Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jackson’s 5th Birthday


I’ll start this letter with the obligatory, “Oh, I just can’t believe you’ve grown so big. Where has the time gone?” phrase. I’ll even repeat the same thing I see daily on my friends’ Facebook status updates: “Five years ago, a sweet boy came into our lives and forever changed it. I can’t imagine our family without his spirit and joy for life. We love you, Jackson!”

And I do mean those things; I really do! You have changed our lives: mine, your dad’s and your sister’s. And I really can’t believe you’ve grown so big. And yet…

Here’s the honest-to-God truth: my son, you have taken my world and smashed it to smithereens. You have filled it with more love and pure frustration than I ever thought possible before March 28, 2007. Since that day, you’ve been teaching me innumerable lessons about things like inborn differences of boys and girls, the importance of impulse control on the human condition, and true potty humor. I have given you so many hairy eyeball looks in the last five years, it’s amazing I still have muscular function in my eyebrows. (No wonder those new wrinkles have become so furrowed in my forehead!)

You have pushed me to the extreme edge of myself and my sanity. From the moment you arrived home from the hospital, I have had a lack of sleep as well as a lack of understanding how a little boy’s mind works. Just when I think I have you figured out, you try some new tactic. In the recent past, your modus operandi was slapping your own face when you got frustrated. (Where in the heck did you learn that?!) But this month’s newest tactic is plugging your ears when I say something you don’t want to hear (time for bed, be nice to your friend, sit in time out, stop.repeating.that.question!).

Then, just when I’m at the end of my rope, you become this vulnerable, I-need-your-love-desperately little boy. You come to me with tenderness and regret, knowing you’ve pushed harder than you should have for your independence. It’s like you change your mind for a moment and want to come curl up into Mommy to make sure I’m still dependable and willing to accept you back. And that’s the honest-to-God second truth: I will always take you back. A morning with you might feel like Chinese water torture some days (drip, drip, drip), but I will never tire of being the one you run to for reassurance and kisses.

I won’t go as far as to say I’ll trade all the tantrums for the apologetic make-up hugs you give me at the end of them. However, I will admit how much I love your still small body as it clings to me in those few moments of your sweet hugs. I also love the way you sit beside me at the dinner table, with one leg cocked perpendicular to your body so you can always have bodily contact with me. Your little foot hooks under my knee, because you are so much my boy that you can’t stand being separated from me for even a short meal.

Now could you just sit still for longer than ten seconds at a time? I read once that a boy is “noise with dirt on it.” I’d take it one step further and say a boy is a noisy blur with dirt on it. You are up-down-up-down-run-jump-couch dive-spin-up-down-smack-run-bike-up-down-yell-collapse. That’s your day, condensed into 18 words.

I worry so much about you already: what will your Kindergarten teacher think of us when you start school in the fall? Will you ever learn how to settle down and LISTEN, so you can become a productive, civilized member of society? Will you become a leader or just a rebel? And will you ever be able to stifle that streak of independence, and depend on the One who always takes you back? Will you learn to surrender when He calls you to?

Oh, Jackson. You fill me with pride and fear, worry and joy. I love you, and then I’m so aware of how broken that love is. You have magnified my imperfections in a way I never expected, yet you and your sister have been the ones to model God’s love for His children in beautifully painful ways.

Thank you for that, and for changing me even when I don’t want to change anyMORE! I am crazy for you, because you literally drive me crazy. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way. These are the days I’ll look back on and laugh, knowing how my noisy blur of a boy helped me become more me as I helped him become a man.

I love you, darn stinker!_MDS4779

Friday, March 16, 2012

Parents Weekend at Church

Dan and I were invited to attend Katie’s class at church at the beginning of February. We have been in her classroom before, but it was for a weekend called Salvation Weekend, when the kids have one-on-one conversations about Jesus’ personal sacrifice for them. This time, Parents Weekend was just a chance to sit in on a normal weekend and watch what the kids learn and how the teachers do it.

First, the kids started with something called Hang Time. They hang out together and do things like crafts (mostly the girls do this), play air hockey or foosball, or play a board game or a video game. When hang time finishes (after about 10 minutes), the kids go into a room together and have large group worship time. A worship leader sings songs while a team of kids (called Live Out Loud kids) act as her backup singers. When worship finished, the large group leader welcomed the parents and then invited us to play Human Whack-a-Mole. Oh, boy!IMG_0802

First, the kids got under a board with holes in it. The parents were given inflatable hammers, and got to whack the kids as they popped their heads through the holes. And THEN the fun started: the parents got under the board and the kids got to whack them! It was really fun and funny.IMG_0803

After the game, we had a large group lesson. The weekend lesson was about friendships, and the leader talked about how surrounding ourselves with good friends can change our lives. The kids broke into groups of three and played a game where one person was blindfolded and the other two were supposed to navigate her through an obstacle course. One kid gave bad directions, and the other gave good directions. When the game was over, we talked about how quickly the blindfolded kid could tell what was good advice and what was bad advice, then about how we trust friends in our lives.

The kids got in their regular small groups (the same ones they meet with each week), and talked to their small group leaders about the lesson, what the Bible tells us about friendships, and ideas for how the kids can find trustworthy, Godly friends.

With the last 10 minutes of class, the kids were able to visit stations set up around the room. There was a journaling station, where kids could write about problems going on in their lives. There was a singing station, where the worship leader discussed the day’s worship song lyrics with the kids and then sang them again. There was an art station, where kids could use paint to express their feelings about God. There was also a prayer wall, where kids wrote their prayer requests on notecards and posted them on a wall. At the end of class, the classroom prayer team (which is a group of kids too!) takes the anonymous notecards home and prays over them throughout the week.IMG_0807

It was really interesting to be a part of Katie’s class and to see how our church breaks down some pretty big theological concepts for the kids to understand – and they laugh their heads off and have a blast at the same time.

Holy Yoga

My friend Jill is one of only two certified Holy Yoga instructors in the St. Louis area. At Christmas, she suggested the gift of Holy Yoga for friends as a way to celebrate Christmas in an Advent-Conspiracy-sort-of-way. I loved the idea, but knew I couldn’t get my act together and host a Holy Yoga retreat in the midst of the December rush (plus job interviews, recovering from surgery, etc.). So for my birthday this year, I decided to give a gift instead of receiving one. (But it’s actually one in the same, isn’t it?)

I invited some friends to celebrate with me by opening their hearts in a new way: worshiping our King with prayer, meditation and Holy Yoga. My friends showed up, wrapped me with dozens of hugs, then we settled ourselves onto our yoga mats and spent some time talking. I asked each woman to introduce herself and explain how we know each other, and it unexpectedly turned into an outpouring of love. The words my sweet friends said over me were such a blessing. When the introductions first started, my initial reaction was to play demure and all, “Oh, hush… you are so sweet!” And then I felt the Spirit stirring in my soul, telling me to just quiet the heck down and listen to the gift of words my friends were giving me. So I did, and I soaked it in, and I was blessed.

Jill started by explaining Holy Yoga: it is an experiential worship created to deepen people's connection to Christ. It isn’t your traditional yoga. Poses are used to worship Christ in our lives, and the names of the poses (postures) are named as a reflection of His glory. The Holy Yoga website says, “We do this by integrating His Word, prayer, worship and the physical practice of yoga to contemporary and Christian music.”_MDS3923

Then we started our class, which lasted about an hour. It was dark and quiet and peaceful, with lots of focused breathing and prayer. It was such a great break from the world, and we ended the session with some desserts and girl talk. As my friends left, I gave each one a rock that I hand-decorated with a word and a scripture reference.


It was really a wonderful birthday gift to myself and some dear friends, and I am so glad Jill offered herself in praise of our God!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kindergarten Registration

Can you smell it? Change is in the air. My personal theme for 2012 seems to be CHANGE. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes it’s been a long time coming. And, sometimes, it’s bittersweet.

These are my two, hanging out in the elementary school lobby (playing their vintage Gameboys) while I registered Jackson to start Kindergarten this fall. Yep… already. And on other days, I say “Not soon enough!” Because life is just learning to balance contrariness.IMG_0787

My New Job

These are the images I don’t want to forget from my first day on the job.






Father, I pray I never forget what an honor it is to work for you and with you. Amen!

My Last Sunday Off

Y’all know I started a new job at the end of January. I work at my church now, which means I work on Sundays. Before I started working, Dan and I decided to take the kids out on my last Sunday off, and have some fun in St. Louis.

We chose the Science Center, because we haven’t been in a while – AND it’s free! We knew the moment the kids stepped in the doors, they would have a blast. There’s this contraption all through the lobby that has chutes and levers and conveyor belts to transport balls throughout the structure. It’s fun to stand in the middle of the lobby and watch the balls roll throughout the three-story ramps.IMGP5650

Then we walked into the Science Center and Jackson saw this:IMGP5646

Yep! It’s life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex! Here’s a better photo to express the dinosaur’s size. The look on Jackson’s face when he first saw it was one of incredulous awe.IMGP5630

We moved through the rest of the museum, checking out displays about earthquakes and tornadoes, fossils and planets. The kids learned about the catenary curve (i.e., the St. Louis Arch) and used a robotic back hoe. They pointed radar guns at cars on the highway outside, and we also weighed Katie to figure out how much it would cost to ship her into space (based on weight).IMGP5657

We also saw a movie in the Imax theater called Space Junk. It was all about satellites and junk falling apart in space, and creating hazards for any sort of new satellites we might launch, not to mention danger to our planet. Katie is a little bit of a science nerd, so she liked the movie a lot. When the museum closed, we decided to drive to another St. Louis landmark and have dinner and dessert. Here’s a clue to where we went:IMG_0697

Anyone want to guess? It’s been featured on Man vs. Food, and is a must-visit for tourists (and locals, too!). Here’s another hint:IMG_0695

If you guessed Crown Candy Kitchen, you are correct! We had hot dogs and split a BLT, making sure to save room for dessert: HUGE ice cream sundaes! It was the kids’ first time to visit Crown Candy, so we had to splurge of course.IMG_0696

What a fun day together, and a great way to celebrate a new beginning in our family’s life.IMG_0698

(Yes, I know it’s the blurriest, worst iPhone family photo ever! The owner of Crown Candy is known for his treats, not his photography.)


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