Tuesday, October 30

Better Lovin' in the Day to Day

(image borrowed from Google Images)
      So, after that wonderful conference I attended over the weekend I came home infused with inspiration and post ideas, a desire to be more focused and intentional in my writing, and a hope to write about things that matter to you and also about things more deeply spiritual and therefore "important" in general.

     As I've alluded to in the last couple of months, my writing time is short and I won't lie and say "sweet"...it's more like short and frenetic when I squeeze it in. A few blocks of 15 or 20 minutes here and there, and a couple of consistent longer stretches when I'm lucky (or planned and organized enough to get out of the house!) With my oldest in kindergarten this year and the little one in preschool I have also managed 1-2 mornings a week for a couple of hours.

     So...after my lovely, inspirational weekend I was all pumped to pack up my computer, notes from the weekend and my journal, plant myself at Starbucks this morning and start typing up a storm of encouraging words.

     Then we get an automated message at 9:15 p.m. last night.

     "This is a message from the Lancaster School District calling to inform you that due to high winds and rains there will be no school tomorrow."

     No school?! No school! Wait, I have plans and they include kids going to school!!

     Blasted high winds...Couldn't you have come on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday when I was planning to be at home ANYWAY?

     I don't mean to make light of the "storm" because in many parts of the Eastern seaboard it was incredibly destructive and my heart goes out to those families...

     HOWEVER...it was nothing more than a slight rain "storm" (quotation marks intended) here in Buffalo. The sun was actually beaming through my window at one point this morning! In other words, the kids could have TOTALLY gone to school and no one would have been in danger...it was a total freebie of a day for them!

     So, after my grumble, mumbles for a short period of time last night and this morning I realized three things:

1) Parenting requires diligent practice in the letting go of our own personal agendas and expectations at a very high rate of frequency. I know this. I even practice this regularly. But...sometimes random weather related school closings throw you a bit of a curve ball and you have to recalibrate the compass.

2) While I hope to someday write deeply honest and moving blog posts that encourage and inspire you...life seems to be necessitating that I keep plugging along with my random day to day mommy musings for now.

3) If you can't ship them (the kids!) off to school for a couple of hours on a given day you might as well jump in and join them.

     I dug into my craft supplies, unwrapped a new Buck Denver DVD I received for free this past weekend (woohoo for cool free stuff!), cleaned up the kitchen and let the girls play around the house till their hearts were content, in their jammies (and mine!), until 4 p.m. this afternoon when I finally declared that it was unhealthy to wake up and then go to sleep in the same pajamas and that we needed some fresh air!

     Here were some of my favorite (and most amusing moments!) from the day (please note, I've switched to using first initials for the girls...it makes me feel better!):

* A told E they were playing "school". They dragged a kitchen chair into the playroom and then a whole bunch of blankets and pillows. Next thing I know E was lying, covered up, on the playroom floor with A announcing that E was partaking in her 2-hour "rest" time at school!

After "rest" time A taught E how to do "show and tell"...here is a picture of them showing and telling each other about their plastic pumpkin scoopers.

show and tell!

*There was a relatively competitive and hilarious rock, paper, scissors competition at lunch time. I had never seen them play this before, nor did I know that they knew how so I was quite amused.

*At one point I walked into E's bedroom in time to see several of their larger stuffed teddy bears dressed in E's good school clothes and I happened to catch them just before they were about to apply lip gloss to their bear's faces!!!

(Along these lines I found one bear yesterday with a green heart drawn in marker on its plush soft face...After yelling about the fact that I did not find it amusing that they were defacing their stuffed animals it was reported to me by A that she thought the bear needed a tattoo!)

*We did finally get the craft supplies out and created fun fall collages with Halloween stickers, foam sticky leaves and stencils. E almost had a meltdown because she felt that her butterfly looked like it was crying and it wasn't supposed to be crying (girls!), but I managed to swiftly swoop in and rectify the situation with a new piece of paper and a happy butterfly!

pre-butterfly meltdown (that was the next project!)
It was a good day. I picked up the house, the girls played really well with each other and I think E was excited to have the company of her big sister on a weekday again.

     I also learned (again!) that the "spiritual" at this season of life can be extracted from being present to my girls' laughter, to engaging in their games, by offering them opportunities to be creative and by responding to them in patience and with enormous amounts of love...in our pajamas, without leaving the house.

    What had I planned on writing today? What important inspirational stuff had I had concocted in my head?

     Well, I had planned on confessing to you that I want to be a better mom and wife; more loving, more patient, more graceful. A mom drawing closer to God more intimately on a daily basis and allowing her reactions to those in her life to flow intimately from that first and most important intimacy; my daily relationship with God. I promise I'll tell you more about why I'm desiring all of that (aside from what might seem obvious) in my next post.

    I had all sorts of plans to start getting up earlier and embracing the wee morning hours...and then my first moments to talk to my husband were at 9:45 p.m. last night and school was cancelled today and the list could go on and on.

     I just started reading a book that has already changed my heart from the very first chapter...It is called "The Fruitful Wife" (about the fruits of the spirit) by Haley DiMarco (I mentioned it on FB last week) and it is profound!

     In my next post I'll also tell you more about the story of how I came across the book and why I was compelled to pick it up, but for now I'll just leave you with a quote...The topic of the first chapter is "love."

     "When I started to see what true love is, when I took a look at the Author of love, I started to get a more accurate, wholesome, and beneficial understanding of this seemingly unfathomable concept. According to God's Word, much to my surprise, love is less about how I feel, but more about what I do. It isn't about getting, but giving. It isn't about reward, but sacrifice. And it isn't about excitement, but endurance...love, if purely lived, strips us of all our self-interest, self-promotion and self-protction." 


    The more that I think about it, the more I realize that God had other plans for me today...He was less interested in my writing about love and more interested in my practicing it...

    Here's to hoping I received a passing grade...

    Hoping to get my next post out to ya'll by Thursday or Friday...




Sunday, October 28

Family and Writing and How it All Intertwines...My Lessons from Allume

The centerpieces have been dismantled, tablecloths pulled away, booths taken down and attendees suitcases are being repacked with gifts and new books and knick knacks, making them hard to zipper and rearrange.  It's kind of like the morning after Christmas, or Thanksgiving...hours of preparation go into the details of the event ahead of time and then before you know it the whole thing is...over.

Four hundred women are on their way home this morning. Back to their husbands and children, to their homes and the tasks that lay before them. It was a wonderful weekend, it's nice to get away and be refilled spiritually and as a writer.  It's even nicer to come...home.

In one session I attended yesterday given by a sweet soul named Kat (and titled "Blogging as a Ministry, How to Change the World During Naptime) I was reminded to "Always be a better mother than you are a writer."

Always be a better mother than you are a writer.

That's what I love about these conferences, where women talk about writing and blogging and the impact it can have on the world (and if you heard some of the stories of the ways these women have used social media to impact the world you would be awed), but they are also moms and wives and church members and, most importantly daughters of God. And, at the end of the day the framework we function from as Christian women helps to form our lives and reminds us about the things that really matter...first things first.

So here I am about to head home and I'm full of inspiration and anticipation.

I'm inspired to continue to write and blog and share my honest heart with all of you and hope that in the process you'll share yours with me.

I'm anticipating the excited shrieks of "Mommy" as my girls run to me when I walk in the door this afternoon. I will hug them. I have gifts for them. I will hug my husband.

We hope to carve pumpkins tonight and bake cookies. I am already thinking about parent teacher conferences this week and meal planning.

I am hoping to begin to carve out more morning time for writing and planning my day...hoping. But also, in some strange way, at greater peace with the idea that in this season of life that is not always possible and that that's o.k too.

An art teacher at a school I once worked at told me something I will never forget. She was a mom to two older children when we spoke, but remembered back to her days at home with her little ones. Days that were filled with joy, but also a restlessness on her part at times...a creative restlessness.

She looked at my intently and said, "My children were the best work I ever created."

I want to be able to look at a young momma 20 years from now and speak those words to her heart as well.

THANK YOU to the team of women (and men!) responsible for all of the planning and details and offering a sweet space for all of us women to come and be inspired. And to Jessica Heights and Sarah Mae who, somehow, in the busyness of their own lives, managed to create space for our lives.

I'll leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the weekend:

Impact for God does not occur when we are pursuing impact, but when we are pursuing God.  

Great, impactful writing flows from a greatly impacted heart. 

God calls us to muddied living...A clean heart, but dirty hands. 

We need to rest in the middle of the undone. We tend to use rest as a reward, but rest is a choice. 

When you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to the you when you started.
Darren Rowse, Author and creator of Pro Blogger (who is from Australia and has a super cool accent!)

[When writing] You have to bury your fear in faith, otherwise you bury your talents in fear.

A call from God is about relationship and proximity. He desires closeness. God din't give Abraham a map, he gave him a relationship. 

Wednesday, October 24

You're Going Where? For What? With Whom?!

     This week I will have the fortunate opportunity to attend Allume, a conference for Christian women who are bloggers and writers. Doesn't that sound like fun?!!

     I'm quite excited, although I know for some of you having a tooth extracted probably sounds like more fun...women, writing, what?!!

      This will be the second time I've attended this particular conference, the first time as a full-fledged attendee (which means I benefit from the fantastic goodie bags they give away!). Last year was one of those funny God stories about opening doors in unexpected ways...I'll tell you the story if you ever want to hear it, but will spare you the details for now.

     So, while I LOVE writing conferences and know intimately what they're all about, many of my friends and family members still give me the funny eye and a look that says, "You're doing what? Again? With whom?" 

    To answer some of those questions I've included the Allume description and mission below...

Our goal at Allume is to minister to the woman, the blogger, the story teller. We want to love well, encourage, and spur women on to shine the Light that lives within them. We want to serve you in ways that cultivate the Light in you, help you expand your influence, use your influence well (in your home, your community, or around the world) and encourage you with stories of those who are living out the Light.

The Allume Mission:
The Allume conference exists to offer a gathering place for kindred spirits to connect, learn, grow, and be refreshed so they can persevere in being a people who bring hope to the world through the social media medium. We want to reflect His Light in all our spheres of influence. Our goal is to go beyond the surface into intentional blogging and real life living, all to the glory of God. Allume is a one-of-a-kind conference that seeks to engage women by teaching blogging techniques and social media skill while also urging and encouraging women to live fully integrated lives with their faith and family.

     So, hopefully I'll return inspired and encouraged. This season of young motherhood is a season wrought with very particular challenges and struggles. The days are long and you are rarely alone. The tasks are numerous and little hands can only do so much to help. You try to set realistic expectations, but viral infections and cranky 3 year olds and third pregnancy exhaustion and nausea kick in. Suddenly nothing seems realistic or reasonable...

    And in the middle of it all I (perhaps too stubbornly sometimes) continue to try to cultivate time to write and blog. To take on the occasional freelance article or submit something to an online journal. I try to encourage other moms that it is possible to be a stay at home mom and still be passionate about a hobby or an interest or something slightly professional-ish. 

      Some days I wonder. Truly. If it's worth it during this season. If it is even ok?! This journey of trying to fit in something that can feel as luxurious or superfluous as writing. It is a journey wrought with frustration, guilt, confusion and doubt on many days. 

     But, I must confess...I cannot stop...It's an inherent part of who I am. I swear I was born journaling and with a book in my hand! It's as important  and as integral to my life as eating (and for those of you who know me, you know how important that is). I don't watch much t.v. at night, I read or blog. I don't take fancy trips to European cities (that's partially sarcastic, but sounds like fun nevertheless!) I go to Grand Rapids, MI and Hershey, PA to hang out with Christian women writers.

     I suppose there are worse things, right?!

     I love processing my life experiences through words. I love when those stories and words find a connection with the heart of  another women who is feeling the same way. I love the camaraderie and the conversation and the spurring each other on to keep going.

     So if the journey is wrought with guilt and doubt, it is also propelled forward by faith and hope. Hope that I am doing the right thing, saying the right thing, spending the right amount of time and ordering my priorities in the right way. Faith that God's divine wisdom will guide my tasks and priorities, inspire my words and use me in ways that help bring light to other's lives.

     So here I am, getting ready to shuffle off to PA tomorrow morning to hear from folks like Ann Voskamp, Sally Clarkson, Mary De Muth, and many others.

     Not to mention actually getting to meet in person many of the  wonderful, fun and inspiring women I've "met" virtually through the Allume blog network over the last year.

      So if you think about it, would you say a short prayer for me this weekend? For safe travel? For God's wisdom, direction and inspiration? And for my husband and my children who will be at home without me?

    I'll let you know next week how it all goes...and what state I find the hubby and children in by the time I get home!

    (Just kidding about that last part...kind of...despite allowing the girls to where mismatched clothing and socks that they seem to dig out from the pit of their dressers when I'm not around, my husband is one of the best and most capable dads I know!)

Monday, October 22

The Life of Lily Lapp-- A Sweet YA Amish Story (Review)

     When I was young (like 7-11 young) one of the television shows that I recall my parents watching more consistently than any other was Little House on the Prairie. We watched many of the episodes on t.v. and then one year my grandmother (my dad's mom) went through the trouble of recording (via VHS) every episode that was on television that year, labeled all of the tapes with episode titles and presented my father with the box for Christmas. A very sweet, homemade, "Little House" type gift.

     As a child I have fond memories of watching the show with my parents, read several of the books and even owned a Little House on the Prairie journal (my very first come to think about it!). As an adult and now a parent myself I have a greater appreciation for why my parents loved that show so much-- the simplicity, the love, the strong morals of the Christian family, the sense and semblance of family and teamwork, and the hard working spirit and commitment to their values.

     Many of these very traits and values seem to have disappeared from current television listings (if they haven't disappeared they are VERY hard to find!) and popular young adult literature.

     So it was with pleasure that I just finished the book Life with Lily, the first book in a new series of young adult books being published by Revell (a division of Baker Publishing) by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. It is a book that reminded me, in many ways, of the Laura Ingalls stories. 

     This particular book takes place on a small Amish farm in upstate New York where five year old Lily Lapp has a lot to do (or help her parents with) and a wonderful community of family and friends. But change comes quickly, a new baby brother, a new teacher at school, and new ways of looking at the world. Lily's days are full of helping with chores around the house, imaginatively making up games with her friends and siblings and taking care of her rag doll. 

     With chapter titles such as "A New Barn for Papa", "School Starts and Stops", "Lily's New Teacher", "Buggy in the Ditch", "Pumpkins" and "Christmas", the reader is taken through the day to day Amish life, as well as the seasonal changes and ways of celebrating, over the course of  18 months or so in young Lily's life. 

     Kinsinger and Fisher are wonderful story tellers and provide well crafted details to help their readers "see" the story as they read along. While I found the story slow in the beginning (most likely because it differs from my typical reading preferences), I eventually found myself wanting to know what happened next in the curious little girl's life and looked forward to the next chapter. 

     Also, as a mom with two small girls (5 and 3) I could easily see reading this book chapter by chapter to my own children and knowing they would enjoy the stories of friendship, birthday parties and horse drawn buggy rides. My 3 year old might be a little young (she doesn't sit still very well), but my 5 year old would definitely enjoy the stories It's a book that works as great bedtime material!  It's also a great book for independent reading in the 8-12 age range.

     Overall, I think Life with Lily, Book One is a wonderful alternative to much of the post modern, edgy,  young adult literature in the secular marketplace. It is clean, sweet, engaging  and easy to read. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to teach our children about the Amish culture of and offers a number of segways into conversations about the differences between their lives and our own. 

     For more information about the book,  its authors and even details about Amish life you can visit the (very cute!) website www.AdventuresofLilyLapp.com. 

     You can also order the book through Revell's website or, of course, Amazon

Friday, October 19

Burning Bushes

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
Albert Camus

Every fall I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

As August turns to September and the September days quickly click by I find myself feeling momentarily sad that summer is ending, that the cold will arrive sooner than I'd like it to, and that the days are getting shorter, shorter, shorter...until it begins to feel strange to be eating dinner at 5:30 p.m. because suddenly it is dark outside...like I'm having an odd dream where we're all eating tuna casserole in the middle of the night.

But then...then...I see a corner of a tree in my neighborhood transforming its hue from green to yellow or burnt orange or a vibrant red.

Oh yes, the leaves. I love the leaves in October. 

And as much as I am not looking forward to winter and the dreary gray skies that seem to hover over our Lake Erie town for months on end, pushing their heaviness on my moods more than I'd like, I do love the incredible and natural living art that surrounds me for six weeks before the dark nights move in...It's like the grand finale on the 4th of July...And maybe a a bit of a consolation prize for the long cold months ahead.

As Scott and I drove the 375 miles from Buffalo through Canada to Grand Rapids, MI, and back again this past weekend I felt so fortunate to be driving, through a stretch of gorgeously displayed creation...at one point, I told Scott, "I feel like we're driving through a painting!"

I know, I'm a cheeseball, and a sucker for vividly created artwork, particularly of landscapes, and colors and trees and long drives with my husband sitting next to me.

He just smiled, "That's sweet babe!" He knows I'm a sucker for all such things and smiles because he thinks it's cute.

And then, the other day as I was driving, I saw this bush...this crazy red bush...I almost pulled right over to the side of the road, something  I've actually done quite a lot of over the last couple of weeks (people probably think I'm having car trouble or that I'm lost lost or yelling at my kids), but we were late so I opted to keep going.

Fortunately I saw two more car stopping displays that I did manage to pull over and snap shots of with my cell phone...Here is the one from Tuesday...

And another from yesterday...

And all I could think was, "Wow! It's like the burning bush."

You know, the story in Exodus where God sends Moses a really clear sign that He needs to speak to him. A sign like a flaming red bush (in which the leaves never become consumed) just to make sure he grabs Moses' attention (we humans can be very distractible sometimes!).

And then I was hit with what seemed like such an obvious notion...Every Fall as the leaves change, and become hard to ignore because their beauty is so overwhelming, I realize even more acutely than usual that God still speaks to us today... He wants our attention. He wants our praise. He wants us to know that He cares. His mastery is evident in the changes of seasons and His artistry is hard to ignore in the magnificent grand finale of Fall.

I may not stop to smell the flowers as often as I should, but I do stop to look at the trees!

So now, when I pull over on the side of the road to take in the beauty of a tree, I try to say a quick and silent prayer. Thank you for the trees and for the seasons...AND please give me the joy and energy I need to get through the cold winter (haha...I actually don't add that last part, but maybe I should!).

So, if you are sad that summer has passed and feel as if you didn't take enough time to stop and smell the roses, stop now and watch the trees and remember God is still trying to get our attention all of these thousands of years later.


Two more roadside shots-- the first is of our street several weeks ago ( I liked to refer to it as the golden tunnel) and the second is of a random tree appreciation moment on our way home from picking up our crop share earlier this week:

Wednesday, October 17

Finding Time to Write...Suggestions Please!

It's 9:52 p.m. and this is the first real free moment I've had all day.

I reach this point in the day and my head spins in 17 directions...Do I finish the book I'm supposed to write a blog review on? Do I read the book I'm reading for an impromptu reading group...Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst (an incredible book by the way!)? Do I work on a personal essay I've been thinking about? Write a thoughtful blog post about the bazillion things I have to be thankful for? Download pictures from my phone and organize them on my computer? Clean my completely disorganized office that I avoid spending time in because it's so disorganized?

Or...write a random blog post about how I don't know how to focus and make decisions any longer, especially at 10 p.m at night.

Obviously I opted for the later.

When my girls stopped napping I lost any semblance of daily personal blogging and writing time...it was a luxury I suppose. Now I'm forced to find time in the "cracks" or "margins" as I've heard fellow friends and mothers describe their "free" moments.

Sadly, I'm not very good at that...utilizing cracks and thin margins to be efficient.

Sigh...What's a mom to two small children with one more on the way to do?!

A) Join a writer's group (or start one like we did!) and attend it even with your oldest child in tow and even if you have to spend 10 minutes with her in the bathroom of the coffee house talking about how she hasn't "gone" all day and "patiently" responding to her pleadings to just wait "right outside of the stall door so that she doesn't have to flush the toilet by herself because it might make a really loud noise."

Haha...nothing will get your literary juices flowing like good potty talk!

All joking aside, I'm thankful for the women in my writing group. Their persistence to keep writing and journaling and blogging in the midst of their busy lives inspires persistence in my life. Thank you!

(For the record, this is a true story from tonight!)

B) Get to know other writers who are "in the trenches" so to speak, and yet still somehow finding time to reach their goals. Writing mommas like Joceyln Green, the super nice gal I met at the Breathe Writers Conference in Michigan this past weekend. I SWEAR she wrote this post just for me today..."10 Tips for Time Starved Writers" . Thanks for the great post Jocelyn!

One of the things I've been thinking about most is that if I want to find consistent time to write and blog that I need to get up earlier...it seems to be the only way. Guess what? One momma from my writing group (you go Kelly Baesen) just told me tonight how she has been getting up at 5 a.m. to write and then Jocelyn also mentions it in her post about finding time to write.

No more pregnancy, 'I'm too tired' excuses...it may be time to set an alarm clock instead of depending on my terribly lazy circadian rhythm to wake me in the morning.

C) Sigh loudly and tell your husband that you cannot concentrate on your lame, unfocused blog post because he is talking loudly on the phone...only to find out that he is talking to your mother and thanking her for the sweet anniversary card and gift certificate that she gave you earlier that day.

So, I'm feeling like A and B may be moving me in the right direction...C...not so much...Sorry babe.

I'd love to hear your suggestions for fitting "it" in...whatever the "it" is in your lives...reading, writing, knitting, canning, painting, singing, volunteering...what is important to you and how do you find time to do it consistently?

Friday, October 12

Re-Defining "Romantic"

See that photo? That would be 9 years ago today!

It's hard to believe we have been married for 9 years and dated for 3 years prior to that adding up to a grand total 12  years together! I'm 34 this year...that's more than 1/3 of my life!

It's hard to believe that 9 years has passed...a SIGNIFICANT 9 years! We've changed jobs, purchased houses, become parents, moved from one state back to another and all of the crazy and fun life details that happen on the day to day in between. Wow.

And now we find ourselves in a new season of life...a season that is more about maintaining the house than making it pretty (you know, like you try to do when you're young, newly married and without children!) and meeting the needs of others much more often than our own. It's a beautiful season. A crazy season. A wonderful season, but I would have to say at times the most challenging season for our marriage so far.

Don't get me wrong, we have a WONDERFUL marriage. I hear stories of people I went to school with years and year ago and how badly their relationships have gone and I feel sad and grateful all at once. I feel sad for them and for our culture which feeds us all of the wrong information to actually have a healthy marriage...a culture that says focus on you, you, you...We are a selfish culture desperately in need of Jesus whose whole life was not about focusing on his needs, but laying it down for ours.

I digress...a bit...but I felt like I needed to say that!

This isn't a post about all that is wrong in our culture and our world, but about the little slice of life that is mine and Scotts. A slice of life that is good and founded on God. After 9 years of marriage I can honestly say we are so grateful for each other, but even more grateful for a relationship firmly and deeply rooted in our Christian faith. THAT makes all the difference.

I am proud of my husband. A man committed to his family and who loves his children. A man who tries to get up early to read his Bible before the craziness of the day begins. A man who loves to play guitar for our church because he loves being a small piece in helping others worship God and a man who feels the same way (even more strongly sometimes!) about movies and television and toys and all of the other crazy influences we find ourselves saying "no" to in our children's (and our own!) lives.

THAT, my friends, is romantic!

Want to hear another incredibly cute and romantic story?

No, not the story of how we met, though that is quite a sweet story (I was his waitress!)...the story of how we are spending our weekend on this 9th year anniversary because my husband loves me SO much.

We are in Grand Rapids, MI and I am heading off to a writing conference today and tomorrow...

I know what you're thinking. That is NOT very romantic Lisa.

But it is!

I was on the fence about coming because life has been hectic and I've been in my first trimester and tired, tired, TIRED. Did I mention I've been tired!

I was also on the fence because I knew that this 2-day conference started on October 12th, which is our anniversary.

We had talked about celebrating another weekend, or going out to dinner next week or trying to figure something else out. I actually have a second conference I'm registered to attend at the end of the month (I don't typically take off this often, I swear! It just so happened that these ended up being offered in the same month) so I thought the one was more than enough and Scott and I would just do something else this weekend.

But Scott knows how big my heart is to find a meaningful direction and purpose for my writing and wanted me to go...awww...it melts my heart just talking about it.

He said, "Lis, what if I came with you? Would you go then?"

At first I dismissed the idea because I knew it was not what he really wanted to do...but then I started to think about it...I LOVED the idea of 12+ hours in the car with JUST him. And staying in a hotel for 3 nights with JUST him!

I tried to curb my enthusiasm at first..."Well, babe...I mean...we can do something else. That's not very fun for you."

We looked into other options for a couple of days...nothing really came to fruition.

A couple of days later..."If you want to go...I mean, if you're willing...I would..."

He said "sure".

I know it's not because it's what he wanted to do for our 9 year anniversary, but because he knew it's what I was passionate about...

That might just be one of the sweetest and most romantic gifts he's given to me in a long while.))
So, we woke up this morning in a hotel overlooking the interstate...I know that doesn't sound very romantic either, but the sun is shining, the trees are red and yellow and their is a beautiful field on the other side of the interstate.

It's quiet...did I say QUIET!

The housekeeping ladies just came in to make our bad (I would have done this all over again just to have my breakfast and my bed made by someone other than me!! WooHoo!) and said, "You two look all peaceful hanging out over there on your computers...

We smiled..."We are! The kids are at home, today is our anniversary...life is good!"

So yay for the real love that shows up after years of being married...a love that doesn't require roses and fancy dinners or places that fall into the stereotypical "romantic" category...it's really just about being together...even in Grand Rapids, MI.

Thanks babe! I love you lots! I'm so glad we get to do this thing called life together....

Happy Anniversary!!!

Here's a link to the conference I'm attending this weekend. It's still a smallish conference put on by a WONDERFUL group of women that I met earlier this year. I'm excited to see them and to garner wisdom and encouragement from them...


Tuesday, October 9

The Cat's Out of the Bag!

Haha...get it? "the cat out of the bag"?!
(image borrowed from Google images)

        I was walking out of church on Sunday with my long mauve scarf just covering my bulging belly (my husband had asked me in church if I had worn the scarf to try to hide my belly...I hadn't, but it was a good idea and funny that he thought of it!) when I saw a good friend of mine from MOPS. She just had her third baby a couple of months ago and I told her several weeks ago (when I was ready to barf at the thought of all of the kale my crop share kept pushing my way) that I was expecting and that I needed to pawn my kale and cabbage off on her because I couldn't stomach it...(she's a HUGE veggie lover!).

So today when I saw her after church she said, "Is the cat out of the bag?"

Her 3 year old was standing at her side, "What cat out of the bag mommy?"

So cute.

"You can tell her," I said. "The cat's mostly out of the bag!"

"Miss Lisa has a baby in her belly," she said to her daughter who looked very confused as she looked back at me. "It's still very, very small so her belly isn't very big yet."

Oh, but it will be...don't worry about that. This poor 5'1 momma is notoriously big (isn't that the name of a rapper?!) at the end of her pregnancies!

So, the news is  pretty much fully out there after posting it on Facebook Sunday night.

So, yes...Scott and I are expecting #3.

Oh boy. Oh boy! Oh boy...

I'm 11 weeks 5 days...almost through the stereotypically not so fun 1st trimester. I always find it kind of funny that you spend 2 months being nauseous and bloated and tired and telling everyone you're fine  because you don't want anyone to know you're preggo yet!

So we're having #3 and of course the second question I get asked (by my mommy girlfriends at MOPS anyways)  is Was it planned?

Haha, I say. Kind of. 

The truth is we have gone back and forth and back and forth, for MONTHS on the topic....we'd have a good month with life balance and the kids and say "Yes, we should have a third."  Two weeks later we'd be inevitably swearing off the idea as pure craziness..."We can hardly keep up with these two and the mess in the house now...how on earth do we think we can take care of a 3rd child!"

I still stare at Scott some nights, bleary eyed and tired and totally unmotivated to pick up one more thing (even though I think guiltily that my friends with more energy and cleaner houses would TOTALLY pick up those toys staring them down) and say, "What were we thinking?!"

Oh boy. Oh boy! Oh boy... (for the record, I have no idea if it is a girl or boy, I just like the saying!).

But what I do know is that God is not done with our family just yet...no matter how tired I feel, or how crazy life feels, Scott and I both had this gut feeling about having a third.

I tried to push it away...many times. Telling myself that all parents go through this. They think they're going to have a family with X number of kids and then the reality comes to fruition and they realize that maybe that it is not the best plan after all...So I told myself that two was a good number. That we were even. That things were getting easier. That I was going to be able to start writing and blogging more.

But the idea kept pecking at my mommy soul...15 years from now you won't regret having a 3rd, but you might regret not...

That's the one that got me. I know enough to know that my perspective at this stage of life is narrow, and somewhat small...it's about preschool and ABC's and chicken fingers and small toy parts strewn about the house.  I felt that if we stopped at #2 we would be foregoing  whatever texture, detail, and blessing #3 will add to the fabric of our lives...

I like texture and details and didn't want to pass that up.

So here we go....into our kind of planned venture towards a larger family.

Looking forward to sharing the details...and craziness...with you all!

Here is our first photo of Baby #3. The doctor could not get the heartbeat via doppler at my 9 week appointment (which is typical, but not what you hope for!) so to assuage my fears she decided we could play "dumb" about my dates (a.k.a. pretend I had NO idea when I conceived) and ordered an ultrasound for me (:  Notice the little "Hi Ava" note below...Ella was actually with me, but Ava was in school so the technician thought she'd be cute and type a little note for Ava. 

Wednesday, October 3

When Life Hands You Lemons...


       My brother has always been somewhat of an optimist. He was always the funny guy at family events, the one imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger from movies and quoting other well known snippets of wisdom from movies and well worn life sayings.

"Life is like a box of box of chocolates," he'd remind with his best Forest Gump voice.

"When life hands you lemons, make lemon aid," he'd tell me when I was being a grump about one thing or another.

And so it is with great admiration that I write this post about him and his wife and the incredible way they have handled what has been one of life's hardest challenges for them...giving birth to their daughter in April and then realizing soon thereafter that she had a failed liver, so far gone that corrective surgery was not even an option and that she would need to have a liver transplant before she was even six months old.

Now that we are on the other side of her surgery and she is home recovering we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Do they still have challenges to face? Absolutely. Cordelia will always have a compromised immune system and these first six months are particularly crucial...They need to lay low, avoid big crowds, likely miss a lot of family holiday events (or take turns!) and as they like to joke (sort of!) keep Cordelia in her little "bubble" for the next six months.

That said, please keep her in your prayers, particularly during cold and flu season.

Aside from her immune system, Cordelia is doing EXTREMELY well and we are all incredibly grateful for this blessing.

Here are some of the things that really stand out to me from the last few months:

*The smile that Danielle (Cordelia's mom) ALWAYS had on her face...a smile you could hear through the phone when you talked to her!

*The selfless way they were always thinking about others. When our prayers were narrowly focused on Cordelia and her healing my brother  would remind me to pray for the other family who would be losing a child if Cordelia were to receive a donated liver (although it turns out that that was not the case for them because they used part of her mother's liver).

*Of the many, many phone calls when I'd call Cliff for an update there was maybe one teeny tiny moment in one phone call when I picked up on the smallest bit of discouragement. Cliff and Dani clung to their faith so strongly that discouragement was never evident to any of us on the outside...That is faith in the truest sense...when you are in the toughest moments of your life and your faith is evident to everyone around you.

So THANK YOU Cliff and Dani for reminding us how to stay faithful and peaceful in the middle of life's storms.

Last week my Dad said something that was SO very true..."Cordelia will never remember any of this but we (the family) will never forget it."

His statement is SO true. It has opened our eyes to so many things, namely the hardships faced by families with sick children. It has expanded our sense of empathy for others in similar situations and has given us a glimpse of the goodness that rests inside so many people. A goodness that I believe is just waiting for an opportunity to be expressed. SO many people have risen to the occasion to support and love Cliff and Dani, have offered enormous amounts of time and resources to help with the benefit that we held and the prayers of many have been tangibly felt by the entire family. 

It has also taught us, as a family (a family full of socially quiet people who shy away from big events!), that through teamwork big things are possible! 

So for all of this we are thankful. 

Here is a FANTASTIC picture of Cordelia from this week! She is such a happy baby, full of smiles and growing healthier by the day. 

"THANK YOU ALL," she says.

 Here's to the sweet taste of lemon-aid!