Monday, September 29, 2014

September in Review...

September!  We welcomed September by starting our James in Tball for the first time!  We have been looking forward to beginning this journey into the world of sports for our sons, and here.we.are.  I think I almost burst from my giddy, surreal moments.  Definitely one of my favorite memories of this Fall for sure.

James has a pretty fun cheering section when we all go out to watch practice, but it is kinda tough on younger brothers who have to watch from the sideline.  Soon enough boys, it will be your turn! (ps. momma isn't quite ready for everybody to be in just yet ;-)

The best part of the first practice: James learning to run the bases, which of course is something you learn.  1st, 2nd, (back to first??) no, run to 3rd!  He was having the best time & even cheered on his teammates when they threw or batted.  Our encourager, James.

Hayden did have a hard time not getting to play this time, but he's been a great sport about it.  He has found ways to entertain himself & he's learning the basics just from watching!  He'll be all set to play next year, and boy will that be a treat!

Hayden made a friend too. ;-)

My boy Calvin & I have had some lovely mornings together this month, just the two of us.  We are getting used to having the quieter moments, but he has started to drop his morning nap.  So momma is taking this guy all over doing errands & playdates, and going on runs, but he has to have a nap still every few days to catch up.  There could not be a sweeter little toddler though, he is such a joy.

I saw this quote from Jim Elliot this month, and it stuck out to me.  I sometimes find myself thinking things should be a certain way, or the way I envision will happen, eventually.  And then I am reminded that if it doesn't turn out as I had imagined, that means is  Lord help me from feeling entitled to things that you do not give, and forgive me when I do!

I was completely.excited. to be invited to attend a baby shower for a dear former student of mine! (I really did feel as if I could burst with joy) She has become a sweet friend, whom I haven't seen in years, and I cannot wait for her to experience motherhood & all it brings.  She & her husband are welcoming a baby girl the end of next month!  (and pink was

 We had the pleasure of catching our beloved family friends, the Webbs, for dinner one Sunday as they travelled back home & passed through our town.  All of our little ones & some pancakes for dinner & some sweet fellowship.  We love the Webbs!

James has come home from preschool telling us that he's 'allergic' to girls, but we laughed to see him very insistent on sitting next to AK!  She wasn't so sure she wanted to sit by him... but she relented.  haha, they are the sweetest.

I am so thankful for all the beauty that surrounds me as I pass through my days.

I love catching my little guys playing together, working together or just enjoying each other's company.  It seemed like I found quite a few of those moments, in the sand box, at the chalk board, in the driveway, on the couch, playing on the floor, and in the bathtub.  I feel as if my heart swells in that brief moment, even if it evaporates into a fight & ends in tears.  I love these days.

I am happy for the sun to set a little earlier, to make bedtimes easier, and to give us all a little more rest in the increasing demands of our schedule.  We have noticed our boys doing much better now that we are using 'early bed time' as a recourse when our boys have days that lack emotional control.  What a blessing to see how much better than can manage those emotions when they are better rested.

but ice cream dates with our neighbors are lovely when the sun sets later.  every now & then. :-)

I couldn't help but laugh at this one, my boys perusing magazines.

And my sweet.middle.little.  This was not a traumatic even, as it appears, but just a fleeting moment of frustration.  I see this face often, of the faces of all three of my boys, and I don't want to forget it.  It is sweet, and thankfully, mommy can almost always help sort it out at these ages.  I'm so grateful.

We all ran up to the park one day & it was too beautiful to not take lots of pictures of my fellas.  So I did.  That is a fun way to break up a 'family run'.

My.Haddie.  He is the sweetest child.  I just adore his sandy, golden, strawberry colored hair & brown eyes.  He is so handsome!  I see so much of his daddy in his face.  Hayden has been working on sleeping through the night without his pullups this month, so that is a challenge for all!  He has made some progress, but definitely still working on it.  What a crazy feeling, to have two out of diapers & one about half way through his diaper days!  Amazing.  Hayden has the best manners, and is the first one to say please&thankyou.  He has had the best hugs from Calvin of anybody & even kisses!  He has started to skip some of his afternoon naps (ah!!) but thankfully, I think the more he's resting (and early bedtimes) the better he's doing with his naps.  I'm not ready for that change yet!  But boy oh boy, he seems so grown up all the sudden.

Sadly, we lost one Elefante this month.  We have looked high&low, cleaned the house&car, called every store & searched school&church.  He is no where to be found, but I'm so glad to still have one!  (if you see him, will you return him to us!?)

Calvin has decided he's big like his brothers, and should eat at the table now, as well as up on the barstools. !  yes, he tries to climb up & have his snacks, and he just looks so sweet up in these big seats when he is so little still.  love this guy.

Apples for munching makes a lovely teether.

National 'talk like a pirate day' at Krispy Kreme may be my favorite 'pretend' holiday of all.  I don't really pay much attention to the 'national day of whatever' normally, but on this day, you get free donuts.  I pay attention to that! haha

We spent one rainy morning at the zoo, with a picnic & rain jackets.  We will take our rainboots next time for all the puddles we accidentally splashed.  We got soaked & we had a blast.

Apples & peaches & their favorite cartoon.

A 5th birthday party & cake, fun, & friends!

James is practicing writing his name, so all the boys wanted to write on the chalkboard.  precious, sweet, and ended up in a fight over who erased the 'L' and whose turn it was to write. haha

Oh.MY.  I cannot wait for James' first Tball game.  His uniform came in & seeing him all dressed up made me just about explode with that surreal, giddy joy.  It is a the funniest thing to see him looking so big, and so much like his daddy!

And then of course there was Wacky Wednesday at preschool & he was definitely 4 again. ;-)

Calvin has learned to say 'cheese' & continues to squish up his face and say, "EE" when I hold up my phone to take his picture.  It is adorable.  and he does a pretty cute face!

And then there's this.  He thinks he should be able to open the fridge himself.  hilarious.  (pull!)

goodbye September.  Fall, you are welcome to come anytime now. whenever you'd like.  ;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

for the times I hear people talk about finding 'God's will' for their life

I have seen a few things lately that have inspired me to share my thoughts on God's 'will' for your life or mine.  Having your 'best' life or staying on 'God's path'.  I would like to challenge the idea that "if things aren't going well in your life, or if you are unhappy, that you have somehow 'lost God's will' or have 'lost his path' for your life".

That is just.not.true.  Where in the Bible does it say that if you do it all correctly, and listen to God hard enough, that your life will be everything YOU think it should be? (hint: no where. not in the Bible!)

I would like to offer up the examples of the apostles, who died deaths they did not desire.  Who were imprisoned and tortured, does that sound fun?  Did they get to have the perfect life with the well paying job & the beautiful house?

So why do I?

Did I do something right?  Did I earn God's 'favor' somehow?  What about the example of Job?  He was given much, and had much taken away.  He had much restored to him for his faithfulness.  Am I just waiting for God to test me that same way?

Did God make any of us the same? no.  Will God send any of us down the exact same path? no.  Should I expect Him to 'test' me specifically? no.  Should I expect him to teach me, grow me, prune me, discipline me, & make me more like Jesus??? YES.

What about the example of Stephen from Acts 6?  Check our the sermon given at our church, Experiencing God, by Brian Wages.  The humbling story of Stephen, who saw God move in miraculous ways in his service to others, in the lesser jobs, in the everyday activity.  That he was accused & stoned.  That his face shone like an angel & then he saw Jesus in Heaven.  Wow.

What is God's will for my life? he has given me.  This life that I am  Do I have to seek His will as though I've lost it somehow? no.  If I need wisdom to move in faith & grace through these present trials, I should ASK HIM.  Take it to His feet, and  Can I trust Him to guide me, if I ask Him, as I walk through this life?

Is my life meant to be happy? no.  Does every perfect gift come down from heaven, from the father of heavenly lights? YES.  Can anyone, even myself, snatch me out of His hand? NO.  (remember the story of Jonah and the whale? Who can out run God?  Who can hide where He will not see you?)

Can I have joy, peace, patience? CAN I FIND CHRIST in my everyday life?  In my service to others & in the midst of pain & struggle?

I was so grateful for the next sermon given by Pastor Jeff Henderson, The Joy of the Lord.  He read from Nehemiah 8:10 which teaches the people "...Don't be dejected and sad, the joy of the Lord is your strength!" The Joy of the Lord.  Not the icing on the cake, not what makes you life 'happy', "not an 'accessory' to the Christian life", but what strengthens you.

Should you be living the Christian life without the 'joy of the Lord'? no.  If you are living without it, no matter what else you are doing, you should be loving & serving others " that my joy may be in your & your joy may be complete..." from John 15:9-13.  If you're caught up in yourself, maybe get outside yourself & find a way to serve others.

God's will for your life, his plan for you, is to glorify Him.

I am so grateful for God's hand & this life that He had given to me.  May I serve Him & be a good steward of God's varied grace. (I Peter 4:10)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh.Hosea. Oh.Israel.

I would love to share just a few thoughts with my fellow #shereadstruth ladies & #shesharestruth friends.  What unique timing this has been for me.

#SheSharesTruth  go check it out!
     I would like to start by saying how I followed #shereadstruth for over a year just after it got started, but didn't keep up with the studies after they left the YouVersion app.  I just never made it to my computer to read the blog!  I have now finished my first study sitting down to the computer & reading the blog.  The timing was perfect.

   I had just finished reading Francine Rivers Redeeming Love, which is a fictional tale of the Biblical story of Hosea.'all.  I absolutely was challenged by the love of the Father, how he called Hosea to love his unfaithful wife, and what it was like for the prostitute.  How painful it was to be Hosea, but how painful the healing process was for his wife to see God, to seek Him, and then to make Him first above the love of her husband.  Amazing.  ((read it if you haven't))

     Enter the study of Hosea: I knew this was one God was setting aside for me.  I've never read Hosea, and never really gotten any of the deep seated truth out before.  The idea of marrying a prostitute & bringing her back to me was always so gross, so ugly.  To be called the prostitute & the one worthy of all the judgement was hard to read & identify with, because it seems so far from what I know in my own life.

     After reading the book of Hosea, going through the study, hearing the insights & looking for that place of peace in the end, I am so thankful.  I struggle reading about how angry God is over my sin, over my unfaithfulness.  I struggle to hear his call to return in all of the judgement.  But this study really emphasized that call & for me that is the beauty.  Our healing.  Our restoration.  His faithfulness, our reconciliation.

One other fun side note: I appreciated that in Hosea 12, it talks about how Jacob wrestled with an angel & then met God.  Face to face.  I sometimes wonder about the interpretations of old Testament stories, but I think it was the first time I've seen what I thought was an 'interpretation' of a story, laid out very plainly in scripture.  God's Word is so clear sometimes, and I was grateful for that little piece that stuck out to me.

Thank you God for redemption.  Thank you for stories that seem so distant, but in the end, call me to you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

August in Review...

August.  our end to summer.  our beginning to back-to-school, back-to-routine.  our end of lazy summer mornings, days full of toys & swimming & movies & naps.  I have loved our empty-scedule, full of tantrums & tears, lots of 'funny jokes' & wrestling matches.  We have spent more time with our neighbors, friends & feel more connected in our life to others than we have in several years.  August marked 2 years since we moved from Charlotte. wow.

My.James.  he is puzzle-loving-crazy.  I so enjoy watching him working.  It makes me feel such a unique sense of pride in seeing a passion that we share.  I bought this 200 piece puzzle as a Christmas gift for him, but I didn't realize it was recommended ages 6 and up.

Fortunately, it came with a puzzle sized poster, so we completed it by matching up the pieces.  Then, he could complete it  I am still amazed.

We celebrated birthdays.

Read bedtime stories as super heros.

We built lego towers up to the ceiling.

We were lucky enough to spend a weekend with family & got all the grand kiddos on the Lyon side together for a group photo.  8, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 7 months, & 3 weeks old.  11 kids, 8 years & under.

James learned to swim.  We finally got him to try out wearing goggles to see under water, and that was pretty much all it took.  He already had a strong kick, and he's getting better at his reach & pull with his arms.  Matt has been awesome about working with James, and I have tried to do the same.  It is so much fun to see him swim!!

I had the best coffee date with the lovely Clara, the beloved former-student-of-mine who became best-loved-baby-sitter for my sweet nieces.  What a lovely gift she is!

These baby toes bathed in sunlight made my list of 1000 gifts in August.

This sweet baby face.

My.three.sons all piled into Calvin's crib.  They love going to get him up from his naps.  I hope he always feels this joyous love from his brothers.

Our boys started pre-school!  James started VPK this year & Hayden is doing a K-3 program.  Calvin gets to stay with momma (yay), and we were all super excited for all that school brings.

Haydie-bug has been so good for preschool.  A little indecisive about whether or not he likes going.  He changes his mind from minute to minute some days!  Today for example, he was not super excited to say goodbye, but wanted to go back to preschool after I picked him up!  He's such a sweetheart.

James was nothing.but.happy.  He couldn't wait to be done with the picture I took of him so he could go play & be with his friends.

My lunch table.for.two was very quiet. and adorable.

Calvin was ready to put on his shoes and go get his brothers.  Seriously, this boy is ready to be big.  (he's actually trying to put on his own shoes!)

Having two mornings with just Hayden & Calvin is fun.  It is fun to see more of their preferences & their sweet goofiness.  Hayden had to tickle little calvy, just like momma was doing.

We are growing so fond of our neighbors, the Grastons!

I found a new appreciation for fiction on loan from a lovely new friend.  Cannot wait to share more life together & share more great reads.

I love how our life feels like this photo of Hayden & Calvin.  Some days I'm in the driver's seat: giant smile on my face, with a sweet squeal of joy.  Some days I feel more like the passenger: hiding behind the windshield, peeking out from behind the wipers going full blast, ducking out of the way of whatever may be flying towards my face.

Calvin, Mr. 16 months old, wanted to sit up in Hayden's booster chair for lunch.  Calvin's first lunch at the table, table for 3.

August.  I got brave enough to cut my boys' hair for the first time.  They all needed a trim, and I decided, if I needed to take them anyway, then I could play around & see how I could do.  I did alright actually!  It is amazing how much courage it takes to do something intimidating, no matter what it is.

Hayden was first up.  because he was awake.  and luckily, he had a great shape to his hair already that I could just trim up.  boosted my confidence. (ps. he's just stinking cute. those brown eyes & sandy strawberry hair)

my littlest little was the quickest trim.  He was a tough customer to sit still! but he did great & didn't protest.

James. my challenge. his hair was getting so long & it is so thick.  he cried because of the hairs 'hurting him' and we had to take a pool break for him to feel some relief.  Luckily, his hair still turned out ok, and he can make it a few more week before a proper hair cut. the picture was the before, with the least amount of frown.

To end our August, we went to the zoo.  James wore his batman t shirt because he thought the animals would like it.  Our boys loved it.  It is hard to have a bad time at the zoo.

A favorite that we almost never do: the splash pad at the zoo.  I love going in the cooler weather, so we usually skip because of the temps.  Not this day, high of 92 yiikes!  The boys needed that cool down for sure.

We went for the new tiger exhibit, which is really an impressive construction as well as all the viewing areas for the tigers.  They have 4 I think, and they are beautiful.  Watch them train the tiger, serious.  just so cool.

Farewell August 2014, what a hot, hot hot mess.  We laughed, we cried, some of us peed in our pants.  We are grateful for what we've been given.  Thank you Lord.