Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Dear Dad,

We won’t mention your age today, (because we know you already consider yourself old and it drives Mommy crazy since you’re not) but we just want to tell you how much you mean to us. We couldn’t figure out exactly how to tell you, so we made a list of all the things we appreciate:

Thank you for building towers with us and not getting mad when we knock them down.

Thank you for singing silly songs with us every night before bed.

(From Jake)Thank you for taking the day off from work to take us to the zoo even though I was cranky and screamed the entire time.

(From Lilly) Thank you for making room for me (and all my stuffed animals) to sit next to you on the couch.

Thank you for always making time for us when you get home from work.

Thank you for letting us help unload the dishwasher even though it takes twice as long.

Thank you for singing all the words and doing all the motions to our favorite song, “Elephants Have Wrinkles,” even though it gets stuck in your head for at least three days afterwards.

Thank you for taking us to the park and helping us down the slide.

(From Jake) Thank you for having patience with me when I refuse to eat my grilled cheese unless you cut it into tiny pieces and hand me a fork.

(From Lilly) Thank you for reading me book after book after book.

Thank you for letting us get you all wet when we splash in the tub at bath time.

Thank you for carrying around the two of us at the same time, even when Mom says we’re getting too big for that.

Thank you for pushing us in our swings while you are grilling dinner.

Thank you for telling us every night how much we are loved… by you, by Mommy, and most of all, by Jesus.

Thank you for being the best Dad in the whole wide world.

Love, Jake & Lilly


Can we celebrate your birthday every month? We are having way too much fun with all these balloons! We’ll let you kick a few around when you get home from work, we promise!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Face To Face

I love looking at Jake and Lilly’s baby pictures. We have a digital photo frame in our kitchen that randomly flashes photos from the past year and half, some of which seem as if they were taken decades ago. Every now and then, I find myself stopping to smile and remember. The changes that two little ones go through over the course of a year and a half are almost unfathomable. From all the firsts, like rolling over, lifting their heads, walking, talking, to the gradual physical transformation of baby to toddler is amazing to me. When I look at every single picture, I notice one common factor. No matter how many pictures we have stored on our computer of the two of them, every shot includes a precious face.

Maybe it’s a smiling face like this one:

Or a not-so-happy-face like this:

Or a profile of a favorite activity:

Or a reflection of a new discovery:

Or a look of wonder:

When I look at my kids, I want to see their faces. Their eyes tell all. Their smiles melt me. Their tears I wipe away. All of their emotion is worn on their faces.

Cody and I are planning a trip for our tenth anniversary in May. When I think about leaving Jake and Lilly for an entire week, the only thing that eases me is that I know that our modern technology will allow me to see their sweet faces even though I’ll be miles and miles away from them. It’s not the same as receiving a gentle yet slobbery kiss, but it will be enough to exchange smiles and blow kisses across the ocean.

Sometimes, my kids don’t want to look at my face. When I am disciplining them, it’s so important to me that they look at me. Jake, especially, hates to look in my eyes when we are having “a talk” after being in time-out. Sometimes, I have to hold his face and turn it to mine. It’s not so that I can control him; it’s so that he can see me, and what my face is communicating. I want him to know that it’s OK to mess up. That forgiveness comes afterwards. That he gets to start over. But so many times, he tries with everything in him to look away. Sometimes when I am holding his face, turning it to mine, he will close his eyes, determined not to look at me.

I realize that I can be as stubborn as Jake, turning my head away, even closing my eyes when God wants me to look at Him. I do this when I try to handle everything life throws at me all by myself. Sometimes, I look away when I don’t trust Him and I let doubt overwhelm me. Other times, it’s when I think I can hide something from Him. Most of the time, it’s because I’ve messed up royally and I am ashamed. But every single time, He holds my face in His hands and turns it to His and communicates His love, His grace, and His forgiveness. In those moments, I wonder why I ever looked away in the first place.

My Dad sent me a link to a radio sermon last week titled, Just Face It. It’s a study of Psalm 27, in which David writes about seeking God’s face with all of his heart. David, even though he messed up plenty of times, is called a man after God’s own heart. He understood what it meant to seek God and nothing else. He knew the beauty of looking into the face of God. I have a choice to seek God; to either look Him in the face and discover His beauty and His plan for my life, or close my eyes and look the other way.

This morning I came across another reference to this kind of face-to-face relationship. Exodus 33:11 says that “the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend.” My close friends are those that I see in person and share face-to-face conversation with or, in some cases, share a heart-to-heart conversation with when face-to-face is not possible. Those are the friendships that take time and effort. They are friendships that have been developed over years and through all that life brings. They are the people who know “my stuff.” But God knows more than any friend could ever know, because He knows my heart. He sees everything, even the stuff I try to hide. Psalm 38:9 says, “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”

Even when I look away, He still pursues me, desperately wanting “face time” with me. John 15:16 explains it better than I can: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you.” I may not have it all figured out, but I do know that the longer I spend getting to know Him and spending time in His presence, looking at His face, the more time with Him I crave. That’s the beauty of getting face to face with God.

My heart says of you, “Seek His face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. Psalm 27:8

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Jake is our serious little man. The kid is very determined, focused and always seems like he is deep in thought. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Notice the furrowed brows...
And the tight lips to guarantee a smile won't escape...

He does have a silly side to him, too. We have a select few photos of him smiling and giggling, but for the most part, he is very serious. For the past month or so, he has picked up a new habit. From time to time, he will look directly at us, then raise his eyebrows as high as he can, slowly close his eyes, then with all the drama that a toddler can muster, methodically turn his head to the side and once again open his eyes. It very much reminds me of eye rolling.

I so badly want to believe that he is just being silly, but there was something about the way he did it when he was in trouble last week that makes me question his understanding of this little gesture. After a particularly difficult afternoon, I sat with him in my lap in the rocking chair in his room. I talked to him about whatever it was that he did to get himself in trouble. I asked him to give me a hug and kiss since he had been ugly to me, and he responded by very dramatically closing his eyes, turning his head and opening them again, with a look that screamed, “I don’t want to, and you can’t make me.” I was horrified since it seemed as if a teenage boy was sitting on my lap instead of my sweet little toddler.

This past weekend my brother and sister-in-law were in town visiting. Jake took advantage of a large audience and demonstrated his eye rolling over and over and over again. When he realized that roaring laughter came every time he preformed, he quickly decided that it was a very entertaining game. Uncle Dave would ask him to give him “five,” and Jake would do so the first few times. Then he decided it would be more fun if he shook his head “no” when Uncle Dave asked. When that left us chuckling, he began the eye rolling. He has definitely mastered the “toddler snub.” And snub he did. Auntie Bri got snubbed, Daddy and Mommy got snubbed. Lilly was just about the only one who was not subjected to this cold-shoulder look this weekend.

Last night, Cody and I were discussing this new habit Jake has picked up. Here’s how the conversation went:
ME: Do you think he knows what he is doing?

CODY: No, he does it because we laugh at him.

ME: I know, but remember the other day when he got out of time-out and rolled his eyes at me? Do you think he was being disrespectful?

CODY: I think it’s harmless. He does it to be silly.

ME: Well, I don’t want my kid to be disrespectful because we think it’s cute and laugh at him. Maybe he should go to time-out when he rolls his eyes.

CODY: I really think you’re overreacting. He’s fine.

ME: Well, I just can’t figure out where he picked that up. How does a nineteen-month-old learn how to roll his eyes with such seriousness?

An hour later, Cody said something to me. I can’t remember what he said, but all I know is that he sat straight up and started pointing at me when I didn’t respond. Here is the rest of the conversation:

ME: What?! Why are you looking at me like that? What are you pointing at me for?

CODY: That’s it!!! Oh my goodness, that’s it!! That’s where Jake gets it from!

ME: What are you talking about?

CODY: You just rolled your eyes at me and you looked just like him!

ME: (Insert dramatic eye roll) Whatever!

CODY: And there it is again!!! I can’t believe you are the one who’s so concerned about his eye rolling and you’re the one he picked it up from.

Nice. Still not sure I’m alone here, but Cody’s pretty insistent on me taking the fall. In fact, the man cannot let it go. This morning he kept harassing me about it, to which I pointed out that I am not the only one who rolls her eyes in this house. His response was, “The drama with which he does the eye roll makes me think he got it from you.” I am starting to grasp that having kids is a lot like looking into a mirror. And sometimes the reflection is not so pretty.

Friday, February 10, 2012

All of Me

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

From my journal on August 4, 2009:

I’ve taken time this summer to explore what it means to “Delight in the Lord.” An incredible truth that has stuck with me is that God wants to be the desire of my heart. He is the Only One who can make me truly happy. I would love to have children, and I believe with everything in me that He will bless us with a family one day, but I have discovered that He can become my joy, my delight. I have also realized that I have been looking to people… whether family or friends… to be my support through this journey. While they have been a steady source of encouragement and wisdom to both Cody and me, they cannot be My Jesus. He alone takes joy in being the Only One who can pick me up after I fall, dust me off, and place my feet right back on the path that He wants me to follow.

Background: We lost our second child a couple months before I wrote this entry. To some, a miscarriage is something that just happens. It’s really not all that uncommon. But to me, it was the loss of two children I will not ever get a chance to meet… not on this Earth anyway. I miscarried in February and then again in May. Many people knew about the first loss, but when it happened again, we chose not to tell even our closest friends. It was too hard to talk about and most people didn’t know what to say to us anyway. It was devastating and came after years of waiting to conceive. It was a very hard, lonely, soul-searching summer, but I know God wanted to show me His promises in this verse. In the past I thought it meant that if I follow the Lord that He will just give me everything I want… when I want it, according to my plan. For years, I asked God why He was not allowing my plan to unfold. It was a good plan. I had thought it through. Every last detail of it. And then this.


More waiting.


More loss.

I was so confused and hurt and angry. So angry. Until God lifted my face and showed me, through this amazing verse, a tiny glimpse of who He really is. He is Joy. He is a loving Father who understands my hurt, even though he allows it. He is the Ultimate Planner. I began to cling to His promise in Jeremiah 11:29. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ” I slowly started to grasp that His plan is so much greater than mine. He began to be enough for me. I wanted children with every ounce of my being, but over time, I understood that a child could not be the source of my joy. Nothing could but Jesus.

This verse is now making its way into my heart again and it’s almost like I am rediscovering a new element that’s been hidden in there all along. The second half: “He will give you the desires of your heart” is starting to have new meaning in my life. I think it must mean that He changes the desires of my heart. What I once sought after is not as important to me anymore. The longer I spend getting to know Him, the more my desires change... into His desires. His will, not mine. His plan, not mine. That may seem incredibly simple, but for me there is so much power in this one little verse.

I am so glad that God is patient with me. I am so thankful that He waits and waits and waits for me to “get it.” I think it’s extremely ironic, looking back, that three months after writing that journal entry, I wrote this one.

From my journal on November 30, 2009:

God is amazing! Our prayers have been answered in the most incredible way! Today we saw the flicker of not just one heart beat, but two! TWINS!! I cannot express in words the gratitude that is in my heart. I only know that this is what God must have been saving for us… and what a wonderful blessing! While it feels that this is an appropriate place to end this journal and begin a new one, I know that the waiting is not over. We have only entered into a new chapter of our lives. Looking back over the past few years, I can honestly say that to see the proof of those two precious blessings on that screen today made everything worth it. I’d do it all over again. In a heart beat.

Maybe this was what He was waiting for all along. For me to get it. And for Him to get all of me.