Friday, December 25, 2009

The Last Christmas

My husband continues to sweep me off my feet with his thoughtfulness...I can only thank God over and over for what a great man he is, and a very good daddy. Thank you for this special Christmas gift, honey.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's Good

Today, I almost became slightly disillusioned. I think the correct word is just "tired", but after an entire month of traveling every weekend, and having something to go to almost every night this month, I think I was just hitting a limit.

We were driving home from Indianapolis today where we were celebrating my friend April's birthday. A GREAT reason to drive to Indy (in case April is reading this...I love you!). But on the way home, we were listening to Christmas music on the radio on the Christian music radio station. Paul and I both like to make fun of the DJ's on this station, because they are just over the top cheesy sometimes. Today they were talking about kids running down the stairs on Christmas morning and my head got cynical.....but just for a minute. I was thinking about how idealized we make Christmas morning, how we plan it to be just so in our minds. But then if it doesn't work out that perfect way we imagined, we get disappointed.

Please understand, I LOVE Christmas and the entire month of December. I love the parties, the preparation, the decorations, the food, the friends and family. Love it all. It just seems that in our minds, Christmas has that soft haze around the edges of it, like the scene from a 1940s movie.

Tonight, though, I sit at home, making food to celebrate Christmas with my family tomorrow. The Wizard of Oz is on tv. Abigail has her friend Liane over, and they are currently taking a bath together. I hear them talking and laughing and calling each other "princess." I am looking at the tree in front of me, and even the cheesy car sales commercial on tv with Santa and Mrs. Claus in it. And it's good. It's a good night, even if it were just any old Saturday night. But it is the Saturday before Christmas, and it may almost get hazy around the edges.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hey, Big Spender

Yesterday, Abigail got a birthday/Christmas card from my Grandpa B., her great-grandpa. Before she passed away a few years ago, my Grandma B. was the queen of the birthday card. She never forgot a birthday. Not only did she not forget, but if she had ever met you in were more than likely going to get a birthday or Christmas card from her. She was organized, and thoughtful. So, the fact that my grandpa, who is now in his mid-nineties still thinks to send a birthday card to his great-granddaughter is nothing short of amazing to me.

As she opened the card, a crisp ten-dollar bill fell to the floor. Now, until this year, he has usually sent the money to my mom or to me to buy something for Abigail. But I guess he figured for someone turning four, it was time for her to receive her own money. She picked up the ten off the floor and announced, "It's mine now!" She knows just enough about money to know that it's good to have some.

I asked her what she wanted to do with her money from Great-Grandpa. My mom always stressed to me that when someone sends you money as a gift, it is because they want you to buy something special with it for yourself. (I wish I could go back and tell broke, newlywed Amy and Paul that as we spent it to pay our gas bill.) She thought for a second and said, "I guess I'll put it in my piggy bank."

Normally not a bad idea, but I thought her first ten-dollar bill for herself was too special to be responsible with.

I said, "Well, you can buy something with it if you want to."

A big smile broke across her face and she said, "I could buy food. Like macaroni and cheese!"

Hmmmm, I didn't expect this to be so hard to explain. She knows when you go to the store that you have to give the cashier money for what you want. She knows the basics of spending. And she chose mac 'n cheese?

"OR, you could buy maybe a toy."

"Okay," she replied. "When we go to the store next time, I can pick out a present to give to Liane." (Her best little buddy from church)

"OR, you could pick out a present for YOU. It's really thoughtful that you want to buy something for Liane, but Great-Grandpa sent that money for YOUR birthday and Christmas, to buy something that you would like to have."

She studied the paper bill. "What number is this again?"

"It's a ten. That means you have ten dollars."

"I've GOT IT!" she exclaimed. "The next time we go to the mall, I can use it to ride the ride that goes around and around."

Great. A ride that costs 75 cents. So Paul and I can sit and watch her go around in circles for ten dollars worth of rides. Well, it's her money. We'll see if we can work on it a little bit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Words, Words, Words....or Lack Thereof

There are some things that I remember being much cooler when I was younger. The one I am thinking of at the moment is Disney's Fantasia. We took Abigail last weekend to see Disney on Ice as an early birthday present. It was so fun, and I'll even admit almost getting teary-eyed as every single ever-lovin' Disney character skated out in the beginning to "Be Our Guest." Sometimes I anticipate in my head how she is viewing something for the first time, and the excitement can be overwhelming to me. Have any of you been living vicariously through your kids lately? No? Just me?

A few of the characters in the show were from Disney's Fantasia. We had to explain to Abigail that when Mickey put on his wizard's outfit, it was from a special movie that Mickey was in a long-time ago. And then there were all the glow-in-the-dark dancing really was a cool sight to see.

So, yesterday, Paul and Abigail went to the library and brought home a few things, one of them being Fantasia. We have been watching it for the last thirty minutes, and as much as I love all of the music from the Nutcracker Suite, I don't really

Abigail has been watching patiently, and just a few minutes ago, said the words that we both were thinking. "When's it gonna get good?"

But wait! Here comes Wizard Mickey and his dancing brooms! I wish I could say I was more cultured to be introducing her to such fabulous symphonic melodies, but we really were just waiting for Mickey. Maybe the culture will come through osmosis.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Last night, my family went to our Baptist Association's Christmas party. It was our third Christmas party this week, which makes me so tired to even type those words. Anyway, just a cute story to share about Abigail....

After we ate dinner at the church, she had gone off to play in the nursery with ALL! THE! TOYS! It was not at our church, so of course, everything seemed new and shiny to her. Then she came running back to me at the table to tell me she needed to go potty.

We went into the bathroom, and I waited on her to finish. She had a nice, round belly from her dinner, and I said, "You ate your dinner really well tonight. You have a round tummy!"

She got off the potty, rubbed my tummy, and said, "You ate a lot tonight, too! Look at your round tummy!"

I laughed and said, "What's my tummy full of? It's full of baby Sadie."

She said, "You ATE a BABY????"

Then she giggled....she knew the answer. Oh, the comic timing on this kid.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


These are a preview of the pictures taken by my friend Hilary of our family. They are so pretty. I knew she would do an amazing job! Thank you, Hilary!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just One or Two Reasons Why I am a Cat Person

We have a blended household here....a mixed marriage. Paul is a die-hard dog person, and I am a cat-person. We have had many a conversation over why we refuse to switch camps. And I do have to point out that Paul showed great sacrificial love to me about five years ago when, for my birthday, he got me our cat, Cammie. She is pretty great, most of the time....but that could be said for any cat.

Paul's entire family consists of dog-people. Any time you enter any one of their homes, you will most likely be welcomed by barking. But enough about his family's strange welcoming routine....

We went to his sister Carey's house yesterday for the family Thanksgiving. They have three dogs, all of different breeds. Their newest family member is a puppy named Boss. He is a Beabull, which is a cross of a Beagle and English Bulldog. He has the face and height of a Beagle, but the markings and stockiness of a bulldog. He IS a cute little guy, and yes, I am able to recognize the extreme cuteness of a puppy. I just don't want to be the mama to one. When Carey's husband got Boss out of the cage to greet Abigail and me, he jumped on us in all of his puppy wiggliness. And then I felt it on my jeans. The warm. The wet.

Five minutes at their house, an hour and a half from my nearest wardrobe change, and I had been peed on.

Now, I can handle a little pee with grace and dignity. It happens. Carey washed my jeans for me while I wore some of her daughter's cargos (thanks, Brandi). But I did feel the need to remind them about another time I had visited their house.....

Paul and I were engaged at the time, and we had gone to Carey's house. They had a dog at the time named Harley. We had just eaten, and I had my legs outstretched under the table. Then I felt....something....that I had never felt before happening to my leg. Yes, my dears, I was officially being humped. As someone who had been raised with cats, I reacted normally and freaked out. I felt extremely violated. He hadn't even ASKED! All of the dog-people around me had a good laugh and then told me that was just part of owning a dog.

Don't get me wrong. I truly enjoy going to Carey's house. It is warm and welcoming in every way. But for me, that is not any way that involves their dogs. I must have a cat-shaped target on my forehead when I walk in there, and those dogs are ready for me. I just told them yesterday that I have had reaffirmed to me, once again, why I choose to stick with aloof, uncaring felines. Oh, I'm sure Paul will win this battle someday, but as long as I can keep coming up with excuses, I think it will be a while.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just a Few Points

Sometimes I just love the look of a list. So today, I shall make one.

1. The Halls have been Decked. We put up Christmas decorations last night at home. We have started earlier ever since we moved into the parsonage. It just has so much more room to be festive than our old house did. The tree is up, lights are on, nativity in place. I find this time of year that I don't have nearly enough "flat surfaces" in my know, the places to put all of the cute little snowmen and candles and multiple nativities. We have the top of our piano and the top of our tv. That is just about it, so a lot of really cute decorations usually do not get put out. Boo. However, Paul and I both fell asleep in the living room last night to the light of the tree, and I think it is just about the coziest feeling in the world.

2. Abigail has rediscovered Tiny the Elf. You can read my post from last year about Tiny if you want, but to be concise, Tiny WAS the Elf on the Shelf in our house 25 years ago, before Elf on the Shelf had a store or a website to call home. I would still like to submit that it was my mom's original idea, but it was at least the idea of tired mamas everywhere who needed a little elf help. We got out our little ceramic Tiny last night, and he stayed awake all night watching Abigail sleep to report to Santa that she slept well. She seems a lot more ready to play with him this year (she is currently helping him ski down the Christmas tree), so I hope he can survive the season intact.

3. My 30 days of meals is going quite well, one week in! Thanks for all who have sent recipes. I made a cute little calendar to hang on the fridge, and have stuck to it. I have actually loved having a plan for each night....not having to make excuses, not having to scramble at the last minute. I just look at the calendar, and that is what I make. I think it has brought a little corner of peace to my mealtime madness.

4. Picture day today! My friend Hilary is coming today to take pictures for family Christmas/Abigail's birthday/pregnancy. She is excellent at her skill. I still remember her winning all of the blue ribbons at the 4-H fair when we were younger with her amateur photography, and she has crafted it well. Even on a blustery, rainy day like today, I trust that we will have some pretty photos to show you soon!

5. I've been doing a new Bible study lately called Knowing God by Name by Mary Kassian. I'm not very far into it yet, but I have certainly enjoyed meditating on God as Yahweh, Elohim, and Adonai. I want to know God better in His glory and majesty....and be able to pray those characteristics by title.

6. Please be in prayer for us over our Muncie home. I haven't had the need to write about it lately, but in a nutshell, we have been selling it on an 18-month contract. The couple buying the house is 15 months into the contract, and have so far been wonderful. They have made their payments on time every month, and we have not had a single issue with them. We are so desperate to be free of this house we moved out of two and a half years ago, and I was starting to see a much needed light at the end of the tunnel.
Then, two days ago, we received notification in the mail that the lady living in the house is filing for bankruptcy. NOT the news we wanted at this stage of the game....or any other stage, for that matter. The couple is not married, as far as I know, so we just don't know any answers as far as how this will affect his responsibility in things, if they will be able to continue to make payments, if he will be able to get financing in his name without her, etc. We may be once again, getting this house back and starting payments all over again until we can find a new buyer. We were really hoping these would be our buyers. We just don't know what happens from here, and have to do things we don't want to do, like talk to attorneys. I'm sure you understand this needs much prayer right now.....God will make a way somehow, and we will get through this, but it has been a damper on our week.

That's what I've got for you.....six points! Doesn't a list look so pretty and official, though? I'm off to make breakfast for us so we have pretty smiles for our pictures!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Good to Have Goals

I told my husband today that I had a new goal. He said, "Let me guess....does it last 30 days?"

Well, yes. Actually, it does, Mr. Smartie-Pants. We all know that any goal worth learning anything from has to last 30 days. Sheesh.

Last night, I was up very late (too late), googling things on the computer. And I googled "30 days of meals," or something like that. And I am now totally excited and motivated to plan out a month worth of meals for my family. We will still do our weekly grocery shopping, so I will only buy what I need for that week's worth of meals.

I have just fallen too many times into the trap of, "I don't have meat thawed out for dinner. Let's go out." Paul and I know that if there is one main area that we could tighten the bootstraps of our budget on, it is in the area of eating out. Plus, if the meals are planned, then I won't be so likely to grocery shop like I am hopped up on cough syrup. A plan, y'all, I just need a plan.

This will be a healthier change for my family (compared to too many meals out), and give me that sense of being ready for what comes at the end of the day. You know, it's not like I can pretend to be surprised by dinner for the rest of my life.

So, it will take work. It will take preparation. It will take prayer. But I like the idea of planning it out. Except for dad's frying a turkey that day, and I would hate to take that joy away from him.

Any suggestions of your family's favorite meals that I could add to my list?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mars and Venus Collide in a Minivan

I've been with my family in Springfield the last two days for our annual Baptist state meeting. Anyone who has driven across Illinois this time of year knows that most country roads lead to Springfield, and they all make boring drives. I'm sure at other times of the year, when the corn is high and green, it could be quite pretty, but considering most of the fields have been cut flat (real farming terminology in my world), it all just looks kind of vast and brown and blah.

So, today we were driving home on some country road approaching another tiny berg of a town near Amish country. Abigail was asleep in her carseat, and Paul and I were quiet up front as we stared out the windows.

My mind started wandering, or racing, as it often does in the quiet of thoughts such as, We have things going on almost every weekend between now and 2010. I really need to get the baby's room painted, so we really need to get the office junk moved out of that room. In all reality, I'm almost in my third trimester, and it will fly by. I mean, it feels like it was just August. There is so much to do. So much, so much, so much.....

Then Paul spoke up, and I once again had a glimpse of how not similar our quiet time thoughts are.
"Do you know what I just realized?" he asked, as he looked out the driver's window onto a vast, empty field.

"What?" I asked back, jarring my thoughts of to-do lists back toward today.

"If Spider-man lived in the country, he really wouldn't be able to use his abilities. I mean, look at these fields. There would be nothing for him to climb like there would in the city. He really couldn't live out here."

I stared at him blankly. "Do you know what I just realized?"
Then I stopped myself before I said something that might hurt the head of a man who still sometimes thinks like an eight-year-old.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I was always a patriotic little child. My first favorite song that I can remember was "The Star-Spangled Banner." LOVED IT.

My second favorite song was the jingle from the Crystal Light commercials in the 80s, but I don't know if jingles count for anything. Crystal Light, 'cuz I believe in me.

My next favorite song as a child was "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. It still is one of my faves. I don't know what it is about hearing that scratchy voice from that bearded man sing, "And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free...," but it still gets me choked up to this day. And should I hear it on the radio in my car, that puppy is getting turned UP.

All this to say, I don't know when my heart began to bend toward a love for my country. But it was natural to me. I don't remember being taught these things...they just always were within me. We have done our best to teach Abigail about the importance of soldiers and what they do for to fight for our freedoms. I know that it may be years before she understands the depth of these things, but I still love to see her say the Pledge of Allegiance or tell me with a little bit of awe in her voice that she just saw a soldier.
We were in McDonald's a couple of weeks ago, and there was a woman there, dressed in Army fatigues. Abigail got up really close to me and said, "Mommy, I didn't know there were GIRL soldiers!" In her world, there are very distinct lines of what girls do and what boys do. She is always telling us something is a "boy" thing to do, until we expand her thinking a little more to say that girls do a lot of the same things.
On a day like today, I'm glad that our country gives pause to celebrate and honor our veterans. Even though I am sad for the reason, I appreciate seeing flags everywhere flying at half-staff in memory of those who gave the greatest sacrifice one can give, of their very lives for the freedom of others. It is so much of Jesus, and so not a natural part of our human selves. I know many soldiers may never get the full appreciation they deserve, or see the spiritural parallels in the work they do. But I do think a soldier is the closest earthly picture we may see of great sacrifice. To think that Jesus went even beyond that, to give His own life for a fallen, sinful world, to lay himself on an alter that no other sacrifice could fulfill will forever amaze my mind and heart.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Things Abigail has Learned Lately

When a baby is ages birth through a year or two old, the questions are always being asked, "What are they doing now?", "What are their milestones?", and "What are their new tricks?" I always laughed at that one, like she was a little puppy or something. Those questions start to fizzle out around preschool age, but I've realized that even at almost four years old, Abigail has learned several new things.

1. Bargaining Skills. She is getting a lot better with getting what she wants, whether that is just one more book, one more Blues Clues video, or one more piece of Halloween candy. I don't know if I am just too tired to think of how to bargain back, or not willing to argue. Sometimes I am firm, say, close to nap time. Other times, as much as I want to say no, I think of the "big picture parenting", and ask myself what one extra book will hurt.
Note: Bargaining and throwing fits are not the same thing. Last night when we were leaving Toys R Us, she wanted to ride one of the little cars and we told her no. She immediately started crying, and we didn't cave. We are pretty good at not caving to bad behavior, which is different than just giving in to "one more ___________." I think.....

2. Being defensive. Paul says she learned this trait from him, the propensity to self-defend. I'm not sure where this came from, and it seems like it really came out of the blue. When she gets called out for doing something wrong, she immediately tells us all the reasons why it is not her fault, why she wasn't doing anything wrong, why she is so justified.'s annoying. It may be a long road ahead of us, but by golly, this kid will learn to accept when she has messed up. She may be 30 when she learns it, but I'm counting on that lesson sinking in someday.

3. Showing us her booty. Recently, she thinks giving me and Paul a full moon is hilarious. Luckily, she only does this at home, and usually before bedtime when giddiness ensues. The pants get pulled down, and she just stands there and waits for us to realize what she is showing us. I admit, it can be pretty funny, but we tell her we don't need to see her "cracker". She also thinks this word is hilarious, which makes the pants-pulling-down happen even more.

4. Telling us what words are not okay to say. Somehow, I think this is her way of exercising the chance to actually say those words. One word she has said for a while is "bammit", which we tell her not to say because it rhymes with a bad word. Yesterday, she dropped the broom she was playing with, and then came to me and said, "I'm sorry I said bammit." Hmmm, tricky.

5. Baby talking. I don't know if the closer we get to baby's arrival, the more she feels the need to be a baby again herself, or what. But the baby talking is about to drive this mama up a wall.

6. Coloring and drawing. She loves it and could do it for hours on end. It keeps her very quiet and occupied, and she's actually pretty good. I'm all for it.

7. Saying sweet things. She has moved beyond the sole "I love you" stage, and is getting more creative. Last night I was getting her out of her carseat, and she said, "I'm glad Jesus made you my mommy." These moments melt me completely.....and I still didn't give in at Toys R Us!

So, those are her latest tricks. Don't get me wrong, she's pretty fun lately. There are fun things about every stage, and trying things, too. In some ways, I'm hoping age four is a little easier than age three. But overall, she is always a great kid, and I sure am glad she's mine.

Monday, November 2, 2009

So Good

Today, I am reminding myself that God is good ALL the time. And not because anything is going wrong today, because it isn't. But I was a little apprehensive over something that I shouldn't have been.

The couple that has been buying our house on contract sends us a mortgage check at the beginning of each month for the payment. They have never missed a payment, nor have they been late. The contract period is almost up, about three more months to go.

Usually, we receive their payment even before the first of the month. It is usually in the mail on the 27th or 28th of the month, making me content and happy and secure and blah, blah, blah. For some reason, this month, it didn't arrive a few days early as usual, but it still was not late. It arrived on the 2nd. And wouldn't you know it, my mind started racing a hundred different ways with the "what if's?". What if they couldn't make their payment this month? What if they get this close to the end of the contract and default? What if we still have possession of this crazy house almost two and a half years after we moved out of it????

But today, the check came. Payment will be made on time once again. I called Paul and said, "Check was in the mail. God is good." Then I realized what I had just said, and said, "I mean, God is always good, even if the check had not come. But it did come, and He is good." We had a good little chuckle over it, but it made me realize today that I needed that little reminder....God is ALWAYS good. If the payment is made or not, if our house sells or not, if we are healthy or sick, if we are rich or poor (sound like marriage vows, anyone?). Thank you, God, that Your goodness never changes, and it is not based on me.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Her Love

Last night after her bath, I was painting Abigail's fingernails and toenails. She sat naked on the couch and got a real mani/pedi, which is just about her favorite girl time in the whole world.

I was a stuffy mess. I was in my yoga pants and a t-shirt, and looked like nothing that resembled a pretty mommy.

And then she looked at me and said, "I'm so glad God made you my mommy. I love this mommy's hair. I love this mommy's voice."

I think it was the best medicine I've had in four days.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

From a Sick Chick

Influenza A/Swine Flu has breached our borders of our town. I know that this sickness is much more hyped than the usual seasonal flu, and I'm falling all over it. We've had friends at church who have had it, there have been kids beyond number sent home from school this week. The school nurse goes to our church, so I feel like I have some very cool "inside" on what's going on. I know I don't really, but a girl can feel important, can't she?

I spent most of the last week going crazy over sanitizing the house. By golly, I was going on the defensive for my family. Probably me being pregnant, and in the "high risk" category of contracting the flu makes me a little crazier than the usual year. In fact, the only flu shot I have ever had in my life was when I was pregnant with Abigail. Paul never gets them. Abigail has gotten them every year. I don't claim to have scientific, biological understanding of any of these things, but it seems like the right thing to do to get them for her, and me when I'm pregnant.

De-germed as this house has been, who do you think got sick? Mama, that's who. Not with the flu, thank goodness. But the last few days, I have had a yucky cough that burns in my chest, and last night it moved upwards toward my sinuses. One of the hardest things about being pregnant is not being able to just go to the medicine cabinet and take my pick of the many OTC's that would help my symptoms. My doctor only advises me to take Benadryl and Tylenol. That's it. No cough syrup. No expectorant. Bah. Humbug.

So, I'm sitting at home on a Sunday morning, skipping church. Avoiding people, for their sake and for mine. At least my cat still snuggles up next to me. She's a little TLC medicine at the right moments.

Maybe my body had acquired immunity to the germs in my house, and I made a mistake by going on a sanitizing kick? I hope not.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Gift of Remembrance

When I got home from a trip to Branson with my family on Saturday, I had a surprise package in the mail for me. It was from my sweet friend, Megan, and it was this:
I CARRY YOUR HEART tiny text bowl and heart token set by Paloma's Nest

She said that she knows I carry the hearts of the babies we lost, as well as Abigail and Sadie's hearts. It is from the ee cummings poem:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it

I love that Megan thought to send this to me. First of all, she didn't even know that Paloma's Nest (the maker of the little dish) is one of my favorite seller's on etsy. I told her that I don't really expect people to remember all of the dates that are now stored in my memory. But when someone reads my blogs and thinks to do something touches my heart so much. The dish arrived in the sweetest little straw nest. Nests and eggs have had a very special place in my heart ever since Sissy and her eggs were a part of our lives back in the spring.

Thank you, Meg. Thank you to all who remember with us.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Worth It

Yesterday, I was in St. Louis for a weekend conference. Yesterday, October 10th. It was my sweet daddy's 64th birthday. It was also a year from the day of my miscarriage. I was in business meetings all day long, so it didn't give me lots of time to spend mental energy on the remembering.

I'm so glad that the timing of my pregnancy has worked out as it has. When I wrote out the weeks on my calendar and realized I would be right around the 19-20 week mark this week, I was relieved. I knew I would either be able to get my ultrasound the week before or the week after the miscarriage anniversary. I wanted have something good to remember at this time. I want to look at that day on the calendar and remember it as a day to celebrate my dad's birthday. Or to know that we were just starting to identify with the baby girl inside of me. I want that day to have something sweet again.

Yet, I do want to remember. I want to remember the events surrounding that day....that we were planning to go to a fall break cookout at a friends house. That I had marinated deer meat the night before to be grilled. That I had made persimmon pudding to take to my dad for his birthday. That the air was crisp, and it was sunny, and the leaves were beginning to change color. That three days earlier, we heard a fast, little heartbeat. And that over the next three days, my body would let that baby go.

It's been a year, for sure. Sometimes I feel like I may still never learn what God wanted to teach me through that experience. I feel stuck in the not knowing. Sometimes I feel like I have really started to grasp it....knowing the comfort of God and friends, standing on my Rock, hoping for the future. I am thankful that I have friends who are still willing to listen to me process out loud. I have those insecurities that people must surely be thinking, are we still talking about this? But, this is me. It is how I process. I write. I talk. I'm really not good at holding it all in.

I'm so glad to have reason to celebrate this time of year, this date again. I am happy.....excited...hopeful....falling in love with a new face. Yet, I know that I am forever changed by the two that I did not meet. I know there are many women in my life who have been changed by the ones that they never got to meet. That our hearts are connected in that way now....makes the remembering worth it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Seminary Days

I had a couple of fun little reminders tonight. Sweet reminders, maybe, of a time I don't often look back on fondly enough. The first year that Paul and I were married, we lived in Louisville, Kentucky while he was attending Southern Seminary.

Every year of his seminary career pretty much looked different. He was there for one year "alone" when we were engaged. Then we lived there for a year. Then we moved to Muncie to work with Baptist Collegiate Ministry and he commuted the rest of his days. Poor guy.

The year that we lived in Louisville, I was working as a secretary in one of the seminary offices while he attended classes. To put it lightly, we pretty much did not have two nickels to rub together. I know everyone looks back at their early married days and recalls how poor they were. And I believe them. Because we were.....very.....lacking. Everything we owned was either a wedding gift or a hand-me-down. When we wrote out our budget on paper (not smartly AFTER we had already taken our jobs), we realized that our income was not enough to cover our outgo. Yet somehow, we always made it. Literally, our bills added up to more than our combined income. I'm still astounded when I think about it.

To be honest, it was a tough year. I'm sad to say that I probably missed out on really enjoying all that there was to enjoy, and probably on some really sweet moments in marriage, because I was so focused on "our poverty."

Tonight, I was kind of on a cooking and baking kick. I had a real craving for baked custard, which was something my mom would often make when I was growing up. It is a real comfort food, and tasted especially good when we were sick. And tonight, I just wanted some. Then I remembered something from seminary....

I had gone to some special ladies night thing at the school that was a "welcome wagon" night of sorts. They had a ton of door prizes. And the prize I won was such a great one, and again, I probably missed the blessing. When many others won gift certificates to restaurants, which I wanted SO BADLY because we could not even think about eating out, I won the opportunity to go to the home of seminary president, Dr. Mohler, and his wife, Mrs. Mohler, with ten other ladies, to have a pie-making class taught to us by Mrs. Mohler herself. I thought, All I want is the chance to eat out with my husband, and now I have to go and make pies at a mansion with a bunch of people I don't know. Bad attitude, I know.

So, I went to Mrs. Mohler's beautiful home. And she taught us her own grandmother's pie crust recipe. We made the crust at her house, and then she gave us several recipes for fillings to take home and finish our pies. I looked over the recipes, and realized the only one I thought I could make was custard. For one, I knew that I loved custard pie. But I also knew that it was the only pie that would not require a trip to the grocery store to buy ingredients. There were no "quick trips" to the store in those days. Custard requires eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. I knew those were all staples that I would have in our little apartment kitchen.

I went home and made that custard pie. It was delicious. I took it home to share with my dad for his birthday (I think). It felt so good to have my parents rave about something I had made. I was proud of it, even if it did only take four ingredients out of my kitchen.

For some reason, tonight as I made that custard in my parsonage kitchen, I thought about that pie-making class and my first custard pie. I realized how I almost missed something special back then, for being so focused on what we didn't have. I could have made a pecan pie or a Derby pie (be still my heart). I made the decision, however, to make do with what I had, and it was wonderful. God had us make do with a lot back then that I take for granted now. Somehow, though, He always provided enough for us to have sweet memories.

Monday, October 5, 2009


My heart is about 9 ounces larger today.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just a Muse

Aaaaand, September is over. Seriously, did it last about three days total? I mean, I realize I probably nap more than the average person, but since when have we started bridging the space/time continuum?

Not that I know anything about the space/time continuum. There are lots of things that just happen in this world that I don't understand. Like time zones. And the process a mail goes through at the post office. Ooooh, and how a fax machine works. That one really baffles me.

Anyway, it was a fun month. Here are some randoms of the coming and the going:
1. Abigail, for the most part, was really good this month. I mean, we have our moments, and she has been really clingy to me lately. But I don't feel like I have lived on the discipline train every day, which is often where I have a boxcar suite. It's been pretty nice. She's been agreeable. She is mostly obedient. Oh yeah, and usually I have to be within five feet of her. Seriously, when did this fun new phase of "don't let Mommy out of your sight" start?

2. Paul got a new laptop from the church. I mean, it is his, for church use. But when not in church use, we use it at home. And a friend gave us a wireless router, so we can now be online in our living room. This feels so freeing, like we don't have to be holed up in the office to check email, or my current addition, to play Farkle. And oh, the newness of a new's SO FAST.

3. I think October is going to be a super fun month. I have weekend trips for three weeks in a row. Super fun. Did I say those words already?

4. Oh, and pertaining to the new computer, I don't know if I am going blind, or officially in my 30s. Because I prefer the words on the computer screen to be the size of, say, ladybugs. I press ctrl+++ several times a day, until my computer looks like a large-print Guidepost. And I love it. And then I complain about my sciatica flaring up.

5. We have our ultrasound on Monday. I cannot believe we are to this point, and I am so ready. I don't really have a strong feeling either way, but I am kind of betting on girl. Let's just say, I would be less surprised by girl than boy, but so excited with either. I can honestly say I am neutral. But not like I want to buy all yellow and green neutral. Like neutral until I have the go-ahead to buy pink or blue.

6. Paul is currently talking with the kids at Awana for "Popcorn with the Pastor." I asked him what he was supposed to talk about. He said, "My favorite subject. Myself." And I totally thought that this is unfair and they need to have "Popcorn with the Pastor's Wife." Because I could tell stories. And I like popcorn.

Hmmmm. I think six things is all I'm good for today. I have high hopes for October. I'm pretty sure it is my favorite month of the whole year. It really is the kick-off of the holiday season, in my opinion. The changing leaves, the festivals, the late-night cups of hot chocolate, the switching over of the clothes from summer to fall.....LOVE IT. So, I'm sure October will be over in a blink less than September. And I will ponder things like how text messages are sent.....and where our world would be without satellites....and how people survived before crock pots....

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Think I Get It Now

Sometimes I have deep thoughts. They may be fleeting. I may chew on them in my mind for a few minutes and then go back to the norm of the day. I may revisit them, I may not. This week I have been thinking a lot about faith and fear in my own life. I've thought of quotes I have heard, ones I love, like "When faith enters the room, fear flees." I've thought about the Bible verse that says, "Perfect love drives out fear." And then I wonder why it is that I still feel it....the fear.

When I say I feel the fear, I don't mean I sit in the corner of my room sucking my thumb. And I don't refuse to live my life. But it still seems to be there, in my mind (mostly pertaining to pregnancy, but even to other areas as well). Sometimes, personally, I feel that faith and fear do indeed cohabitate in my thoughts, and that you can experience both. Maybe not at the same moment, but both are often there. I have faith in the God who gives life. But I fear that life being taken away.

Now, let's look at the facts:
I am 17 weeks pregnant.
I have had four (?) ultrasounds that all evidenced a growing baby inside of me.
I have heard a strong heartbeat by Doppler on two occasions.
I feel movements now....very small and faint, but recognizable.

Yet, just the other night, lying in the darkness in bed next to my husband, when the best stories and secrets, frustration and laughter tend to happen, I told him words that were spoken in silly, irrational fear. "I keep thinking it is all just going to go away, like a dream." Of course, my ever-rational husband said, "That would be one crazy long dream." I knew he was right. I knew my words were ones of fear and not faith.

Yet, I do not feel devoid of faith either. It is there, I can feel it. It is solid. It is Truth. It is what I repeat to myself when the fear sets in.

I read a blog faithfully called I Should Be Folding Laundry. Beth, the blogger, is currently pregnant, about 12 weeks along. She has two (gorgeous) kids, and then was pregnant with twin boys, James and Jake. She lost James and Jake at 20 weeks. Her story is heartbreaking. Her sadness is real and understandable. She had another miscarriage earlier this year. But now....she is pregnant. And glowing. And taking pictures of her belly. And excited. I love reading her blogs about pregnancy and how much she is embracing it and enjoying it (even in the sickness). I read her words, knowing her story of great loss, and wonder how she can just "put it all out there." How she embraces this pregnancy with such hope and faith.

When I have gone through losses that, by human standards, were not as hard as hers, why do I still fear so much? Why do I think that if I get too excited, or love this baby too much, I will lose it, too? Please don't misunderstand me....I am so happy about this baby. We have taken steps of faith, like choosing names, and making plans. Yet I still think that even in the happiness I feel, I will wake up from this dream and be back to square one all over again.

Today, I read Beth's blog. She does feel the sadness of losing James and Jake. It is still tangible and her life is forever changed. Then she ended her blog with these words, "I’m off to begin my day…THIS DAY that is so remarkable and beautiful, I’ll be sure to live it because that’s what it’s here for…I’m hoping you do the same."

And then I felt like maybe I got it. Maybe I understood how she is embracing her pregnancy in faith, even while feeling the real grief of losing her twins. She doesn't want to miss it. She wants to accept this day as the gift that it is. There are things that are out of our hands. But I can choose to embrace this pregnancy, relishing every little kick of a tiny foot, imagining, dreaming, hoping....or I can fear that loving it too much will make it not be real somehow. I can choose faith today in loving what is happening inside of me...or I can miss it. Thanks for that reminder, Beth.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

At Least I Can Show You Pictures

I wish I had more to tell you today. Throughout the week (and trust me, I'd love to write more than one blog a week, but don't seem to currently have the material), I tend to think of cute little stories to share, or some truth of God or life that has been rolling around in my brain. But then I don't blog about it, and it's too quickly gone. I guess that is called pregnancy brain.

Do you know how bad pregnancy brain can be? Last night, I went out to a meeting, and realized I had forgotten to put on my eyeliner. As in, I did all of my other make-up application steps that I have been doing since, oh, 15 years old, and forgot one of my personal most important ones. Wow.

So, here is my life in pictures over the last few days and weeks. Enjoy. (There are others still sitting on the camera waiting to be uploaded....husband....but I guess sometimes he has things going on, too).

One of my two best friends from high school, Alison, got married. She was gorgeous.

I played Matron of Honor. Abigail played flower girl.

Alison gave Abigail four lip glosses with her flower girl gift. Abigail hid one of the lip glosses in her basket of flowers, and proceeded to plop down on the steps and apply lip gloss just as Alison was walking up the aisle.

This is me with the Maid of Honor, Megan, who rounded out our "best friend" threesome.

This is me with my handsome husband. We both agree that we look better in black and white.

Last week, we ate lunch out at the restaurant at the lake. Abigail was becoming quite the poser with her straw. Right before she blew milk bubbles all over the table and got her straw taken away.

A girl and her daddy by the lake. Again with the black and white.

My favorite kisses in the whole world. Unless my husband is reading this, in which case they are my second favorite kisses in the whole world.

We also had great fun a couple of weeks ago canoeing with friends. There is nothing quite so cute as seeing three little kids in life vests standing in a foot of water. But those pictures are still on the camera, so alas, will be on another blog. Maybe. Unless we forget, which is totally likely these days.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What's in a Name?

We have not really spent a lot of time pondering baby names, as I think we are still, even now, leaning toward the side of "overly cautious." However, my ultrasound is three weeks away. I do not have any feelings one way or another toward a certain gender, although my friend Angie has been working some "boy" voodoo magic my direction.

When we were expecting Abigail, it seemed we knew from the beginning that she was a girl. I just did. The ultrasound just confirmed what I was already certain of. Therefore, we did not spend a great deal of time choosing a boy's name. We really discussed all of the aspects of the girl names, tried out how they sounded, tried different middle names. The boy name we just kind of threw in for good measure at the end, just in case.

I find that one of the things that has become a pet peeve of mine, and I'm sure it is just me needing to lighten up, is discussing baby names with other people. I naively went into things with Abigail's name, prepared to tell everyone that she was "Abigail" as soon as we knew. Then I realized how quick people are to share their own opinions of names. They would say things like, "Are you going to call her Abby? I like Abby." As if to say, "Abby's fine, but not Abigail." Or I would throw different names out that I was considering and they would say, "That sounds more like a girl's name than a boy's name." Then, when my friend Debra was having her baby shortly after I had Abigail, and in all of her wisdom decided not to share the baby's name until he was born, it all made sense. It had never even occurred to me to not share the name.

I don't know what we will do this time. Chances are, we'll share it. Because it helps us identify with this baby even more to have a name for him/her. I've already had plenty of conversations over what everyone else thinks we should name the baby, and frankly, I'm over it. As soon as I shared with a group of friends the name we are (pretty well) decided on for a boy, and one of my friends said, "Ewwwww!" I realized that it's just up to us. It seems no one has the same taste overall in names, and no one has the same reasons for choosing a name. We just have to choose the one that will suit our child and our family name the best. People adjust to all the names once they have a baby to put with it anyway.

In the meantime, after looking through a decades-old baby names book, I've decided to just call it "Hortense." It'll do for now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Am

It was over a year ago. I had just found out I was pregnant. I was thinking all of those thoughts that course through your brain after you first confirm that news. I was ready, especially after our loss that spring. I was nervous.

I sat in the little room at the doctor's office where my barrage of blood tests would begin over the next several weeks. The lady sticking the needle in my arm that day was a new face to me. I never had made it far enough into the last pregnancy to have all of the hormone tests done. This was a face I would be seeing frequently over the next few weeks and months.

She was older, and looked rough around the edges. She looked as though she had lived a tough life, and was no more excited about her current vocation of drawing blood. She glanced at my chart to see what all we would be testing for that day. Realizing it was all pregnancy-related, her first words to me were, "Well, do you want to be?"

Do I want to be? What kind of question is that to ask someone? She doesn't know anything about me. Can't she assume that I do, and that question is not appropriate? I felt my insides jump the way they do when you want to tell someone all these things, but just replied with a courteous, "Yes. I do."

Today I was at a new appointment. My three-month check-up with my dermatologist. My skin has been a crazy mess for over a year and my hormones have chosen to take a wild ride across my cheeks. I started seeing this doctor sometime last year. Actually, my first visit to her was when I found out I was pregnant. She wanted to prescribe something for me, and when I told her I was trying to get pregnant, she had me take a test at the lab. Once the test confirmed that I was pregnant, she told she would hold off on prescribing anything for me until after I had the baby.

A few months later, I was back with crazy skin and no pregnancy. And we have been seeing each other every few months since. Today, I was back, telling her that I had quit using all that she had prescribed at my last visit since I was pregnant.

She prescribed a few things for me, telling me how hard it was to find something I could use while pregnant. She said she hoped things went better for me this time. Then she said those words.

"You were wanting to be pregnant, right?"

What is it with that question??? What in the world does it matter to her whether I wanted to be or not? And especially after knowing that I lost two pregnancies last year, why ask such a question?

"Yes. Very much."

I wanted to ask her why it mattered. Does it affect what she would prescribe for me? Like, if I wanted the baby, she would give me something "safe" and if I didn't want the baby, she'd give me Accutane? Of course not. I knew this was not the case. Still, on my drive home, I couldn't get this question out of my head.

I have decided this question is the step beyond asking someone "Are you trying?" This has become such a normal, accepted question in our society, but really, when you think about it, it is a personal question. Don't get me wrong, I have asked this question plenty of times without giving it a second thought. But to go the next step, when someone is pregnant, and to ask them "Do you want to be?" is an unfathomable question to ask.

I do understand that babies do not always come at opportune times in one's life. Maybe a woman wasn't "trying" to have a baby. Maybe the plan did not fit into "her" timing. I'm sure many a teenage girl has found herself feeling scared and alone when she sees those lines on a test. Even when a couple is "trying" to have a baby, the baby changes lives forever, and not always in the most convenient ways.

I'm just saddened that in a culture where babies are so easily done away with, and pregnancies so quickly terminated, that people now think (and especially those in the medical field!) that it is a socially-acceptable question to ask someone if "they want to be pregnant." I have always been pro-life. I don't think that someone needs to experience miscarriage to confirm that life is from God and is a precious gift. But once I experienced miscarriage, once I physically felt life leaving my body, it solidified in me everything that is true of our life-giving God. It made me realize that life is precious. Even if I had not "planned" this pregnancy, what should be done of it now? What answer does a doctor (a dermatologist, no less) expect to the question, "You were wanting to be, right?"

Yes, we wanted to be. With all of our hearts. However, I still think the answer to such a question should not be, "Yes, I did," but moreso, "Yes, I am. And that's all that matters."

Monday, August 31, 2009


I had a conversation with Abigail a few days ago that I didn't know how to react to. I kind of wanted to laugh. I kind of wanted to cry. It made me realize I may never truly know what goes through the mind of a three-year-old.

I was in the kitchen. She was in her bedroom, which is just off the kitchen. She yelled to me, "Mommy, can I live with you forever?"

"Well, sure," I replied, finishing up the dishes. "You can if you want to." I remember telling my dad I would always live with him and take care of him. I know kids are thoughtful until they grow up and meet their spouse. Then all bets are off.

"But will big people come and take me away from you?"

This is one of those left-field questions that makes a parent wonder what-in-the-world show did (of course) someone else let her watch that made her see a child abduction or something.

"Have you known any kids who have been taken away from their families?" I asked. I figured this would be a better look into her little head than just saying, "No, don't be silly!"

"Well, Kerry and Charlotte's girls got big and somebody took them away."

Let me pause here to explain that our friends Kerry and Charlotte's girls are in their mid-20s. One is married, and one is in grad school. They were in no way ever "taken away" from their parents.

"Oh, honey, no. Kerry and Charlotte's girls are all grown up big. One of them is married and one is in college. When you go to college, you usually don't live at home anymore. And when you get married, you don't live at home with your Mommy and Daddy anymore either. Just like when I married Daddy, I live with him. I don't live with Memaw and Papa anymore."

"Oh. Okay." And back to playing she went. I wonder how much time in her mind she spent worrying that someone was going to come, say, on her 4th birthday, and take her away from home. Poor kid.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Whew, has it been a busy few days! At the end of last week, we took a little two-day vacation up to South Bend, IN to see our friends Allan and April. I'll write more about it when I can post pictures, too, as they tell more than I could. Alas, Paul is the picture guy around this house, and I am terribly inept at knowing how to do anything that involves taking out a memory card, putting it into the computer, and editing the pictures. I think it is one of his spiritual gifts, and you know, I wouldn't want to take that away from him.

In a recap, we visited the gorgeous campus of Notre Dame (complete with Touchdown Jesus). We spent Friday at the beach at Lake Michigan. It was a terribly windy, chilly day for the beach, but Abigail stripped down to her princess swimsuit and played with gusto. So, I know in my memory, it will be this great day we had at the beach, not with me wrapped in a sweatshirt, avoiding sand blowing in my face. And Saturday, we went to the South Bend Chocolate Company for truly mediocre service, but pretty good bagel and coffee. It was a really fun, packed, exhausting trip. I feel like I am still catching up on my sleep two days later.

Now I am wondering, hello August? Where are you rushing off to, and taking my time and all of my friends back to school? Don't get me wrong...I am a fall girl through and through, so I am more than happy to have a few extra crisp days, as fall is too fast itself. I just really don't understand why time is moving at warped speed these days, and stretching my three-year-old along with it.

And this concludes my weekend recap and rant to August. The end.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Going Home Again

You know the saying, "You can't go home again"? Well, Paul and I both had these experiences within the last week, different though they were. Paul took a MoMad (Monthly Man Day) trip, which was actually a couple of days, with two of his guy friends to Alma, Arkansas, where his family lived from his ages 2-10. He had not been back since the move away, and Alma has always had this fuzzy, early 80s glow in his childhood memory. He had so many sweet remembrances of things only kids would even think about, like the tiles on the grocery store floor, or the playground equipment that busted his chin open.

Paul's childhood was quite different from mine. He was the youngest of six kids, while I was one of two. His dad worked in the military, and then for the postal service, and got transferred often, and my entire childhood was in the same little Illinois town. Even during his family's time in Alma, they lived in three different homes (I think). I lived in the same home until it was off to college I went.

My parents have since moved, but only about a half hour from my childhood home. They've lived in their current home for twelve years now, and I barely identify with my Paris home anymore. Paul's trip back to Alma last week was momentous for him, and the pictures and videos abounded. He was so excited to see the places from the corner of his memory, even if they had changed only slightly...and some places not at all.

I went with my two best high school girlfriends on a bachelorette weekend getaway. They are the only two people I still regularly keep in touch with from growing up. We had a fun time, even though our lives are all kind of shooting in different directions. We don't have all the same people in common anymore, or even all the same interests. But we have our friendship...the kind where you are friends because you have always been friends and you will always be friends.

"Home" is not Paris to me anymore, and hasn't been for a long time. Sure, I have many happy memories from there....from the house I grew up in, from my schools, from my friends, from my church. But my parents are not there anymore. Most of my friends aren't either. My home is where my family is....Paul and Abigail. There are people I love dearly, and memories I treasure. But when Paul got back from his trip with the guys...and then I left, and got back from my trip with the girls...we were both home.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I am so tired. Soooooo.....tired.
My tummy feels icky.
I heard a heartbeat of 170 beats per minute today.
My thyroid medicine needs upped....AGAIN.
My mom is wonderful, and takes very good care of me.
My husband is gone to relive his childhood memories for a couple of days and having a wonderful time.
I'm very ready for him to be home, but trying to remember that reliving childhood memories is a wonderful thing.
I have not touched laundry or dishes for two whole days.
I feel very badly about this.
My dad occupied Abigail this entire night so I could nap in my old bed. He's an awesome Papa.
I have not crossed nearly as much off of my to-do list this week as I would have liked.

It's a good thing I'm loved.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Comparison

Like it or not, I have spent the last six weeks that I have known I was pregnant comparing to my last one. My first miscarriage, last spring, seemed over almost as soon as it started, so it is hard having much to compare to there. But the second pregnancy last year gives me a larger time frame to compare to.

I think the thing that has been hardest, even though this one has seemed to be going without a hitch so far, is knowing that I was ten weeks along with my last one, and had heard the heartbeat on two occasions, with an ultrasound as well. Up until two weeks ago, I have had weekly ultrasounds with this one. Everything in me wanted to be excited...and I was...but that little nagging thought in the back of my head kept saying "But you had this the last time, too." And I would think about being seven, eight, nine weeks along and that voice would say, "But you were ten last time."

So, here I sit this week, at ten weeks and three or four days. Right at the same point that I miscarried in October. I have had no reason to be concerned. No reason to worry. And I can't say that I am just sitting around least, not in the active sense. But there is still that voice. There is still that pit of fear that gasps and thinks, what was that twinge of pain? I feel like I have been pregnant much longer this time, and I think I feel that way because it has been a much more physical experience. For the most part, I felt pretty great last time. No real exhaustion or nausea to speak of. This time, I've had all of that. And although it seems reassuring that I have physically experienced this pregnancy so much more, there are still those thoughts.....This is when it happened last time.....

Then, with the best and often too-weak confidence that I can muster, I tell myself that there is a voice of truth that I need to listen to. There are reminders:

Behold, I am doing a new thing;now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. ---Isaiah 43:19

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ---Isaiah 55:8-9

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water,that sends out its roots by the stream,and does not fear when heat comes,for its leaves remain green,and is not anxious in the year of drought,for it does not cease to bear fruit. ---Jeremiah 17:7-8

These are the reminders I need. Of course, they are countless...the encouragement, the promises, the truth of God's Word. My thoughts need taken captive constantly, on a moment by moment basis. Because as much as I cling to it, this is not my last pregnancy. God is doing a new thing...and I have to trust Him in that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Playing School

My little one will not be starting school this year. And she may or may not be starting next year. She is one of those "lucky few" who turns five after the school cut-off, so she will have two full school years before she starts kindergarten. Not that I am in any hurry, because I totally am not.
She will be almost 5 and 3/4 when she starts school, which is about the same as my experience, as we are both December babies. I already know for sure that I am keeping her home with me this year, no preschool. Oh, I think she would totally dig preschool, and bloom like the little social dandelion that she is. But I have a few selfish reasons for this decision:

1. She will be in school, like, her entire life. Why start so early?
2. This will be our "last year" together as "just us". When baby comes in March, things for my little only child will change pretty dramatically, so I want to enjoy the Abigail and Mommy time while it's still us. One of my friends who is pregnant with her fourth child said that her oldest daughter, who is now 8, and had several years of being an "only" before bro and sis came along likes to remind her parents of the "good old days when it was just us." I love this, and plan to enjoy these days as well.
3. She is mine, and you can't have her. Ahem.

I still roll around the thoughts in my head of what to do the next school year, the one before the big K. Part of me likes the idea of just keeping her home. Although I can see benefits to both sides of the coin, I think kids benefit from more time with Mama than less, so I'm in no rush. On the other hand, she may be ready for some break time after baby, and a couple mornings a week may be just what she needs to do her thing. And that is all I am really wanting...there is lots and lots of time for five days a week. If she could go a couple of mornings to a good preschool, that may give me some one-on-one time with baby that would be precious to us, too.

Because those baby days? They go like lightening.

Today, however, I tried something new. We played school. This came from the advice of my Super-Smart-Awesome-Mommy friend Christianne. She has three kids and is an elementary school teacher. A "high-ability" school teacher, no less. Cough, cough. And her oldest daughter who is about to start kindergarten is nothing short of....really smart and sweet and awesome just like her mommy. She never has sent her kids to preschool, yet her oldest could be in the running for next Doogie Howser. Or something smart like that. Her suggestion was just buying those little preschool workbooks from the store, that have little activities and stuff. Wow, I sound super smart when I talk preschool work.

So, I did. And we did. We did 17 pages today, because she just didn't want to stop. We played "What starts with the same sound?" and "What is different in the picture?" We counted, and did mazes. We colored. She loved it. Every time I would say it would be the last one, she would say, "Just three more." I was impressed with how much she understood it. And here's the real kicker....I had so much fun doing it with her! It was focused. It was quiet. It didn't require dragging out every toy into the living room. I didn't have to put on my swimsuit or lather us up with sunscreen. And just like the Grinch's heart, I think her brain grew two sizes today.

Monday, July 27, 2009

He Keeps Me Singing

I guess I would consider myself a singer. Or at least, one who loves to sing. My parents tell me that I was always singing songs when I was little, usually while in the bathtub. My singing continued through the years of high school chorus and show choir, praise team in college, and as an adult, church choir and the occasional Sunday special. Although I would never consider an audition for American Idol or anything else that would put me in front of a camera, I just enjoy singing. I like singing silly kids songs with Abigail, and top 40 hits on the radio, and show tunes....oh, I love a good show tune. But most of all, I love singing songs to Jesus. About Jesus. Hymns. Choruses. Love it all.

There are times, however, when a song escapes from me, maybe while I'm in the shower (not much has changed since I was little), and I realize I haven't sung in a while. I thought that today, as I began a song and felt it maybe had a few cobwebs on it. Oh, I sing the hymns in Sunday morning church service. I sing with other people. I just mean those songs that are, you know, inside. Today's song felt rusty...tired...but good.

It made me think about why it felt that way. Why has it been a while since I've belted out in the shower, or the car, or while cooking in the kitchen? Why has my song been stuck? Then I thought of the last few weeks, of how tiring they have been. I thought of the moments we've spent next to Jean's bed, watching her body seize up in pain that we have no control over. I thought about the baby that grows inside me, who I love so much, yet am so afraid to get attached to so soon. I thought about my weary husband, doing his best to care for his mama and his wife and his daughter (because the wife is feeling too yucky to have the energy for the daughter). I thought about the things that camp out in my mind....anxiety, stress, weariness.

And then I remembered a verse. It was first pointed out to me in our spring time Beth Moore Bible study. I have since come across it in my Bible, and pondered.

Job 35:10 says, "But none says, Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?"

Night. We all have moments. Probably a lot of us are going through "nighttime" moments right now. I would be silly to think I was the only one! I'd also be silly to say that all of my current moments are "night" ones, but there are a few that stick out. I think my song had been stuck in the night. It had been stuck inside where I feel my breath has been held for weeks, maybe longer. When that praise song, simple and pure, escaped from my lips today, I realized that God has given me another song in the night. A song to remember His goodness. A song to recognize that He is mighty.

What about you? What songs has God given you lately in your "night"?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Things I am Looking Forward To

I think it is a nice thing to have plans in your schedule that you are looking forward to. When there are so many things that get mundane, like doing laundry or paying bills, it is exciting to have little breaks in your future weeks and months that give you something to circle on your calendar. Here are a few of mine:

1. Paul's birthday. He will be the big 3-1 on August 8th. And, I forgot to mention to you all that a story I submitted to Homelife magazine has been accepted for publication sometime next year (possibly March or May). They are sending me $75 and I am super excited. I think I may use some of this money to take my honey out to a nice dinner for his birthday. Or we may renew our license plates. Which is no fun at all, but you know, kind of a legal matter.

2. Bachelorette weekend. I have two best friends from high school who I still keep in touch with regularly. One of them is my friend, Alison, who is getting married September 12. The other is my friend Megan who lives in Wisconsin and I only see about twice a year. Megan and I are bridesmaids in Alison's wedding, and we are taking her for some bachelorette fun in a few weeks. I can promise it will be fun, and it will not be raunchy. Megan and I are about the least raunchy people to be throwing wedding fun, and will therefore not have anything decorative shaped like a you-know-what. Because that is just gross.

3. Trip to South Bend. For the time being, we tend to take mini-vacations. We have dreams of big long vacations on beaches and cruise ships to exotic places. But for now, we have bills. And therefore, we go for weekend getaways. Our friends Allan and April live in South Bend, IN, and we are going to visit them in late August for a couple of days and go to the beach at Lake Michigan. We will pretend we are somewhere exotic, and I'm sure have a super time.

4. Alison's wedding. Coming this September to a small town near you. I am one of two aforementioned bridesmaids. And Abigail is the flower girl. I will be wearing a strapless chocolate brown dress. This may be shocking, but I have never worn a strapless dress. Crazy, I know, but I'm kind of excited about it. Abigail will be wearing lavendar. She asks on a weekly basis to try on her "purple princess dress." And if you remember the sweet flower girl she was nearly a year ago in my brother's wedding, I'm kind of looking forward to seeing this again:

She's a year older. And she's ready to throw some flowers.

I really can't believe that summer is flying by so quickly. I don't even have a kid in school yet, and I feel the press of wanting to do all the fun things before fall weather sets in. I can't imagine when we actually have a school schedule to stick to. But for now, we will just pack as many fun little things into our calendar as we can, and enjoy these warm days. And hopefully remember to take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

These Are All Bad Things

I'm trying to keep a positive attitude. I'm sure my husband would disagree, as he has had to watch me pull myself through the house for the last week. Between the whatever it is that has camped out in my ear, nose, and throat, and feeling like I have been on the verge of throwing up for three days straight, I haven't exactly been the happy camper to live with.

And let me say, when one is not feeling good, these are a few things you just don't want to hear:
1. A few days ago, Abigail was washing a lot of her little babies and plastic toys in the bathroom sink. I figured I would be cool, and let her do it, pretty much because I don't have the energy to argue anymore. However, I noticed that the lids to my contact case looked wet. I said, "Just remember you don't ever play with Mommy's contacts."
To which she replied, "I only put water in it."
This would not have concerned me so, if not for a couple little facts, like I was wearing glasses at the time, and I have gas permeable contacts that cost over $80 each.
I opened the case, and sure enough, only one contact was intact. In all my hormonal fury, I proceeded to freak out and lecture about how much my contacts cost, and was she planning to pay for them (which I know is a futile argument that is lost on a 3-year-old)? To her credit, she played with them over a stopped-up bathroom sink where she was bathing her toys, so I did find it floating around in the bottom of the water. Praise Jesus. And sink stoppers.

2. We had gone to the library in the pouring rain this afternoon to find her a new slew of books and movies. I was pretty proud of myself for dragging my pukiness out in the rain, but of course, Abigail did not realize the sacrifice. When we got home, it was nap time for us both. When she woke up, she came into my room and asked if she could watch her Blues Clues video from the library.
Let me just add that I sorely miss Blues Clues. It was deleted from our cable programming, and probably all cable programming over year ago. I think it is truly good kid's tv, and I guess we just caught the end of the Blues Clues train. I can tell Abigail has missed it, too.
So, like any good, exhausted mom, I continue on with nap, mumbling that I will put it in in a minute. Minutes pass....quiet minutes. Next I know, Abigail is running excitedly in my bedroom, saying, "Look, Mommy! It's has a handle just like a purse!" And by handle, she means a good chunk of the black VHS tape containing Blues Clues data. And by purse, she means the cheap, orange plastic shape of the Blues Clues VHS....the library's Blues Clues VHS.

Don't panic. Mommy fixed it. Abigail cried at my leaping out of bed, saying "No, no, no, nooooooooo." But she is currently watching it on the tv, so I did okay, I guess.
And this concludes my essay on things I don't want to hear when I don't feel good. The end.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What a Week

The week started off good. Pretty normal. We began VBS, which I love. I find it to be an incredibly exhausting, but truly fun and rewarding week. Paul and I went for an ultrasound on Monday. We saw and heard a little heartbeat, and baby had almost doubled in size.

Then, Tuesday morning, Paul got a call that his mom, Jean, was passing. She has been dealing with stage IV breast to bone cancer for about a year and a half now. We don't know what happened, but she was totally out for almost all of Tuesday. Hospice was called in. Many signs pointed to this being the time to say good-bye. Paul was there all day. I drove to Indy Tuesday night and spent about three hours at the nursing home with Paul and a few of his siblings. We stroked her hands. We moistened her mouth. We cried.

Then yesterday, I woke up at my friend's house where we were staying feeling awful. Aching all over. Sore throat. Awful. Paul went to be with his mom, I stayed in bed all day. This was not part of the plan. I wanted to be with him, not in my pajamas in a bed that was not my own. That afternoon, my friend who Abigail was staying with called to say that Abigail was throwing up after her nap. Great. Home we go.

But yesterday, too, Jean woke up. She felt groggy, like she had lost a day. She didn't know why her kids were there all together. They had to tell her what happened. She has been awake all day today as well. We have been on an emotional ride this week, not understanding all that put her into her state on Tuesday. She did have a couple of infections that are now being treated. For now, it seems, we have her back.

Now, what do I write from here? Of course, we are happy to have longer with her. I was thinking earlier today that God has already appointed His day to take Jean home, that it is not dependent on us, on what medications we get for her, on how quickly we act. Medical advances are a wonderful thing, and we are thankful that her life is being prolonged, but we know that God still has a day for her. It just was not now. It has been a heavy week, knowing what to say, what to do. I hated that I have been sick when I wanted to just be with Paul. I did realize that I haven't even worried about the baby this week, which for me is good. I was so focused on these other things, I just prayed to God that He would protect the baby and let me do what I needed to do, be where I needed to be. It has been a freeing feeling to not worry about that, too.

Anyway, that's our week. I wish I had a little wrap-up or story or verse to share. I think my brain is just so tired from all of this. I hurt for my husband, for his siblings. We are a tired family, and once again, God has faithfully surrounded us with His love in times our spirits are so tired. And for that, I praise Him.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sam's Legacy

We lost a dear man from our church this week to a battle with cancer. Sam's battle started about the same time that Paul's mom's did, so it feels like both families have journeyed down this long road together. He was a deacon in our church, and his son is our worship leader.

I never had much opportunity to know Sam well in the two years we have been here. Health challenges between his wife and him kept them from church a lot, and he was diagnosed with cancer after we had only been here about six months. We knew each other enough to exchange pleasantries when we saw each other, and to talk about how he was feeling.

There were many things I did not know about him, though. Like, I didn't know that he used to teach the couples Sunday School class that I am now in. I never heard his testimony, though I heard it was a good one. But many, many people in our church were touched by this man's life. He was a butcher at the local grocery store for all of his working years, so really everyone in this small town of ours knew him on some level.

I do know, however, that he left a legacy. He had a family who adored him. He pointed his children toward Christ. Children in our church prayed to ask Jesus into their hearts with Sam's leading. Our church family has many stories to share of how their lives were enriched by him.

It got me thinking about leaving a legacy. Sometimes that may seem like a grandiose feat. But when you think of this man, this butcher, in this little town, who loved his family and showed them Jesus in his daily living....I am encouraged. I am encouraged that maybe we are all doing better than we think we are. That even our weak moments as parents, spouses, Christians....that our lives matter more than we know. God uses us, in our little towns, in our little churches, with our gifts and abilities that seem small to us. They are not small to God. They are significant and meaningful. There are so many ways to change the world, or at least our little corner of it. Sam did it by carving meat, by loving his family, by loving his church, by loving Jesus. Now that he is gone, passing one day before his birthday, and less than a month after his 50th wedding anniversary, we are encouraged...sad, aching, but encouraged that hopefully we can leave a legacy, too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Land of Nod-ding Off

I am a sad, sorry little blogger. This is the longest span of time I have gone without posting. It just wasn't in me last week. Let me catch you up, even though I'm guessing most of you already are.

I'm pregnant. About six weeks. I found out about a week and a half ago. As you can imagine, I've had a crazy mix of emotions over the last several days. I want to be excited. I want to be wistful and happy. And I am. Really.

But I am also aware. Not so much scared, but very aware of all that "could" happen. All that has happened before. I don't want to proceed so cautiously. I want to throw open the doors of my excitement and welcome this news joyfully. And I will. But I think it will take time.

So far, things have looked good. We had a couple of timid days last week when my hormone levels were doing funky things and we couldn't see anything on an ultrasound. But today we went for another ultrasound and saw a tiny little dot with a tiny little flutter of a heartbeat. I can't believe you can see a heartbeat on something with no human form yet, that is no more than the length of a grain of rice. But it was there.

It was bittersweet. I was so glad to have something positive to cling to, but I remembered the last little heartbeat I saw on a screen, too. I don't know that I will ever forget.

Don't get me wrong, friends. I am so happy that this has happened. It is all that we have been hoping for for several months now. I'm just cautious. And tired.

Last week, I was reading Psalm 77 in one of my darker moments when things weren't all pointing to the positive. God totally spoke to my heart through this psalm! I had been singing a song we learned at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting a couple of weeks ago:
We will remember
We will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
And we will stop
And give you praise
For great is your faithfulness

This song had been in my head for days, and I had just been telling myself to recall the faithfulness of the Lord. Psalm 77 spoke these same words, and then encouraged me with this:

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your work,and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy.What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders;you have made known your might among the peoples.

Friends, there are not too many times in my personal prayers that I am in all-out physical praying to God. But here I was on my couch, tears streaming down my cheeks, hands in the air, asking God to be the God who works wonders in my life. For, honestly, no matter what the outcome of this pregnancy, what god is great like our God?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Her First Crush

I witnessed something this week that has started my heart in a series of small panic attacks that I imagine will not end until my daughter is 30. That is when she is allowed to get married, according to my husband. I think she is experiencing her first crush....on a BIG boy, no less.

Actually, I do think she had a crush on Jimmy, Paul's best friend, but it was a blurry line between thinking he was her friend, her surrogate uncle, and her boyfriend all at once. I knew she felt this way back in December when Jimmy's then-girlfriend (grrrrrr....don't get me started) was visiting. I told Abigail that Jimmy's girlfriend would be sleeping in our guest bedroom upstairs, to which she replied, "Me?"

Jimmy LOVED that story, and then made it his goal to make sure that Abigail continued to have butterflies whenever he was around. He gave her extra hugs. Told her how pretty her hair was. Really laid it on thick. I think he wanted to solidify himself in her memory as "her first love" (apart from Daddy). Since Jimmy is single, Catholic, and considering the priesthood, I make sure to make as many Thornbirds jokes to him as possible. He never seems to appreciate the humor, but I so, so DO.

However, Jimmy's competition has entered the scene. It's his friend Jason, who comes to our house with Jimmy. He's been hanging out with us for a while, but I think Abigail has just become aware of him this week. The other night, the guys had come over to go swimming, and then were hanging out in our living room afterward. (Aside: If you think that my husband has a lot of single guy friends, the answer is YES....too many) Jason was playing with Abigail, throwing her a ball, and being generally silly. Actually, I think she was being generally silly while he laid on the floor and put up with it.

I knew we were in trouble when she went and got a blanket and laid down next to him on the floor. "Now we can sleep together," she said.

"WHAT?!?!?" came the cry from her Daddy's mouth.

"I had nothing to do with this," Jason replied.

It's all innocent, I keep rolling over in my head. She thinks sleeping is sleeping. She has no context for any of this.

Then today, we were getting ready to go watch Jason, Jimmy, and Scott play softball. Abigail came into the bathroom while I was putting on my make-up. She was carrying Jason's baseball hat, which he had left here the other night. I told her she could take it to him at the game.

"Smell it," she said.

"Um, that's okay. What's it smell like?"

She breathed in deeply, smiled, and said, "It smells like him."

Innocent, innocent, innocent. Three years old. Innocent.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Card Shopping with a Three-Year-Old? Priceless.

I have a confession to make. I'm sure this never happens to any of you. It is a trick I fall for each and every time. Last night, Abigail and I went for a late-night trip to Wal-Mart to buy nail polish for fun girl times (we have had a lot of them this week), and I left with, well, far too many new, shiny things in my cart. I won't give the price, but it could have bought us about twenty new bottles of sparkly nail polish. I'm sure you never fall for this ploy. Ahem.

As we were wandering through the crafty aisles, trying to find something cute and adhesive to occupy Abigail's attention for three minutes, we came upon the card aisle. With the Father's Day section. Dum dum dummmmmm. Paul and I are really not big card buyers for each other. They are kind of like flowers. They are a nice sentiment, and we are always pleased to get them from people, but you know eventually they will end up in the trash. Unless they are really, really special and thought out. So, we usually do not spend the money on each other for such frivolous things. He is considerate and romantic, and usually makes me a card for special occasions. I usually give him two things in the card category. Jack and squat. He has more romance in his earlobes than I have in my whole body.

But of course, it IS Father's Day, and Daddy HAS been gone for a week on a mission trip. So, I chose a cute little 88 cent card for Abigail to give him with lions and rainbows that said, "You're so fun, Daddy." Or something like that. Then I noticed, about five rows up, the shiny Pantene mane of a My Little Pony sticking out. It was a Father's Day card. It was pink. And it had stickers inside. I didn't point it out to Abigail. I didn't have to. She noticed it 4.7 seconds after I did.

"THAT'S my card!!! I want to get that card!!", she shouted with much enthusiasm.

"You know this is for Daddy, right? Not for you?" Of course, I showed her that there were two stickers inside with ponies that said, "I love my Daddy" and "My Daddy Loves Me". Okay, so the card is totally for her. And it cost about 3.99.

Next, we chose a card for my dad from Abigail. She has called him Papa ever since she started choosing her own names for people. I was so excited to find about three cards in the sea of "Grandpa" cards that said, "Papa" on them. I picked one out with bears and hearts that said, "You're so fun, Papa." Or something like that. (Do we see a theme here?) I thought, AWESOME. It costs about 2.49, and it says Papa. I am mother (and daughter) of the year.

Then, I was standing next to the cards, talking to a friend from church. Abigail wandered down to the end cap, where all of the singing, talking, glowing cards are. You know the ones...they cost 5.99. She RAN up to me, WAVING a card in my face with PURE EXCITEMENT in her eyes. It was a Hee Haw card. And it was perfect. You see, for the last several months, my parents have taught Abigail a little ditty from Hee Haw days. You know the one..."Where, oh where, are you tonight? Why did you leave me here all alone? I searched the world over and thought I found true love. You met another and ppppffttt, you were gone." THE BEST country bumpkin song ever. And Abigail found it on a Father's Day card, all by herself. She was absolutely jumping up and down. It was one of those priceless moments, where the card fit so perfectly, that it did not matter how much it cost. It was going in the cart.

So, I ended up paying ten bucks for two cards. But they were hand-picked by one very happy little girl.

I considered buying a card for Paul myself, gushing about what a great Daddy he is. But the best I could find had a magnet on the front that said, "There are 206 bones in the human body. And I want to jump every one of yours." Yeah. That was not a Valentine's Day card. It was a Father's Day card. Of course, I figured he would love it so I bought it.

Just kidding. Can you imagine coming into the parsonage to see THAT magnet on the fridge? We'll stick with Hee Haw and My Little Pony.