Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy 6th Birthday, Jackson!

_MDS4935Hi, Sugar Boy! It’s your big day, and you have been counting down to your birthday for quite a while now. Your joy was tangible when I woke you this morning. I love when you are so excited about something that it makes everyone around you excited too.

You are a big six year old, and you have no idea what sort of influence you have, do you? When I think of life-changers, six year olds don’t come to mind for me. But you… oh, you’re a different story. You create ripples and splashes everywhere you go! Sometimes it’s a huge cannonball of a moment when we’re at a store and you have a tantrum that everyone can hear. (Ha!) Other moments aren’t as grandiose, and yet they still leave an impact.

Yesterday, for example, we had an acquaintance drop something off at our house. The woman brought her 8 year old son, who was painfully shy. He could hardly stand to look at anyone’s face because he was so withdrawn. The boy sat on the far edge of the couch, behind his mom where no one could see him. He faded into the background while everyone chatted. Meanwhile, you were slowly bringing each of your favorite toys into the room and demonstrating how they work, and looking over at this boy each time. Once or twice you tried to give the toy to him, and he wouldn’t accept it. So you found another toy and played with it. Finally, you cracked through this boy’s shell and after 30 minutes, he followed you downstairs to our basement playroom. The next thing I know, you were chasing each other through the house with Nerf guns.

Can you understand what I’m saying with this example? My son, you are a charmer. You love people, and your need for interaction with them breaks through the barriers they build around themselves. You are persistent (oh, how I know this!) and when you find something you want, your tenacity is unyielding. I’m grateful for that, although I still need to figure out how best to harness that character trait!

Your fifth year had a few struggles too, and we weathered lots of changes: I went back to work. You started Kindergarten. You were diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, then ADHD and anxiety and depression. We’ve had an uphill battle for a while. Some days, I muttered under my breath wondering whether I would survive the unknowns we face.

And then, we have a good moment or a good day, and my hope is restored and I catch a glimpse of who you might be when things start making more sense. I see your undiluted sweetness and your desire to make people around you happy. You crave laughter, and are triumphant when you make people crack up. You are a living, breathing oxymoron: seriously silly! I’ve always suspected you will be voted Class Clown in high school.

This year’s growth has been fun to watch. Just the other night when I was brushing your teeth, I saw your six-year molars poking through. You ran through the house showing everyone, calling them your “motors.” A day later, you kept asking to see them again. This past year has also been a huge milestone in your learning abilities: you can READ! Every time you grab a book and plop yourself down to read, my heart does a cartwheel because you are so stinkin’ smart. I also love reading the work you bring home from school, and the ways you have navigated writing and spelling. There’s nothing better than a story written by a Kindergartener!2013-03-17 JDSK Zaccheus Drawing3

2013-01-30 JDSK Bday Letter

And last week, you hit another creative milestone: you wrote your own music. Daddy set up the electric piano for you, and you sat in front of it and played keys and wrote down the notes in order. It looks like gibberish, but it is actually a musical composition. Wow! You love music, especially singing it out loud in the car. When Katie rehearses for leading worship at church, you practice right alongside her and your energy is astounding._MDS4862

This year we also started some sports activities. You had a taste of karate in the fall, and then started gymnastics at the beginning of the calendar year. It’s been fun to watch your confidence grow and your appetite for trying new things.

You are growing and changing every day, sweet boy. Laughing, fussing, learning, singing, and loving with your whole heart. There is no doubt in my mind how much you love your family: me, Daddy, and Katie. I love being the object of your love, and hope you feel how much I adore you in return. We have so much in store for us this coming year, and I can’t wait to see you get wet as you dive in and experience it all.

I love you!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Centerpiece

I saw this beautiful photo on Pinterest and showed it to Katie. [Unfortunately, I can’t find a link to the original source. If someone knows, feel free to comment and I’ll link to it!]IMG_2361

I asked her if she wanted to recreate it with me, and she said yes! We spent a Sunday after work at Michaels and picked out some moss and terra cotta pieces to use. We found some white rocks in Katie’s rock collection, and also at Leftovers. We borrowed the rest from a neighbor’s landscaping (with permission!).

Katie dug up some dirt from the yard, and Jackson collected twigs for the crosses. We started by putting dirt in the shallow dish and embedded the small terra cotta pot sideways in it._MDS4811

I mounded the dirt up around it as best as I could, and then put moss on top. I pushed some rocks in place while Katie was busy clipping the twigs so they were the right size for the crosses. I wrapped twine around the twigs, and we pushed them into the moss. The finishing touch was finding a big, round rock to place in front of the empty “tomb.” Here’s how ours turned out:_MDS4835

We had enough supplies to make two, so we made a small one and a larger one. I love the way they look, and I’m excited to display one of them throughout Holy Week on our kitchen table. I think I’ll take the other to work with me._MDS4830

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Show Up Randomly

This post was originally written for a blog my church publishes for our volunteers. The blog helps the volunteers as they learn how to be leaders in different areas of their lives, especially with the kids they serve in our ministry.

_MDS4009The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines random as “a haphazard course” and also “without definite aim, direction, rule, or method.”

When the authors of Lead Small talk about showing up randomly in our small group members’ lives, I don’t think they mean to do it without aim or direction. Maybe my administrative assistant glasses are too thick, but I can’t imagine showing up without direction. I mean, how would you ever get someplace? You’d be making wrong turns all day long!

I think showing up randomly means YOU have intention and premeditation. The random part comes when THEY don’t expect it.

You are in relationship with those in your small group. You know a little bit about their families and who is in them. You know if they tend to run late because they are compromising with their children over what clothes to wear to church. You know if one of the children you lead has a pet that just died. You know their ages and stations in life.

But, honestly? You don’t need to know anything about a person to show up randomly in his life. You can show a random act of kindness to a stranger in the drive-thru line at McDonald’s as easily as you can show kindness to your mother when she needs yard work done at her house. The random part comes as a result of who YOU are, not who the recipient is.

Who you are is built upon the foundation God has poured in your life. When you invite Him in and allow Him to love you, your life will be changed. When you mess up and feel ashamed, and then the realization hits that He doesn’t withhold His love no matter how badly you messed up, it unearths something unbelievable in your heart: grace. And when you experience that undeserved grace, it starts seeping out into the rest of your life. You offer it to others, whether they deserve it or not. You start showing up in random ways, because that’s how God shows up in your life. It’s an extension of who He is, not who you are. Because you’ve been loved so extravagantly by Him, you can love others the exact same way.

My favorite scripture is the Message translation of Philippians 4:13 which says, “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

He makes you who you are. Open your eyes to see the random ways He loves you, and then open your hands to love on someone else.

Be Present

This post was originally written for a blog my church publishes for our volunteers. The blog helps the volunteers as they learn how to be leaders in different areas of their lives, especially with the kids they serve in our ministry.

I have a handwritten Post-It note on my desk at home that says, “What your kids really want is YOU.” I put it there six years ago, when Katie was about three years old. I was getting caught up in the culture of “buy more and go bigger.” I mistakenly thought I should show my love to my child by giving her everything she wanted. What I quickly realized is giving her everything she wanted left me broke! And it just left her wanting more. There would never be enough STUFF to fill the desires of her heart.

I was reading a parenting book and came across that quote, “What your kids really want is YOU.” It hit me upside the head and reminded me Katie wanted to be with me, not a fuzzy-headed dolly. She wanted me to read books to her, not plop her in front of the television. She wanted a walk around our neighborhood, not isolated playtime in the basement. She needed a sit-down-home-cooked-meal kind of love, not a drive-through-speed-by-never-slow-down parent. She needed me to be present in her life.

This past Sunday in Team Time, we talked about being present in the teams we serve on at The Crossing. It means showing up: predictably, mentally, and randomly. What does being present look like? You give your word and you stand by it. You don’t cancel unless there’s an emergency. You commit and sometimes you make a sacrifice to see that commitment through. When you show up, you engage in conversation. You look people in the eyes when they are talking. You smile and you listen. In short: you treat others the way you want to be treated!

Love consistently, interact often, and give lavishly, because the bottom line is this: what your kids really want is YOU. The same thing applies to your significant other, your boss, your siblings, your parents, your best friend, and God too. They all want your presence, not a fuzzy-headed dolly to play with. Not a drive-through meal. Be present and show your heart to others. Engage and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bedtime Thoughts

Each night as I get ready for bed, I have an avalanche of thoughts that tumble through my head. Last night, I started writing them down and chuckling at how random my brain can be. I’m not the only one, right?

  • Is agreeance a word?
  • Why does my eye twitch so much now?
  • Just know you’re not alone, ‘cause I’m gonna make this place your home. Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ooo-ooo… (Phillip Phillips song on repeat in my head.)
  • Betty White was a beard for Liberace. How did “beard” ever come to be used?
  • Ow. That ripped cuticle hurts.
  • How does Dan fall asleep faster than I can even brush my teeth?
  • …‘cause I’m gonna make this place your home. Oo-oo-oo…
  • The Biggest Loser
  • Walking Dead
  • Duck Dynasty
  • I should paint my nails.
  • Where is my lotion?
  • Itchy back. Why does the same spot itch every.single.night?
  • I should write this stuff down.
  • I haven’t blogged in so long!
  • Does anyone read it anyway?
  • No one reads it.
  • Mmmmm… electric blankets.
  • My sister will be here soon!
  • I should go to sleep. Or at least read.
  • Stop. Making. A. List.
  • NOW.

Friday, March 1, 2013

February 2013 Review

February was the month of snow for us this season. Nothing beats the beauty of snow falling in the night while you watch from your window as the streetlights reflect off the snow.IMGP4405

Fun times for the kids in the snow.IMGP4418

Jackson has beautiful eyelashes. (I promise I didn’t put a flake on his lashes for this photo. It was just there!)IMGP4424

Ants finally arrived for the ant farm Jackson got for Christmas. I have been fascinated watching them work and dig tunnels. I’m amazed at God’s creation every single day._MDS4104

I also captured lots of God’s creation from my living room window. This was the homemade card I made for Dan’s Valentine this year. I included a line from the song “All I Ask of You” that was sung at our wedding.IMGP4513 darker colors Phantom quote 5x7

My friends asked me to do a photo shoot for their sweet boy, Levi. He  makes me melt!_MDS4234-2

And I can’t pick just one photo, so here’s another favorite._MDS4201-2

One Sunday as I was leaving work, I stopped to talk to my boss for a moment. Jackson went over to a white board and starting writing math problems AND working them out on his own. I was so proud of his new abilities!IMG_2266

And my prodigy of a daughter has gotten SO good at playing the recorder that she has turned it into a nose flute of sorts. I’ll repeat my above sentiments: I was so proud of her abilities! (Tee hee. She makes me laugh.)IMG_2267

One of my goals for this year is to read more books. Because of Jackson’s diagnosis, February was spent reading non-fiction – including this book that was an eye-opener for me.IMG_2278

Speaking of reading, Jackson is becoming more and more proficient in his ability to read. I am amazed at how he picks up on words, and how I can literally see his brain processing as he sounds out new words.IMG_2285

More snow came, and the kids missed two days of school in a row. It was the week of President’s Day, so there were only 2 days of school that week. Cabin fever led us to a fun project: turning the hall closet into a permanent fort. We call it the Kindness Closet because I told the kids they need to be kind to each other inside it. We hung Christmas lights inside so they can read with the door closed. I confess I’ve done a bit of reading in there myself._MDS4489

One evening, Dan got an impulse to dig out his box of Boy Scout memorabilia and show it to the kids. The three of them took immense joy in going through all the tools, patches, badges, and awards Dan earned. Jackson was most excited to find a whistle in the box. I gave him permission to blow it ONE TIME.IMG_2299

And another day of snow means another chance to get some snowflake photos. I could do this for hours at a time, if it weren’t so darn cold! You can see the reflection of my camera in this photo, which is straight out of the camera with no edits. I kind of like it this way._MDS4658

We have a weekly tradition of going out to dinner with friends after church on Saturday nights, and Jackson is especially thrilled when our 16-year-old friend brings her boyfriend. Jackson adores this guy. Can you tell? We all kind of adore him, but I refuse to say it out loud in front of the poor kid, because he’s already been adored-upon by his girlfriend’s mother. I’m trying not to add extra sugar to the syrup.IMG_2302

Lastly, February was the start of a class at church that turned my memories upside down. This class is called Storyline, and it gave me perspective on my life and how God has orchestrated so many details to work for His purpose. I was undone and felt such deep love from my Father. Most of my homework sessions were spent with this binder, lots of notebook paper for writing notes, and a box of tissues. I did a lot of writing throughout class, and I’m hoping to share some here at another time. I am eternally grateful to the leaders of my church for writing this class curriculum so I could hear God speaking to me through it.IMG_2306


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