Wednesday, November 5, 2014

holding the baby

the baby cried from his bed,
so i scooped him up and carried him to the couch,
where i snuggled him back to sleep.

his head rested in the crook of my arm
and a blanket was tucked around his chin.
i felt his weight, his breathing, his stillness in sleep.

i kissed his forehead and put my cheek against his hair,
the hair that had grown and swirled around in front
to match his brothers.

i rubbed his head, part for me and part for him,
feeling the softness of his still baby hair and still baby skin,
as much with my heart as with my hand.

i watched him fall deeper to sleep,
remembering his dark hair the first time i held him,
now lighter, just like the others.

i took in his dark eyelashes,
how they brushed against his cheeks,
and how his little lips parted in his slumber.

he was warm against my chest and belly,
the place where he grew just a year ago
now a soft place for him to rest.

he was settled into sleep then,
but i still held him, part for me and part for him,
feeling his weight, his breathing, his stillness in sleep.

Friday, March 28, 2014

soy-free snacks...for the kingdom

tonight, i was in the kitchen making "levi snacks." levi snacks are soy-free and dairy-free because of a newly-pinpointed intolerance, and as most things have either or both (seriously, soy is in EVERYTHING), i learned to make crackers, cereal bars, etc. i've researched and i've become the mom in the store who reads every label. i'm going to try to make a cheese substitute out of cashews. i'm *that* mom. tonight i made an easy but kind of messy one - peanut butter (natural, regular has soy...), honey, and quick oats, stirred together and rolled up into little balls. he loves them.

as i stirred the mixture, i heard sam and levi giggling down the hall like they were getting into trouble (the more enthusiastic the giggling, the more suspicious i become). the baby slept, the news was on, and justin was at work.

i started the easy but tedious process of rolling the mixture into little balls when something i heard on tv reminded me of someone i know. this person is giving, a servant, kind, generous, and clearly loves Jesus. (i won't say who, but you'd agree.) i just pondered this for a minute, and then thought happily of this person's future heavenly reward.

if satan could read minds, he (or more likely one of his minions) would have played the card of comparison. fortunately, he can't, but unfortunately, 30 years in this world has been plenty to get my brain to do this on its own, without me even knowing it was coming.

just a tiny flicker of, "you should be doing so much more!" came into my head. and before i could even begin to process the comparison further, i felt a calm reassurance.

peanut butter, honey, and oats stuck to my fingers, these words came: "this is for your reward. this is for your crown." this - the peanut butter, honey, and oats. this, the cleaning up that mess you know the boys are making right now. this, the label reading. this, the taking care of your kids. this, the day-to-day work that it seems like nobody sees or notices because it's just you and three kids under three years old.

my Heavenly Father did not let me think that my daily doings are insignificant. He reminded me that this, the peanut butter, honey, and oats, is kingdom work.

there are many kinds of kingdom work, and friends, it does not go unnoticed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

my grandpa bob

when i was growing up, my grandpa would sit at the dining room table in their white two-story farm house, eating such delicacies as pickle loaf, oysters, powdered donuts, and chocolate chip cookies. he would wash it all down with instant coffee in a white mug. he would offer me a bite of oysters occasionally, laughing at my disgusted response.

he also enjoyed sitting at hardee's drinking coffee, and eating at hungry's. sometimes we would all go with him and grandma to hungry's to eat. he kept werther's candies on top of the fridge, grandpa candy at its finest.

he had a great interest in astronomy, and together we would look at his astronomy books and marvel about things that couldn't be seen without equipment, made by a God who apparently enjoyed these mostly hidden beauties of star and dust and gas.

he was a korean war veteran. he was drafted by the army and he worked as a tank mechanic. he worked on motors of all sorts until not too very long ago.

he loved his hummingbirds. he had so many feeders out on the clothesline poles, and he and my mom would have a joking competition each year - who had the first hummingbird, who had the most hummingbirds, and who had the last hummingbird.

he loved guns and hated starlings. he would sit outside and shoot starlings as they landed in his yard. (they're awful birds.)

he taught me his love of photography with stories of korea and the voigtlander vitessa camera he bought in the early 1950's. he let me use the camera, a teenager with an antique. he taught me about camera light leaks and bubbles in lens glass.

he told me stories of his puppy that pushed him around in a wagon when he was a little boy, about when the power lines came across the countryside, and about when he had to climb on top of his tractor in the middle of a field to evade a rabid dog!

he was the slowest big red three wheeler driver i have ever seen. he enjoyed putting around on it, around his little woods and down to our house.

he always wore a button-up shirt with a pocket. in the pocket was tobacco and a pipe, always. he would sometimes let us smell his tobacco. it had a sweet and pungent smell. he and grandma gave me my first car, a white chrysler new yorker that was two years older than i was. the paperwork in the glove box was stored in an old, slim tobacco tin.

he let me shoot his muzzle loader, and complimented my aim. from an older, experienced shooter, that was something.

he hunted deer and so did we. he came to see the first deer i shot, nudged the antlers in the leaves with the toe of his boot, and though i can't remember what he said, i remember his pleased expression.

i can't really sum up 30 years of memories in just a few days of thinking and writing, but i can say that grandpa was a good man. he loved to talk and tell stories. he had a great sense of humor and a big grin. i can hear his laugh just thinking about it.

we really lost grandpa a while before he died. he began to forget, his body and mind to fail him. i miss the grandpa that he was even more so now that he is gone from this world.

but now he is whole and new and able in heaven, and for that i am so thankful.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

for justin

we met in 2006.

i remember our first valentine's day, in 2007. you were training, and i didn't even expect to get to talk to you. you sent a text telling me happy valentine's day from somewhere in the middle of nowhere in california. by then, i knew you'd be the one i married.

you went to iraq. i said i'd write you every day. i did. you were surprised. i sent you packages - lots of cookies and other goodies. i got very good at filling out customs forms and packing up flat rate boxes.

you became a christian in iraq, and (finally) you knew i'd be the one you married.

and so that december, we got married in hawaii where you were stationed.

because i was on a scholarship and wanted to finish college (for the second time) as soon as possible, i came back home while you stayed there. our first five months of marriage were spent apart.

you came home on may 25, 2008. i remember the date without looking because i counted down to it so many times. i missed you terribly, and i couldn't wait to actually get to live life with you.

we lived in an apartment and paid our bills with part time jobs and the GI bill. we had date nights in because we couldn't always afford to go out. i remember eating deer chili by candlelight, lots of scrabble games, and reading the chronicles of narnia together on the couch.

we had a hard first year of adjustments and lessons. it wasn't like a lot of couples' first years of marriage, but we learned a lot and grew a lot by the grace of God.

the next year, i graduated, and i got a teaching job, and we decided to start a family.

a few months later, we bought a three-bedroom house. we moved in on our second anniversary and barely had time to put up a christmas tree, but we still did.

two months after that, we found out i had stage IV endometriosis, which meant we might never have a family. several months after that, we saw a specialist who told us that we wouldn't have a baby if we did it your way. we did it anyway. you gave me injections of lupron and then progesterone so that i wouldn't have to give them to myself.

nine months after that, i watched you become a daddy. i was terrified of getting a c-section but you were there holding my hand the whole time. those days in the hospital are some of my fondest memories, all three of us cuddled in the hospital bed watching tv and just being a family.

fourteen months after that, i watched you become a daddy again. you held my hand and prayed so much, and we had to choose a c-section again after 29 hours of contractions and pitocin.

soon after that, you graduated college, and then got a job as a police officer. we found out in the same day that you got your job and that i had miscarried our third baby. what a day that was - happy, but so, so sad. i still miss our number three, but i know it was part of God's plan for us.

i had to take leave from my job because you would be leaving for twelve weeks, home only on weekends. it was a long, lonely, and busy twelve weeks without you. we all missed you, but what you were doing let me be home with the boys instead of leaving them every day, and i was, and am, so thankful for that. i found out i was pregnant again the second week you were gone.

you read to and played with and cuddled with the boys as much as you could when you were home. you were, and are, a good daddy.

you graduated and came home, and i was so glad. like those five months we spent apart at the beginning, i was ready to start living life with you again, and i was ready for the boys to get to spend more time with you too.

the fall was a whirlwind. i was pregnant, the boys were, and are, crazy people, and you had lots of overtime, but we made it. suddenly it was december and i watched you become a daddy for the third time. the nurses stamped his footprint on your hand and you were so proud of it. i was medicated but i remember you trying to get a good photo of it. you might be a good daddy, but you are a terrible photographer. thankfully it showed up in this picture.

you aren't a fan of the family photo process because it is so crazy, but you always help me get the boys ready and hold everyone still. we even manage not to fight anymore when we do pictures, by the grace of God. and we are always glad to have the pictures when we are done, even though it can be tiring.

in 2006 i didn't know what my story would be, i just knew i wanted it to be with you.

God willing, there will be much more to this story of ours.

i love you.

happy valentine's day.

Friday, January 31, 2014

the steadfast love of the Lord

i just want to share this with you all.

psalm 33:5 says, "the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord."

Spurgeon writes this in the Treasury of David about the above phrase:
Come hither, astronomers, geologists, naturalists, botanists, chemists, miners, yea, all of you who study the works of God, for all your truthful stories confirm this declaration. From the midge in the sunbeam to leviathan in the ocean all creatures own the bounty of the Creator. Even the pathless desert blazes with some undiscovered mercy, and the caverns of ocean conceal the treasures of love. Earth might have been as full of terror as of grace, but instead thereof it teems and overflows with kindness. He who cannot see it, and yet lives in it as the fish lives in the water, deserves to die. If earth be full of mercy, what must heaven be where goodness concentrates its beams?