Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stream of Consciousness

It feels like the end of January.  We've all been sick for weeks on end.  Nothing planned because we're all broke from Christmas.  Too cold to play outside and many days it's just overcast and gray.

The other night after dinner my oldest said "Hey Mom, look!" and I turned around expecting to find a new Lego creation.  Instead I was treated to a mouth full of blood with a little white tooth hanging on by one last thread.  Normally I wouldn't be grossed out much, but the surprise kinda freaked me out and I shooed him off to the bathroom to take care of it himself.

He's such an old pro at it now (second tooth) that he just pulled it out himself and then forgot entirely to put it under his pillow so the tooth fairy had to leave him a note asking where it was!


Now after last week's post about Truth and Grace I had the opportunity to share with someone (on FB) who wondered how you could know that you were saved.  He was wondering where the proof of your salvation was if there was no evidence in your life.  Something that I've thought about back and forth for years.  I'm not sure I can re-write it any better so here's that comment:

See, I truly believe that to be saved all you have to do is believe. (that Jesus died for us) If we think we can do ANYTHING to help our salvation then we are deluding ourselves. We all know ourselves well enough to know that we can't do anything good enough for that. I think the Bible is pretty clear on this, especially with examples like the thief on the cross who had no chance to prove anything.

However, when it comes to years and years of life as a Christian and you are looking for some evidence of your salvation that is a different thing. I do think it's possible for people who claim to be Christians to not be, but like Brian said (previous comment on FB), God looks at the heart and it's not our place to determine whether they are saved or not.

I am somewhat of a perfectionist and also not great at self-analyzation. I feel like I've struggled for literally years to see any change in my spiritual life. This is a point of great discouragement when I don't see the things changing in me that I want to.

However recently (quite recently actually) I met with some friends for prayer. With no prior knowledge of my struggle one of my friends told me that God told her to tell me this: God is outside of time so it's much easier for Him to see the change and that I am changing. I was blown away simply because there was no way she could have known that without God revealing it to her.

I know I'm too hard on myself, but that can be a hard habit to break, especially for a perfectionist. Here's part of what I wrote on my blog on Friday that I think is also relevant here... (self referencing here, but important for context)
I want the grace in my life and I know that Jesus offers it, but I think what I've been missing to feel truly free is the truth. I need to turn around and look into the light of truth, accept it, make the hard decisions that lead to changes, and then also _accept the grace_ that is given while I am on the path to change. 
With emphasis on that last line.

Honestly the very fact that you care enough to ask these questions is also good proof that God is working in your life. Just because you can't see the "radical transformation" that you see in some other people does not mean you are not in the process of being transformed. Can you think of anyone who you know to be a Christian who does not have a very exciting testimony? Perhaps they didn't give up some major sin or other horrible habit. We all have our own issues and just because your transformation doesn't look like mine or anyone else's doesn't mean it isn't happening. I'm not sure I'm explaining myself well, I hope you understand.  (I ended by saying apparently I am quite verbose - and even on FB it looked shorter than here!)
So I've been pondering that for a few days and then this morning in church we started a new series on the Holy Spirit (nicely dove-tailing with my Beth Moore Bible study) and to be honest, I had a really hard time concentrating.  But right at the beginning something Pastor Josh said hit me and I thought, "What if the change that the Holy Spirit wants to work in us is not the change we want?"

Talk about a lightning bolt.  All the things I want to change in myself probably do need changing.  But what if they aren't the most important thing?  And by focusing on them I'm missing the real change that God wants to make happen and is already happening?  How freeing would that be from the merry-go-round of "I want to change, I can't change, why not?"  Maybe because this isn't the change that's supposed to happen right now, if ever.


And then the best part of my day...

My husband plays Magic and invited a bunch of his friends over tonight since there's no school tomorrow.  So I got bedtime duty with the boys which I rarely do anymore.  Usually he puts the boys to bed while I put the girls down, but tonight the boys just waited up for me since he was busy.  We always sing songs at bedtime and so I sang Majesty.  As I finished Noah asked me, "Jesus died?"  So I proceeded to explain to them as simply as I could why Jesus died, but that he's not dead anymore.  

Then the most amazing thing happened.  Cory said, "Why don't we pray about that right now.  You pray and I'll repeat after you."  And so we did.  And then Noah wanted to pray and Cory wanted him to repeat after me.  He wanted to make a cross of his own normal prayer and mine so it became a bit complicated, but we muddled through.  I'm really not sure where Cory got the idea that he had to repeat after me, we've never said anything about that and he's not usually one to pray out loud at bed time anyway.  But that's okay with me!

I have two little Jesus boys in my house tonight!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Book: The Tutor's Daughter

Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor’s Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast–a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions–where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementos?
The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems–and secrets–of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her…
When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?


I have read all three of Julie's books previous to this one and thoroughly enjoyed them so I was anticipating another good read and I was not disappointed.  These are billed as romance novels, but have quite a bit more mystery than your typical romance.  There are plenty of hints along the way, but always something that (at least I) can't quite figure out.
I also appreciate the depth of character development in Julie's books.  I begin to feel like I can understand why each character acts they way they do because she's shown us their thoughts, feelings, and even past experiences (through letters and memories) that contribute to the way they act.
This is one of those books that I read (all 400+ pages) in less than 24 hours.  Just my kind of novel!

Purchase: The Tutor's Daughter
Other reviews of The Tutor's Daughter

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Friday, January 18, 2013


This week's theme for 5 Minute Friday is Cherish, but I have something else I'm choosing to write on... and it probably won't be 5 minutes either.

We talk a lot about grace today.  We want to be given grace whenever we mess up.  Other people expect to be given grace.  Grace is a good thing.

One of the definitions given for grace is mercy.  I've heard it said that the difference between grace and mercy is this: Mercy is not giving someone what they deserve (punishment) while grace is giving someone something they don't deserve (an unexpected kindness or perhaps forgiveness).

I know we all need forgiveness and while it may not be deserved it's definitely necessary in our human life/failings.

The thing that set me to thinking though was something one of my friends said at Bible study this week.  She was quoting something our pastor had said a week or two before - I missed it.
"You have to walk through truth to get to grace."
This resonates with me because so often I feel like people want grace for the things they do without thinking that there's really anything wrong with what they've done.  As a very Type-A personality I see things in black and white and right and wrong.  I have a hard time giving someone grace for an action or offense they think there's nothing wrong with.

That's where the above quote comes in.  But it's coupled with a verse I thought of - while doing laundry of all things.
Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." ~John 8:31-32
What I've got running around in my brain is this: We all want to be given grace, but that grace is meaningless unless it brings us freedom.  And to do that we have to fully take stock of ourselves in the light of the truth (Jesus' teachings) and see ourselves.

I could totally go off on a soapbox about how our culture wants the grace without the truth, but I think we all already know that.

I want the grace in my life and I know that Jesus offers it, but I think what I've been missing to feel truly free is the truth.  I need to turn around and look into the light of truth, accept it, make the hard decisions that lead to changes, and then also accept the grace that is given while I am on the path to change.

Grace and truth must walk hand in hand.  And that's a good thing!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

10 Months!

A proper update on my girlies this month!

It was very hard to get them both to sit still and look in my general direction without then crawling towards me, while having time to pick up the camera and take a picture without anyone else around!  They are so stinkin' cute though!

In an attempt to get them to sit still I asked them to clap for me.  Hope complied, but Joy was way more interested in the bunny's eye!  Hope has been better about the verbal type things...

She has been making "shrimp" sounds - all my camp friends will get this - by running her tongue in and out across her top lip - kinda like "lada lada lada".  She's been doing this for over a month now and Joy has just picked it up in the last week or so.  She's also picked up the sign language for more (for her it's clapping) and all done again just waving her arms in the air, but it's only when I ask her to.  And she's picked up the funny habit of shaking her head back and forth like "no".  I think she's just discovered she can do that.

We're noticing some differences that make us think their personalities are like their brothers... Joy is more like Cory and Hope is more like Noah.  It's quite fun!  In that regard, Hope is LOUD.  She makes really loud "aaaaaaaaa" sounds to get your attention.  She's also more independent than Joy, who prefers to be with me anytime I'm in sight.

Joy's verbal skills include sticking her tongue out all.the.time - and it's a very cute, but super pointy tongue.  And making motor boat noises - the kind that spit.  Not so cool when she has food in her mouth!  Although this is an improvement from putting her fingers in her mouth after every single bite!  She also makes fish faces frequently, opening and closing her mouth without making any noise.

Joy got both top teeth right around New Years.  Hope got one and the second one a week later.  Both of them are very good eaters and we've started giving them all kinds of bits of food to feed themselves besides the baby food.  Sometimes they will sit in their chairs and reach out and hold hands while eating.

I have failed to put up a photo of our new "baby wall".  This piece of wood they are sitting in front of runs across our living room now wedged between two couches.  There is a short step on the outside to help Noah get over (he gets out by climbing on the couch and jumping) and the rest of us can step over it.

Once Joy discovered she could exploit any low point in the pillow wall or use them as steps it was all over and this wall was built in one evening!

Sisters discussing the merits and pitfalls of the wall... it's the perfect height for chewing on!

They are pretty much always together.  While playing in the living room if one is off in the corner exploring the bookcase the other one will be right there with her.  You rarely find one in one corner and one in another.   And if they are hiding in a corner and you call them pretty soon they will come out to you, kind of a handy feature!

This also means they hate it when one gets picked up, for any reason, and especially if you walk away.  Or, when one gets to nurse before the other.  Believe me, I take turns on who's first, but the other one will stand and pat my knee or the pillow just waiting for "her turn".  When I pick the first one up as she's done the second one starts to get antsy because she knows I'm going to say "your turn".  It's very cute, but sometimes hard when they are both very hungry.


This one really shows their personalities.  Joy always wrinkles up her nose when she smiles!

Be thankful this blog doesn't have a volume on it... this is decibel "Hope".  
And no, she's not unhappy in this photo!

Joy is very much the more mobile and adventurous one.  She can stand up and let go and keep her balance for up to 5 seconds.  She does this while clapping for herself!  She's also started walking along the wall with one hand and will walk for you if you hold her hands.  I can see her sometimes trying to go for a toy.  She so desperately just wants to walk over to it, but will take about half a step and then fall down to her knees.

Just after Christmas when we took Hope in for strep she weighed just under 17 pounds.  They are so similar I'm sure Joy is close.  Still wearing 9 month clothes, but the ones that are one pieces are getting short (as you can see on Joy above).  Pants still fall off at the waist though!

Ten months already! It doesn't seem possible, but when I clicked on my January folder for these photos I accidentally clicked on the 2012 one first and one of the top photos was me and my giant belly. That certainly doesn't seem like yesterday! The days go by slowly and I don't see them change, but the weeks and months go flying by!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I'm diving in, I'm going deep, in over my head, I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow, in over my head, I want to go,
The river's deep, the river's wide, the river's water is alive
So sink or swim, I'm diving in

These are the lyrics from one of my all time favorite Steven Curtis Chapman songs.  When I hear the word "dive" this is the first thing that comes to mind, complete with fast paced alive music.

To dive, it has so many different meanings.

We just started Beth Moore's study, Living Beyond Yourself, which if that isn't an appropriate song for this study I don't know what is!

I've done, I think 6 of her studies and I've never finished a single one.  Oh, I've gone to all the sessions, but I think the furthest I've ever gotten in the homework was the year I was co-leader and we did it in Spanish.  Because I was helping lead and we had 3 weeks for each lesson I got almost to the end.  We, as a group, actually didn't finish the study in the school year time we had before I moved.  But it was probably also the best study because we spent so much time together as a group, discussing it and learning from each other.  (and yes, I was quite glad my roommate was doing the English version so I could borrow her book when I was having particular trouble understanding something!)

This time we're doing a 10 week session in 20 and I intend to finish.  I say this every time, but this time I know, I NEED to finish.  I need something different in my life and if the Fruit of the Spirit isn't it, then I don't know what is!

So ask me how I'm doing, those of you who know me, I might need a little help too!

This word was from 5 Minute Friday and obviously it's not Friday anymore, but when I saw the topic (yesterday) it's been running around in my head and I wanted to get it written down before I forgot.

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Tooth Fairy Rides...

Since I feel like I've done nothing all weekend and have no real motivation to blog I give you... my oldest child lost his first tooth!  He was at Nana and Papa's house so we heard about it after the fact, but it seemed to be rather painless.  I have even managed to already sneak a dollar under his pillow in exchange for the tooth.  We'll see what he thinks of that!

On a random side note: I went to Costco today by myself (holler!) and thought about grabbing my camera on the way out the door.  I didn't and regretted it as I discovered a family of five otters playing on the ice a couple miles down the road from my house.  They were so cute!  I went back to get the camera, but when I returned they were all just jumping back in the hole in the ice because there were some people on the hill above the pond making noises.  Bummer.

Friday, January 04, 2013


Opportunity only knocks once they say... but what does it bring with it?  It's sometimes hard to tell that there IS an opportunity knocking.

When I look at some of the things that have happened in my life I see opportunities now that I didn't know existed then.  Strange twists and quirks.  Some I wouldn't change for anything.  But I never even knew they were possibilities, let alone opportunities at the time.

Every new year (every day even) is a stack of opportunities... but they may not look like the ones we expect.

So here's to a year of opportunities, both the ones we make for ourselves and the ones we least expect.

I'll be trying to see them as opportunities and expect the best!

Joy: Making the most of a strategic stack of pillows to climb this chair, yes, all by herself!

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Laundry Babies

Joy really likes to "help" with the laundry, pulling it out of the basket or better yet, off the couch when it's already folded.  And if she finds a sock, especially one of hers, she will "wash" it again for me...
Poor Hope is looking really sad, this was before she started her antibiotics for strep.

Cool Bahamas

Our last full day of the cruise we stopped at Holland America's "private island" in the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay.  It was quite windy actually so not a great day for being on the beach or in the water unfortunately.

Grandpa and Grandma and I took the boys to the other side of the island for a little Sting Ray Adventure... The water was so cold it was hard for them to be in, but it was cool to have the rays all swimming around us.  Some were medium size, but there was one that was HUGE, easily 5 feet across!  They knew they were going to get fed so they were brushing up against us underwater.  They are so smooth on the bottom they feel slimy.  It's kinda freaky to me!

I don't have pictures 'cuz these are on the disposable cameras as well... but we got in a big circle and the guide gave us all a piece of squid (including eyes) and showed us how to hold it loosely in our hand.  Then he went around and let one of the rays suck it out of everyone's hand and eat.  Cory refused to even try, but Noah wanted to feed the ray... so the guide had him go first.  The ray's mouth was a bit out of the water so it was making quite loud sucking noises and when it did finally get the squid out of Noah's hand I think he felt the rough skin around it's mouth.  There was a moment of pause and then a load wail.  "It Ate Me!"  He was quite scared and I had to hold him and calm him down by having him hold up his hands and see that they were still there, but at the same time we were all just cracking up!

After that we went back across the island to their BBQ lunch and then out to the beach for a bit.  Grandpa and Cory made a sand castle with a moat.

Noah still wasn't feeling real well, but enjoyed playing in the waves as they washed over him.

There was a bar on the beach built to look like a shipwreck, but it had a second level for some amazing views!  Yes, the water really was that color, unbelievable!

It was funny because there were 2 ships there and both were leaving by 4pm so when I went to take the pictures even though it was the middle of the afternoon the bar was basically closing down.

It was finally starting to warm up just enough that you could maybe go swimming, but we needed to head back to the ship so we just stood in the waves for a few minutes.  That's definitely one of the downsides to cruising, being on their time schedule.

It was also too cold for babies to get in on the beach/water action so they didn't even use the swimsuits I brought along.  Oh well!

The boys had fun and then some!  Cory even went out part way to the buoy rope and was riding the waves.  He really has become very good in the water even if he still only dog paddles.

This was the only place where we had to take a small boat (in the foreground) out to get on the island and back.  It's hard to believe just how big those cruise ships are even when you're on them.  And ours was one of the smaller ones!

A shot of the water from the tender looking back towards the beach we were just on... and that crazy water color!

See the tenders next to the ship?  And they would each hold 100 people easy!

One other thing I noticed, every time we were stopped somewhere there was always someone painting, washing, doing something to the outside of the ship.  But then I realized that it's the only time they have to work on the boat because those things never stop.  We got off Sunday morning at 10am and by 5pm they were leaving again!

So since they paint all the time anyway I guess it wasn't that hard to add some seasonal greetings to the gangway entrance!

And so the next morning we got off... and I still don't quite have my land legs back, especially if I'm looking down!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Here's to 2013!

I think we all know I don't really do resolutions.  I'm a rebel like that.  I prefer goals... 'cuz you know it's probably going to take me more than a year to get some stuff done!

This year one of my main goals is simply to live a less stressful life.  I'll still get the same amount of things done and no one has died yet by my lack of ability to get-it-all-done (to my knowledge) so I'm going to attempt to just not stress about it... Wish me luck!

I hope that it will help me in the near term not have as many nursing issues and perhaps if I'm not stressing about the things that are un-done I can actually go to bed earlier instead of feeling like I have to stay up and get things done and then not getting anything done anyway.  We'll see if my theory holds up under pressure!

The other main goal is simply to enjoy my family.  As Cory's been in school this fall I realize I have less and less time with him - even though it's still only half a day.  I still have lots of projects and things I want to do as well as things that have to get done (hello, laundry), but I want to be more intentional about just being with my children rather than having them around while I do things.

Hopefully I'll still have lots of time to take pictures; of them and other things, but more of them may not end up on the blog.  We'll see!

So I guess what I'm saying is, the blog may not be a very big priority this year.  Not the way to "make it" in blogging, but in the end that's not really what matters so I'm okay with that.

So here's to a year of less stress and more presence and hopefully we all make it to the other end!