Baby Michael and memory lane

Our extended family recently grew and I have become an aunt all over again. Jason’s only younger sister, Karen, gave birth to her first baby, Michael Jr. on Thursday, April 16th. We were incredibly privileged to make the drive up to Missouri and meet this precious boy that following Sunday. I just love newborns and was completely thrilled to hold this itty bitty guy so soon. By my observation, my dear sister Karen has stepped into mothering with an extraordinary amount of ease, confidence and grace. The fact that she welcomed our gang with open arms 4 days after giving birth says something. I’m very proud of her and grateful for those moments as a family.

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photo 4The drive from Georgia to Missouri was stunning. We went through Chattanooga and Nashville. The kids pointed out every “waterfall” or as Caleb put it “falling water!” that we passed, as we winded and curved through the mountains of Tennessee. We passed through the beautiful green rolling farm lands of Kentucky. Red barns, white houses, wide open green pastures and acres of bright yellow canola flowers. Had no idea how gorgeous Kentucky was. Then we crossed into Illinois, which was similar to Kentucky just flat. I thought we lived in the “country” but these folks driveway is probably the distance it takes us to get to Walmart. I would enjoy that so much!! We got stuck in traffic at one point and were stopped for a solid 45 minutes but I was too in awe of my surroundings to mind. Off in the distance, beyond the crops, barns and windmills, you could see this little red church amongst a few charming homes scattered about. It was like a post card. I was wishing I had a camera with telescopic capabilities. Driving through all the different states and landscapes I couldn’t help but be reminded of Psalm‬ ‭8‬:‭1, 3-4, 6, 9:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Our family had so much fun taking this little road trip. The girls are maturing more in conversation with us now and that is a real treat. We talked and laughed and made pit stops for Krispy Kreme and Super Man photo ops in Metropolis. photo 1(1)photo 3photo 2(2)I personally was ecstatic to have at least a solid 9 hours consecutively in the car with Jason there and back. There are few things that can’t be worked through, talked over, dreamed about and laughed at in the span of 18 hours. I was loving it.

We drove up Sunday and returned Tuesday so Jason could get back to work but oh was it worth it! Thankfully this all landed on the girls spring break and we enjoyed the remainder of the time at home. After seeing baby Michael it’s hard to believe how much time has gone by and how old our kids are. Micaila just turned 8, Ryann will be 7 in August and in July Caleb will be 3. My advice to my sweet sister as a new mom would be to write stuff down. Pictures are wonderful! I love pictures. But I also love our memories encapsulated in words and stories. You can read words and vividly remember moments like it was yesterday. So utilize all the wonders of technology. Take lots of pictures, yes! Of all moments, not just pretty ones. 😉 Record videos of singing, crying, dancing, playing, laughing and especially talking. And jot those moments down that you don’t capture with your camera. We hope to not forget but why risk it!

Because for me I don’t want to forget how Caleb calls his pajamas “Kajamos”. Or how he makes up phrases like “I soakin dirty!” (a combination of being soaking wet and dirty) Or that every night he tells me he wants to “Eat waffles and watch Mickey Mouse ta-morrow.” I don’t want to forget how Ryann sings “How He loves us, oh how He loves us.” Or how she spoils Caleb rotten by tending to his every want and need. I want to remember the time we spent hours folding coffee filters together to make a lamp pretty for her bedroom and she told me “I just love talking I can’t help it! I always want to talk.” To which I replied “You come by it honestly.” 🙂 I hope you never stop talking to me sweet Ryann. I don’t want to forget how the girls “take best care” of their baby dolls, their words. I want to remember that Micaila can use an entire bottle of liquid dish soap in 2 days and it’s okay because she is cheerfully washing dishes for her momma. Or how she reads every night to her siblings and tucks all her babies in bed. I want to remember how, over every other doll they own, Micaila favors Heather and George and Ryann favors Baby Shivers. Dolls that were mine and are 24 years old and no doubt have seen better days. They take them everywhere and sometimes mommy lets them push their babies in carts at “Hobby Wobby” (Calebism) and what little girl doesn’t love that!? And let’s not forget this day. That as I type up this post, Caleb took the opportunity to jump on my bed and bust his nose and lip on the foot board. We shall close this post with TP in his nose and a warm bath on the way.

Oh yes, I want to remember. Here’s to memory lane momma’s! Let’s write more of it down. 🙂

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To Save the Chickens

Oh the predicaments I find myself in to rescue animals. 🙂 What really gets me is how God uses the everyday ordinary (or maybe not so ordinary) things to remind me of his love. Are you ready for story time? 😉

Our goat, Ramsey, is becoming quite the nuisance. We built this wonderful little fenced in area for him that, now with the arrival of spring, is full of lush greenery that he could eat till his heart’s content. But he’s not content. The grass is greener on the other side. And our porch is more desirable too. Did you know goats enjoy rocking chairs as much as humans? It’s completely normal to me now to see our goat curled up in a rocking chair nibbling on a tassel from our cushions. Yeah it sounds adorable but let me share with you what accompanies that “cute” picture. Goat poop all over my porch that fortunately is like rabbit pellets so it’s easily swept. Just the other day I hear quite a ruckus going on. I walk out to find that Ramsey has pushed three out of five chairs off the porch and scattered the bag of chick bedding (pine shavings) all over the floor. I mean, it was as far from a serene inviting country porch as you can get.

What has landed him in solitary confinement (until we repair/reinforce his pen) was what occurred last night. It had been raining all day and the rain brought cool temperatures with it. I’m merrily (merrily happens on occasion) cleaning the house before Jason gets home and something in the window catches my eye. The heat lamp we use for the chicks is knocked over. A couple weeks ago they moved to the porch where they can begin acclimating to the varying temperatures but still have access to the lamp when needed. I walk outside to see why it’s on the floor and I discover that Ramsey had knocked their brooder bin off the porch. I should have expected this I suppose. I look in the bin to assess the babies and one is missing. The bedding and chicks are soaked with cold rain water and bodily fluids. I’m fearful that the missing chick is buried in the mess of bedding. Fortunately I look around the yard and she’s nearby, soaked and panic stricken. I imagine they had been there for a good 45 minutes. I pull the bin up under the porch and start to take them out one by one while gathering my thoughts of what to do next. I knew I needed to get them inside, dried and warm but wasn’t about to bring that disgusting brooder bin in my living room. The kids had pulled out one of the snow sleds so I grabbed a towel and loaded the chicks up on it for the time being. Ramsey had busted the heat lamp so Ryann retrieved the blow dryer. Ryann was so concerned about them, “Oh mommy, they must be freezing!” and was ready to help me in any way. Quickly Micaila became aware of the situation and they each got towels to wrap the smallest chicks with. At this point I’m preparing myself for a burial. They are much tinier and they looked in rough shape. Just drenched and freezing to their little chicken bones. After about 20 minutes they finally started drying and began to even nibble on bits of food. The process of cleaning out the bin was slightly ridiculous. I had to do it outside because it’s just too nasty to even think about bringing indoors. So there I was in my house slippers (because that’s what I wear when I’m cleaning and in life or death situations there just isn’t time to change shoes!) I’m running around our sopping wet yard trying to grab the hose and rinse everything out. Have you tried running in house shoes? In the rain? Jumping puddles? Just not exactly what you plan to do on a Thursday evening, mid cleaning party. Pretty sure I’ll be needing a new pair of slippers. So I get the bin clean and laid fresh bedding inside so we could transfer the chicks before they started pooping all over my house. Whew! We finally started to see life coming back. I honestly did not think the bantams were going to survive.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s funny to me, all the trouble I would go through and concern I have to save a few chickens that cost us like 2 dollars a piece. And it reminded me of that scripture Matthew 6:26-27 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet their heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

And I needed that reminder because I worry and I at points even wonder “How could/does God love me?” And what really hit me was I, a sinful, broken human, have the desire to rescue and save these chickens. How much more does a perfect loving God want to rescue his people? 🙂 A whole heck of a bunch more! And for that I am hopeful and so incredibly grateful. I just love it when I’m doing something as monotonous as say cleaning a toilet and the Lord whispers his truth and love to encourage my soul. My word to others today would be look closely and listen carefully; Jesus is always near wanting to speak to our hearts at just the right time, in just the right way.

All the chickens are doing great! I think we are in the clear and the girls and I are very pleased. 🙂

Holy Week 2015: Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause I want Palm Sunday to ring bells of joy in my kids hearts. “It’s Holy Week!”

Because I want them to know what happened on Good Friday and grow deeper in their understanding of what this means for them as individuals.

Because I want Resurrection Sunday to be a huge deal in this house.

Because I want them to reflect on the days that led up to the biggest, best day, ever.

Because when Spring comes (and every day for that matter) I want our Savior to be the highlight.

Because if I there is an event that I invest my heart and soul into, this should be it!

Because I am in awe over what Christ has done for me and I want my kids to see that.

I want my kids to know Jesus, to encounter his love, to value what he did for them, for us all.

So we make crafts and visuals. We read. We talk. We pray. We eat. We sing. We mourn. And then…. we CELEBRATE.

He is Risen!

For ideas on how to make Holy Week even more meaningful in your home check out some of these sites. 🙂

A Holy Experience

Joyful Mama’s Place

9 years, no joke! ;-)

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I do like this photo. And it’s our anniversary today so I’m feeling celebratory over this momentous occasion of 9 years in marriage. Because lets be real, marriage is hard! This photo is so totally one sided. I mean, where is the picture of me stewing in my quiet place, writing out all my marriage woes and asking the Lord “How am I supposed to love this man?!” Yeah we don’t tend to take those pictures. If I can be totally blunt with you let me just share that I have, in moments of conflict, thought to myself “Wow. This sucks.” But let me also share that following those thoughts I also think to myself “But what would be worse: Being alone. Not having my 3 children. Not having Jason to help me raise them because the Lord knows I’m better equipped to parent alongside him. Not having someone so close to me to sharpen me as a Christian.” Just to name a few. God knows me better than I know myself and he joined me to this man with purpose. And if you are married he has done the same for you. And yes, it’s hard. Harder, even, for some than others. It requires a whole lot of dying to self which personally speaking I’m not very good at. It doesn’t come naturally. But I love how Gary Thomas points out in Sacred Marriage the very real possibility that God designed marriage to make us holy (in holiness we reflect God) not necessarily happy. Though we can rejoice and delight in those times of happiness, let’s not depend on them. Happiness fluctuates, God is always the same. Happiness is a feeling, holiness is a characteristic. We must depend on the ever consistency of God. For better or for worse, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, till death do us part.

Preaching to myself here. 😉

I wanted to do something different to remember this anniversary by. So I’ve been working on a poem. Now, when you start giggling just remind yourself that I am not a poet. But I do like the challenge of expressing myself in rhyming poetic fashion. Plus it’s just fun! Enjoy! And pray for someone’s (or everyone’s) marriage today. 🙂 🙂

God knew all along, my earthly rock you were meant to be.
I had no idea how suited you were for the challenge of upholding me.

I love your quiet confidence that calms my anxious heart.
You wrap me with arms of assurance in moments that are dark.

You love me at my worst, when I’m fearful, unreasonable, or angry.
You annoy me with your smirk. I crack a smile, only you know this settles me.

I need your steady temperament; it draws in my big thoughts and feelings.
But God also knew you’d need me, to reveal things you may not be seeing.

You see, he uses all our differences, our rough edges he begins to smooth.
By rubbing us together, at points, a painful thing to do.

But slowly over time we fit more and more together.
God knew we’d take a while, that’s why he command we take forever.

My love for you is still growing. Who you are now and the man you’re becoming.
I pray for strength to build you up, as his sunrises each and every morning.

We’ll mess up here and there, in grace we’re learning to love, trust, and forgive.
Nine years in our marriage, I can confidently say, there is no one I’d rather do this with.

You can hardly prepare for what is to come, when walking down from that altar.
But God’s using you to make me more like Him and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

I love you Jason Graham. God’s grace abounds. Happy Anniversary!