"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Monday, December 30, 2013

39

I turned 39 yesterday.
39!
That means next year I will turn 40.  Strangely enough, 40 sounds great.  It sounds solid.  Grown up.  Settled.  I am looking forward to it!
 
However, I am also looking forward to this, my 39th year, very much. 
 
It will be a year of change - crazy combinations of changes.  That was clearly demonstrated by the way I spent my day yesterday! 
 
My aching hips always wake me up by 6:30 am.  I feel totally fantastic, with the exception that when I sleep my hips ache.  They always have when I am pregnant.  Once I am up for the day, most of the ache disappears.  I actually love weekend mornings because I can usually sneak in 30 minutes of quiet time, just me and God before Joshua wakes up.  It has become some of my favorite time of the week.
 
Yesterday, after my time in the Word, I spent some time on Amazon.  I ordered the baby's crib.  I will confess - 15 years ago, I never would have expected to be expecting a baby on my 39th birthday!  It was not part of my 15 year plan . . . then.  I am so thankful that God steps in and changes our hearts and plans.  This little kicker is a gift I am so gratefully and peacefully anticipating.  She is such a special blessing to me.  I absolutely marvel at this whole experience all the time.
 
Later in the day, I spent some more time on the computer placing orders.  This time it was an order for Krissy's senior pictures.  How crazy is it that on the very same day I ordered a baby crib and senior pictures for my oldest and youngest girls?  I know it sounds odd to most, but I just feel so incredibly blessed.  I absolutely LOVE all the ages and stages we have coexisting in our home.  It is SO much fun.
 
In addition to my online shopping, I went to church.  Had lunch with my parents. Took a "football nap" - which happens to be my favorite way to spend a wintery Sunday afternoon.  Ate the amazing birthday cake that Ms. Brenna Joy, baker extraordinaire, made for me. Waddled on the treadmill a bit. Read a newly downloaded book.
 
It was a peaceful, restful day.
 Brenna loves to bake.
And she is good at it!
 
She was determined to decorate the cake she made me.  I am NOT a cake decorator, so we do not have the proper decorating "stuff."  She made do with a Ziploc baggie, some patience, and her trademark creativity.
 I think the last time I had a cake with my name on it was when I turned 29!
 
Didn't she do a good job?
 
I'm thinking some proper cake decorating tools should be on her birthday list this spring.  Chad swears she will own a bakery someday.  Until then, we are happy to be her taste testers!
 Chad insisted that they sing, and I blow out the candles.
 
We should have video taped the kids' singing.  I have some very musical kids - but yesterday they did their best to sing off-key.  They were quite successful.  It was hilarious.
Joshua and the camera. . .
 
I can honestly tell you that when it comes to photos, little man is a bit of a stinker.  He only wants to take photos when and where he chooses.  More often than not he is pouting or trying to ruin a photo because they are not his idea, or because he is not the one holding the camera.  It has certainly decreased my love of photography.  I am hoping this stage passes before baby arrives. Sigh.
 
Anyway, once in a while his need for control works out for me.  He decided that he should take a picture of Jamison and I.  It is not the most flattering photo of me, but I can not remember the last time I posed for a photo with my tall son alone, so it is a keeper!
 I requested a photo of myself and all the kids.
Joshua was NOT impressed - but he did try (sort of) since it was my birthday.
 
He was very dedicated to making mommy's birthday a good day.  Many times I heard him tell his siblings that they should or should not do something since it was my birthday.  Minus the photo fettish, he is the sweetest and most thoughtful little guy.

 I also asked for a photo with Chad.
 
Though I prefer the top one, the bottom one describes my goofy husband much better!
Chad is fun and silly and wacky. . . and I am so glad.  Without him our household would be FAR to structured and serious!
Last photo of the day was Joshua's idea!
 
He drew me a picture.  (That alone is HUGE people!)  Joshua Gebeyehu CHOSE to use a marker and paper. . . all by himself!  It is a birthday gift for me.  It is he and I of course - and he drew my baby belly perfectly, don't you think?
 
Also notice his jack-o-lantern smile.  He lost another tooth yesterday.  That makes 8 lost teeth.  Krissy pulled it out for him.  I still can not believe that my blood hating oldest daughter plays dentist for the little guy,  but she does.  When his teeth get so wiggly they hurt, he goes to her and she pulls them for him.  Then he tosses his tooth in the trash.  No tooth fairy at our house!  Although Joshua is no longer terrified of Santa, he still thinks all those pretend games (like the tooth fairy, Easter bunny, Elf on a shelf, and Santa) are just silly. 
 
I am so excited for this year.  2013 or 38, whichever way I measure it, was one of my hardest years ever spiritually and emotionally.  It was a year in which I spent much time trying to figure out who and what God wanted me to be.  Discerning His plan for my life has been hard.  Mostly because it is filled with paradoxes.  In some areas His plan is exactly what I want, what I would choose.  In other areas, it is not.  I have learned much about the selfishness of my own ambitions this year.  That has been a painful journey.  I am learning more and more about submission - grateful, joyful, honest submission.  They have been good lessons, and the Lord has been meeting me, guiding me, pruning me, circumcising my heart.  They have also been painful lessons.  I think I am in a much better place this year than last.  My relationship with my Savior is deeper, better, richer.  My heart is more submissive - which also means it is WAY more peaceful.  And yet, I know the lessons are not over.  I know some major transitions are looming ahead.  A new baby!  Krissy heading to college!  Me going back to work and sending sweet "Raja" to day care!  Those will be some big tests.  And they are the ones I know about ahead of time.
 
So, 39 will not be easy.
 
And yet I am anticipating it with arms wide open.
 
My heart and mind are peaceful, accepting. . . ready (I think) for all the Lord has planned.
 


Friday, December 27, 2013

Longing for Litchville


I am missing family like crazy today.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

 My Christmas request was a photo of all 5.  My kids do not enjoy photos - especially Joshua.  (Who learned to protest pictures from his oldest sister.  UGH!)  So getting them to smile for my camera is a true gift.

2013:
Krissy 17.5
Jamison 16
Sierra 14
Brenna 10.5
Joshua 6


Christmas felt rushed this year.  Hurried.  All my routines and rhythms are off.  Traveling over Thanksgiving, getting hurt, fewer weekends than usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas, celebrating early with Chad's extended family, working the day before and the day after Christmas all made things feel blurred.  Being back in the office today before 7:30 am has left me feeling a bit sad.  Longing for the peaceful, cozy holidays I have enjoyed other years.  (Which probably makes it a silly time to blog. . . but honest, too.)

 The most meaningful moments of this month happened early in the morning.  Several mornings this month I woke up really early, tiptoed silently into the family room, plugged in the Christmas tree lights, and sipped a cup of coffee while reading my Ann Voskamp devotional.  Those moments were rich.  Peaceful. Meaningful.

As Christmas should be.
 They left me pondering this scene.

We love to picture the nativity as beautiful.
Angelic.
Peaceful.
Holy.
 Really it was few of those things.
Though it was holy.
It was also messy.
Dirty.
Scary.
Lonely.
Shocking.
Unexpected.
Confusing.

I have spent a lot of time truly contemplating the fact that God chose to enter this world as a baby.  It is crazy.  The all-powerful God of the universe came as the least powerful of humans.  It does not get more fragile than infancy. . .  particularly an infant born to poverty stricken, teenage parents.  Yet that is how and whom He chose.

At dinner on Christmas Eve we tried to guess why - 
was He willing to be completely vulnerable to teach us about vulnerability?
was He willing to experience it all to understand us better?
was He willing to demonstrate that He would go into any mess to save us?

Yes.

Taking a moment to consider the story, to chew on it for an instant rather than simply regurgitating all that we have been told, was my favorite moment with our kids this Christmas.

We also had many more traditional moments.
Gifts were opened.
Toy packaging was wrestled.
Assembly took place.
New movies have been watched.
New games have been played.






And this momma took very few photos.
Instead, I sat back and pondered it all in my heart.

Cousins playing.
Dart gun wars.
Big hugs for Grandma and Grandpa Great.
Too many cooks in my kitchen.
My kids teasing each other constantly.
The belly laughs of darling nieces.
Hugging my tall son and fitting right under his shoulder.
My small son caressing his baby sister growing in my belly.
Daddy frying bacon. . . the good stuff.

Rushed or not, Christmas is an incredibly special time.
I am thankful for each moment.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

6 Months Down (28 weeks) - Only 3 to Go!

Less than 90 days until baby "Raja" is due.

And I feel happy.

Truly and very completely blessed.

Minus my still sore tailbone (which is not baby girl's fault), I feel physically awesome.  As for my tailbone. . . well, it is improving.  It still hurts and is physically limiting, but not nearly so bad as it was.  I am thankful.

Baby girl continues to grow.  Her kicks become stronger.  Yet she is a gentle mover.  She quiets immediately when a hand is placed over her.  Some of her siblings were crazy kickers.  Chad used to ask me to roll over in bed if my belly touched him when I was expecting Sierra.  She kicked so hard, she would wake him up!  Not this peanut.  She seems serene.  Time will tell if her momma is correct.

I have fallen in love with a name for her.  But. . . I have never named our kids - that has always come from Chad.  So, time will tell if the name I am suggesting sticks. 

This month I started buying baby gear.  My closet is overflowing.  I purchased a bouncy chair, carseat/stroller, play gym, a couple of blankets, some onesies, and a couple more outfits.  I also ordered her bedding.  So - I DO have a plan for her room!

Before she arrives I still plan to buy a crib, paint a dresser, and buy a sling/carrier of some sort.  Krissy has promised to sew a couple of receiving blankets and a small stack of burp cloths.  And that is it - the rest we will pick up as we know her and she is ready for it!  The great thing about having teens along with little ones is that the teen stuff makes baby stuff seem cheap!

We also need to do some fairly major construction.  The storage room needs to be transformed into a smaller storage space, plus a bedroom for Joshua.  Which means a closet and wall will need to be framed and sheetrocked.  The entire space will need to be taped, textured, primed and painted.  The windows will need to be stained, varnished, and trimmed.  Carpet will need to be ordered and installed.  Baseboards, doors, etc. . . will go in.  And finally Joshua will move upstairs.  I would really like him to be sleeping upstairs by Valentine's Day.  That way he has a month to get settled before the baby takes over his current room.

The room prep for the baby will be much simpler.  A little primer and paint is about all it will take.  I am OK with completing her room after she arrives - but if it works to have it all done before she makes her appearance, that would be great. 

Chad and I made a big decision this last week.  I had been really hoping to stay home with baby girl.  Really hoping.  But in light of all the health care hoopla, and considering the fact that we DO have 6 kiddos - I will be returning to my jobs after a 12 week maternity leave at the church.  I will need to work for Chad throughout that leave though.  I am cognitively peaceful with this decision.  It is safest and wisest.  However, I am also emotionally devastated.  Leaving my kids is THE hardest thing I am ever asked to do.  It is funny how things work sometimes.  I know mom's who feel called to be at home that envy me getting out of the house.  I, on the other hand, grieve the time I have to be separated from my littles deeply.  I am working hard at grieving the loss of this dream.  I do not want to spend the last 3 months of this pregnancy sad.  I also refuse to spend my 12 weeks at home with her an emotional mess.  So - that means I need to choose my thoughts and emotions carefully.  I must choose to be thankful for the flexibility, financial security, and health care benefits my job offers our family.  I must choose to trust and believe that God has a plan for my life and my baby girl.  I vow to serve Him with thankfulness rather than grudgingly.

Also - please be praying that we would find child care that fills my heart with peace and hope.

God continues to remind me that His lesson to me in this pregnancy is that I can hope in Him.  He is THE source of hope.  I have struggled with "hoping" with trusting my dreams to Him in the last couple of years.  I have found my self expecting rugs to be pulled out from under my feet rather than trusting Him to hold me up.  In many, many ways, He has whispered HOPE into my soul throughout these precious months of pregnancy.  It has been a beautiful, renewing, and reassuring time.  

A couple of weeks ago, I read this verse,
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
As I read it, I knew.  It is our verse - baby Raja's and mine - THE one that He is calling me towards during this precious season.  And so, even though every detail is not working out as I had wished, I choose to trust in Him.  To trust in Him to fill me with joy and peace.  To trust in Him to work out every detail.  To trust in Him that He may fill me to overflowing with hope by the power of His spirit.

It really is a beautiful picture.  We call this baby "Raja" which means hope.  As she grows, I am literally being filled to overflowing with "hope."  And eventually this hope will become too large to contain.  She will be born, filling our home with the hope that is unique to a tiny infant.  You are a gift, my daughter.  I am so thankful for the hope you have brought alive in my entire being.

Here are Brenna's photos of her baby sister at 6 months.



Friday, December 20, 2013

Program Week

It was a week FULL of programs!

Tuesday - Sierra had a Show Choir Concert.
As the queen of selfies - She took this one post concert with her bestie Erin.
 
Wednesday - Brenna, Joshua, and Sierra took part in the church Christmas Program.
 
It was a really nice event.  Peaceful.  Meaningful.  And as a bonus, I was able to have a longish chat with a good friend.
 
 
Brenna and Camaryn opened the program with a duet.
 
They did a wonderful job, on a song they had practiced all by themselves. 
 
Brenna is, by far, our most quietly independent child.  She is much like my mom that way.
 
Thursday - Joshua had his preschool/Pre-K Program.
 



 
It was, of course, very cute AND very loud!
 
There is just something about little kid programs though.  Even Jamison gets a kick out of them.
 
By 8:45 last night, almost every Dietrich wasasleep.  Which is probably why I am awake and blogging at 4 am.  Sigh.  Chad woke at 2:30 to move snow, and between an early bedtime, a long to-do list looming in my busy brain, and a decision that was made yesterday that is weighing on my heart, more sleep is evading me.  The good news - the laundry is getting done, and I have not slipped and fallen as a part of the process!
 
Happy week before Christmas to you all!
It is a crazy, busy, beautiful time - not?


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Learning to Love Learning

("Look MOM - I wrote your name!")

One lingering worry I have had about Joshua Gebeyehu was that he just did NOT enjoy learning!  He LOVED to play.  He LOVED to work with his dad.  He LOVED to build.  He LOVED to climb and explore.  Writing, reading, letter sounds, numbers - they were BORING!  Even the most creative of art projects held NO interest to my son.

I have relaxed MUCH in my 17 years of parenting, yet I do admit to being a bit concerned about his lack of interest in learning.  When we signed him up for another year of preschool, at 5.5, I wondered if we were wasting money.  Maybe he was just a kid that would never like school?  Maybe the only way for him to become ready to dig in and learn was to force it?  He was SO ready for Kindergarten in every way - socially, emotionally, attention span, ability to follow directions, ect. . .  He just refused to care about "school" stuff.  Maybe he never would?

So - when school began I had a little chat with his teacher.  I explained that I understood and loved that at Montessori they allow kids to make many choices and move at their own pace. . . BUT I really, really, really felt like Joshua MUST be pushed and prodded if he were to be ready to attend school next year.  AND since they would not take him as a 6.5 year old - she agreed!

At the beginning of the school year, he was not enthused about the learning component of school.  School was "boring."  His teachers were "so bossy!"  They always wanted him to COLOR (of all things!).  He even chose to sleep during rest time, something he has not done since he was 3.5, because he discovered that if he got up early he was expected to color or work on worksheets quietly.  Sleeping was WAY better than coloring! (I was not sure if I should laugh or cry when he made that confession!)

However, as they year has progressed, he has finally decided to become a learner!

He started to engage with me when I asked him letter sounds.  He would try to read the numbers on the clock.  He would PROUDLY show me worksheets he had completed at school!  His drawings looked like drawings rather than scribbles.

This morning he even asked me to read him a book!  (I know that does not sound exciting - but he has refused to read with me except for at bedtime.  It is not that he is a really active kid.  He is quite mellow.  He just did not like ANYTHING school-like AT ALL.)

And over the weekend, as we drove to meet his newest cousin, he was asking me to spell words for him to write on Brenna's kindle!  He actually wrote MOM. . . and it was HIS idea.

(Insert one BIG, Long, HAPPY and relieved sigh, here!)

I am SO thankful!  School is a must.  Education is a gift.  The thought of pushing and prodding him to accept that gift for the next 13 years was a bit daunting!  (And yes!  I do and did know all kids are ready for different things at different times.  Jamison is a fantastic student.  He easily maintains a B+ GPA, yet he did not learn to read until grade 2.  So, on one hand I was not worried!  On the other, I have never seen a little guy detest all things paper and pencil related to the extent that our JG used to hate them. . .  so I was most certainly bit concerned!)

In the end, I realize once again that the BEST thing we EVER have to offer is time.  The gift of time can look many different ways.  Sometimes it is listening.  Sometimes it is helping.  Sometimes it is serving.  Sometimes it is waiting.  Sometimes it is playing.  Sometimes it is resting. No matter how TIME is given, unless it is hurried, it is a blessing - a most precious gift.

Time was exactly what Joshua needed.

Really, time is exactly what we all need.

Funny thing is time is something we are each given equally.  We each, no matter where we live in the world and no matter how much money we make, have the same allotment of time each day.  I continue to work at being intentional, thoughtful, and generous with how I use each minute the Lord gives me each day.  The more I work at investing my time wisely and carefully, the more I realize that pushing pause rather than fast-forward often brings the best returns.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Taking Rest to a New Level

As 2013 began, I felt deep in my soul that more than anything else, the Lord was asking me to rest.

Physically.

Mentally.

Emotionally.

Spiritually.

I have learned much about rest in this last year - but in the last week and a half I have been forced to take rest to a whole new level.

Thanksgiving weekend I slipped and fell.  As soon as I had fallen, I knew I fell really  hard.  Yet took a few days for the severity of the fall to fully sink in.  I lived in limping denial on Sunday.  Sure I was sore, I had fallen. . .  I should be sore.  Monday was Jamison's birthday.  I was starting to realize that my pain was not at a normal post-fall level, but I did not rest too much.  I had a party to throw.

By Tuesday, I was no longer denying anything.  My tailbone had been throbbing for days.  Sitting was terribly painful.  Bending was excruciating.  Sleep was far from comfortable.  I finally realized that rest may be my only choice.

I spent the rest of the week canceling afternoon and evening meetings.

I left work early each day, so that I could
 lay on the couch in the family room and ice my "broken butt" as Sierra loved to call it.
 I spent many hours watching snowflakes fall and geese fly by the living room window.
 My favorite activity was watching baby "Raja" kick.

She kicks hard enough these days that she makes my hand jump.
Every time I felt her kick, I was thankful that although I was not feeling well, she was!
Truth is - I do not rest all that well.

Laying on the couch DROVE me crazy.
It also caused deep aches in my hips.

But it was much more comfortable than most other positions. . .

Sigh.

  I was certain that the largest problem was a bruised or broken tailbone.  A "broken butt" is fairly untreatable, and there are few meds I can take because of the pregnancy, so rest, baths in Epsom salt, and ice were my best options.  I have felt a tiny bit better each day, however, I have not been this totally uncomfortable since I broke my fingers and had them pinned back together after I rolled my car in 1992.

Thankfully, the kids have been good to me.  Sierra says, "Oh mom!  You are so sad.  Let me help."  Joshua tuned into the fact that picking up things off the floor was the most painful activity for me.  So he runs to my rescue when things fall to the floor.  Brenna has volunteered to do other low to the ground tasks like unloading the dishwasher.  I am truly grateful.

I finally felt good enough to go to the chiropractor today.  Until now, I was too sore to consider letting anyone touch me.  She was honest and told me the tissue is so bruised that it will take time to heal - but getting things back in place will speed that along.

Tonight I feel the best I have.

I am not ready to sit on the couch yet - but my back and tailbone are hot and sore rather than throbbing.  I think I may possibly sleep fairly well tonight.

I am hopeful.

I am also so thankful
  •  that nothing was broken
  • that baby is fine
  • that I have time to heal before going through labor
  • I do not have little ones to care for right now
  • it was possible to cancel meetings last week
  • my kids were sympathetic and willing to help (even if they teased me a lot!)
  • the pain is relenting
The moral of the story - if I had rested rather than multi-tasking in the middle of the night I would not be limping now!  So one way or another, I will learn to rest!

Ha!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

He Confirms His Plan

You know how when you have heard/read the same story time and again, you kind of forget the meaning. . .  You kind of skip parts, gloss over details because you think you know them anyway. . .  You kind of numb to it. . .

I realized today that is how I have approached the Christmas story the last few years.

It is funny really.

I LOVE the story of the nativity.

I have many, many nativity scenes that I carefully display in our home during Advent.

I love to recall the story with my kids as we set them up.

I love to gaze at them, or perhaps glimpse at them as I rush by, and wonder. . . what was it like.

What was it like to carry Jesus under your heart?  To labor and deliver Him?  To rock Him, nurse Him, care for His tiny infant body?  In abject poverty - He was born in a barn.  To a teen-age mom.  A first time mom at that.

It is all totally unfathomable really. . .

As is the idea that although I KNOW the story, it is rare that I truly marvel in it.

Today though, as I had the opportunity to retell a portion of the Christmas story to a group of rowdy kids, God spoke to MY heart.  He reminded me of something beautiful.  Something eternal.  Something I really needed to hear and focus on right now.

(Sigh.  I DO adore Him.  He blesses me in the most amazing ways at the most unexpected times.)

He reminded me, today, that He confirms His "crazy" plans over and over and over.

He sent an angel to tell an old priest that his elderly barren wife would have a baby.

Crazy?

Yep, until she was pregnant.

Then He sent an angel to tell a virgin, teenage girl , aka Mary, that she would become pregnant via the Holy Spirit and give birth to God's son.  (Can you even imagine? That is LOCO!)  The angel also told her that her cousin - the old barren one, was expecting a baby.

Before ANY of this could possibly be confirmed to Mary, she said "I am the Lord's servant.  May it be as you have said."  (Oh!  MY!  So so so so much I could learn from THAT response.)

Then she went to see her cousin.

And found her 6 mo. pregnant.

Her cousin knew immediately that Mary was expecting as well.  She also knew that the baby was the Savior.  AND she knew that Mary was not cursed, even in this crazy unexpected role.  She was blessed.  Her words to Mary were, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." (Again. So so so so so much I could learn from that.)

Can you even imagine how that set Mary's mind at ease?  Can you imagine how scared this young girl was?  She was brave and faithful, but that did not mean she was not also terrified.

These examples of God confirming His plan continue through the story of the nativity.  He does this with Joseph, the Wise Men, the Shepherds, etc. . .

This reminder that God confirms His plans has made my soul sigh today.

I wonder sometimes if I am hearing Him.  Could I be right?  Why won't He speak?  Really God, wait longer?  Maybe I am missing something. . . not paying attention. . .

Being reminded that He will confirm His plan is so very good.

However - though He did confirm His plan to Mary.  He gave her an amazing gift of reassurance.  He gave her a human ally at a crucial time in her life.  In time, He worked out ALL the details.

BUT - in the moment, she followed blindly.

When He told her what He wanted, she did not say, "no."  She did not say, "are you sure?"  She did not say, "Do I have to?"  She said, "I am the Lord's servant.  May it be to me as you have said."

What would my life look like if that were TRULY my prayer?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Jay at 16.

Jamison is 16 today!

Some things that I want to remember about Jamison at 16:

  • He carries a water bottle with him everywhere.  He has learned that when he is training, he feels WAY better hydrated.
  • He is pretty much obsessed with playing Xbox live with his buddies.  They have a Madden NFL league they have created.   They play endless games and chat via headsets while they play.
  • He is also obsessed with the Fantasy Football League he and his buddies have created.  I tease him that he spends more time in "pretend play" now than he did as a preschooler.  He totally confuses me as he switches between real NFL, fantasy NFL, and Madden NFL in conversations.
  • His favorite place to eat is Panchero.  The staff knows him by name and starts his order when he walks into the restaurant.
  • He is incredibly responsible.  Though he dearly loves his video gaming, I never have to ask if his homework is done before he plays.  He is self-disciplined enough to keep his priorities straight. 
  • He is laid back enough that while maintaining all A's is totally possible, the occasional B causes him no stress.
  • Likewise though he loves to sleep, he never needs me to get him up.
  • He has huge subs in the hatch of his jeep.  You can hear him coming for sure.
  • He thinks references to farts and BMs are hilarious. . . especially if they are in regards to distance running.  (Unless you know a distance runner, this will make no sense!)
  • He is fascinated with Ethiopian distance runners.  Well, perhaps all distance runners. . . when he reads, the books are usually all about distance champs.
  • He has no interest in cooking for himself.  He is also wise enough to thank those who cook for him profusely.
  • He is collecting running shoes and shoe boxes in his room.  He wants to see how many pairs he goes through during his high school running career.  (I buy him new shoes every 250 - 300 miles.)  Outside of this hoarding, his room is neat and clean.
  • He has a great sense of humor - minus the poop jokes.
  • He always helps when asked, without any sass, even when he does not want to help.  Yet if not asked to help, he is happy to be an observer.
  • He continues to grow, just a little bit, all the time.  When his dad slouches, they are now the same height.  He is tall and lean, but not skinny.  He is quite muscular, especially in his legs and abs.
  • He buys himself super hero socks that have capes.  Only Jay has the swag to pull off that look.
  • The cross team calls him JD.  His closest family calls him Jay.  Most of his school friends call him Jamison.  A few classmates call him Jamie.  I do not approve of the "Jamie."
  • He is very protective and a bit hyper-critical of Sierra.  He also loves to tease her.  I am very thankful he will be watching over her at CHS next year!  She is a bit worried about the supervision!
  • He loves to wrestle with Joshua.  I love seeing my boys be boys together.
  • He is a very healthy eater - but has a bit of  sweet tooth.  He adds cookies to his lunch each day, though he rarely drinks pop or snacks on junk.
  • He is an excellent driver, however I fear that fact may just get him into trouble some day.
  • He does not have a girlfriend.  (Yep - I love that!)
  • He is kind, mature, polite and thoughtful.
  • He takes his role as a near man in our household to heart.  For instance, he instinctively helps his dad haul in the heaviest bags while his sisters run to the warmth of the house.
  • He has the best dimples.
  • Phil 4:13 is still his favorite verse.
I adore being your mom, Jay.  You are fun and easy to be around.  I appreciate (most of) your humor!  I love that you are serious and confident, while still capable of being fun and chill. Your maturity impresses me all the time.

You are a blessing, my son.

I am so very thankful that God chose me to be your mom.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent - The Gift of Time

I bought myself a gift this Advent.

It is Ann Voskamp's book The Greatest Gift - Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas.  I adore Ann Voskamp.  Her writing style causes my heart to beat slower, my mind to stop racing, and my soul to open to His graces.

This book is a 25 day devotional. . . one devo for each day from now until Christmas.  It is going to be a good month.

Already this morning, I was wondering how I would truly spend time with this little book each day.  Would I be able to follow through during this busy month?  Could I truly focus on each day in the midst of my Advent to do list?

And then I read these words, "He gives you the gift of time, so you have time to be still and wait."

Sigh.  (Now you know why I adore her work so very much.)

I may have to tattoo these words on my mirror, my hand, the dash of my car, my computer screen, etc. . . but I want them to be my theme this Advent.

He invented time.

He gave it to us as a gift.

Surely there is enough time for all He desires.

These two cuties decorated our tree this evening.

Today was a gift.

I had expected to be driving, but we changed our plans and drove all the way home yesterday.  It was so good to be home.  Starting the week with laundry done, mail sorted, floors vacuumed, and the bills paid is a blessing.  As a total bonus, we finished decorating for Christmas.

I am also thankful today to be OK. 

 Last night I woke up to use the restroom.  Since I was up anyway, I decided to throw a load of clothes into the washer.  I neglected to turn on the lights, and that was a very bad call.  You see - the jug of liquid laundry soap had fallen off the counter and the floor was covered with slippery soap.  When my bare feet hit this soapy pond, I slipped and fell HARD on my tailbone.  It was probably the hardest I have ever fallen. However, although I am incredibly sore, I am OK.  Nothing is broken.  Baby is moving well; there have been no contractions.  Momma is moving slowly, bending carefully, and sitting really uncomfortably - but compared to what could have been, that is nothing I will complain about too much!  Chad and the kids have been really helpful.  I have also been the "butt" of a lot of jokes!  I can honestly say, I am really dreading sitting at my desk tomorrow - yet I am SO thankful that a sore rear is my biggest problem.

Baby "Raja" you are a tough cookie.

I am so, so thankful.

And I am confident that you will fit in around here perfectly.

6!

Joshua Gebeyehu officially turned 6 this weekend.

For the very first time, he was a totally happy, completely secure birthday boy.

 Because his birthday was the day before Thanksgiving and we had decided to road trip to Uncle Reed and Auntie Emily's house for Turkey Day, the most fun part of his day happened first thing in the morning when his dad and siblings swam with him at the hotel pool.
 The remainder of the day was spent like this. . .
Over this holiday weekend, we logged over 2000 miles in the car.

Ugh!

Thankfully the kids are amazing travelers.  We drove straight through - from 5 am to 9:45 pm yesterday.  We stopped 4 times - ONLY 4 times!  That is pretty amazing when you are traveling with a party of 7, one of which is pregnant!  There was next to no fighting and even less whining.  We are blessed.

Although it was wonderful to see Reed and family, we were really thrilled to get home.  This Fall has been full of road trips, and this family is more than ready to hunker down for the winter.

November Adoration - His Love Endures Forever

Psalm 136

New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.
13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.
17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.
23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Due to travel and life craziness, I was not able to blog every day this month.  However, I was able to meet my goal of sitting at His feet in adoration each day.  It was a good, sweet, pure time.

It was a beautiful, peaceful way to spend a month. 

And as He always does, He met me and blessed me as I tried to bless His name.

It was a long deep, exhale of His grace, filling my heart and soul and mind.

So, I end this month, (one day late) with this Psalm of Thanksgiving.

There is so much to learn in it.

David gives thanks for the every day things.  He gives thanks for some hard things.  He recounts many ways in which he has seen God working, fighting for His people, blessing them, protecting them, reaching out to them.

I want to be more like David.

Instead of always, always plowing ahead - I want to, I need to, spend time reflecting on all that God has done in my life.  It is in the past that I can find the strength, faith, trust, and hope to get through the next trial.  And even when I do not need to gather strength, faith, trust, and hope - He deserves my complete praise and gratitude.  He deserves complete recognition.  Complete reliance.  Complete humility.  Complete adoration.

Always.

In all things.

ONLY His love endures forever.

Thank you Holy Father for the lessons of this month. You are so good.  Your love endures forever.  Through every trial and every blessing.  You make all things beautiful.  You are full of surprises.  You turn curses into blessings and mourning in to laughter.  You transform all things.  I stand in awe, adoration, and utter amazement of all that You are, all that You have done, and all that You continue to do.  I sit at your feet, trusting and grateful, as Your plan unfolds.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November Adoration - One Who Circumsizes Hearts

Deuteronomy 30:6

"The Lord your God will circumsize your hearts and the hearts of your descendents, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live."
 
When I have too much to do, I do not sleep.  Though I am exhausted and there is NOTHING productive that can be done between 3 and 5 am, I awaken restlessly preparing for the day.
 
Today was one of those early mornings.
 
I woke WAY too early.  I tried to lay in bed for about an hour and finally gave up on sleep.
 
I crept out of bed, folded a load of laundry, started some coffee, paid our personal bills, took a bath, and read the verse above.
 
I have actually thought about that verse a lot in the past years.
 
I have thought about how I truly desire for God to circumcize my heart.  To peel away the hard, selfishness and reveal His soft, loving, pure heart beneath.
 
I have asked Him to do just that.
 
The next part is something I pray over my children often.  Many nights we end prayer time with a blessing of "May _______________ love You with all of her/his heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And like You Lord, may he/she truly love her/his neighbor as himself."  They are familiar words.  They are qualities that I seek for myself and my children.
 
So this morning it was the last two words that kicked me in the gut "AND LIVE."
 
Truly living IS circumsized living.
 
Truly living is loving the Lord with all of my heart and all of my soul.
 
More than anything, perhaps, I want to TRULY live.  These song lyrics ran through my head ALL day "I want to live this life unsafe, unsure, but not afraid."
 
Over and over and over and over, that one phrase played in my head.
 
It truly speaks for the direction in which I feel God calling me.  I have some big decisions to make in the months to come.  I am wrestling with them.  They are always close to the surface.  I am just not sure what God would have me do.
 
I am sure I want TO LIVE. 
 
I want to live my life unsafe, unsure, but not afraid.
 
OK, so in all honesty, I want to live my life safe and sure but in His will.  I want to know exactly what He has planned before I agree to my part.  I want to read the last chapter and skip ahead to the ending so that I can decide if the path is correct, worth the risk, and one I will enjoy.
 
But I know with all of my heart that is NOT what He has for me.
 
He wants me to move forward in FAITH - not by sight.  He wants me to live unsafe, unsure, but not afraid.
 
My biggest struggle right now is that both of the paths in front of me seem unsafe and unsure.  Plus I am afraid.  The what ifs crowd my discernment and confidence.  Soon, I need to just jump.
 
Want to join me in praying I jump our of the right side of the plane?
 
Lord God, I truly want to live.  I want to live as You would have me live - unsafe, unsure, but not afraid.  I know You will be my parachute.  I know you will help me land safely.  I know you will direct me.  You have so many, many times.  Help me to hear You.  Help me to follow You and You alone.  Please specifically confirm your message to me.  Please fill me with confidence in the plan You have for me.  Continue to circumsize my heart, Lord Jesus - that I might love you more fully.  That I might truly love You with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind, and all of my strength.  You are worthy Lord.  You are worthy of my trust, my love, my jump.  You are my everything.
 
 
(Also so very thankful today.  Went to the doctor and things look perfectly perfect.  Baby measures exactly as she should 23.5 at 23.5 weeks.  Her heart rate was 156.  My blood pressure was great, weight gain up to 6 lbs.  We are both happy, healthy, and feeling good.  The thought that I am TRULY going to have another baby is almost too amazing to believe.  I find myself shocked over my own reflection all the time.  I get weepy thinking about her arrival.  It is all just the most amazing and wonderous gift.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November Crazy!

Didn't forget about my November Adoration goal.

I just have not had time to blog it these last couple of days.

Life is full!  I am tired!  Once in a while, we have no choice but to overcommit.  The good news is that at the end of these crazy, overstuffed days - vacation is coming!

I love that today, God sent me these words.

November Adoration - God Who Gives Power to the Weak

Isaiah 40:29

"He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak."
 
Lord Jesus, what a fool I would be if I did not adore you!  Thank you for meeting me right where I am.  Thank you for lifting me up, for understanding me, for blessing me with your love, encouragement, and presence.  You are so good to me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November Adoration - God Who Raises Me from the Dust

1 Samuel 2:8

"He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
He seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord's
upon them He has set the world."

Some days do not go quite as planned.  (For those of you that read this carefully, nothing terrible happened today.  It was just one of those days in which minor inconveniences and the expectations of other's stack one upon the other and suddenly the road gets harder to travel than one expected or intended.)

I am thankful for the knowledge that in the midst of those days, in the midst of THIS day, Jesus is Lord.

Thank you Lord Jesus that this world is not my home.  Thank you that in You I am loved, esteemed, treasured, considered, sought out, and forgiven.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Month 5 (25 Weeks) - More Than Half-Way to Baby Girl

While I have never complained about pregnancy, I have also never delighted in it as I have this time.  I am truly loving being pregnant.

Part it is the wisdom that comes with age!  When I was expecting Krissy, I was amazed - but I just wanted to get to the mommy part.  I wanted to rush ahead and meet my baby!  My next 3 pregnancies passed in a blur.  In some ways, being pregnant became more of a routine and less of a miracle.  It became too familiar to truly marvel at.

This time, I do not feel rushed.  I just want to savor every moment.  Each kick is a gift.  Her hiccups make me giggle.  My expanding form is a miracle rather than something to fear.




Brenna loves taking these photos!
She woke up this morning and said, "Mom!  It is the 20th today!  I get to take pictures of the baby!"


Shopping for baby items is so fun.  On one hand, I know what I want.  On the other it is a whole new world. Fpr instance, I have found nothing I like for her room.  It is all either too modern or too traditional or just plain tacky!

And I feel awesome.  Last week the nurse in Fargo asked me how I have been feeling.   I responded with a grin and one simple word, "Awesome!"  She laughed out loud, telling me she does not have a box to check with that explanation of pregnancy.

The only thing I can even complain about at all is that I am really tired!  Sunday morning I skipped church because I was "post flu tired."  That is my own made up description.  But you know how after you have the flu and are so physically exhausted that walking up the stairs requires a breather at the top?  That is how I feel sometimes.  And guess what?  When I feel that tired, I can sleep!  I am a spoiled girl.  When I am totally wiped, someone in this family always takes over and sends me to bed.  I am so blessed.



This pregnancy has also been different for Chad.  He is so indulgent.  He has always been good to me - but indulgent - THAT is new.

One conversation we had this month has been particularly healing to my heart.

Looking back over the last 19 years of our marriage, perhaps the worst marital decision I have made was to tell Chad to leave me alone in the hospital a couple of hours after Krissy was born  so that he could attend a pistol competition.  At the time, he was shooting pistols competitively.  He was BEYOND talented.  He had sponsors and was one of the best shooters in the world.  (for real)  He also LOVED shooting.  I felt intense pressure to not hold him back or get in the way of his goals in any way.

When we found out our first baby was due just days before his favorite tournament of the season, everyone started hoping and praying the baby would come early so that he could go to the shoot.  Phone calls came endlessly as my due date approached.  Everyone wanted to know if the baby was here, so that he would be "free."  It was incredibly stressful for me.  I wanted to please him and everyone else.  I wanted baby to come so that he could go.

In the end, my doctor agreed (for both medical and personal reasons) to induce labor the evening before he needed to leave.  We had Krissy at 2 am.  Chad and his mom left for the pistol shoot by noon the next day.  I told him to go.  He had my blessing.  I take full responsibility.

But being totally alone in the hospital for two days with my first baby was the saddest happy time in my life.  No one visited me.  We were in college and all of our friends were home for the summer.  Our family all came before he left.  From the time he left, until the time my mom arrived a day and a half later to drive Krissy and I home, I was completely totally alone.

It took years for me to get over that.  Though he left with my blessing, I struggled with totally believing that the kids and I were his top priority.  I struggled with feeling like an obligation, dead weight.

Though he felt awful leaving, it took years for him to express that to me.  He felt like he had no right to be sad, since he had made his choice.

Working through all of that took us a long time.  While it was not something that we fought about or struggled with daily, there was an undercurrent of mistrust sometimes.  My wondering if I were really important to him was hard on both of us.

In time total healing has happened though!

And in this pregnancy God has given us the opportunity to come full circle.  You see, our favorite week of the entire year is the week we get to go on a fancy trip (for free!) through Chief Industries.  When Chad sells enough product, his building supplier sends us on a fabulous vacation.  It has been such a blessing.  We have been places we could never afford to go to otherwise.  We have a chance to be alone together and relax once a year.  It is a blessing like non-other we have received.

I have had a post card advertising this year's trip on my bulletin board since the day we returned from the last one.  On crummy weeks, I gaze at it and think that eventually there will be a break.  It is a silly frivolous thing, but it encourages me greatly.

Well. . . that trip is not timed so well this year.  If we were to go, we would fly home when I am 37 weeks pregnant.  I have never been early, so I had been thinking that maybe we should risk it.  It could be a last get away.  It was just too good to miss.

Chad looked deep into my eyes one day recently and said, "Honey, we can't go.  I am OK with that.  You will be 37 weeks pregnant.  I will not risk you having a baby in a Third World hospital in Costa Rica.  Anywhere I am with you is good, babe.  Let's just stay home this year.  It will be OK."

Those words, along with the look in his eyes, were so incredibly healing.  I no longer doubt Chad's love.  I always know that we are his first priority.  I am totally secure in our relationship.  Yet, hearing him tell me: that this baby is not a problem, the timing does not cause him concern, it is all OK - truly set my soul free.

I am sincerely grateful.

The other thing I adore about Chad this pregnancy is that, without being creepy, he really connects with the baby.  He is not a crazy tummy toucher.  He does not sing her crazy songs.  It is all very casual.  (Which I appreciate!)  He just reaches out to carefully feel her growing bump in the sweetest way ever.

The delight of Brenna's month has been feeling her little sister kick.  Though I have placed both Chad and Joshua's hands over the baby's tiny feet while she is kicking, they have not felt a good thump.  Brenna, though, she felt baby girl's kick for sure.  The look of surprise and delight on her face at that moment was priceless.

Joshua has quickly recovered from the "terrible" news that he is having a baby sister, though he wished for a baby brother.  He is totally fine now - but we will always laugh at his initial reaction.  He was so totally sad.  As we walked away from the clinic after the ultrasound he had two things to say.  1. Our family is totally unfair.  There are WAY more girls than boys!  Mommy and Daddy NEED to adopt 2 brothers now!  Chad told him we would do our best!  2. When I asked if he was ready to go back to school, he said in a teary voice, "I think I need a doughnut!"  (Comfort food anyone?!?)  We all laughed and laughed, which did not make him happy!

The sweetest moment of the month came later that very same day.  Joshua went with me when I returned to the doctor's office to hear the ultrasound report.  He seemed to be playing a game on my phone while the PA explained things to me.  I did not think he was listening to her at all. I left the office trying not to be upset.  I was doing everything I could to NOT give it to fear, but to give this tiny one over to her Father.  When I got to the car and called Chad, I cried - but not as much as I wanted to.  I was fairly proud of my self-control. (Sigh.)

Joshua did not ask me much.  He did ask why my voice sounded sad when I was talking to daddy.  I told him that I was a tiny bit worried about the baby - but that I was also trusting God to take good care of her.  He said OK and went back to the game he had been playing.

Brenna got home from school and the two of them disappeared into her room to play.  Eventually I went up to check on them   When I did, Brenna asked if anything was wrong.  I explained that the doctor's were a little worried about the baby.  I explained in brief detail some of the things they wanted to check into.  She responded, "I know.  Joshua told me.  He also told me we should pray for her.  So we did."

To my recollection, that is the first time Joshua has done that.  Baby girl, your big brother is choosing to watch out for you even before you are born.  You are a lucky little lady!

The funniest thing Joshua has said this month is in regards to my disappearing belly button.  He loves to check out my bare belly.  He commented recently, "Mom, your belly button looks like it is backfilled!"  (Yep.  He is a contractor's son.  He loves dirt work just like his daddy.)

The name tug of war continues! Naming by committee is not easy!  For now, Krissy calls her littlest sister "Raja."  She says she always will. . . no matter what name we give her!  "Raja" means hope, so I am all for the nickname, in fact I hope her middle name will be Hope!  I am NOT in favor of it being her legal name though, so the name game continues!

I have finally started buying a few things - but we will not start working on turning the storage room into a bedroom for Joshua until after Christmas.  Hopefully we will have him moved into his new room by Valentine's Day.  That gives us a bit over a month for him to get settled and to paint and set up baby's room.  It will be a bit rushed in the end, and I am OK with that.  I really want to enjoy a construction free holiday season!

Savoring and enjoying is my theme right now.  My heart is content.  What a beautiful gift that is.