Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy Birthday, Gloria!

Today is our daughter's 2nd birthday. She entered into this world 7 weeks early due to complications with the pregnancy. It was scary at first, then exhausting with the trips back and forth to the hospital for the next 12 days. However, it was a sweet time for Eric, Gloria, and me.

I was able to concentrate on this little one for 12 days and get to know her. I'll never forget the day when I feel she really knew that I was her mommy. The day after I was released from the hospital, I arrived around 8:00 a.m. to spend the day with her. She was crying as the nurses had just put an IV into her. It had taken them TWO hours to find a vein and Gloria had spent that time being poked and was screaming. As soon as the nurse gave her to me, she clung to me and began to quiet down. I've been her "comforter" ever since.

Eric and I were able to spend some time together and go out on little dates each evening. Eric drove me back and forth to the hospital every day - even after it was ok for me to drive myself. He took such good care of me. As the rest of the children were staying at Grandma's, we were able to take late night trips to an ice cream place or go on evening dinner dates that were reminiscent of our courting years. A marriage will never stay the same during difficult times. It will either grow stronger or become weakened. I'm blessed to say, ours grew stronger and we grew closer.

I saw what heartaches other families went through as they didn't know if their children would even survive. I saw what a wreck some other families were and felt deeply saddened for the children whose parents barely visited them. The Lord really opened my eyes to how blessed I really am and I'm extremely grateful for it.

Those (almost) 2 weeks were such an example of how God can take a difficult time and just show His love, mercy, grace, and blessing. The memories of that time 2 years ago are precious to me.

I heard from a friend today who, with her husband, recently celebrated their first child's half-birthday. I thought it was sweet that they couldn't wait a whole year to reflect on that blessed day when their little girl entered their lives and they became parents. That's what birthday celebrations are all about. Remembering the day our children entered the world and the expression of our gratefulness for that blessing.

Gloria doesn't care about this birthday. She's 2 and clueless. But, we're blessed to have her. Therefore, we celebrate!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The knight, the damsel, the bouncy ball

Today, my knight in shining armor took time during his lunch break to help his damsel in distress. He fixed my vacuum cleaner. Changed the belt, cleaned all the parts, made it as good as new. I was thrilled and let him know it.

Unfortunately, I found out about 30 seconds into vacuuming our living room that this freshly maintenanced vacuum cleaner was able to suck up a bouncy ball hiding underneath the couch. Only, I didn't find out until this evening that it was my daughter's beloved bouncy ball. I just heard a terrible noise, saw smoke coming out of the cleaner, and smelled something burning. I looked and, sure enough, no belt. Broken. After only 30 seconds.

My knight and shining armor? Back at work. Me? Alone with a broken vacuum and 2 kids in the house.

One of said kids asks "Why is there all that smoke coming out of the vacuum?"

Boy, I was ready for an answer! "That's what happens when children leave their toys out and don't pick up like they're supposed to," I replied in that Proverbs 31-way ("...in her mouth is the law of kindness").

Well, maybe not quite so kindly. In fact, not kindly at all. Broke that law completely.

My 2 daughters got the "pick up after yourselves" lecture for the 102nd time. I'm sure it's going to stick this time.

Of course, a few minutes later after I cooled down (it took the vacuum cleaner a considerably longer period to cool), I apologized to my 2 daughters for how I responded. I let them know I wasn't upset with them as much as I was at the whole situation. I don't know if it helped much.

Why would such a little thing bug me so much? It's just a vacuum cleaner. It's just a dirty floor (that's needed vacuuming for a week and a half). I've been better lately at stopping to think what is really important. Sadly, I failed today. I voted that my house being cleaned was more important than my children's feelings; more important than making sure I have the right character. How can I convince them not to murmur & complain when I do exactly that when things don't go MY way?

Again, I take a lesson from previously mentioned knight. I told him about it when he came home. He smiles and says "life happens" and takes 5 of the children (including 2 daughters) to Wal-Mart to buy a new belt. He came home and fixed the vacuum, again helping his damsel.
Again, I was thankful - for the repair and for the example.

Tomorrow's another day. Something's bound to go wrong. I pray my response will be right.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The beginning of a lifestyle

Today was Zane's first day in church. This is always a momentous occasion. For one, our pastor always introduces a baby on their first Sunday in church. He lovingly cradles them and takes them for a walk around the church for all to see. He then prays over the child - for that child to do wondrous things for the kingdom of God. This is the beginning of a friendship between both of our pastors and our children. Our children have no fear of talking with our pastors because they know they are loved by these godly men. It is wonderful to have pastors who follow Christ's example and take time to talk to the little children.

The other reason for this being a memorable time is that it is the beginning of a lifestyle for our children. Without question, we go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays. There has to be a REALLY good reason not to go - if they say they are sick, there needs to be evidence and they stay in bed on Sundays or go to bed early on Wednesday nights. Church is a time to meet with GOD. Eric and I were raised in church with our parents having the same love for it and for God. I pray that Zane will grow to love and look forward to each service and hearing from the Lord.

It helps that he has pastors who love him.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I admire...

My darling Eric
...for truly being the most Christ-like person I know. He fulfills the command of "husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church." What you see is what you get with Eric. He is the same at church, at work, in the public as he is at home. He is gentle, fun-loving, and extremely forgiving. Ever since we became friends almost 20 years ago while I was still in high school, he has encouraged me in words and through his example to grow closer to the Lord and see Him as a loving Father. I would be completely lost without my husband and I thank God for him.

...for his persistence. The ferris wheel in the picture is an example of his persistence. I gave up a long time ago on his ability to build anything out of Legos, Kinex, or Lincoln Logs. Prematurely, obviously. He doesn't get it right away, but if he wants to do it, he keeps at it until he gets it. If he wants to learn about something, he will ask questions until he's practically an expert. The 'why?' stage, for Michael lasted about 5 years! I admire his ability to go to people he barely knows for information on something he's interested in. Most every missionary who has visited our church has been greeted by Michael. I, shamefully, cannot say the same about myself.

...for her almost constant positive outlook on life. If there was a real-life Pollyanna, she is it! This girl is kind ,giving ,sympathetic, and can find good in almost any situation. She truly is the sunshine of our home. She will have fun doing her chores and finds great joy in surprising people by doing something nice for them or just writing them a note. Her life, thus far, is mostly spent in finding ways to bless others. I can learn much from this child in how to be a good friend, mother, and wife.

...for her nurturing spirit. Anna adores children. Her calm, gentle, yet firm way with them makes her a favorite among little ones. I am not a natural with children, so I've always admired those who are. I wish I had the patience with my little ones that Anna has with them. Her dream is to become the mother of 12 children! My grandchildren will be blessed with the best mother a child could have. In the meantime, I will be glad to learn from her and be blessed with her help.

...for her quiet thoughtfulness. She is very much like her daddy as she tries to figure things out on her own. She really is a thinker. We were concerned about her for a while as it took her a few years to be able to speak so people could understand her. There was nothing wrong, she just didn't feel the great need to communicate with others. She now is able to enjoy the company of others, but she is still the child who will more readily hear that "still small voice." Many would agree that I am not quiet by nature. I can learn from Katrina's quiet contemplations.

...for his ability to talk to God about his day. Every night when Seth prays, before he thanks Jesus for each family member, he tells the Lord all about his day. He'll tell God that he played outside and what he did. Last week, we went to a Civil War re-enactment and he told God that the cannons went "boom, boom!" Why is it that when we grow up, we feel we can impress God with our prayers? "Let the little children come unto me...for of such are the kingdom of heaven." To be like my 3 year old would be a great improvement for me!

...for her teachable spirit. The age of two can often be a difficult age, but it's also a teachable age. Gloria does many things wrong out of ignorance. Yes, she does things wrong after being corrected and that is disobedience. However, in just the last couple of months, she has shown great improvements in certain areas and attitudes. She is learning. NOW is the time for her to learn. If we wait until she "really understands" it will be much more difficult. I know - I'm an old dog and I have a hard time with new tricks. Lord, give me a teachable spirit and thank You for the 2 year old example living under my roof!

...for his ability to rest and trust everyone around him. As all new babies, his only concerns involve self - totally and completely. However, just as completely, he trusts that those around him will care for him and his needs. I love to watch him sleep so soundly - no worries or cares. Though he is self-involved, he has few demands. How many more selfish demands do I have and make on those around me and on God? Once my basic needs are met, I still remain discontented. How much better would it be, if I just laid in the arms of my Saviour and rested gratefully, just as this precious baby boy does!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I am blessed!

This morning was one of those mornings when I felt like I am truly blessed. Yes, I know I am ALWAYS blessed, but my children blessed me this morning. With staying up late and getting up in the middle of the night with a newborn, I've been a bit tired, so I unintentionally slept in this morning. I was able to do so as there were no children running up and down the stairs, screaming, and slamming doors. Turns out, a couple of the older ones got the little ones dressed, they got themselves breakfast, cleaned up the dishes and table, ran the dishwasher, swept the floor, and did their regular chores!!! What a BLESSING!! It's times like these that I don't feel like I'm a complete failure as a mother!

The question is: Why can't EVERY day be like today? Because, just like me, my children are still in training and they are still sinners. If only I had the patience and longsuffering with them that God has for me. Eric and I were talking last night about how, as kids, we went to church two to three times a week and to Christian school and, though we couldn't even begin to quote or remember the details of most of the messages we heard in church, chapel, and Bible classes, we were trained in God's word. His principles, commands, and loving character were constantly brought to our remembrance. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." This is encouraging. Did we stray? At times, yes. A lot of kids do. But, we remembered what we were taught. It did not depart from us, and, in the long run, we did not depart from it. Maybe, some of the Bible training is beginning to stick with our little ones. There will be a lot of "bad" days, but I'll consider those days to more training opportunities - for them to live godly and for me to become like Christ in the area of patience and longsuffering.

I am blessed!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Zane's first smile

Today, our 3 1/2 week old son smiled for the first time. He is our seventh child, but that first smile never ceases to be the cause of great joy and amazement! It is so amusing to see how much work it takes for an infant to get those smile muscles working. How many times will this little guy smile throughout his life? The smiles will be beyond numbering, I'm sure. I pray each day of his life will provide him with multitudes of reasons to smile.

Do I smile enough at my family? Is it getting harder for me, or for you, to use those smile muscles? Proverbs 15:13 says that a merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance. Our children are a reflection of us. Are they smiling? If not, I need to check my heart and my face!