Head Over Heels

I have been wanting to write for some time a letter to my husband.  I wrote one to the boys and one to Olivia so now it’s Jonathan’s turn.  (Some day, I want to write individual ones to each boy.)

Dear Husband of Mine,

(Maybe, I should have tried to write this when the boys aren’t running their cars all around my feet — just a little distracting.) There are a lot of things I want to say, some things I won’t say due to the appropriateness of the readers, but for now, I hope to express a little bit of my appreciation for you.

We are in our tenth year of marriage now!  Can’t believe it has gone so fast!  I still so clearly remember our gorgeous and amazing wedding day and honeymoon!  I still remember those blissful first months of marriage!  I remember some challenges — those “ripples on the pond” that new marriages work through.  As the years have passed, I can sincerely say that I love you way more today then I did then.  I find you more attractive and appealing on many levels than I did the day I said “I do”.

I remember the beautiful vows that you wrote and said to me on our wedding day.  They were exquisite and even more so today because you have truly lived out what you promised.

…Twelve days later, I return to attempt to finish this blog.  It’s not that I don’t have plenty to write.  I do.  I am just afraid that I will do the subject matter an injustice by not writing in a manner that is worthy of it.  Thus, the delay.  I also have five pleasant distractions running, babbling, or asking for me so…

Sweet husband of mine, this morning it meant so much to me when I returned from dropping the boys off for Christmas play practice to find that you had straightened everything in our bedroom and Drew’s room.  I was trying to rush back home so I could clean things up before I had to drag the roofers through our messy rooms.  Not only did you straighten, but you did such a great job that I could just sit down and nurse our baby.  Many wives would discreetly have to do a little more straightening after their husbands.  Nothing against men.  It’s just that women have their way of cleaning and men, their way.  You, though, do an amazing job that I could only find lots more reasons to praise you!

You serve me like that a lot.  I am blessed!  I know it too.  I feel sorry for those many women who married their dashingly and personable you men/lovers — only to find that those men are more concerned about enjoying their hobbies, working on their projects, and doing their own thing rather than helping their wives.

You not only serve me, but you also recognize me for the work I do.  Your praise means a lot to me!  Just last night, I was complaining how our floor needed to be mopped, but it was already so late and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that yet too.  You gently said, “Knowing you and what a great job you do keeping after the house, I am sure the floor will get cleaned when it needs it.”  Yes, I know!  I am very blessed! (Your praise motivated me to mop the floor.  The floor thanks you.)

I love how you try to add humor to tense situations.  The other week as we were arriving at church and reminding the boys of proper church behavior, I loved how you then added, “No cows in church though boys.  Make sure you leave them in the car.”  The boys loved it, and we all entered church with smiles and giggles.

I admire how patient you are!  You are so careful to not discipline in anger.  Oh, you aren’t perfect, but you do an amazing job!  There are very few times that you respond to the children in anger.  I love how firm but patient you are.  If the boys become anything like you, their wives will be so grateful!

I appreciate how hard you work!  You travel many miles every day just to go to work.  You work every day without complaining just to provide for the family.  It’s not like your money even goes to all these exciting things — just to put food on the table and to pay bills.  To me though, it is exciting!  I have a smart, hard-working husband, and I am proud of you!  I am thankful you work hard and have a good job as a result.

I love how you aren’t afraid to get down and wrestle with the boys, to pretend you are a dinosaur and chase them around, to tenderly cuddle with our daughter, to brush my hair, give me back massages, and to wipe my tears.

I love how you write me sweet and silly notes that I find in creative places.  I love how you make me presents with your hands that speak of time, diligence, creativity, patience, and love.  I love how you ask me about my day and listen.  I love how you encourage me to grow in my walk with the Lord.  I love how you push yourself to do things that aren’t your natural bent because you want to grow.  I love how you don’t demand to get your own needs meet.  I love how you don’t complain when a meal turns out to be a flop.  I love how you enjoy things like holding hands and watching a sunset together.  I love how you tell me I am beautiful — even when I know I am a mess.  I love how you help me recover from giving birth to our babies — even the parts that are disgusting.  You are so selfless, so serving, so loving!

Jonathan, if I was getting married today, I know that I would choose you all over again.  This time though, I would choose you much faster and with a greater joy.  Now, I truly know how blessed I am!  On our wedding day, I saw glimpses of your character, but I hadn’t been married to you yet.  Ten years later, you have only grown to become even more precious to me!  Ten years later, I have lived with you; now I truly know that you are my soul-mate.  You are my home!  We have been through a lot together, and the years will take us many more places and stages than we can imagine.  Through it all, I am so thankful that you and the Lord are a team, showing me the secrets of love.

How exquisitely beautiful this thing called love is!

Should I die before you, I don’t know that there is anyone good enough for you.  You deserve someone who would love you and treasure the gift that you are!  🙂  Since I am the only wife you have, I am going to do my best to keep reminding you that I think you are pretty special.

Thanks, Love!  Here’s to the next ten+ years!

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Do You Love Me?

I think the Lord is trying to teach me more about a certain lesson because I keep reading blogs stating almost the same idea — just in different ways or with a slightly different twist to the story.  The lesson is about… well let me back up just a bit…

We have all heard stories or read the Scriptural account about giving a drink or feeding a stranger and then finding out that it was the Christ Child in reality.  These stories are based roughly on the verse that talks about offering a drink or hospitality to a stranger and finding it was an angel we entertained unawares.  Based on this concept, we have the idea that in serving others, we are ultimately serving Christ.  In application, I have frequently been encouraged to serve my family as “unto the Lord.

Somehow recently, I have been more convicted or challenged than ever to dwell on the truth that my love for the Lord is demonstrated by how I love my family.  Has that ever been convicting!  If my family is receiving frowns, cross tones of voice, impatience, or even anger from my lips or expressions, do I really love the Lord that much?

How motivating this has been to me to be more loving to my family!  Afterall, I want to love my Lord more because He loves me so very much!  I want my children to also remember me as a loving mom and our home a place of peace and love and joy.  Is it?  Is that what they’ll remember?

When the Lord asks me, just like He did to Peter, “Do you love me?”  Can I truly say, “Yes, Lord!”  Or does He have to ask me again and then a third time, until the truth finally sinks in that I haven’t been truly loving Him because I haven’t been truly loving my family.  Is my love unconditional for my children, or do I bestow my love warmly only when they are loveable?

Did Jesus wait to love us until we were “loveable”?  I guess not, or He would not love us yet and would be still waiting for that miraculous transformation on our parts to occur.  He chose us when we were weak, hungry, naked, thirsty, poor, beggarly, sick, dead.  He chooses the unlikely to become recipients of His love!  He even loves me, when I don’t return His love so ardently but instead treat my family with less than  a stellar example of unconditional love and patience.  He loves me!  He really and truly does!  Do I love my children like that?  Do I love Him like that?  Do I love Him?  Do I really love Him?

A Genie Or A God?

The other day as I was considering Jesus’ time on Earth, I thought it was interesting how He had the power and abilities that fairy tales try to imitate and of which dreams consist.  How many fairy tales are about a fairy godmother, genie, prince, magic frog, magic fish, magic wand, etc.?  The dream is that some ordinary person is transformed into someone extraordinary.  Why do we all gravitate towards those stories?  Because, we all want to imagine it happening to us.  Why do people spend money at the lottery?  Why do people fill out sweepstake’s forms?  It all comes down to that we hope to have that one-in-a-million winning lottery ticket or have that one-in-a-million winning sweepstakes.  Why?  Because the thought of being a millionaire sounds like the answer to all our present woes.  Right?  Doesn’t money solve most problems?  Ask the former winners.  They just might show you something different.

If it’s not wealth, we all wish we were extraordinarily beautiful.  But wait!  Why then do the celebrities, if they marry, have marriages that normally end within the first year, if that.  Those who act like they have it all have so little in what really counts.

So if happiness isn’t found in beauty, fame, or fortune, what then?  Why then do we seek it so much?  Why then is wealth, prestige, and beauty what fairy tales present as the answer to “living happily ever after”?

Compare fairy tales to what Jesus did on Earth.  He had the power to grant those human desires of everyone.  I found it interesting though that nowhere is it mentioned that Jesus bestowed gifts or money upon the adoring crowds.  He did send Peter to find a coin in a fish’ mouth to pay taxes.  He did feed the hungry.  Mostly, we read that he healed the sick, dead, and maimed.  Above that yet, he always sought to heal the crowds spiritual needs.  By observing what Jesus did, we find what He found truly important and necessary to man’s true well-being.  Jesus showed that our spiritual well-being is the most important.  He also demonstrated that in order to meet spiritual needs, you also have to meet genuine physical needs often.  He didn’t spend all His time meeting physical needs, but He did a lot of that in order to then meet the individual’s spiritual needs.

Perhaps, we can learn from this that it’s not about the gifts we receive, it’s not about who has the best job, it’s not about having the nicest things, it’s not about being the prettiest or most popular.  Perhaps, it’s time, we made the change from fictitious fairy tales about genies to faith in a living God.  What do our dreams and priorities reveal about us?

As Christmas rapidly approaches, may I be reminded that my happiness is not found in the gifts I receive but in the best Gift of all — the Lord Jesus, my Savior and God!

More Stats.

I find this interesting so here are the latest stats. on my kids:

(Will just celebrated his 7th birthday.  Luke just celebrated his fourth birthday.  Olivia just turned 6 months old!)

Starting with the youngest:

Olivia at 6 months: Height: 26 3/8 inches; Weight: 16.14 pounds; Head circumference: 17 1/4 inches

Luke at 6 months: Height: 27 inches; Weight: 19.14 pounds; Head circumference: 18 1/2 inches

Drew at 6 months: Height: 28 inches; Weight: 18.11 pounds; Head circumference: 17 1/2 inches

Will at 6 months: Height: 27 3/4 inches; Weight: 18.12 pounds; Head circumference: 17 3/4 inches

Amy at 6 months: Height: 25 7/8 inches; Weight: 16 pounds

Jonathan at 6 months: Height: 27 inches; Weight: 16 pounds; Head circumference: 18 1/4 inches

 

Can’t do the four years since we don’t have Luke’s height yet.  Will do soon.

 

Will at 7 years: Height: 51 1/2 inches; Weight: 63 pounds

Jonathan at 6 3/4 years: Height: 48 1/8 inches

Jonathan at 7 1/4 years: Height: 49 3/4 inches; Weight: 49 pounds

 

Deck The Halls

I finally succumbed… to the joy of Christmas fun and making memories!  Jonathan and I took the kids to get a Christmas tree.  This was Olivia’s first tree so it was extra special to pick one this year!  It took some time since we had five opinions to consider.  In the end, I think everyone was satisfied with the choice, and all the big and little men got to cut it down.  Olivia and I helped hold the tree and carry it out of the woods.

The next day, we all got in on the decorating.  The decorating was a little chaotic at times with boys grabbing my fragile ornaments and bulbs.  I finally had to pull out a pile that they could hang on the tree while I sequestered my fragile ones out of reach and then hung them myself.  All in all, the tree looks beautiful!  It is always a special treat for me to see the ornaments that remind me of places Jonathan and I have visited and bulbs from our first and second Christmases as a married couple.  Plus, there are our pew bows from our wedding that we still hang on our tree.  I love all my ornaments, but I decided that this year my favorite ornament is one that a little boy made for me a month or two ago.  He asked for wrapping paper, a box, and cardboard.  He then gave us a gift to unwrap.  Jonathan and I unwrapped it to find a roughly-cut cardboard star.  With delight our son said, “We don’t have a star for the top of our tree to remind us of Jesus so I made us one.”  This year, we gave him the honors of hanging his star wherever he wanted on our tree.  My tree has exquisite ornaments, but my favorite ornament is a crudely-cut star.  It reminds me that my greatest treasures are in

Jesus, whose birth we celebrate, and are in the love of my children Will hanging his star.

that my cardboard star expresses.

Deck The Halls

I finally succumbed… to the joy of Christmas fun and making memories!  Jonathan and I took the kids to get a Christmas tree.  This was Olivia’s first tree so it was extra special to pick one this year!  It took awhile since we had five opinions to consider.  In the end, I think everyone was satisfied with the choice, and all the big and little men got to cut it down.  Olivia and I helped hold the tree and carry it out of the woods.

The next day, we all got in on the decorating.  The decorating was a little chaotic at times with boys grabbing my fragile ornaments and bulbs.  I finally had to pull out a pile that they could hang on the tree while I sequestered my fragile ones out of reach and then hung them myself.  All in all, the tree looks beautiful!  It is always a special treat for me to see the ornaments that remind me of places Jonathan and I have visited and bulbs from our first and second Christmases as a married couple.  Plus, there are our pew bows from our wedding that we still hang on our tree.  I love all my ornaments, but I decided that this year my favorite ornament is one that a little boy made for me a month or two ago.  He asked for wrapping paper, a box, and cardboard.  He then gave us a gift to unwrap.  Jonathan and I unwrapped it to find a roughly-cut cardboard star.  With delight our son said, “We don’t have a star for the top of our tree to remind us of Jesus so I made us one.”  This year, we gave him the honors of hanging his star wherever he wanted on our tree.  My tree has exquisite ornaments, but my favorite ornament is a crudely-cut star.  It reminds me that my greatest treasures are in Jesus, whose birth we celebrate, and are in the love that my cardboard star expresses.

Feeling A Little Humbug

I am wondering if any other mom is feeling like I am — that I wish I could just skip all the craziness that comes with Christmas: decorating, cleaning like crazy, trying to find gifts for everyone that we can afford and that the recipient will appreciate, trying to find time to wrap presents, trying to find time to write a Christmas letter and then mail them all, and the list goes on.  It’s not that I don’t like this stuff.  It’s just overwhelming since my life is busy enough already that I wish I could skip all the extra work and keep it really simple.

Since it wasn’t that long ago — I think my youngest sister would disagree — since I was a child, I do remember the fun and wonder of the beautiful Christmas decorations.  So, I know that I will somehow find the time to clean a portion of my attic so I can pull out our Christmas decorations.  Then, my already allergy-overwhelmed body will shut down on me for a little while, and I will wonder why I went to all the trouble.  Yeah, I am feeling a little like Scrooge.  I just want to actually be able to relax a little and enjoy it all.  It’s just not relaxing when my house is dirty and extra dirty from the dusty ornaments, pine needles, and spiders that find their way out of the tree and onto my ceilings.

Time to cut this short as I have some more pressing responsibilities.  🙂

Changes!

It is with a bit of melancholy that I have closed a chapter in my blogging and with joy too that I open a new chapter.  As a Valentine gift three years ago, Jonathan started me on my blogging venture.  He opened a blog for me and gave it the name that I had called myself after God had blessed us with three boys in a row.  Three and a half years later, it no longer seems appropriate since I am no longer the mother of just sons, but a daughter has been added to the mix.

In considering a name change, I struggled with a name that wouldn’t sound too corny and that wouldn’t need to change again.  I wanted a name that could be permanent for however long God gives me the ability to blog.

In choosing a name, I also wanted something that symbolized one of God’s greatest truths, delights, and lessons in my life.  Keeping those ideas in mind, my blog title breathed its first breath!  I am hoping that each future blog I write will be a testament to God’s grace that is available for each moment that I breathe and each choice that I make.

 

Laughs With Luke

Since it’s Luke’s birthday today, I thought that I would share a few funnies from him.  Yesterday, as I was preparing him for the day, he asked me,” Since there will be a new Heaven and new Earth, will there be a new God?”  Yup, he is definitely a deep thinker!  Mind you, he only just turned four!

A funny he said yesterday to me was, “Mommy, Daddy said I can kill a hippopotamus.”  Amongst my chuckles, I replied, “Really?!  Well, make sure you take Daddy with you then.”  I asked Jonathan about it later, and he said that Luke had lots of questions about hippos.  I am thinking that Luke somehow drew the wrong conclusion, but it was funny anyway.

We have had some definite struggles with Luke eating his suppers.  The other night though, I pulled out the dinner from the previous evening and insisted he ate that first before touching anything offered from the current menu.  Luke gingerly bit into the barbecue chicken leftovers and then exclaimed, “I like it!  I really like it!  It’s yummy!”  Jonathan and I laughed and said that’s what we had been trying to tell him.  He just needed to try it.

Fued of Favorites

I was recently given an article to read from Time Magazine regarding favoritism in families.  As I read the article, irritation and some anger washed over me.  I did think about their claims and even examined my own thoughts and actions.  My conclusion though matched my first thought upon reading this article.  The article was full of fallacies and a little truth.  I believe the article was mostly the venting or opinion of a biased writer.

Of course, as my husband so wisely says, “Everyone is biased.  We all come from a certain “frame-work” or set of beliefs that does and will influence how we filter information.  That’s where we then have to examine the source of our information.  Whom do we think is most truthful or has the character or moral fiber to be the most truthful?  I believe that source to be a God of Truth so He is where I start when examining information.  Others may say that is too religiously-biased.  I, in turn, say that they are coming from an anti-religious bias.  No one can be completely unbiased.

So back to the Time Magazine article.  The writer made a strong point of assuming that all parents have a favorite among their children.  He said that any parent that says they don’t have a favorite is lying.  The writer then tried to find something complimentary to say about those parents by saying it takes more wisdom to not admit they have a bias.  He worded it differently, but that was the summary of what he was saying.

The truth I found was that some parents do have favorites, and I have observed this within some families.  I have also seen how painful it is for the other child or children who are excluded from favoritism.  We also see within some Biblical families an example of this: Isaac preferred Esau.  Rebekah preferred Jacob.  Jacob preferred Joseph among his twelve sons.  I believe favoritism is very frequent and possibly occurs more often than not.

Where I object to this writer’s claims is that “All parents have a favorite.”  The writer was assuming that all families have favorites and can’t avoid having favorites.  This is where I strongly object!  In fact, I would go so far as to say this writer definitely had or was on the receiving end of favoritism so his own guilt or hurt or anger is influencing his perspective on this.  I would strongly state it is perfectly possible and reasonable that there are many families who don’t have favorites.

Some children may assume the wrong conclusions based on the feedback they receive from their parents in relation to their own actions.  In other words, it is easier to be give positive attention and rewards to a more obedient or pleasant child.  For some kids, sports, academic prowess, musical accomplishments, or even friends are more easily achieved.  Therefore, others or a child who naturally has to struggle more to achieve might assume that they are not as greatly loved.

As humans and parents, it is also easier to have positive feelings towards a child who responds more lovingly or more selflessly than towards a child who  tends to resist our every command or has a whining and complaining attitude.  In other words, there are natural consequences to our “natural” behaviors.

This is where favoritism begins.  Fallible parents who struggle with understanding and accepting true love are limited in their ability to express true love to their family.  Instead of accepting God’s unconditional love and walking in the healing power of His love, they continue to see God through their own warped perspectives.  Their perspectives have been “biased” — there’s that word again — through their own imperfections or through the pain they experienced from someone else’ own flawed example of love.

If we don’t allow God’s love to heal us, it is easier to then transfer our flawed views of love upon our children, and we then continue to repeat the painful cycle.

True love is unconditional.  It is not influenced by the recipient of our love.  Love is given without expectations.  Favoritism, therefore, is an example of a feeling from parents that is not based on true love.  If favoritism is detected within the regions of our own hearts towards our own children, I believe it is a warning that true love is lacking in our own lives.  First, we must accept God’s full love for us — the cleansing, healing, and transforming power of His love — so that we then can reexamine the “love” we offer to others and make sure our love is what it should be.

Favoritism is a cruel and can be deadly feeling and action.  It should not be tolerated within our own hearts, lives, or families!

True love requires a maturity and courage on my part, but may my children see an example of true love: unconditional, unwavering, forgiving, inspiring, healing in its purity!