her life. Happy reading!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

learning lessons

Most recently Matt and I have found ourselves in the middle of hard lessons that the Lord is kind and patient to teach. Our prayer is that we are learning as the Lord teaches, even if our learning is slower than we'd wish. Since moving to Louisville we've found ourselves enjoying life "on our own". We've been able to live comfortably in our own apartment decorating it and enjoying it just the way we've chosen. We've been thankful for many blessings from the Lord during our time in Louisville, including stable jobs which have provided for us to be living debt free. We've been diligent in the ways we're able, and have been proud of ourselves. And that is problematic. While we do acknowledge the Lord's providence and goodness, we've also remained proud of our hard work and accomplishments, as if we've done these things on our own. This is most certainly NOT the case! The Lord is the giver of all good things, and nothing has come to us if not from his hand. Such an attitude also causes great pressure... that we must keep up and maintain these things. Matt especially has been overwhelmed by this pressure lately. While he may have been a worrier for much of his life, these days have been much harder. Anxiety had consumed him in some ways (the Lord however keeps us all in his care), and he had not been sleeping many nights. His weight loss over the last few months is also obvious, though I didn't realize it since it was a gradual process. After a night without sleep things became very difficult. The Lord was good and protected us all, no one was never in any physical danger though emotionally speaking it seemed terrifying. Many good and godly friends supported us with prayer, phone calls, and company. Currently Matt is doing well. After our week of vacation with family in Kansas City, we returned to Louisville well rested. Matt has been talking with our family practitioner who is pursuing testing to determine high levels of calcium in Matt's blood. This physical problem exacerbates emotional ones, the doctor explained. In the meantime we're learning...



Independence and making it "on our own" is not all it's cracked up to be. When difficulty comes we're also "on our own" in a sense as we're distant from family who know and love us most. (We are so thankful to the Lord for the many good friends who are with us here in Louisville and offer endless support. He is good at all times and has shown Himself though them most recently.) While everyone has difficulties of one nature or another, we should never assume the rough parts of others are enough to keep us at a distance. No one has it all figured out! We realize that to rely on anything more than the Lord is idolatry. The Lord does provide family for us all, these people have known us longer than anyone else (even our spouse if you're recently married like us!). They have known us longer, and in some ways DO in fact know us better. They support they offer is indeed unconditional and comes graciously. How arrogant we were to think that being "on our own" would in some ways be better. Sacrificing autonomy (which can be selfish autonomy for me many times) may pay big dividends in sweet love and support in the most difficult days.

We're thinking about these things and the wise words we've heard from Wendell Berry while discussing these issues with him. The Lord has the wisdom and freedom to calling us as He sees fit in the future. We are more open than ever to humbly considering what it may look like to return to a place that is more familiar than new. We are thankful that the Lord teaches us every day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

remembering and thankfulness

Today I enjoyed a morning walk with Moriah. We strolled through the neighborhood between our apartment and the seminary's campus. The homes are lovely and the sidewalks are old, which gives us a lot to see with some bumps along the way! As we walked up to the campus I noticed a couple of girls reading their Bibles and journaling while sitting in a sunny spot on the sidewalk. I realized that a church camp most be using the campus as its venue. My thoughts were quickly confirmed as Moriah and I made our way onto the main square and saw students everywhere. Some were sincerely studying the Word and praying intently in spots allowing the solitude I'm sure they were encouraged to seek out. Others were in larger groups, and one even made a comment that "this is a church camp, doesn't it look like I'm talking to Jesus" as his on-looking leaders tried to disperse the group surrounding him.

Watching these students my mind was quickly reliving days when I'd been in similar situations. First as a student myself, I remember being sent out to have "quiet time" before the camp day could begin. Journaling was always helpful to me and I had a variety of journals over the years which accompanied me on camp excursions. Many of my old Bibles also have notes in the margins to remind myself of particular insights pastors shared, or truths the Lord was confirming to my heart. Then as a student ministry leader, I spent a few (three or maybe four?!) summers with students trying to spur on their pursuit of the Lord, all the while organizing games that might be entertaining, fun, and or gross enough without too much danger (usually that was our downfall). While games were not my cup of tea, I enjoyed helping a team of interns like myself as we developed journals for students, questions for small groups, and room assignment so that everyone was comfortable with at least one good friend. I don't know the eternal significance of that behind-the-scenes work, and I've often talked with Matt about it. Since I have no solid conclusions I won't go into that train of thought. Rather, I'll trust the Lord and His providence. That He was at work somehow in spite of us as fumbling interns who assumed much and misspoke often while trying with great weakness to teach about Christ.

*I really wanted to include an infamous "brown t-shirt" Summer Jam picture here of my favorite interns and myself... I tried and tried to no avail though I'm not sure why it didn't work!?!

These days were full. The times outside basking in the sun while seeking the Lord seem to have passed so quickly now. I don't think I knew then what a precious time I was afforded. But as I walked home and saw a homeschooling mom to five in her screened in porch I realized that I need not wish for tomorrow while missing the joys of today. This is a common and repetitive lesson in my life. I find myself thankful now, knowing that some day I may look back on our seminary life and think "wasn't that a sweet time... better than I ever realized". I'd rather know today that this life is a gift of God's grace and is to be treasured as a pointer to Himself and His abundant goodness.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

our days...

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve added to my blog. While I usually find myself reading other blogs almost daily, I don’t often have a lot I think “blog worthy” myself! I have a few ideas now, and hope to try and blog each week on my day off so that those of you who are far away will have an easier time glimpsing into our world.

So this has been a typical day lately…
Moriah is waking up at 7am hungry! She doesn’t give me much time before it’s obvious that eating takes priority over a diaper change or even getting dressed for the day.

Our mornings are usually filled with playing around the house, going on a cool summer walk, visiting with friends and their little ones, or heading off to work (where we often go out for the morning – library, park, etc.). When I work we have a 30 minute commute which allows Moriah time for a cat nap.



On Fridays I’ve found the morning to be the best grocery shopping time. We try to get to Kroger early, around 8am-8:30am so that we can finish there and head to ALDI by 9am when they first open. Their selection seems best early, and we’ve found ourselves in a funny ALDI Friday morning crowd with most of the same (elderly) faces week after week. Needless to say, ALDI shoppers are remarkably friendly and I usually leave feeling like Moriah is a mini celebrity after speaking with so many people about my baby, her big brown eyes, chubby cheeks, and curly red hair!

Depending on our morning (and whether or not she’s had her cat nap), Moriah usually naps for about 45 minutes or an hour at 11am. During this nap I’m able to pick up toys, wash or put away dishes, or unload groceries if we’ve been home.

When Moriah wakes up it’s about lunch time! She eats very well these days… I’m hoping to post some of her baby food “menus” soon. Mr. S. is also a big eater, so lunch is usually promptly served and eaten within the span of only a few minutes – seriously!

After lunch we find more time for playing or running errands if we’re home. This is also the time Mr. S. typically wants to head outside to play when I’m working, so although it’s the hottest time of day we don’t stay out too long and Moriah has a chance to sport her sweet summer sun hat.



Moriah’s afternoon nap is very consistent and offers her the rest she always needs by this time of day. She doesn’t always go right to sleep, but usually does and most often sleeps for two hours or so. Mr. S. also has an afternoon nap, so most days they both sleep from 2pm-4pm. When I work I fill nap time with The Martha Stewart Show for an hour, then my current book (I hope to update you with some reviews) for the next hour. I also clean up the playroom, do laundry, and dishes. If I’m home, I clean up, iron Matt’s clothes, and read as well.

At home, Moriah wakes up to play for a bit before our evening is in full swing. If I’m working we get things cleaned up and play (as calmly as we can) for the last hour or so before we head home at 5pm.

Moriah eats at 5pm-ish or as soon as we get home. Then I cook dinner while she finishes off her finger foods with an ever-increasing independence. It’s a good day if dinner is well timed and on it’s way to the table when Matt walks in soon after 6pm. If Moriah’s finished eating and cleaned up, it’s an even better day. And if the table is set and dinner has made it there while staying warm, it’s a BIG jackpot for me, haha!



After dinner it’s time to clean up and give Moriah a bath. This summer our ever-other-night bath routine has become just about every night after sweating, swimming, and playing in ways that seem to make even a baby girl a bit dirtier. After Moriah’s dried off and ready with a night time diaper, we enjoy two or three stories together (I hope to review some of our favorites soon), sing a song, and pray before we lay her down to sleep in her crib.

That is the typical rhythm of my day, and it is one I am SO thankful for. The Lord has given me tremendous grace and abundant provision is this calm season, which is centered around Himself, my family and home. I am very blessed for the opportunity to serve God, Matt, and Moriah in these ways every day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

an adoring mother

These are a few things I especially love about my sweet girl right now... by tomorrow she'll be doing something different I'm sure, but I don't want to forget these precious moments:

~lots of "bbb" sounds as she rubs her fingers against her lips, "raspberry blowing" I guess?!
~"dada" is a common word, "mama" has happened occasionally but with less intention I think, and "baba" too
~when I pick her up in her crib as she wakes up in the morning or after her nap she grabs me and squeezes her little hands so tightly as if she just wants to hold on and not let go!
~when she's been playing on the floor or in her jumperoo and is excited to be held, she paddles her little legs so fast as I lift her up
~her most inquisitive look as she grasps things in her hands, turning them every which way and "studying" with such intensity and often a furrowed brow, I think she's already a lot like her daddy :)
~if she sees a "favorite" toy she squeals then sort of pants, and almost seems to flap her little arms with elation... her favorites now seem to be things that make noise, like Sullivan's Little People airplane and Munchkin Mozart Music Cube, or her Tiny Love sound book, or the wind up toys I've been using to entertain her during tummy time - a little squirming caterpillar and a head bobbing hopping chick
~bathtub splashing is two-fold fun now... kicking with her legs while I recline her to wash her long hair, then waving her arms as she sits up to play while washing her body
~tummy time is becoming less aggravating to her and she's even starting to pivot around as she plays and reaches for things
~when tummy time is over in Moriah's world, she's started rolling (think log rolling) here and there and everywhere... a few times in a row during any one blanket play session
~sweet smiles when I sing, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" or "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" which seem to be all-time favorites
~leaning forward in her high chair to look for Matt when he's in the kitchen and just barely out of sight
~watching her excited smiles each evening when Matt comes home from work and she sees her daddy who is her biggest thrill!
~sleeping on her tummy for the first time this week as she rolls herself over in the night, but stays content with it... no more precious baby gowns, now we're on to big girl footed sleepers
~a new bedtime routine which includes board book reading with mommy and one song then prayer, it seems to help a lot since she has more "wind down" time as we read and less singing time which brought on sleepiness but made it hard to be laid down
~eating lots of baby purees which are of course getting thicker, if she starts losing interest I can always win her over with her seemingly favorite fruit mix of bananas, apples, and pears with flax seed... thanks to the Baby Love cookbook I've kept from the library using all the renewals I can before returning it soon
~watching her face of first time joy with any sort of new fun... her eyes squint and her little nose even wrinkles while a squeal comes out :)
~realizing new sounds as she responds to them for the first time, usually with laughter... shaking a bottle of nail polish was lots of fun
~holding her arms out when she's ready to be picked up and almost "jumping" into our arms
~a messy milky face after she finishes nursing... a bit of a sloppy eater it seems :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

thoughts from a full heart



I was so excited to visit my old school with Moriah this morning! We enjoyed seeing lots of my former co-workers, who in many ways truly became a "second family" of sorts during our first two years in Louisville when everything was new to us. I also enjoyed talking with some of my former students, only the former kindergarteners who were in lunch... the former third graders were still in class, busily preparing for state testing next week so we didn't want to interrupt their hard work! As I talked with my old students who seem SO big as first graders now my heart swelled for lots of reasons. Some of my sweetest girls were still as sweet as ever and couldn't believe I remembered their names - how could I forget them?! Some of the little boys blushed to see me dote on them again. One little guy kept saying (in very clear English which was amazing after starting Kindergarten with none), "It looks like Mrs. Peery", to his astonishment I looked at him and said "Because I AM Mrs. Peery!" He jumped up and shouted "I told you!" to a near by friend :) One little boy had made his way back from a leave of absence which took him home to Iraq. Their faces and smiles made me beam, and flooded my mind with memories of sweet days and challenges I faced as well.



And two little boys made my heart melt... one little guy has suffered much as a six year old. He has a large family full of brothers (I think maybe 8, but can't quite remember) who range from my age (mid-20's) all the way down to his. One brother is confined to a wheelchair after a terrible house fire years ago which left his body severely burned and permanently disabled in many ways. Their mom who did all she could to care for them, passed away over Christmas break after a long battle with cancer. I spoke with her often last year about this little guy and his struggles to learn, though he had such a sweet and very kind spirit. She gave everything she had to help him in spite of her difficulties and illness. Now as he told me today, "Mrs. Peery my mom died." When I told him that I knew and was sorry, I also told him I know he must be very sad. He replied, "My cat died too." I really wanted to pick him up in my free arm (as I was holding Moriah) and take him home to live with me forever. It's just not that simple, and not possible of course. Another little guy who I grew to love last year after some difficult days involving extreme profanities uttered from a lisping five year old's mouth, was upset today. He had a very grumpy face that I couldn't encourage in spite of my attempts. I found out dad recently moved out of his parents house where this little guy and his brothers had been living with some stability. This dad is trying very hard and is also doing all he can with all he has (their mom left a long time ago and has only been around sporadically though she lives in town). The last time the dad was at school, I was told he cried not knowing what else he could do for an older son who has refused any school work for the last eight weeks. Really... think about that, all day in school, walking in the halls or sitting outside the door because he won't work. Many people have been involved in his life, rewards have been offered no doubt, consequences have been administered, but to a child who doesn't care for one reason or another no one can force productivity.




So as I left, as quickly as I came, I felt a wave of emotion. Guilt in some ways that I could come and go at my free will... I'm not living in those hard times like the little children are, and I'm not teaching among them trying to lighten their loads day in and day out like many friends still are. This has been a sweet sweet season for me as the Lord has blessed me with much... very calm days at work in comparison, only one bright bright child to "teach" as we play, and a sweet baby girl who I can care for all day long myself. I know that this is good and this is where the Lord has sovereignly placed me now, but stepping back for a bit was more gut wrenching in many ways than I'd expected. I was asked, "So, do you miss it?" and "Are you coming back to teach again?" I do miss things sometimes, and of course I don't miss other things. I'm not going back to teach now, or in the very near future as far as I can anticipate. The Lord is calling me to my home and my family... and that is sweet, but hard as I consider the weight of that world. Because who is going to those children? Who is serving among those families? How can I turn away and leave so conveniently? Have I betrayed them? Am I living hypocritically after "preaching" for so long that these are the forgotten places which we can't abandon? I trust the Lord... He knows my heart, and it is full as I read, play, and giggle with Moriah while those little faces are fresh in my mind and still struggling. This is significant now, it wouldn't be any better or easier to leave my own family in a sense to continue working in a way that is the most draining and taxing work imaginable. The answer isn't that simple. The Lord knows the tension, but He is in control and I am thankful.

So, if you're there like many of my dearest friends are, teaching in hard places, take heart. Today is probably feeling daunting to you for many legitimate reasons. But the Lord is carrying you, He is ministering to those little (and big) ones through you as long as you look to Him and proclaim His name in every way you're able. He is working, and your role in that is not in vain. As hard as it may be to believe, someday you may leave... He may give you a new place of ministry (perhaps one you've always dreamed of!), but even then you'll think of times past and wonder how those little ones are doing, and you might wonder how you let it go so quickly. And if you're like me, you'll be trusting God and hoping that you spent yourself as much as you could've and as much as you should've. Let Him sustain you each day, and give Him all praise.

who couldn't smile at these sweet little guys, and their song...
video

Sunday, April 3, 2011

thankful



I'm finding myself very thankful these days... the list below is just a bit of all the ways God has blessed me this weekend:



~ kind and helpful pediatricians who quickly identify symptoms and provide treatment
~ a sweet husband who does all he can to serve our family
~ an understanding husband who went out to buy a scoop of my favorite ice cream on evening two of a sick baby
~ extra cuddles with my little one, though I'd sort of trade cuddle time to know she was her happy self feeling well again (soon I'm sure!)
~ a spring weekend perfect for playing on the seminary lawn
~ friends all around us literally who bring great encouragement
~ a generous mom who bought Moriah a new big girl stroller (we'd still be using the "Snap N Go" with her infant seat)
~ an amazing public library system here in Louisville... some good books for perusing - "Weekend Sewing" which is full of inspiration, I think bloomers may be in my future! and a baby food making book, also a novel I've been interested in "The Help"
~ my Maya Ring Sling which is so helpful for holding sweet Moriah who just wants to be with mama these days
~ rotisserie chicken, an easy and tasty dinner tonight
~ cheap big rubber balls out in the stores since it's summer, Moriah got a purple one today!
~ homemade yogurt with brown sugar and maple syrup... delicious!
~ Pampers diaper points, we're on our way to earning enough for a Melissa & Doug farm animal puzzle with sounds (I'm stashing them away as 1st birthday presents)
~ a fresh haircut which always feels good
~ Honey Bunches of Oats ON SALE... our favorite cereal is rarely on sale or has coupons, today however I bought a box for only 30 cents after a sale and coupons, yay!



I've also been thinking lately that in spite of many day in and day out parts of motherhood I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have these moments with Moriah. I'm glad that when she's sick I'm with her to comfort and hold her. I'm happy to feed her many new baby foods and see her reactions rather than hear about them from other people who would be feeding her. I'm glad to continue nourishing her as I nurse for a few more months. I'm thrilled to encourage her movements as we "enjoy" tummy time and have mastered sitting up all alone! I'm thankful that my life is slow enough to not be overwhelmed and stressed by the bumps along the way (like a sick baby) in the midst of working as a teacher busy with lesson plans and a heavy heart. I'm also glad to offer a bit of care and love for our little friend Mr. S. and his family as I spend our days together. The Lord has been so good to us in His sweet providence.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

if you were there today...

If you'd been a Turner's Station Baptist Church today you might have enjoyed these moments with me... here's just a glimpse into the little world that we've come to love so much...

*an elderly lady who loves Moriah told me today that "she's as strong as a little horse" after holding our wiggly little girl

*the same lady commented on Moriah's enthusiastic squeals and said "my mama used to say when babies sound like that, 'they're singing in a tooth'"... what a sweet description of a teething baby :)

*one member recently slaughtered two hogs and told us about using all the parts for various types of meat... during the conversation other members chipped in with their favorite parts of the pig (including parts we'd never heard of and still don't know about!?) today at the end of the service the man who has been enjoyed pork in all it's forms opened a small cooler and pulled out a package of meat wrapped in paper like a butcher would prepare it, he handed it to another woman who read the label "liver" and watched her joy! she exclaimed "Well Jimmy Brown, I'm happier with this than if you'd given me a $100 bill!" she changed her plans and was ready to eat it for her dinner tonight

If you'd been with us after church, you would have enjoyed a tasty lunch in the home of two wonderful members who are so welcoming and kind. I brought a "Country Blueberry Dessert" (which isn't complete without whipped cream) that we've recently enjoyed from the Eat Better American web-site. I'd HIGHLY recommend it, and Matt told me today that it's his favorite dessert, next to tiramisu which is saying a lot if you know Matt :) Their company was just as much of a treat as the invitation to join them in their home. While we were there, the man opened a box he pulled out from under a stack of newspapers and told us we might like to look at what was inside. We were presented with handwritten bound books of the church records from 1877 to the present day... seriously! They'd been stored in a vault at the bank until fairly recently when the bank called and asked for them to be removed. I feel like the books should be typed so that there would be more long-term copies of the records, but I'm not quite sure about it. Part of the charm of such a find is the beautiful script, old paper, and smells of it all which would of course be lost in a typed manuscript. I wish I knew more about preserving such things that are rare treasures indeed.

*we also heard about their quick engagement and marriage... only three months after their first date (which was a blind date at that) they were married, about nine months later their first child arrived :) they spoke with great wisdom about the commitment marriage involves and about their joy 31 years later

*Matt was also encouraged when he was told "Well, I can tell you one thing about your preaching - you're a whole lot better now than you were when you started!"

We're so blessed to serve among such faithful and wise men and women. We never anticipated the sweet times we'd have among these who are becoming dear friends.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

gracious to teach

The Lord is so gracious to teach us in His good care... he is gentle and firm all at once, and I am thankful.
Today has been my day off for the week. It was a pretty good day with just a few minor bumps along the way.
*two trips to Kroger since rotisserie chicken isn't ready early in the day... and then they were out, so we opted for a rotisserie turkey breast instead... good but double the cost unfortunately
*making yogurt in the CrockPot is relatively easy it seems like (it's not finished, so I haven't tasted it yet) but rushing to get things done on time at the cost of a sad baby girl, isn't always worth it
*trying to steal a quick second to reply to an e-mail and let Moriah practice her sitting skills isn't the best idea if tumbling over is inevitable and I was too hurried to bring in the Boppy pillow - not feeling great as a mom after the upsetting crash!
*enjoying a long morning naptime for Moriah is only lovely if it doesn't interfere with an afternoon nap... which it did today, creating a tired little one right at dinner time!

The bumps served as reminders from the Lord of my reliance upon Him at all times. I'm realizing that my major struggles with sin as a new mom revolve around selfishness, in it's various forms, and impatience. Oftentimes I have an "agenda" for my day and it just doesn't pan out quite that way! The Lord is showing me that it's okay... Sometimes in my sincere desire to serve Matt, or find a good deal, or prepare a healthy meal I make more work for myself that isn't always worth it if I develop an overwhelmed attitude along the way. While those aims are all good, the Lord is showing me that I can't do it all-and sometimes can't seem to do much outwardly-apart from taking care of Moriah which is obviously crucial :) I was also gently reminded by the Lord this evening, that His approval of me and my days are not based upon Matt arriving home to a neat house with dinner waiting and the dishes washed and put away. Rather, have I filled my day with prayer and rejoicing? Have I shown Moriah the sweet joys of loving the Lord in the midst of all I say and do? Have I remained thankful for the Lord's innumerable provisions? Those realities are much more important in these days as an adjusting mom than all the other details of life. So, I'm thankful to be learning... even if it is a slow process, the Lord is kind. You can always pray for the new moms you know (and for me!) there's much to learn and many adjustments to be made, what a sweet time it is but filled with new lessons each day.

Psalm 25:8-10
Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

so thankful

These last few weeks have given me the opportunity to become more settled into our new "normal" life as I nanny for Mr. S. with Moriah along for the ride :) She enjoys her days, have no doubt about that, as she watches the busy 2 1/2 year old little guy and his gentle dog Ruby. Moriah squeals with delight as she watches Ruby, who patiently gets close enough for Moriah to touch (or grab) and then calmly walks away! The biggest perk of this job is the 4 day work week, with additional time off as overtime hours are necessary from time to time. During the past week I worked two extra-long days, that weren't the easiest at times, but was compensated by an extra day off... who could ask for more than that! This week I have lots of potential fun planned with Mr. S. starting with our "In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb" handprint craft. We're also going to keep a calendar together. Mr. S. is a smart little guy who does an amazing job at distinguishing between today and tomorrow (I think his busy parent's schedule has helped him learn time more quickly). Since there are a few long trips for his mom this month having a calendar and looking at the days may help him understand when she'll be home. The "in like a lion, out like a lamb" is also all about weather so I think we'll sketch a little picture of the day's weather on each box and discuss at the end of the month whether or not it was like a lion or a lamb. I've also been browsing a few toddler learning books to find creative activities for our days. I was even able to buy two of them at our favorite Half Price Book Store this weekend! In one book, I read about making a teddy bear parachute, which we'll also try tomorrow I hope. His tall staircase will be the perfect launch site :)

In other news, our family life is seeming to be the sweetest it's been in a long time for me. Part of this sweetness comes from the opportunity I've had to experience so many different "seasons" thus far... I've been a single woman teacher, a married teacher without children, a married and pregnant teacher :) (it deserved a category of it's own!), a married teacher and a mom, and now a married nanny and a mom. These opportunities have shown me much, and given me a chance to empathize with the challenges women can face in each stage. None have been "easy" per se, but in hindsight the Lord seems to show a lot. Now that I have an extra day off each week, I feel like I've been given bonus time! The chores which were always needing to get done can be accomplished with less stress and much more joy. Little projects I might dream up (clearing out books to sell at the used book store, writing in Moriah's baby book, starting to baby proof our house) can be added in to my days. And the most important thing... my perspective is filled with thanks. I know now that the opportunity I have to spend quality time with Matt, do dishes, cook dinners, make baby food, fold laundry, vacuum and swiffer, dust, and keep our home tidy are not opportunities every woman has... oftentimes they must be neglected in order to accomplish other more urgent tasks which may be related to her job or family life. I also know now that these routine chores can bring a sweet order and stability to a home. They can allow me to serve Matt in a way that gives him time for sermon preparation and school work. I can send him off to start his day with fewer things on his plate and that is a joy to me. I can try to offer Moriah a routine which gives her all she needs to eat (an ever growing amount!), time to sleep, play, and learn about her world. This is no small task. I am so thankful.

If I was an artsy person I'd love to create some great painting on a canvas incorporating the verse from Andrew Peterson's song "Planting Trees"... I know this life might not always be as filled with sweet moments as it seems to be right now, and I know that there are still hard moments and hard days, but these words encourage me that my work is glorifying to the Lord and will have eternal ramifications I pray...

"She rises up as morning breaks
She moves among these rooms alone
Before we wake
And her heart is so full, it overflows
She waters us with love and the children grow

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless someone"

Pray for me, that above all else my days would not be filled with busy-ness that is absent of the Lord, I desire to seek Him through His Word and must grow in that priority. All else is insignificant if not fueled by Him that I may bring glory to His name.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

life now...

some thoughts floating or racing through my head tonight... nothing profound, just real, I'll forewarn you

*avocados are now split three ways in our family as Moriah has become a huge fan of tasting them through her mesh feeder, great for her as we eat dinner - sad for Matt as his most favorite food of choice will become even more scarce!

*I'm wondering which first foods might tend to be more "binding" and which might have the opposite effect on Moriah's tummy... any thoughts? I think apples are binding?! what about pears and avocados, maybe they're not so strong either way?!

*having a longer commute has made my prayer time for Matt and Moriah more consistent, my husband and child prayer calendars have also been an excellent resource

*while thinking ahead in some cases is helpful, in other cases only trial and error can be your teacher... putting a 2 1/2 year old boy into the van before Moriah seemed like a good idea (so that he wouldn't be left without a hand to hold in the parking lot while I lifted her into the car) until he wandered around the van and enjoyed pushing buttons - like the lock button! after a wave of panic came over me as I realized my baby and my little nannying charge were in the van with my keys, I tapped on the window hoping I could pantomime pushing the button to coax him into the doing the same... so thankful for a smart little guy who happily opened the door right away, calming my fears and teaching me never to surrender the keys again :)

*charming local toy stores are wonderful and too few these days (head into downtown LaGrange, Kentucky on the historic square if you need a good example), we enjoyed browsing today and even came out with the most perfect small sticker book like my mom used to buy me, today our choice was a construction site sticker book with reusable stickers for the construction scene, at only $1.50 you can't beat it!

*the wise advice of more experienced moms is always good to solicit... thanks to a wise mom Dollie, Moriah is sleeping soundly and without a fuss almost an hour earlier than normal, must be what she needed :)

*Harry and David is a most extravagant treat in my mind, but I've been so thankful to enjoy it twice this year as my mother in law sent me peaches and a market bag for my birthday, and a triple box of treats for Matt and I this Valentine's day - even better for my sweet tooth (but not my overall health) is that most of the treats are chocolates I prefer more than Matt :)

*is curious about my experience jumping into the world of big children's consignment sales this weekend... Little Treasures is in the setting up phase so tomorrow night I'm dropping of my things, Sunday I'm a "clothing inspection assistant", and Monday I'm headed in to the worker's pre-sale... hopefully in two weeks I'll walk away with a check which might put us ahead or at least break even with the great deals I'm sure I'll find (I have a short list... a baby monitor to use in the large home where I'm working as Mr.S. and Moriah nap two floors apart and a Jumperoo for our ever moving little one, if I found irresistible shoes for a walker-in a few months-and some summer play clothes they might be too hard to resist as well!)

*I enjoy my conversations with Mr. S. throughout these days, and he seems to be more talkative when we're driving or out of the house than when we're playing at home with his toys... maybe an argument for exposing children to the in's and out's of life... so today we discussed the wind, he doesn't like it much:
S: "Wind stop blowing!" (while we were picnic-ing in a gazebo at the park)
me: "I don't think it will stop right now, but I know you'd like it to. Who makes the wind stop and go?"
S: "The neighbors, need a tall ladder!"
me: "Really?! :) I think it's God who can make the wind stop and go!"

*comfy clothes, a messy pony tail, and some unwinding time on-line is just the motivation I need before more productive chores can be accomplished over the next two hours, especially when they include scrubbing the shower

*trying to eat a quick nacho dinner-while wrangling a very sad teething girl-and her mesh avocado feeder-before Matt left for class-left my kitchen table a mess to say the least... I'll reward the clean-up with some (or "a") Harry and David treat!!! with that I'm off