Friday, December 31, 2010

Hey kids

It's that time of year again when mom and dad go out and you two take care of each other.

Samuel you did a great job last year when we left you in charge of your sister!

Here are a few simple directions to follow for an uneventful night:
                     

If Lauren gets hungry feed her prunes...
Please try to have fun and don't make a mess...
If you have time, throw in a load of laundry...
Keep each other happy...
Take a bath together and no coloring in the tub...
If anything happens, don't hesitate to call the fire department!
And put yourselves to bed at a decent time...
Happy New Year! We love you both. Be safe.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dear Samuel

I feel the need to write to you, my little man. 

My heart experiences so many different feels and emotions with you these days....amazement, frustration, amusement, encouragement and anticipation of what's to come.

The other day you amazed us when you walked up to the couch, asked to hold daddy's hand and then you walked him over to the Christmas tree and while holding your dad's hand you promptly started singing, "O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree......"

While changing your diaper this week I was amused when you told me the fireman you were holding was sad. When I asked why, you responded, "He's in a time out."

Yesterday you challenged mom and dad when you threw up on our bed. After changing the sheets, we gave you a bath and put on clean clothes. While sitting on the couch, you threw up again. And this time it was very blue and very minty. That's when I realized that you had eaten toothpaste. A lot of toothpaste.

Lately you having been asking us: "What time is it?" Not sure if you have lots of places to go and things to do, but we love hearing you ask.

You really enjoy putting on make-up with mommy. You stand next to the sink with some of mommy's old make-up and you put it all over your face.

When I dropped your cereal all over the floor, you said, "That's naughty." Which is what you tell Lauren when she drops her food on the floor. I guess mommy was careless so maybe that was naughty.

Samuel, with you around life is challenging, entertaining and so so sweet.

I don't want to forget these moments....the good moments and the hard moments. The moments when my heart almost explodes because I am so proud of you or in awe of you. And I don't want to forget the difficult moments of raising a one and two year old. Like when your sister pooped in the tub this morning and I had to clean it out, clean off both of you and clean the tub and toys. I was soaking wet by the end and I am sure we all had a little poop on us.

As the saying goes (and I hear it frequently in this season of life): the days are long but the years are short. Some days seem like they will never end. Some moments I don't ever want to end. 

These are the years I don't want to forget....but I might. So I'm writing it all down. For you Samuel, but mostly for me. 

I love you my little man. I love how you sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, My God is So Big and Away in the Manger all mixed together. I adore that you want to read If You Give a Moose a Muffin over and over again. I love most of all that I get to watch you grow, hear you sing and teach you to love Jesus more every single day of your life. What a privilege. What a blessing.

Who loves you Samuel? Mom loves you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Samuel, Lauren & Santa

I couldn't be happier with how our visit to Santa went. I love these photos...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Love,
Samuel & Lauren




"I see Merry Christmas"

Yesterday I took Samuel with me to run a couple errands. As we were leaving the grocery store, he hollered out quite excitedly, "I see Merry Christmas!"

I looked around to find what it was that led to his excitement. He was looking at a woman wearing a Santa hat. She heard him and responded, "That's the way it should be, huh?"

I keep thinking about Samuel's statement and his enthusiasm for Christmas. He's choosing to see Merry Christmas...in Frosty the Snowman, the Christmas tree, the nativity scene, and Santa Claus.

So today we're off to the mall to go see Santa. I have low expectations that either Samuel or Lauren will sit in Santa's lap so I can snap a few photos, but a mama can always hope right?

Next year seeing Merry Christmas might not come so easily to Samue. So today I'm treasuring that my son sees Merry Christmas everywhere around him.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Simple says

I've had a few people ask me if this week is a busy one for our family.

My answer? No.

Ryan and I are both trying to get some work (or searching for work) done and I'm striving to get my Christmas cards in the mail. I love Christmas cards and that's just not something I was willing to pass up this year. 

We don't have lots of parties or commitments or to-do things to get done. I should wrap a couple presents and run a few errands. And I have a few more Christmas cookies I would like to bake.

If I get these things done, great.

If not, oh well.

That's what is so freeing about a simple Christmas.

Simple allows us to make plans with family members at 4 p.m. for a fun night out.

Simple encourages us to take a 2-hour nap on a Saturday afternoon.

Simple dictates that we say, "no" even when the opportunity is good, fun or appealing.

Simple reminds us to turn away from the television or newspaper ads, and turn our eyes toward the nativity scene.

Simple can't help but see the joy in little faces as they discover the wonders of Christmas.

Simple recognizes the way God is answering prayers and records them in our Family Prayer Basket.

Simple says, "Come, read Luke 2 one more time. It's an unbelievable story about the miracle of a baby."

Simple might want to do it all, be it all, record it all, remember it all, and buy it all. But simple can't and neither can I.

Oh how I love simple.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Randomness

So many thoughts and feelings on my heart tonight...so here goes a little randomness:

Leaving the kids at our chiropractic office. They have a Christmas party for the kids every year. They watch the kids for a couple hours - for free! - while parents go do whatever it is they want to do while being kid-free.

Enjoying dinner with our good friends J&M. Talking about life, family, work, kids, parenting, our futures. Eating pizza (which I actually cut into small pieces on my plate before I realized what I was doing) and having full conversations without being interrupted.

Learning that M's friend (whom I know) was being taken into surgery this evening because she is 6 weeks pregnant and has an ectopic pregnancy. Nine days before Christmas she discovered the little life growing inside her cannot survive. Heartbreak.

Hearing my son sing to Jesus Loves Me in the car tonight almost melted my heart. So many children don't know that Jesus loves them. Samuel knows.

Feeling incredibly grateful for our house, a super-efficient furnace on a night when the thermostat says 12, milk for my daughter's bottle, fleece PJs for my kids, books to read before bedtime, food in their tummies, beds to sleep in, medicine and doctors when our little ones are sick, and insurance to pay our health care bills.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Blessings of a Simple Christmas Season

"Somewhere along the way Christmas became a Hollywood holiday. It became about gifts and gadgets instead of faith and family. Christmas lost its real meaning when we became enamored with the idea of presents. The day became about giving and getting the perfect present and counting our blessings based on the things we own. It has warped into a season of stress – both financial and emotional – and has brought billions of people around the world more strain and loneliness than any other day of the year. How sad that we have taken the greatest gift of all and either turned it into, or let it be turned into, a burden on ourselves, our faith, and our families." 

This insightful quote is from an article titled The Blessings of a Simple Christmas Season by Armstrong Williams. You can read the entire article here.

I love the last line that somehow we have allowed the celebration of the birth of Christ to become a burden. We become overwhelmed and stressed out about getting, doing, finding, purchasing, making, wrapping, mailing, cleaning, cooking, and attending. Instead of being consumed by reading, sharing, giving, enjoying, soaking, pondering, loving and celebrating.

I will read this article again - maybe even a few times - between now and Christmas. I need to be reminded, as this last quote suggests, that giving of myself can be a blessing far beyond any gift I can purchase in a store.

"Without the expectations and burden of giving the latest and greatest toys to our friends and family, we are free to give of ourselves. This may mean giving a handmade gift, a cup of coffee, or a long walk. Or it may entail reaching out to someone we’ve lost touch with, forgiving a foe, or lending a hand to someone in need. Whatever it means for you, I guarantee a gift given from the heart will be more fruitful for you and more valuable for them."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Stirring in Our Hearts

I discovered the following nuggets of wisdom by a pastor who was recently called to leave a church he helped start, to participate in a new ministry.

He presents three truths that he encourages readers to remember in times of uncertainty. I know that when I'm in a season of change, chaos, discontentment, or uncertainty, it can definitely be a struggle to see that season as an opportunity to seek God and listen to His voice. 

But that is exactly what we should do.

Every. Single. Day.

Oh Lord, stir our hearts for whatever it is that you have in store for our future and may these three truths be what guides us all in times of uncertainty.

The Stirring in Our Hearts
At various points in our life we will all find ourselves asking the question, “What is this stirring or unsettledness in my heart?” The word stir is defined as “beginning to move slightly, agitation, a means of adding to…” Often when God is preparing us for something different or new, he begins with a gentle “stirring” in our hearts. It may mean that things in our life are getting ready to change.

My family and I have been in a season of stirring for several months now. We’ve wrestled with the questions, “what does this unsettledness mean and what are You doing Lord?” There were days and weeks when the answer seemed to be only silence and more questions. But the stirring continued.

Finally after months of waiting, listening, praying and seeking the counsel of others, it is evident that this stirring was God’s way of preparing us for a change. After 10 years of ministry with Hope, God is preparing us for a new Kingdom assignment. This clarity from the Lord came only after months of unsettledness in our hearts that kept us on our face and listening intently for His voice. When you find yourself in a season of stirring and uncertainty, and you will, it is helpful to remember a few truths:

1. His voice is all that matters.
…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3
There is always a sea of voices surrounding us with their best plans for our lives. But ultimately, the only voice that matters is the voice of your Heavenly Father. Seek His voice.

2. We are able to recognize His voice as an overflow of intimacy.
God’s voice and leading become clear when spending time with Him is a regular part of our lives. Times of uncertainty and change are not times to begin seeking Him, but times to enjoy the fruit of sitting at His feet on a regular basis.

3. He desires us to know Him more than know His will.
In times of uncertainty, we find ourselves wanting answers. But God is looking for so much more. He wants you. He desires your attention and affection. He is focused on the relationship more than the next step.

We will all experience times of stirring in our lives. God does not merely want to give you answers; He desires to reveal Himself to you. Welcome each of these times as opportunities to grow in your love relationship with Jesus and see the “stirring” as an invitation to seek Him and listen to His voice.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A simple Christmas

One of my absolute favorite things to do during the Christmas season, is to sit in the living room with all the lights off except for the lights on the Christmas tree. That's where I'm sitting now.

It's so....peaceful.

A couple nights ago Ryan and I sat here together and prayed.

A few times Samuel and I have crawled under the tree and we lay there together while we look at the lights and talk about important things like trains, the snow and what daddy's doing.

This year we have white lights on our tree and just a handful of ornaments. We had a handful plus three, but three came in contact with little hands and the result was not pretty.

In the spirit of a simple Christmas, I encourage you to take time before you go to bed some night to shut off the lights, the television or whatever keeps your mind preoccupied, and just sit in the presence of the lit Christmas tree.

Pray. Sing. Read. Blog. Relax. Sleep. Journal. Cuddle with a loved one. Ponder.

Just enjoy the simplistic beauty of the Christmas tree. Let your eyes travel to the star (because we should all have a star on our tree, right?) and ponder the wise men who saw the star in the East and followed it to Jesus.

We're two weeks out from Christmas. Don't let this season pass you by in a blur of activity. Choose simplicity....you'll be so glad you did.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bittersweet


Recently, a number of friends have recommended the book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way. I've been intrigued since the moment I heard about it.

Here are a few excerpts on the author's blog taken from the book:
Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy. 

I've learned the hard way that change is one of God's greatest gifts, and most useful tools. Change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we've become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I've learned that it's not something to run away from, as though we could, and that in many cases, change is a function of God's graciousness, not life's cruelty.


When life is sweet, say thank you, and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you, and grow.

I am planning to kick off 2011 by reading this book. I've had some sweet times in life and some very bitter times. I want to grow, change, and become stronger through the bitter times...those I've already experienced, and the bitter times to come.

Will you join me in reading this book? Together let's learn how to celebrate when life is sweet and grow when life is bitter.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My God is so big

Sometimes Ryan and I forget, but it's in those moments that our son reminds us...




"My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do."

Oh what it does for my heart to hear my son talk about our God...as being BIG and STRONG and MIGHTY.

We know He is BIG. We've experienced His STRENGTH. We've seen His MIGHT.

There are children who do not know these things. There are little ears that's haven't heard this truth. Little mouths that haven't sung these words.

But my son knows. And I wholeheartedly pray that someday he will believe in the God he sings about.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Prayer IS the work

One of the commenters in a previous post asked what she could be praying about for me. Considering her struggles this Christmas season, my heart was overwhelmed with the kindness of offering prayer for me in the midst of what she is facing.

We could definitely use a little prayer in the May household these days, so I'm going to respond to her question.

Things on the unemployment side have hit an all-time low this week. It's hard to describe, but my ever-positive husband is struggling more than I have seen him struggle up to this point. We are nearing the six-month mark of unemployment. That is half of a year of not having a job. Half a year of not being employed. Half of a year of not going to an office or having co-workers or feeling like he is a contributing member of society. Half a year of watching his friends and family members go to a job every day, while he sits in a coffee shop and searches online, networks with people and tries to make new contacts.

That is half a year of filling out online applications that can easily take 30 to 90 minutes for one application. Over and over and over again. He is really tired of filling out applications. He is really tired of looking and hoping and wondering.

If you follow the news, you know that Obama is trying to extend the Bush tax cuts which include an unemployment extension. We could really use that extension otherwise our unemployment will come to an end.

Friends, we could use prayer. Here are specific things you could pray for our family:

Of course, we covet prayer that God would lead Ryan to a job that will be a great fit for his skills and passions.

But in the wait, prayer is needed for:
  • Ryan's spirits to be lifted.
  • Determination to keep doing the daily mundane tasks of applying for jobs.
  • That truth would reign in Ryan's mind every day.
  • That I would know how to love and support my husband during this season.
  • That people would come around Ryan to encourage and affirm him. That he would find validation is other ways during this season of not working.
  • That God would remind Ryan in big or small ways, that He is still in control of this job search.
Recently I listened to an online sermon called Prayer is the Work. This quote challenged me and I haven't stopped thinking about it:

We don't pray before we work, prayer is the work. Then and only then, God works.

How does God work in the world? Through the prayers of his people.
How important is prayer? It is above everything else we do.
How should we pray? Urgently, desperately, passionately and expectantly.

Pastor Vance encouraged us to pray with gratefulness for what God has done and to pray with faith thanking God for what He is going to do.


Together let's remember that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5). We cannot underestimate the power of our prayers. I am praying for you friends, and I would greatly appreciate your prayers for my family as well.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Natalie Grant - I Believe

My all-time favorite Christmas song....

I keep listening to the lyrics of this song and thinking about the Christmas 'story.' We read so many stories to Samuel and Lauren, my prayer is that God would help their little minds to grasp that this is so much more than just another story. And that one day, they too, will believe in the miracle of the Christmas story.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Praying for you this Christmas

Two years ago, shortly after having received the gift of Samuel into our lives, I wrote this post about the Christmas season.

I was all-too-familiar with the grief of shattered dreams and the longing for a child. While I am two years and two children beyond that post, I cannot forget 

My heart is still tender when I think about a Christmas when another family member was expecting and I was not. I hadn't seen her since the announcement had been made and my stomach  was churning.


I dreaded going to this event and had no idea how to acknowledge the news without breaking down in tears. I am pretty sure I mumbled a quiet, "Congratulations," and moved on my way.

I know my family member doesn't remember it, but I cannot forget it.

Because often times the holiday season magnifies what others have and what we do not. I think of my best friend's mother-in-law who faces this Christmas season without her husband for the first time. Oh how her heart must ache as she sees couples walking hand in hand as they shop, go out to eat and go to Christmas parties together.

I think of my sister-in-law's dear friend who faces her sixth Christmas with her husband but their arms ache for their two babies lost to miscarriage. They do not have a little one to hold again this Christmas.

I think of those I know who long to celebrate this season with a new love. Someone to share their heart and life with. And yet, for some unknown reason, they haven't yet met that person. And so they avoid the Christmas party because they don't have a date or they come home from Christmas to an empty house...and they wonder what it's like to share 'the most wonderful time of the year' with someone they love.

I think of a friend who lost her dad this year and another friend who will likely face the same loss of her father this coming year. In their families, beneath the joy and the Christmas celebrating, lies heartache and pain.

Looking back on that Christmas when my heart was ready to explode with grief and longing, here's what I would say to myself: 

Don't hide the pain. Don't pretend everything is OK if it's not. You might be someone who loves Jesus and yet your drowning in a sea of pain. It's hard to share, but it's even harder to hide it and just smile and pretend. Choose wisely who you share with. Or, if you decide not to share with others, go to the healer of hearts and pour out your pain to Him. That's why He came to earth. That's why we celebrate this season.

Don't look around, look up. Because if you look around you'll see the pregnant mom, you'll see the young engaged couple, you'll see the new baby, you'll see the elderly couple strolling hand in hand and you quickly suck in your breathe and think to yourself, "I got the short-end of the stick. Life wasn't suppose to turn out this way." And the tears cannot be stopped. But when you look up, you see the stars in the sky that led the Wise men to a manger. And in that manger lies the reason we celebrate.

Choose to praise God every day this month for the miraculous gift of His son. Choose to read the Christmas story in Luke 2 every day until Christmas. Ponder what it was like for Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the Wise men, the angels. God could have brought his son into this world through an intellectual, wealthy, well-known family. Instead He chose an unwed, teenage girl who delivered her baby in a stable. God does not make mistakes. He didn't make a mistake choosing Mary and He's not making a mistake with you this Christmas. Choose to see the miracle of Christmas and praise God for it.

If this Christmas season is a hard one for you, I would consider it a privilege to pray for you every day until Christmas. You do not have to tell me your name or why this season is a difficult one. But I commit to praying and asking God to meet you in a very real way this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The season of...simplicity?

I really enjoyed focusing on the theme of gratitude last month.

So, I think I'm going to try another theme this month.

I've been reading a few articles and blogs on having a simple Christmas. Some of these I have chosen to read due to our current budget restraints, and others just because the ideas of a simple Christmas is so...appealing.

For the past few days, as I have pondered a theme for the month of December, I kept coming back to s i m p l i c i t y

Simplifying celebrations. 

Simplifying gift-giving.

Simplifying the calendar.

Simplifying the decorating.

Simplifying the traditions.

Take a few minutes to read Have Yourself a Very Simple Christmas: How to clear out the clutter and have a very meaningful holiday.

The opening sentence drew me in since the authors reference the year they were broke as one of their best Christmases ever. Wouldn't it be wonderful to look back at this Christmas season as one of the most simple, meaningful Christmas celebrations we've ever had?

Without money for endless shopping, holiday activities and decorating, we are forced to make different wiser choices in how we spend our time and our money this month.

I want our Christmas season to revolve around celebrating Jesus' birth. I want to follow in the footsteps of another young mom whose story is written in Luke 2: "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

I have much to be thankful for, and so many things I can treasure and ponder throughout the month.

I love this idea from the article above and I have a basket sitting on my table so we can start recording answered prayers this month:
Create a Family Prayer Basket
Each time God answers a prayer during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, jot it down on a card and drop it in a prayer basket (any basket or bowl will do). Keep the prayer basket on the kitchen table or somewhere your family will see it often. Encourage everyone in the family to participate, helping young children who aren't able to write yet add their own discoveries. At dinner on Christmas Day, initiate your new tradition by taking turns reading the answered prayers.

And I love the idea of throwing a brown bag party! You'll have to read the article to learn exactly what that is :)

Tonight I laid under our Christmas Tree with Samuel (something I loved to do as a child). I talked to him about Jesus and how Christmas is about celebrating Jesus when he was a baby. He doesn't understand everything I'm saying...but it doesn't matter. 

The more I talk about it, the more my heart and mind focus on Jesus' birth.

And the easier it is to choose simplicity this season.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful for friendships

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends,
the old and the new.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Today, on my last day of 30 days of gratitude, I feel so grateful for my friends.

I just came home from my small group with five fantastic ladies where we discussed what it looks like to cultivate a lifestyle of service and how to be intentional in serving in small ways in this season of life.

Last night I was with friends as we got our Christmas cards ready to mail. We talked, laughed, ate sweets and stuffed envelopes.

I have friends I e-mail and ask to pray for me and Ryan as we walk this road of unemployment. And I know they are praying.

Next week I'll get together with friends and we'll talk about our marriages and pray for one another and encourage each other in our relationships with our spouses. We might talk about our marriage book, but most likely we'll just share and be real and authentic and love each other through life's mountain tops and valleys.

I have crafty friends, and wise friends, and funny friends, and go-out-to-breakfast-for-our-birthday-friends, and mom friends, and prayer warrior friends. God has blessed me greatly with many different circles of friends.

And so tonight as I lay my tired head on my pillow, I will offer up a prayer of Thanksgiving for my friends - new and old. You know who you are dear friends, and I am thanking God for you today.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dear Samuel and Lauren

Dear Samuel and Lauren,
It's Sunday night after Thanksgiving weekend. You are both sleeping (finally!) and the house is quiet. It's been a full weekend....with plenty of good moments, and a handful of hard ones.

Tonight as I was shaking a rug outside, I thought, "I'm not sure if I'm cut out for this parenting thing."

I don't know that I've ever thought that before. But tonight I really wondered if I am. Parenting has been difficult recently since we're dealing with colds, teething, a lack of sleep, holiday fun that causes late bedtimes and inconsistent naps....and learning what it means to parent a two-year-old.

I know that mothering is 24/7, but I was reminded of that again this weekend. There are times when I want to check out of parenting. Quit for the night. Clock out.

But that's not how it works. Even in the wee hours of the morning when the monitor tells me one of you is in need, I'm on the clock - with no warning or preparation.

I am so thankful for your dad who allows me to take afternoon naps (even if one of you aren't sleeping!). He is a great team player and parenting partner. You have a fabulous dad.

Samuel and Lauren, I've yelled at you both in the past few days and I'm not proud of myself. Being tired or impatient or frustrated or disappointed or unhappy is no excuse for hollering. Your hearts are so tender and I see the trust and love in your eyes. I don't ever want to hurt you...not with my looks, my tone, my voice, my actions.

But I have. And I will again. And I hope you'll forgive this mama who is learning a little bit more every day what it means to care for her blessings and love them as best as she knows how.

Thanksgiving 2010 I want you to know that I am so grateful for the two of you. My heart is overwhelmed at the depth of how much I love you both. I can't capture the feeling with words, I can only try to show you daily.

I am humbled and grateful to God for the opportunity to be your mom. I'm far from perfect, but we serve a perfect God who walks beside us on this parenting road. And tonight I thank Him for the sweet sweet blessing of being called 'mommy.'

I love you both dearly,
Mom

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Praying with your spouse

In nearly 10 years of marriage, Ryan and I have not figured out a successful way to pray together on a consistent basis. We've tried a variety of t things during different seasons of our marriage...but none of them have led to a successful prayer life with my spouse.

In the marriage books I have read, praying for and with your spouse has been declared vitally important.

Why then, is this such a difficult thing for us to do? Usually our prayer life as a couple involves one of us praying while we lay in bed together before we drift off to sleep. We are weary from a busy day of parenting two little ones, so we pray quickly about whatever comes to mind. If prayer is so valuable to us, and we place a high priority on it, how can this be the extent of our prayer life as a married couple?

Ryan dislikes praying in the dark because he often drifts off to sleep. I, on the other hand, am not necessarily a super happy person in the wee hours of the morning, so the idea of praying together upon waking (before the kids are up) is not appealing...but maybe I just need to suck it up and do it!

If I say prayer is a priority, then it seems I need to come up with a workable, sustainable system. So here is where all of you come in: If you are married, when and where do you pray with your spouse? How frequently? For how long? And what does that prayer time look like with your spouse? One of you prays, both of you pray, from memory or do you pray through a list? How do you keep track of the prayer requests you need to pray through? 

I would love to hear what has worked in your family (or what you saw your parents do when you were growing up).

It seems like our passion for the Lord should compel us to set aside time every day to pray as a couple. I want that to be true of us.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Growing Grateful Kids

Today I read a chapter from Growing Grateful Kids titled Embrace Contentment. I'd like to share with you some of my take-aways from this chapter. They are applicable to so many of us, in so many different life situations...

"Contentment (or lack thereof) has little to do with our circumstances and everything to do with what we tell ourselves about those circumstances."

"Jesus wants us to spend most of our time looking up. He is writing a beautiful story with our lives. His will for us is our best-case scenario. He doesn't want us to want someone else's story...because ours fits us perfectly. What a shame to throw the book across the room because we don't like the chapter we're living at the moment! To be content is to trust that God is great and that He is always up to something good."

"God says, "Be thankful in the moment. Come and spend some time with Me, and I will give you peace."  What is the opposite of such God-responses? Whining. Complaining. Grumbling. Comparing. Buying. Eating. Spending. Charging. Striving. Stressing. Buying more. Eating more. Charging more. Stressing more. More. More. More. And the result? Less peace. Less joy. Less perspective. Less generosity. Less conviction. And less of a sense that God is good."

"Cultivating a lifestyle of contentment is simply about walking through every season with a core value of gratitude and trust and a heart that declares: "God has been good to us and He'll come through for us again. At this very moment I possess more than I can comprehend and I'm more blessed than I know. I embrace what I have today and I'll trust God for the desires of my heart. Right now, He's more than enough for me."

Parental application: Every day, point out to your child the countless ways that you are truly rich. Help them to learn at a young age that every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Psalm 34

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
Psalm 34:1-3

Extol means to praise highly, to bless, to glorify, exalt or celebrate.

The Message version of the Bible records verse 1 this way: "I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise."

I found an online commentary that made three points about what David is doing in this passage.

He is:
Resolving to praise God constantly   (I will bless the Lord at all times)
Committing to praise God openly    (his praise will always be on my lips)
Desiring to praise God heartily   (my soul will boast in the Lord)

As you know, I have been listening to my friend Beth Moore quite a bit lately. This quote struck me because of what I read in Psalm 34:
"We are going to most believe what we most rehearse. There is power in the words coming out of our mouth. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. It is the bread of life. Lets change our complaints to praise."
Oh friends, how convicting these words are. I will most believe what comes out of my mouth most often. If I follow Psalm 34, what comes out of my mouth should be praises to God and glory to Him.

Do I bless God every chance I get?
Do my lungs expand with his praise?
Do I praise him constantly, heartily and openly? 

There is power in our words. The Word of God is the bread of life and if we speak the Word, we are speaking life, truth, praises and blessings. We are bringing glory to God and growing our faith - all at the same time.

In this month of Thanksgiving, may I cease striving more, and instead strive to praise, bless and bring glory to my God.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grateful

Today I am grateful that I got to:

Eat the homemade french toast my husband made for breakfast.

Drink pretend tea with my son over and over and over again (using his sister's tea set).

Go for a walk with my entire family. It doesn't matter that the walk lasted only 15 minutes and it took as long (or longer) to get everyone dressed to go for the walk. We all enjoyed the crisp Minnesota air.

Hear Lauren say "Elmo!" at least 30 times as she happily carried a little Elmo toy all around the house. Each time she said it she was as happy - and as proud - as the first.

Have Samuel 'help me' cook in the kitchen. This involved us making Chunky Applesauce together. And ended with Samuel unexpectedly eating one of the apples rather than me cooking it for the applesauce :)

Read books before bed while rocking and holding both of my babies in my arms.

Play in the snow with Samuel. Since Samuel's snow recollection is limited to the last 72 hours, everything involving snow is absolutely fascinating to him right now.

Work at my church today and help support my family.

Hear my son sing, "God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He's so good to me."
Read a card found on my pillow from my husband telling me that he loves me and just wanted me to know.

Smell clean hair after bath time - one of my absolute favorite smells in the entire world.

Teach my son to answer the question, "Who loves you?" with "Mommy loves me!" (and daddy loves me and Jesus loves me).

Today I am grateful for so very many things.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

S & L

Today I put a pair of 18-month leggings on Lauren. They fit her great because she has long legs.

Today my son is wearing a pair of 18-month jeans.

It has happened.

My children, who are 11 months apart, are wearing the same size clothes.

And, my children, who are 11 months apart, are quickly becoming the best of friends.

This makes my heart so very happy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

He's a "Yes" God

I listed to a great talk on motherhood by Beth Moore recently. Her message included some powerful reminders about being a mom that I hope to share at some point. 

Part of her message spoke to me personally about how we serve a "Yes" God.

Here is her direct quote:
"Jesus is the yes and amen to the promises of God. He is a yes God. The only time God ever says no to us is if we did that thing it would cheat us of our yes. Every no is to get us to an oncoming yes. If we take the no, we're going to miss us a yes."

I feel like there are so many times in my past when I would have taken a no from God simply because I didn't want to wait for His yes. But I completely agree with Beth when she says that we are cheating ourselves of a yes, if we take the no.

God says no, not yet.

No not this one. 

No not him or no not her.

No not now.

No not today.

He has a yes in store. He is waiting to show us His yes. He is waiting to give us our yes.

God doesn't say no, just for the sake of saying no. He loves us and He wants to say yes to us. But he doesn't want to cheat us of the wonderful yes he has waiting for us.

Every no is to get us to a yes.

Every single no.

Relationship. House. Job. Dream. Family.

no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, YES!

Oh Lord I've experienced a big, beautiful YES from you before. I know that enduring the no's from you is so that I can experience another YES. Help me to wait in patience. Help me to wait in faith. Help me to trust that I won't miss the YES you have waiting for me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dear Samantha

Dear Sam,
Happy 22nd birthday!

During this month I am choosing to have a heart of gratitude everyday. Today I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for you - the birthmother of my son. 

If I think too hard about the fact that you are Samuel's birth mom, there is an ache in my heart. To be honest, sometimes it hurts when I remember that he is not my biological son.

But when I think about the fact that you carried him for nine months and then gave him to Ryan and I, my heart aches in a way that leaves me breathless - because I cannot imagine the sacrifice of handing your baby boy over to a stranger to love and raise.

Sam we are continually grateful beyond words that you made the decision to find adoptive parents for your baby. When I look back at Samuel as an infant, I didn't know how completely crazy I would be about that kid. He has changed my life. You have changed my life. Your decision, and our story, have changed many lives.

Please know that Samuel will always hear your name spoken in this household - and he will hear it used along with words such as gift, sacrifice, blessing, love, and thankful.

Today we wish you a happy birthday. Our family will pray together today that you would experience God's presence and blessings in your life this coming year.

We send you hugs. We send you love. We send you hearts of gratitude.

Have a wonderful 22nd birthday.

Love, 
Ryan, Stacy, Samuel and Lauren

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Childhood chores

I came across this article not too long ago, and it got me thinking about chores. The article makes a connection between household chores and marriage, empathy and volunteering. Children who do childhood chores are more likely to volunteer or do community work as an adult. And children who have regular chores just might find themselves in a happier marriage.

Is that a stretch? I don't know but it has given me something to ponder.

Love and Logic Parenting teaches that children should have chores beginning at age 3. Chores such as feeding family pets, helping set the table, etc. These chores should not be paid.
I believe that chores can be a teaching tool to learn responsibility, learn about meeting expectations and preparing for life as an adult.

Currently, at the age of 2, Samuel does not have any assigned chores at home. But it might be good for us to start getting into the routine of some small daily chores that I can help him with (beyond picking up and putting away toys). He is still in a crib so he doesn't have a bed to make.

What are your thoughts and experiences on chores? As a parent, teacher, grandparent, or someone who had chores when you grew up....I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I am not alone

These were the words impressed upon my heart today.

Clearly, gently, firmly, God impressed upon my heart that I am not alone.

While it is true that God is always with us, and therefore we are never alone, I don't think that is what He meant to tell me today.

I think God was reminding me that we are not alone in our trial. He was reminding me that others have walked this road, are currently walking this road and will walk this road after we are finished.

Sometimes our journey in life feels so isolating and unique. But as we face our trials and hardships, it is critical to remember that we are not alone.

There are others without work.

Others who are facing broken relationships.

Others who have too much to do, and not enough time to do it.

Others who long to sit at the feet of Jesus, but guilt and shame holds them back.

Others who long for a baby (or another baby).

Others who wait for a loved one to be healed.

Others who are in bondage to anxiety or depression or perfectionism.

Others who seek help for their marriage.

Others who are overcome with pain. Or grief. Or sadness.

Others who struggle to pay their bills.

Others who give of themselves endlessly, with little thanks.

Others who face addictions.

Others who desire to be married.

Others who are suffering the consequences of people's choices.

Others who are walking the same road, facing the same challenges and asking the same questions.

I just came downstairs from rocking my daughter to sleep. She is teething and has been up 3 out of the last 4 nights. But I am not alone on this road of motherhood. There are many others who are up with their little ones long after the sun has set.

And sometimes I need to be reminded that I am not alone.

Dear friends, we are not alone. You are not alone. Whatever your journey. Whatever your hope. Whatever your burden. Whatever your trial. Whatever your longing. Whatever your story.

You are not alone. 

May these words of truth resonate in your heart and in your mind today.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NOT being in control

Thus far, for our 30 days of gratitude, I've written what I'm thankful for or what I think we, as a family, are thankful for.

Today I asked Ryan specifically what he is thankful for.

His response? "I'm thankful that I'm not in control."

My response: "Are you really thankful that you're not in control?"

Ryan: "Yes. Because if I was in control we wouldn't have Samuel."

Whew.

His statement made me reflect on the wisdom that comes with age and life experience. 

Not everyone gains wisdom with age and life experience. But I truly believe that those who trust God with their future - and relinquish control of the how, when, where and why of that future -  will come out on the other side a wiser person.

Because trusting God and relinquishing control changes a person. It changes thought-processes, changes beliefs, and changes how we view God.

For Ryan, he views giving up control of our family and the awesome, unexpected gift of a son as going hand in hand.

So as Ryan now waits on God again, he doesn't question His faithfulness. He doesn't strive to control the situation. He's just thankful that the future of our family is not reliant upon him.

Now that's something to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

30 days of gratitude

This month, in addition to my gratitude journal where I am writing down ways we are blessed during this season of unemployment, I have decided to do a November scrapbook album. I am taking one picture a day (or sometimes many pictures a day because my kids are too cute!) to chronicle our life as a family of four with a one and two-year-old.

A couple years ago I did this during the month of March when Ryan and I celebrated our 7th anniversary. I took pictures every day during the month and called the album our "7 year itch" album. I love it because it shows who we hung out with, what we did in our free time, where we worked, and what life was like before having kids. I highly encourage you to do this if you haven't!

I haven't done this since children entered our family, so I decided this would be the month. I'm trying to write down a couple things we do each day and take at least one picture a day. I also decided since it is the month of Thanksgiving, that as a family, we would come up with one thing we are thankful for each day and I will include that in the album. This will truly help us to have an attitude of gratitude. 

While I think that my kids will love to look at this album someday and see what our everyday life was like when they were little, I also think this will help me to stay focused on the small joys in life and the many ways I am blessed.
We are seven days in, but if anyone wants to join me in doing 30 days of gratitude I would love it. Here are some ideas:
  • Take a picture every day of things you are thankful for
  • Write down one thing daily you are thankful for
  • Find a book that helps you focus on living a life of gratitude (here's a book on kids and gratitude)
  • Meditate daily on a verse that reminds you to give thanks (such as Colossians 3:15 "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.")
Here's to 30 days (or even 23 days if you start today!) of gratitude.....
P.S. Will someone please ask me in February if I actually completed my album? I am really good at starting projects and not finishing them...!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Definition of a boy

These pictures are a little old, but I've been meaning to post this quote for awhile. It fits Samuel perfectly. Some children don't like anything messy...that's definitely not the case with my son. And I am in awe of all the boy sounds that come from his mouth. Man I love my boy!


Boy, n: a noise with dirt on it.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Angel Food Ministries

Twice we have received a delivery from Angel Food Ministries. While we are so grateful for the food, there is no gift that beats this sweet delivery...


Friday, October 29, 2010

20

Last week Ryan had his 20th interview (including phone and in-person).

20.

20 times of mentally preparing.
20 times of discussing, answering questions, and trying to say the 'right' things.
20 times of hoping, praying and wanting this one to be THE one.

Ryan has a PR blog. In this post he writes about unemployment. Ryan is always very honest and authentic and I encouraged him to be transparent on his blog about the challenges of being unemployed.

Unemployment is as much a mental game as it is a job-finding game. Some days are tough - discouraging, depressing, and emotionally exhausting.

What is different about this type of waiting than when we were waiting for a baby? When we were trying to conceive it was MY body. My cycle. My ovulation. My health. While we both longed for a child, it was at the forefront of my mind all of the time. Every day I would take note of what my body was doing and where I was in my cycle, and if this month could possibly be the month we had waited so long for.

As Ryan searches for a job, WE wait together. But in reality, the brunt of the work is on his shoulders. He searches. He looks. He meets with people. He works on his resume. He makes new contacts. He interviews. He cannot forget that he doesn't have a job.

To be honest, sometimes I forget. As I'm cleaning, cooking, caring for my babies....I forget. I get caught up in the routine of being a mom and I don't think about Ryan being unemployed.

But Ryan does not forget. Because every day he gets up and doesn't go into an office to work. He doesn't have an office anymore. He has a card table set up in our bedroom. He doesn't have his own laptop, he is borrowing one from a friend. He doesn't have a work-paid Blackberry, he pays for it himself.

I am so proud of my husband. He does not lay in bed depressed and unwilling to face the day. He gets up and every single day works in some small (or big) way toward his next job. He has persevered. He has remained upbeat and positive.

20 people have chosen not to hire him. Yet he remains optimistic about person #21.

I love you sweetie and I admire your determination and positivity. I am proud to be your wife and even more proud of how you have handled the past 5 months. I'm right here by your side waiting for the next call that just might be the one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Words on waiting: has God forgotten you?

In March of 2009 I wrote a post titled: Words on waiting: has God forgotten you?

Someone commented on that post recently so I took the time to re-read my post.

I said to Ryan, "I'm amazed that I wrote that post!" I am even more amazed that my post now speaks to me - particularly this statement: "They get the job while you or your spouse wait for the call."

I didn't know when I wrote that post that 18 months later we would be waiting for a call about a job.

Yet my post reminds me that God knew. He knew when Ryan would switch jobs and when he would lose his job and when he will start his next job.

And he doesn't owe us an explanation for his timing around any of those events. I don't think that God has forgotten us because I have experienced His faithfulness - both in my life and in the lives of others.

I hadn't read the Wait Poem once during this time. It was so good for me to let those words soak into my heart again.

God has not forgotten us......and we have not forgotten His faithfulness.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Family pics

Ryan's cousin took pictures of our family yesterday. Lauren took a few steps during our photo shoot and we got them on camera! Samuel and Lauren are so sweet. I am madly, crazily, completely and totally in love with my two miracles. They bring me such joy. Blue eyes, precious smiles, blonde hair....we are blessed. So blessed

Here's a few pics - enjoy.









Thursday, October 21, 2010

High Chair Devotions

Recently I began having devotions with Samuel and Lauren after breakfast each morning. This is something I believe is important, so I'm starting while the kids are young.

I've read a few different articles about family devotions including this one.

My initial goals were to:
1). Just start doing them
2). Keep them short
3). Make sure they were age-appropriate

My mom informed me today that when I was little we used to read the Bible together after dinner. Initially I was thinking that we would have devotions after dinner or before bed each night so that Ryan could be involved. But the truth is...we're just too tired. I don't have the energy in this season of life to try to keep the kids focused and listening for any length of time. Plus, if we are gone for dinner or out during the evening then devotions are unlikely to happen.

In the future, we might try devotions after dinner or as part of the bedtime routine, but for now I have the most energy for breakfast devotions (note: I did not write I am a morning person, just that I have more energy). By doing this together in the morning, we can be mindful throughout our day of what we read.

We're using a Devotional Bible for Preschoolers that I think we received as a gift. We read one short entry each morning after breakfast. The kids are finished eating and are still in their high chairs. Each reading includes a verse for the day and a short prayer. I include the prayer but also pray for things like our activities that day or for continued patience for mom or listening and obedience for Samuel or kindness between siblings.

I have no expectations for this time. 

Let me repeat: I have no expectations.

Sometimes both kids are talking. Sometimes one is crying. Samuel often times wants to get down because he's "aw done."

But we're plugging away. Doing a little each day to help all of us focus our hearts and minds upward. Usually when I start reading and point out the picture, I can get the attention of both my kiddos for a few minutes.

And really, at this age it's about developing a habit that will hopefully carry into adulthood. I've always struggled with consistency in my time with the Lord and maybe, just maybe, I can help my children develop that habit at a young age.

We have children's Bibles that we read on a regular basis, but I love the topics that are presented in the devotional Bible, along with a verse and prayer. Three years from now my kids might need something with more 'meat,' but for now it's perfect.

And what better way to start our day than with a little spiritual food for breakfast?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gratitude Journal

Years ago when I was part of a Homemakers group, we developed the habit of writing in a gratitude journal. It wasn't something I have continued through the years, but I'm picking it up again.

There are SO MANY ways we've been blessed during this season of unemployment. We are continually surprised, amazed and so grateful at how God shows us that He will provide for our every need - whether that's through a financial gift, an act of service or a note of encouragement to lift our spirits.

I DO NOT want to forget a single act of kindness shown to us as we walk this road.

So I have a gratitude journal on my nightstand. And I plan to write ways that people have loved us, served us, and cared for us.

Scripture tells us to remember. My gratitude journal will help me do exactly that.

I wrote a post last month about choosing to be grateful. I cannot look at my list of blessings and not be grateful.

God I am so grateful for the many ways you show yourself through my friends and family. You love us deeply, greatly, sweetly, gently, hugely, profoundly, surprisingly and tremendously. All the glory goes to you Jesus. All the glory.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Small moments of joy

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about parenting being hard.

Which it is.

But in the midst of hard parenting days (or weeks or months), there are small moments of joy.

Moments that cause your heart to melt.

Moments, in which, you are reminded that these little people are gifts from a great big God.

Moments that make the hard parts of parenting so worth it.

Moments that include....
  • Praying after breakfast and hearing your 13-month-old daughter say "Amen."
  • Hearing your son recite (with help) the words of 1 John 4:19. His first memory verse!
  • Your son asking his father for a hug. 
  • Your daughter clapping as soon as you start singing If You're Happy and You Know It.
  • Cuddling in bed watching Land Before Time with your two-year-old as you discuss Ducky, Littlefoot, Petrie, Spike and Cera.
  • Reading Who Said Boo? for the 15th time in a day. 
  • Swinging with two children on your lap. 
  • Seeing dad and son playing Bad to the Bone with their 'stick' drumsticks.
  • Watching your daughter's eyes (actually her entire face) light up when she sees you - because you are one of the most important people in her world.
There is no doubt that the small moments of joy outweigh the hard moments by a landslide. Thank you Lord for that!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lauren's talking!

Samuel is saying new sentences every day and Lauren's saying new words every week. Life is full and so much fun with these two! Here are a few of Lauren's new words:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What are you waiting for?

Here is a quote from the sermon I posted yesterday:
"If we remember that everything that touches our life is sifted through the hands of a loving God, if we understand that He is in complete control, if we understand that in order for us to wait we are not waiting for the stars to align, we are not waiting for the circumstances to change, all we are waiting for is God to say NOW - all He has to do is give a word, He spoke the worlds into existence - whatever it is we are praying about can literally be taken care of."

There is both relief in that statement as well as frustration.

How wonderful to know that it is not up to us alone to make things happen. Most days, most hours, it is wonderfully relieving to know that for all of Ryan's efforts and work, God and God alone is in control of his future. Even though Ryan has more than 1,500 LinkedIn connections, and he is part of many networking circles, and he has more than 7,000 PR blog readers a month....ultimately we are not waiting for just the right person to contact Ryan. We are waiting on God to say NOW. We are waiting for the nod. We are waiting for Him to give the word.

However, there are times when my mind chooses to wander and not focus on truth. That's when the frustration sets in. That's when the temptation to give into discouragement is high. Because we know this is one of those times when God has not given the nod or spoken the word.

Those times are infrequent and I believe it's because I have experienced the faithfulness of God. I have seen His goodness firsthand. I am living the miracle He performed in my life.

So yes, we're waiting for God to say NOW. And maybe that's what you're waiting for too.

But maybe you haven't experienced a life-changing miracle yet. Don't give up. Don't let your waiting get the best of you.

Beth Moore says,"If Jesus gives us a task or assigns us to a difficult season, every ounce of our experience is meant for our instruction and completion if only we'll let Him finish the work. I fear, however, that we are so attention-deficit that we settle for bearable when beauty is just around the corner." - Beth Moore.

Some people are waiting for all the stars to align so their prayer can be answered. Friends, I'm waiting for the One who calls each of those stars by name.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lauren's talking!

Waiting...patiently?

My mother-in-law recently sent Ryan and I a sermon titled A Patience Question. It is fantastic. The message offers five benefits of waiting on the Lord and I've listened to it at least three times.

The sermon is based on Psalm 40:1-3:
I waited patiently for the Lord;

he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

You can print out a PDF of sermon notes here.

I was going to type up some notes, but I would have typed up the entire message. So I will just leave you with a question you'll hear in the sermon. It's a patience question:

Will you wait on God?

Will you?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The upside of unemployment


The upside of unemployment
is that you get to
do a lot of fun things
together as a family.
Like go to
corn mazes
and play in
corn pits
and have tons of fun
with tons of corn
and cute kids
whom I love
and adore

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Parenting is hard

Yes, this week I decided that parenting is hard. 

Or maybe that's what was confirmed this week. 

Because I knew parenting was hard. I was just reminded this week, that it's still hard. Even without a newborn in my house anymore.

Because parenting is definitely harder with a newborn!

Lauren and Samuel have colds. Lauren has been up three nights in a row. I took her to the doc today and she has an ear infection. So that explains the late nights and little sleep. Cold season has begun again (already?!) and it is tough with little ones. Runny noses, congestion, ear pain...

Three nights of little sleep has taken its toll on mom and I now have a cold.

So what am I doing up late at night when I should be catching up on all the sleep I've missed this week?

I'm catching up on all the other stuff in my life that I don't get done while caring for the little people in my life.

As a mom, you just have to push through the lack of sleep.

As a mom, you deal with the sore throat and cold symptoms. 

As a mom, you get outta bed, face the day and smile for your kiddos.

As a mom, you have the privilege of caring for little ones all day every day.

As a mom, that is what is so wonderful and so hard all at the same time.

It's not a big revelation, but it's true. And I just needed to remind myself of that this week.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel,
Happy 2nd birthday little man!

We are so blessed to have had you in our lives for the past two years. Two years of loving you, laughing with you and watching you learn and grow.

In the past year you've gone from learning to walk to running everywhere - all the time. You went from only saying a couple words to communicating in full sentences (sometimes). You recognize family members, friends, our church building and grandma and grandpa's houses. You can count to ten and sing all of your ABCs. You amaze us!

Your language has exploded in the last few months. You are talking so much. Your dad and I often hear short phrases like: daddy circles, mommy teeth too, more tickle, tower, what daddy doing, baby no no, Sammy in, why, big garbage truck, pancakes and sausage, baby sit too, Sammy do it and my turn.

Last week I was pushing you in the swing outside and this is how our conversation went:

Mommy: "I love you Samuel."

Mommy: "Can you say, "I love you too mommy?"

Samuel: "I want some cheese."

This made me laugh and reminded me that your priorities in life are food and playing.

But you are learning and growing quickly because last night when I put you to bed I said, "I love you Samuel." And completely unprompted you responded, "Love you mommy." My heart melted.

Even though our family is facing some difficult times right now, I am thankful that you are shielded from the realities of this world. Soon enough you'll be faced with stress, anxiety and worries when life doesn't pan out the way you think it should. For now I am grateful that you are content to play with mom, dad and Lauren all day, every day.

Samuel I am so proud of you. You are curious, smart and brave. You are full of energy and life. You laugh and giggle and smile frequently. You continue to love music and dancing. I taught you Skip, Skip, Skip to My Lou recently and it is so fun to hear you singing the words to yourself when you're playing. But nothing compares to having you sing along with me when I sing How Great is Our God. I hope Samuel that you will know deep down inside, how truly great our God  is.

Samuel our prayer is exactly what your Papa Dean prayed for you last night: that you would always know how much we love you and how much God loves you.

Happy Birthday my miracle boy. I can't wait to watch you learn and grow in the coming year.

I love you,
Mom