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

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Kinder Grad

Joshua Gebeyehu Chad D. graduated from Kindergarten today.

He was SO excited.

You see. . .when you have very big siblings you know just how important graduations are.  Graduations come with cards and cash!  I had not planned on that type of a celebration.  Thankfully, Joshua warned me of his expectations!  While we were buying graduation cards for several of Jamison's friends, Joshua informed me that he needed a card for his friend Ryley!  And that he was very excited about the cards that he would receive.  Needless to say I was thankful for the sweet warning!  Joshua was THRILLED with the cards he received from his family and from Grandma Donna and Grandpa Scott today!
Though he had been SO excited about the event, when ALL the parents crowded the kids with cameras, Joshua was not pleased.  Cameras are a challenge.  I think it is partly a control issue, partly copying of Krissy's behavior in regards to photography, and partially unresolved yucky feelings that surface when cornered with a camera.  Whatever the reason, he spent the camera time facing sideways or backward.
 His lack of enthusiasm flowed into the singing.  His baby sister did NOT lack enthusiasm for the Kinder singers!  She LOVED it.  She clapped and danced and grinned.  When they finished each song she clapped BIG and yelled "YAAAAAAY!!!!"  They were singing her kind of music, I guess.
He perked up a bit when he had a chance to play an instrument.  But only a bit!

When asked after the program why he did not jump or dance he replied, "I was not wearing the right shoes!"  True story.  He was dressed as a "farmer."  Farm boots are not too good for jumping.

Ohhhh Joshua!

No matter how "perfect" he was or was not in front of a crown, he has had an amazing year!  The first time we entered his elementary school for Kindergarten Round-Up, he was shy and terrified.  He refused to participate and insisted I stay with him.  

Fast forward 9 months and he knows the name of nearly every child at his school.  Seriously.  Every one.  When you walk down the hall with Joshua he greets them all by name.  Even the big kids.  He is at grade level in almost every skill.  His writing and coloring/drawing skills still lag a tiny bit - but he is at grade level in reading and ahead in math!  That is a miracle people.

A miracle!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kindergarten Goes to the Zoo

Today Mataya and I tagged along on Joshua's field trip to the zoo.

He was thrilled!

Even though I am working less this year, I have not been to many of his field trips.  It seemed as though every time he had a trip, I had a conflict.  Thankfully today was bright, sunny, and warm.  The perfect day to explore the zoo.

It was very fun to see Joshua with his peers.

Where he was once shy and withdrawn, he is now very outgoing.  He likes to be the leader of the pack.  He is always talking.  He thrives on little boy competitions, like climbing and racing.  He loves to joke and joke and joke.  Yep - as a 7 year old, his jokes are endless and sometimes they go too far and are repeated one too many times.  He is pushing boundaries. . . which for the most part is good.  I am thrilled to see him confident enough to push and pull a bit. (Most of the time anyway.)

 Joshua hates photos, so I took very few - but I did snatch this one of he and his friend Ryley.  These boys are besties.  Joshua says "We are like brothers.  We are just alike and we always want to be together."  He is correct.  They ARE alike... so alike I am surprised they get along!

When Ryley hears JG say they are almost like brothers he says, "Yeah.  But we are not the same color."  To which Joshua replies, "So?"  And then they laugh and laugh.

They are all boy and all energy - but they are both nice kids. 

In fact when Joshua was sick this winter, Ryley asked his mom to text and check on him.  Sierra just melts at them.  She says, "Mom!  They are so sweet.  They are like for real best friends."
Joshua was thrilled to have Mataya along.  He made it clear that she was HIS.  No one else was to play with her.  And when he was on the playground with her he carefully stood guard rather than playing with is friends.

Mataya LOVED the zoo!  (It was her first time there.) We will go back soon.  She squealed with delight watching the animals.  She attempted to copy their sounds.  When they were sleeping she told everyone around her "SHHHH!"  It was delightful to watch her. 

It has been a long time since I have had such a sweet innocent day.  The biggest problem of the trip was finding a water fountain.  Little kiddos with little problems were so refreshing!


Sometimes the Lord feels so near.  So present.  So real.

Other times, well, He feels waaaaaaayyyyyyy distant.

Following Him is a choice.  Sometimes it is the obvious one, others it more like groping in the dark, but it is ALWAYS the right one.

For much of the last year, following has been a daily, hourly, moment by moment choice.  It has not been natural.  It has not been easy.  It has not been obvious.  But, it has been RIGHT.

I have sought the Lord, chased after Him, wrestled with Him. questioned Him, pleaded with Him, apologized to Him, thanked Him,  etc...  while rarely hearing from Him.

My soul has been more or less silent.

I live a noisy life.  Silence does not feel right.  At all.

And still I have sought the Lord, chased after Him, wrestled with Him. questioned Him, pleaded with Him, apologized to Him, thanked Him,  etc...  while rarely hearing from Him.

There was a bit of a pattern forming. . . (ugh!)

until last week.

Last week I heard this verse on the radio:

"My Word (the Lord's) that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but it will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:11

and I thought, "That's nice."

It went in n one ear and out the other.   

Then in church on Sunday, the worship leader used this same verse.


(What is it with hearing something 3 times?!???)

And my soul leaped.



It was like God zapped me with a shock collar and said, "Hello!  Are you listening?  I am trying to tell you something!  My word. . . you know all those words from my book that you have taught, read, and prayed over your kids.  They are never wasted.  Your life has NOT been a waste.  I have  heard. Your kids have heard.  And in MY time, those words will germinate.  My word will never return void.  Never.  Don't give up."

Thank you, Jesus.

If that were not enough, as I was sharing these thoughts with Sierra after church, she chose to share something equally profound and encouraging with me.

She confided that on her way out of the youth service last Wednesday an adult leader, with whom she had never spoken, approached her and asked, "Do you have an older sister?"

"Um.... yeah?" she replied.

"Are things rough?"


"Could I pray for you."

"That would be good."  Sierra answered.  And the woman preceded to pray for the older sister, Sierra, and the parents.

You have no idea just how huge that is to me.  Sierra and Krissy are really struggling.  And it wrecks me.  I understand it.  They are in such different places.  They are both so very passionate.  They have each thrown stones.  They are both wounded.  And those wounds are growing infected.  It grieves my momma heart like few other things.  It is horrible.  Two people I love so incredibly much hurting each other hurts me.

I have spoken about it to God a lot.

What do I do, Lord?  How can I fix it?  Should I be silent or speak?  How do I not choose sides?  How can I bridge the cap?  Help me, please Jesus!  I do not want this tension to be permanent.

Knowing that the Lord cares so much about my girls that He encouraged a stranger to pray for them is so humbling and so encouraging.  He cares for me.  

He really, truly cares for me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Be Strong and Courgeous

One thing Chad has always dreamed of doing is going on a bear hunt.  This winter an unexpected opportunity popped up; and this week, his dream became a reality.  This week he, and our tall son, along with two buddies, are bear hunting.  

As you can see, it has been a successful hunt.

I have not spoken to either of my guys yet, but I have received a series of texts from Chad.

"We got them both.  Jay is pumped."

"2 blackies"

"I gave Jay my 300 (rifle) tonight.  Told him first kill with his new gun" (insert momma sniffles here)

"I (Chad) was going to be in a blind and couldn't find it so I climbed up a stand.  When I got to top I saw a bear watching me.  It came to the base of the tree and stared at me.  Then another came in and ate here for a while.  Then the original bear came to the tree again and started chewing on a bag I had by the tree so I spit on its ear and it went back to eating.  Then I judged its size and shot it.  Retrieving the bear was almost impossible because it was so muddy.  Pretty wild.  Jay was in a ground blind.  Same as the first night.  One shot kill.  My first shot and his were identical in location.  He made a good shot."

"Jay was alone"

"It is an adrenaline rush"

"It can be spooky.  Especially at dark.  They have a big wolf problem and cougars are getting that way.  So weird to feel a bit like the hunted."

"I had a bear huffing at me at dark.  I had my sight on and gun at my shoulder while pointing at the sound.  It went away when I turned on my headlamp."

"When Jay got to his blind the door was open and a chair was drug out."

"They are the stinkiest and tick infested animals"

I am not a hunter.  In fact, hunting is not important to me.  (Sorry, honey.)  However, this hunt is.  This hunt feels like an ancient rite of passage for my husband and son.  Though it has been a long time since I have considered Jamison a little boy, all day I have been nearly blown away by the thought that he is a strong, capable man.  

I was totally in awe of the idea that my son sat in the middle of the woods, all by himself, surrounded by wildlife - some of which would have eaten him given the chance - and slayed a big ole bear.

And then it hit me.


This was an answer to prayer.

Although he does not know it, I have been circling Jamison in a verse all year.  It is one of my favorites, and this year I have been praying it over Jay.  

Joshua 1:9
 "Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous?  Do not be terrified.  Do not be discouraged.  For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

It is a bit odd that the Lord has directed my heart to this verse.  Jamison is not a shy, wimpy kid.  On the contrary, he is quite mature.  A strong, encouraging leader.  Fun and funny.  Serious but not boring.  A planner.  Responsible.  Easy to talk to.  Not boastful.  Cautious and conscientious.  Structured.

Yet in light of all the changes that will soon take place in his young life, all the decisions he will need to make as he approaches the end of High School, this verse has resounded in my spirit whenever I pray for him.

As I said before, hunting is not important to me.  Character is.

God gave Jamison an opportunity today to be strong and courageous.  To face fear and refuse to be terrified.  To wait without being discouraged.  To feel the presence of the Lord in a unique way, alone in the wilderness.

I firmly believe that this experience will cling to Jamison.  I believe that the Lord can and will use this trip to deepen the character of my son.  I believe the Lord will use this experience as preparation (in a metaphorical way) for things to come.

Thank you Jesus.

(On a side note.  I do not have a picture of Chad's bear yet.  Chad reports that Jamison's is 20-30 lbs heavier than his.  His is older, probably 10 to 14.  The guys are having an incredible time.  The rest of the week will be spent fishing.  And if you are wondering what will happen to the bear. . . think rugs. I have been teasing Jamison that some day he will get down on one knee and ask a lucky young lady if she would marry him and his bear skin rug?!?  Ha!)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mataya Hope at 14 Months

In the last two months, Mataya Hope has transformed from baby into tiny toddler.  BOO and YAY all in one!

 Brenna posted this shot, and I snagged it.  I LOVE her huge navy blue eyes looking up at her sister.  Mataya has become Brenna's girl.  She cries for "Nenna" when she wants to play with Riley or go outside.  Brenna has become her favorite babysitter, and her go-to when Momma says no or wait.  Brenna is loving this role, especially when it involves snuggles.
 This picture sums it up.  She adores Riley. and he tolerates her very well.  He has a "not the baby again" look on his graying face, but he is always patient and gentle.
 Mataya, or TayTay, as she calls herself, has fallen in love with stuffed animals.  Her favorite are "pup-pups" of course.
 I have been so thankful for her snuggles.  I was afraid that when the bottles were gone, the snuggles would be too.  On the contrary, she is more snuggly at bedtime than ever before.  She cuddles in tightly any time her blankey is slung over my shoulder.  It is so precious!

As is her new habit of SLEEPING ALL NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT!
 I have been trying to exercise more consistently now that the weather is nice.  I bought a sweet baby jogger, and I expected Mataya to love it.  I was wrong.  She pretty much hates it after 10 minutes.  Sitting is not her favorite.  So, the neighbors can hear us coming when we are out for a jog!  I try to entertain her by pointing to the birdies, packing snacks, and bringing Riley along - but about half way through our run she is usually yelling "None"  (her version of all done).  

Maybe in time she will learn to enjoy it?!?
 She has more hair every day, and she HATES clips or ponytails - which means that more often than not she is sporting crazy hair.  She DOES adore her blankeys.  Many times she is dragging one along with her as she plays, especially if she is sleepy.
 Mataya Hope-y Girl loves to brush her teeth more than any other activity.  Seriously.  One day we walked into the toothbrush aisle at Walmart and she squealed with absolute glee.  She was thrilled at all the choices of toothbrushes.  Toys get a much more reserved show of affection.

Mataya speaks quite well.  BUT, if she does not know a word for something, she invents a gesture.  Toothbrush has a gesture.  She gets big happy eyes, and then she opens her mouth wide, points inside, and grunts.  This is followed by pees, pees (please, please) until a toothbrush is found.

She has also made up signs/gestures for drink (she sticks her finger in her mouth and sucks on it loudly as if it were a straw) and chapstick (she smacks her lips loudly two times while pointing toward her lips.)  The extra funny thing about her signs is that once she has invented one and taught it to us, she has no interest in learning the word.  Communicating her need is the total priority.
 I love her little baby bootie and her arms-in-the-air walking stance.

Mataya learned to walk just like she has done everything else, at her own pace!  All of our older kids learned to walk in a similar manner.  Though it happened at different ages, with the older kids, once they could take 4 or 5 steps they chose walking as their preferred method of transportation.  NOT Mataya.  She was capable of many steps, heck we saw her walk all the way across the Family Room several times, but she chose to crawl.  For 6 weeks, though she was capable of walking she preferred crawling.  And then, all of the sudden on Mother's Day weekend, I was standing in the kitchen washing dishes when she came toddling around the corner.  I was shocked.  It is a picture that I hope to hold in my heart forever, tiny one with her arms up and out to help herself balance, walking into the kitchen with a HUGE gin.  She was just SO cute.

Her learning to walk was another example of God's grace extended toward me with this baby girl.  I am so very thankful that she has been such a chill baby.  I am so thankful she did not walk at 9 months.  I have so enjoyed her baby days, the fact that she did not rush them was such a blessing to me.  (I am also thankful that she is not so slow with milestones that I need to worry!)  When Mataya started taking steps, I was excited.  I was also sad.  BUT in the 6 weeks it took her to become a walker, I became ready for this next stage.  God is so good to me.
 Spring = track season.

Bleachers were a challenge, but thankfully the track we spent most of out time at is surrounded by a grassy hill.  We would position ourselves on the hill and let Mataya explore while we watched the races.  When it was Jamison or Brenna's turn to race, we would move to the stands to cheer - and then return to the hill until their next event.  I may not have chatted much with other parents, but I was at most of the meets!  
 Yep. . . it is official.  We have a tiny-toddler.
 Mataya wants to eat and drink anything and everything she sees anyone else eat or drink.  She thinks she is the queen of the castle when Jamison shares his water bottle with her. 
 While Mataya depends on mommma, she delights in her daddy.  She calls him, Daddn, which is exactly what Krissy called her Dad when she was Mataya's age!  When Daddy is home, Mataya follows him like a shadow.
 Outdoor play made shoes a must.  Mataya HATED shoes at first.  She cried every time we put them on.  She has finally been convinced shoes are OK now that she is walking all over the place.  Gravel and bare feet convinced her that shoes are not so bad!
 Mataya is playful and silly and fun.

And she loves, loves, loves her paci.  It is typically off limits except for nap time, the car, and church - and we have vowed to toss them once her eye teeth pop through. . . maybe?!?  
 No more baby gates, this little lady is a stair master!

And THAT is Mataya Hope in a nutshell.

She is joyful and fun.  She is funny.  She is smart.  She knows how to get what she wants... and/or throw a fit when refused.  She is snuggly.  She is busy.  She is noisy.  She is absolutely, positively, completely adored.  Momma can NOT spoil this one, her siblings do that for me!  She is a complete blessing, even on the weeks when I joke that I have sideways scoliosis of the spine from holding her constantly while she moans "momma, momma, momma" because her teeth hurt.

You are loved, baby girl.  So very loved.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Park FUN!

Joshua, Mataya, and I had a blast playing in the park today while Sierra slaved away at PT!
 It was a bit of a nostalgic day for me.  We went to the "Firetruck Park" which was the very first place Joshua loved to play (other than our home) after we brought him home.  Watching him teach his baby sister to play at this very same park nearly brought tears to my eyes.  They are both such miracles.  Totally unexpected 10 years ago, and so totally wanted, needed, and a part of our family today.  I am so thankful for the way God has lead our family.
 Tall, strong, coordinated, and healthy.
Beyond grateful.
 "Josha" teaching her how to slide.
 "hmmm... this is higher than the one at home."
 "watch this!"
Big brother to the rescue!

Thank you, Jesus, for perfect days at the park.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Doggie Day Care

Mataya is absolutely, positively, and very completely smitten with our dog, Riley.  

And that is a total understatement.

She begs to go see Riley, who lives in the garage, ALL day long.

"Riree!  Riree!  Peese, peese Riree!

"Hi Riree?  Peese, peese?"

"Rireeeeeee, insert tears, Rireeeeeee, insert pointing to garage doors and more and louder tears."

Honestly, it drives me a bit bonkers!  Riley is stinky and in need of a serious grooming.  The garage is a garage, thus dirty and dusty.  Mataya prefers to crawl, so you can only imagine how dirty and dusty she and her clothes become in just minutes.

BUT. . . what makes baby happy makes mommy happy, right?!?

So, many times a day, I prop open the garage door and allow Riley to watch the baby for a few minutes. (OK, so he doesn't really watch her,  I do!  But, I can get a load of laundry folded since the laundry room has a perfect view of the garage while he keeps her entertained!)

Here are just a few pictures of my doggie day care in action!
 Riley only tolerates Mataya so well because she knows how to open his food bin.  She grabs him pieces of food, and he carefully licks them from her tiny fist.
 She could not understand why he wasn't as excited about the rock she tried to feed him.

 Can you say tolerant?
 I'm not sure he always enjoys his duty as a day care provider!
Riley did not want to chew on his toy so Mataya gave it a try.

I know, gross!!!!  Sierra will be horrified that I posted that picture.  She can not stand all the stuff Mataya puts into her mouth, but after 6 littles, I just laugh, most of the time.  (For the record, I did take away the dog toy right after I took the photo!)