Friday, December 9, 2011

Our tree and sneak peek of baby's room (double click pics to see bigger)

My Christmas decorating has been a little low-key this year due to being about 12 months pregnant, but thought I would post at least a few pics. Here is our main tree this year:

I have other stuff up this year, but it looks pretty much like last year (you can browse thru my decorating archives to see...), so I am not wasting my precious energy taking photos and posting them (also not wasting my energy dragging out one of my "good" cameras to take decorating pics right now...sorry for the bad quality pics!)
I do like my urns by the front door this year:

OK, here is a quick sneaky of the baby's room. This room has been a major challenge for me for some reason.

I think one reason it's been difficult to decorate is that I had it all decorated in my head for a girl, and when it turned out to be a boy, I was thrown off kilter a bit. It's hard to be creative for the third time. Eventually, I decided on a crisp blue, white and silver theme. Do you know how hard it is to find SIMPLE, classic bedding and accesories for little boys in this color theme? You wouldn't think it would be difficult...boys have claimed blue and white since the beginning of time. However, nowdays, all the stuff for boys is dark colors, safari themes, dark wood tones, etc. Not what I wanted for this room. Anyway, it is still a work in progress, but I like where it's going. I have lots of empty frames just awaiting the first few photo shoots I get to do with my very own newborn! Can't wait!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

When I first found out I would be having a Christmas baby, I was less than thrilled about the timing. Isaac and Graham are both summer babies, and I love that we get to celebrate their birthdays with barbeques and birthday parties in the park or at the pool. All I could think about was how this little one would forever get his birthday combined with Christmas. Also, the thought of preparing for a baby in the midst of the busy, busy Christmas season was a bit overwhelming to me.
And then...
I heard a still, small voice remind me one day of how special it is to carry a baby during this season. What a priviledge it is, at any time of the year, to be blessed enough to have a baby at all. But there's something even more special about carrying a baby at the same time of year Mary carried our Lord Jesus. Did she feel those same take-your-breath-away movements of a baby that is soon to come into the world? Did she stare in amazement at her tummy moving of its own will, wondering for the millionth time what he would look like? Did she feel that same nervous anticipation as the days drew nearer that I am feeling right now?
Click on the song above, read the words below, and contemplate the miracle that was the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Hmmm my Baby
Heaven sent You to me
All the worlds been praying
Who will Save?
But who am I
That here tonight
I hold the One
Who’ll bring us life

We’ve been found
A Child is born
To save us now, Jesus!
Hallelujah! Light has come
A Savior who will set us free
A Promise for those who believe

Do You hear the Angels
Sing for You my baby
Men and kings have come to
Bow to You
But here in my arms

So close to me
The Son of God
Now all can see

Hallelujah We’ve been found
A Child is born to save us now, Jesus! Halleluiah Light has come
A savior set us free!

So praise to God on high
He has heard our cry (x2)

Hallelujah We’ve been found

Hallelujah We’ve been found
A Child is born to save us now, Jesus! Halleluiah Light has come!
A Savior who will set us free
A Promise for those who believe
Hmmm my Baby...

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Church & I: Part 2

I last wrote about my history with the church here in May of 2010. The title, "The Church & I: Part 1" implied that there would be a part 2. And, until now, I have not felt compelled to add to this previous entry. However, some recent events around me have made me feel as though there is more I could say. These are my thoughts, and my opinions. Some are based on scripture, others are based on my emotions or on life experiences. I do not expect everyone to agree with what I say here, but it's part of my story just the same. And, for the purposes of this entry, when I refer to "the church," I am referencing the American church (unless otherwise specified).
Recently, I have felt a disillusionment and disenchantment with the church (and by "church" I mean the organized, body of believers headed by a pastor and housed in a building of some sort) that I have never felt before. In general, I feel that the churches in my world (and the believers that attend them) are losing their grip on the Truth. I look harder and harder to find what I am looking for, and have a harder and harder time finding it. There are so many things going on in the world that are overwhelming...wars and rumors of wars, terrorism, poverty, famine, persecution, riots, political complexities, the global spread of Islam, anti-semitism (and the persecution of Israel), global financial unrest...the list goes on and on. Yet, what do most of us hear about as we sit in our seats on Sunday mornings? Certainly nothing that could help in our understanding of world events. And certainly nothing that even touches on what could be construed as "controversial." I listened to an area radio program recently where two area pastors were asking other pastors in the area to talk about the subject of abortion with their congregations. I felt bad for the pastors because I knew their request would mostly fall on deaf ears. Most pastors don't want to touch an emotionally charged topic like abortion with a ten foot pole. (The Catholic church does much better in this regard than the Protestant church does.) It's too controversial. But, isn't the Bible controversial? Isn't Christ's death on the cross controversial? Isn't He Himself controversial? Aren't these and other topics inside the realm of the "full counsel of God" that pastors are required by scripture to present? Why are our churches suddenly afraid to address some of the things that are on the minds and hearts of anyone who has the ability to look outside of their tiny world (and not everyone wants to) and take stock of what is going on? I am only 35 years old, yet I feel that some of things happening in the world are unprecedented. Although no one can know the day or the hour of Jesus' return, I feel in my heart that it may be soon. And I want to be ready. In general, the American church is not fostering readiness. They are too busy trying to gloss-up and dumb-down the Truth, so that others are not offended. They do this in the name of drawing others to Christ, and it is a lie. One look at the early church and the persecution it endured (and the growth it experienced), will tell you that this is not the right equation for church growth. Comfort does not foster growth. At least not the kind of growth that lasts. And besides, church growth (in numbers) is not what is important. If you teach the Truth of God's Word (and don't leave the "tough" parts out), growth will happen. This growth may be evidenced in numbers, yes, but more importantly through the fruit of the Spirit that will be obvious in the lives of the attendees. I hear more in church today about bringing in money, paying off the debt of the church and how many people are attending the church than I do about meaningful things. And I see believers in the church (myself included) struggling with life's issues, and feeling more and more "stuck" in neutral...not growing in faith. I know it is my responsibility to work out my own salvation, and that I cannot rely on the church to do it for me. This is my own apathy, and it is isomorphic to the apathy in the church right now (I, too, am too comfortable). But sometimes, I want to go to church and feel as though I have gotten a fresh word from God. I want to feel as though I have just listened to a sermon from an inspired man of God that listened carefully to the Holy Spirit in his preparation for that Sunday's message.
I look around me and wonder, "Where are the giants of the Faith?" Where are those Christian leaders in America who will risk all to tell others the full Truth of scripture? Certainly there are persecuted churches overseas, and leaders of the faith who have or are willing to give their lives for it. But here in America, I daresay we are too comfortable. Recently, John Piper made a statement in a sermon that stuck with me. In essence, he prayed that God would allow the American church to come under persecution. I do not take this lightly. I know what persecution means, and I know what could be required of me and of those I love. I wonder if I am ready to pray that? I know that is what it would take for the American church to wake up from it's apathetic, prosperity-induced coma that it has been in for the last few decades. I just wish the awakening would happen before it comes to that point.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The God Who Sees Me

This was a rough summer. It just seemed as though there was a succession of "bad-news" events, ranging from the ultimately insignificant to the major. From a broken leg, troubles with our neighbors, a dog bite, financial issues, and my dad experiencing a life-threatening illness, my strength by the end of the summer was almost gone. It all left me wondering, "Where are you God?"
I'd like to think I'm above these questions. I've been a Christian nearly my entire life, and although my faith isn't always as strong as I wished it were, I know enough to know He's always there, an ever-present help in time of trouble.
But, sometimes you don't feel Him.
And I didn't feel Him a lot this summer.
Until that one afternoon.
My dad was very sick in the ICU of the hospital, and I was just barely hanging on to my emotional stability. We were gathered outside in a parking lot visiting with family when I turned my back to get something out of the van. When I turned back again to see where Graham was, I saw him balancing on the curb of one of the busiest streets in Fargo. One false move, and he would have been right in the way of on-coming traffic. I screamed his name, and he turned and started walking toward me.
And instantly, I knew He was there.
I may not have felt Him.
I may not have known where He was and what He was doing.
But, my God saw me. And He saw my little boy, and He was safe in His hand while my back was turned.
"But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." Job 23:8-10
Thank you, Lord, for being the one who sees me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Isaac's 9.11 tribute

Isaac decided on his own to do a little LEGO twin towers memorial. I am so proud of him! I think it turned out great! I love the little firefighter and how it looks like people are carrying people out of the building.

Monday, August 29, 2011

At four you are....


double click photos to enlarge

Friday, August 26, 2011

Changes: Graham and Isaac's rooms (Double click photos to enlarge)

Because baby is on his or her way, we have done some moving around in our house. Graham's new room is the old homeschool room (you can see how it used to look here). I moved a lot of the vintage cowboy stuff from Isaac's room into Graham's room. Kept his signature star above his bed.

I painted this dresser and gave it new hardware, it used to be Dave's.

Isaac's room pretty much stayed the same, but I gave him the bedroom set that Graham had on his bed.

Love that linen lamp shade I got at a garage sale.

I bought this bulletin board at a thrift store and spray painted it white, distressed it and covered it with burlap.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On being a stay at home mom...

Someone told me once that I was "lucky" to be a stay at home mom. Something in that statement jarred me a bit. There was an implication that things in my life were so "perfect" that I was lucky enough to be able to stay home, and that other moms "had" to go to work and couldn't make that same choice.
Staying home with my kids has been a choice. It's a choice I have consciously made. And although I feel blessed to be the one to watch my children grow every day, it has not come without it's sacrifices. Mostly, those sacrifices have come (for us) in the form of financial sacrifices. We don't have any of the "frills" that many other families have. This is not to say that we don't sometimes spend the money we do have needlessly or foolishly. But, there are many things we live without. And it's worth it. It's worth every dollar we do without because I am not working full time. But these are sacrifices all the same, and they are sacrifices we chose to deal with.
Today I watched a staff meeting in the hospital cafeteria as I wait for my dad to recooperate. There was a small gathering of nurses, one of which held a newborn baby girl. I knew this mom was preparing to go back to work, and that this was her first staff meeting after her all-too-short maternity leave. I thought about how much she would miss. When you are with your children all day, every day, there are a million little inteactions that could never be replicated in the two or three hours of "quality time" most working parents get with their children.
I love being the one to hold my four year old in my arms a million times a day if I want to. I love being the one to teach them. I love being the one that's there when they are hurt or need comfort.
This is my choice, this is my calling. Lucky? no. Blessed? yes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The sleepover that almost was

This is a photo I recently found hidden on my laptop, that I had long since forgotten about. Looking at it brought back memories of the night it was taken...
The photo is of Isaac and his best buddy from across the street, Jayce. That night, Jayce and Isaac had cooked up a plan to have a sleepover at Jayce's house. There had been a few sleepovers before this, but they had been at our house. This was the first time Isaac would be staying overnight at someone's home other than a family member. It was a milestone that made this mama a little sad...he was moving one more step away from me. They left with Isaac's bag packed in a flurry of excitement over what fun the evening would hold for them. I closed the door and watched them run across the street from the window with a few tears in my eyes, becoming philosophical about motherhood.
I went to bed that night, knowing my boy would be OK in the care of Jayce's family, and knowing he was right across the street, and knowing this was part of let go one little step at a time.
At about 10:30pm, our doorbell rang.
I answered the door to find my Isaac standing at the front step with Jayce's dad, bag in hand. He kindly explained that Isaac had gotten a little homesick and wanted to come home.
I guess that step away from me was more like a half-step.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Some days I feel a little crazy. I hear these voices in my head telling me that my beliefs are so over the top that I had better keep them under wraps. If people knew what I really believed, they would not accept me, say the voices. You mean, you really homeschool your children? You really think Jesus is coming back someday (and you actually feel an urgency to tell others?) I mean, what sort of fanatic are you? How about your views on church? You really think its not OK to omit some parts of the Bible to draw a following? Really? Oh, and what if people knew what your politics were? That would be enough right there to make you certifiably crazy. Fanatical. Over The Top.
These are the voices I have been hearing in my head lately. And they were starting to wear on me. Am I wrong, Lord? Maybe I should tone it down a bit? Maybe everyone else is right, and I am misguided. What is wrong with me? Why am I living on the fringes of what most people think is an "acceptable," "normal" life?

And then, I have been thinking about my grandma lately, and how her faith paved the way for me in so many ways. When I was going through a difficult experience with the church (and trying to figure out if I was crazy for thinking what I was thinking), it was her faith that helped make some things very, very clear for me. I wasn't crazy. And, I wasn't alone.

God's Word is living and powerful, and this was something that was demonstrated so clearly for me just this morning.
For the past few days, in the midst of these loud and disruptive voices telling me I am crazy, has been this verse, whispering gently into my soul: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." This is not a verse I have ever made any effort to memorize in any way. In fact, I have probably only even heard it a handful of times. But, there it was...right when I needed it.

As Isaac and I prepared to do his Bible lesson this morning, I decided to read the entire chapter in which this verse is embedded. I opened up my Bible, found the book and chapter, and this is the verse my eyes instantly fell to:

"I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois"

Do you know what my grandma's name is? It's the same name that is my middle name. It is Lois.
Isn't God Good? Isn't He Faithful? Isn't His Word Living and Powerful? I am awestruck that the God who created the universe cares to speak down into my situation, using ancient words that are as precise as a laser. I am not crazy. And even if you think I am, it's worth it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I put "Bambi" in for Graham for the first time the other day. I gave a fleeting thought to how Bambi's mother's death might be received by him, but I thought it probably would go over his head. I underestimated him. Here was our conversation:

Graham: Mom, what happened to Bambi's mama?

Me: She's gone, the hunters got her.

Graham: What?

Me: The hunters got her.

Graham: What?

Me: The hunters went hunting for deer and they shot her. She's dead.

Graham: Why?

Me: (trying not to laugh at his seriousness). I don't know, they just were hunting I guess.

Graham: I want to watch a different show.

The Williamsburg Novels: My critique

Growing up, my mom always told me about the Williamsburg Novels by Elswyth Thane. Her and I are both readers, and these remain her favorite books of all time. So, when she passed the series on to me to read for myself, it was a rite of passage of sorts. I felt lots of pressure to like the books, almost as much as she felt to have me like the books. But, that pressure diminished in the first chapter of the first book. It had me in a tight grasp from page one.
There are seven books, and they span several generations of two families (The Days and the Spragues). Each book takes place during a war (the first book begins during the Revolutionary war). The stories of the families take place within several different countries (The United States, England, France and Germany).
I have always secretly thought I could have been a fiction editor. I am always critical about a book (even if I loved reading it), and can tell you where a plot was weak, or where a story line could have been developed a bit more. This is something I always have automatically done in my own head as I read a book. These books are probably the only books that I have ever read that I feel are almost perfectly developed and written. The story lines are almost flawlessly executed, and they hold your attention from start to finish. As you become enveloped in the books, you are transported to another time and another place. Events of history that you formerly would have had little or no knowledge of, you begin to feel you are living and experiencing. My words really don't do these books justice. The families have become so real to me that I am mourning the day I will be done with the series (I am currently on the second to last book).
One excerpt of the book "Kissing Kin" has stuck with me more than fiction usually does. I keep re-reading this excerpt over and over again, and it strikes a chord with me.
The setting of this excerpt is the final days of life of a character named Aunt Sally. She has lived a long life, and has lived through the Civil War and World War 1. She has lived a notorious life, having buried three wealthy husbands during her life in France. She still possess great beauty and zest for life, even in her dying days. She is giving her young niece, Camilla advice for the future as she tells her that her home in Cannes, France will be hers after she is gone.

"It's easy to be happy here, you will find--easier than you think now, perhaps." Sally went on. "Always remember, my darling, that happiness and love need not die till you do--that life renews itself if you allow it to, as surely as the year comes back round to spring after winter. Some years are not so good as others--sometimes you love less, sometimes more--and you can never be sure that the best is not still to come. So many times I have thought This is all--now I have come to the end--now there will be nothing to live for." Her fingers moved on Camilla's caressingly. "So many times I have been wrong. And for me, the best came last. Always remember that...You will not always be happy, my dear, however wise you are--I wasn't--but always take what comes to you--don't fight life, Camilla, accept it with grace. Don't strike attitudes about how brave you are, or how tragic you are, or how hard done by--nobody is looking, unless you are in front of a mirror. Don't lunge at life and try to bully it into doing things your way--it's bigger than you are, it will do as it likes with you. Don't sulk, either, and turn your back on it--it will go on without you. Sit still, camilla, not facing the light, and always looking your best, and let life come to you--think before you speak--smile when you want to cry--don't score at someone else's expense, even if you feel justified, you will lose more sympathy than you will gain satisfaction--never refuse love lightly, and never try to revive it when it fades--and never, never tell Everything to any living soul. Some people there are who would say that is bad advice I give you, but it is the way I have lived, and I have had in my time everything a woman could ask for. Perhaps it would not do for everybody. But for those of us, like you and me, who set out alone, it works very well, on the whole. Take what comes to you, Camilla--and when you give, use both hands. No man can love a stingy woman, not forever. It is no disgrace to be humble when you love a man--nor to be grateful to him that he loves you. It is no one's birthright to be loved--no never take it for granted. Sometimes it comes by surprise, but to be kept it must be earned again each day, by kindness and thought and always with tenderness, my dear, little words, little laughters, little glances--do not be afraid to show him. Do not be afraid that some one else will see--let them see--they will only envy you." "Thank you--for everything." Camilla whispered, and kissed Sally's cheek, and left the room with a backward glance and a smile at the door. And she never saw Sally again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

beautiful perfection

Something about this clip from "Lady and the Tramp" always resonates deep in my heart when I watch it. It pulls me in, from wherever I am and whatever I am doing when Graham is watching it, and I sit captivated by it. And something about it makes me want to weep. I think its because this one short movie clip illustrates so perfectly what I wish my mothering looked like.
I am dressed in a beautiful robe, my hair is done in a beautiful up-do. It is morning. The day stretches out with hope before me. The sunlight streams through the beautiful window in my beautiful house and my beautifully made bed. I rock and sing to my little star sweeper, and I am thinking of nothing else other than how perfect he is.
There is no crying, no fighting between siblings.
There is no yelling at my children, and feeling guilty afterwards.
There is no issued apology for the aforementioned grievance.
There is no dreary winter.
There are no wars, and rumors of wars.
There is no fear about the future.
There is no fear about my children's future.
God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.
There is no messy hair, no un-made bed.
There is no we're-out-of-toilet-paper...again.
There are no problems that seem too entrenched to be anything but problems.

I don't know why there has always been this longing in me for beautiful perfection. There is hardly anything in my life to prove me successful toward this endeavor, except for my love toward my children. That is as close to beautiful perfection that I may ever come. But this longing to have that which I can never attain on this Earth...where does it come from?
I think my Heavenly Father put it there. I was designed for perfection. And all my life will be spent reaching for it, and grasping at the air. Until, finally, I will see it.

"1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Revelation 21:1-5

Friday, March 4, 2011

Plate wall/Gallery wall

(double click photos and then back arrow to return to posting)I have wanted to do an all-white plate wall for a long time. I finally got all of my white plates together from various places throughout my house, and did it. I love how it turned out!! It makes me happy to look at! Do you have places in your home you like to look at when you pass by? This would be one of mine:

The middle two plates I just got at Tuesday morning on clearance for $3.99. The rest are garage sale finds from the past ten years.

I made a couple of changes to my gallery wall too. Thanks to Mirabella Photography for the great family picture I had turned into a gallery wrap (and also a few of my boys on this wall too). Shannon and I are friends, and last fall we swapped sessions for each other. Hoping to make this a yearly event!!! :) Both of my gallery wraps are from The Canvas People. They seem to be a bit more affordable than a lot of places and do a pretty good job. The only thing I don't like is the brownish cast to their black and white gallery wraps. They are true black and white prints and end up looking like a sepia-toned print. Oh well. I guess you have to take what you can get when trying to save money...:)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

my new acquisition

I had seen this little kitchen cupboard at a thrift store many, many times, and always loved it. I love the style of it--the curves at the bottom and the drawer and cupboard placement. I loved the large farmhouse-style knobs (not on the before picture because I was getting ready to paint when I snapped this). A couple of weeks ago, I went in and they had marked it down, and it became my early birthday gift!
Here's the before...

And the after. I will eventually paint the top plate rack part too, but left it off for now because I like my stars.
(Double click to enlarge)

I am totally in the mood for spring here, even though there is NOTHING to indicate that it is anywhere in the near future.
I re-did my shelf in the entry way and added a little spring to it.

I sure hope NOONE who browses these photos of my home ever thinks I have it totally "together." Allow me to dispell this myth (any of my friends or family who drop into my house from time to time with verify this to be truth). My house is an absolute, blazing mess about 90 percent of the time. I detest this to be true, because I would LOVE for it to look picture perfect all the time (or even 50% of the time!). But, that is not my reality. My reality is that we are home all day, every day, and there isn't an inch of our house that doesn't get used and by used, I mean abused. It is the home of two very busy little boys, and a mom who is always in the middle of some sort of project. This does not make for a perfectly organized space. But, I like to look at these photos and dream that it's like this most of the time...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shelf-scaping & LEGO organization

Upon a decision to change up an area of my home, I go through a process of tweaking until it "feels" right. Here are three different options for a shelf in my bathroom that needed some love.
Option one: Simple. Three seagrass boxes I got at pottery barn years ago:

Option two: seagrass balls, some beachy looking grass, a frame I have always loved (I obviously would put a photo in there or maybe print out a word or initial on cardstock).

Option three: A little more.

which one do you like?

Isaac and I took the better part of two days to organize his LEGOS. A great LEGO organization system is like the search for the holy is pretty much unattainable. Here is what I came up with, and I hope it works:

LEGOS were sorted by color and put into a plastic drawer storage system. The small plastic tote on top is for the teeny-tiny LEGOS that get lost in the mix. The yellow LEGO head was a Christmas gift from mom and dad.

It has three removeable trays in it, with a grid of graduated sizes. You throw all of your unsorted LEGOS into the top portion, give it a shake, and the LEGOS are sorted by size. I would like to kiss the person who invented this.

We didn't have enough room for the black and grey LEGOS, so they go under a moving bin under his bed. Yes, I know he has an insane amount of LEGOS.

He has been playing LEGOS even more than he did before, and the creations he is coming up with are more inventive because he can now find all of the really "cool" LEGO pieces that got lost before. His little buddies also have fun playing LEGOS when they come over.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

cabin fever

This is what happens when it's been a horrible winter. There is too much snow outside, it is too cold, and we have been inside entirely too much this whole winter.
Graham asked me to put swimming trunks on Griffin the other day, and then he proceeded to put his own swimming gear on, and they pretended they were at the beach. I think Griff actually looks pretty happy about it. He kept those trunks on the rest of the day.

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