Wednesday, November 27, 2013


"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection, aid, and favors …
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day
of November next, to be devoted by the people of the United States to the
service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of
all the good that was, and is, or that will be; and that we may all then
unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind
care and protection of the people of this country, and for all the great and
various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”

-George Washington 1789

He has conferred such favor upon me this year.

He has every year. Even the years that were dark and blurry and confusing.
There were moments, even stretches of months like that this year. Days when I found myself only putting one foot in front of another, and not knowing which direction He was leading me. Days when I doubted myself and His calling.
But never more than a few moments of doubting His grace, His love, His compassion, and His desire to bestow only good on His children. Even when that Good looked so unbelievably foreign and wrong to these world blinded eyes.

There will be more days like this in the coming years.
But what I am most thankful for this year is that with each thanksgiving that passes (faster and faster as the years go by), the fear lessens. As each year, God proves Himself again and again, though He never needed to.
Each year of marriage I grow to know my husband more. I learn new things about him, I see how he struggles and eventually triumphs under pressure, I see how his heart stays broken through it all. I trust him more, I know his heart more fully. 6.5 years of marriage and so many more to look forward to, God willing.
Just as I know my husband more each year, I see new sides, and new depths of the Father more each year as well. I see how He delivers when I least expect it. I see how He softens when I most expect Him to turn away. I see how my weaknesses and failures, rather than causing me to be loved less, help me to accept more of His love and in turn love Him more.

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Luke 7:47

I am so thankful this year for the big crazy family from whence I came, and that my children, though they will never have quite so many brothers and sisters, still get to experience the continuing joys and benefits of being part of such a large family.
I am thankful because when you have so many brothers and sisters, it is the perfect environment to learn from a very young age how different people who may even seem very alike are. And that our differences are something to be celebrated, admired, and respected, and not something threatening.
I'm so thankful for the open and honest and safe environment in which I grew up in. Thankful that I learned there how useless it is to pretend perfection.

I'm so thankful for the friendship of all my big sisters and brothers, and of course the amazing experience of having a twin sister.
For their presence in my darkest and loneliest of soul searching days, when I always knew that if I sought them out I'd find them, and that they'd remind me who I was when I couldn't remember.
Thankful for parents who loved each other then, and love each other now, and were always there when I needed them.Thankful for deep childhood loss and young adulthood crisis, because every one of those experiences, though I couldn't see it then, were a part of the rocky road that leads to peace and faith.

For songs that bring me back in an instant to those moments. For allowing myself to go back, just for a moment, and feel that pain again. Only that I can, in that same instant, feel the lifting. The hope rising. The light that I couldn't see, but was always there.
A reminder for the future, and the many more uncertain and painful times that will come, but only to pass.

I am thankful this thanksgiving for JT's job. For a nice steady paycheck. For the insurance that allows me to continue working part time. For his opportunity there to do the things he loves to do, despite the constant headaches that all jobs bring. Thankful for his co-workers, who so often make the extra effort to bless our family- with sea world tickets, tickets to the fair, or already potted seedlings to start a garden.

I am thankful that firefighting hasn't worked out. Because I'm not sure that was ever his dream anyway. Because I'm not sure we're the type of family that's meant to be apart for 48 hours at a time. And because I know that, because it hasn't worked out, God has a much greater plan elsewhere.

I'm thankful for the mornings when JT comes home smelling like chlorine from swim practice, and the nights when he comes home smelling like the ocean. Because there's something about both of those smells that brings me back to our dating days, when I was just beginning to see the things that God had been planning for me that I knew I didn't deserve, and didn't know if I would ever receive. But there he was. Smelling like chlorine, and the ocean, and all of my dreams coming true.
I'm glad that, for now, he still smells like that.

I'm thankful for my jobs. For the one I do 24 hours a week, and the one I only do occasionally. For the fact that they can help me feed my children good and healthy food, and help make a life for them, and yet still be so intensely satisfying, and compatible with the things that God has called me to.
He's orchestrated this so finely that sometimes I almost walk by, but I have to stop and thank Him for it today.
For co-workers and a boss who ask me about my kids, and my husband, and get excited about our baby on the way, because they know that these are the things that truly make me happy, and yet also treat me with incredible respect professionally.
For the opportunity to be a part of others' lives outside of my family which I often wish to so intensely wrap a bubble around. To love children who, while not my own, are just as dearly loved and treasured by God as they are, and do not have the many forms of support that mine do.

I 'm so thankful for grandparents that embrace their role in the lives of my children, and add a dimension to their lives that will forever be a part of who they grow up to be.
For the opportunity of the holidays to all be together for a time, to celebrate each other, and the many ways that God is working in all of our lives.

I'm thankful for how amazing the transition to elementary school has been for Aquaman, despite the fact that the past couple of weeks he has had to be picked up and set in the classroom when it was time to go.
I was beyond amazed when he told me at the zoo this weekend that "we can't go in that door, it says 'no entry'", and I'm thankful that when he has a spare moment he takes out his markers to write, because something has finally clicked in his brain.
And that the thing he writes 9 times out of 10, is "Jesus loves you."
Thankful that he told me: "Mom, they told us at school we're supposed to give thanks, and they listed all these people we're supposed to thank, but they never once said God. Isn't that silly? He's the one who gives us all of it."
I love that little boy.
I'm thankful that even though it drives me crazy, when I ask him how his day was at school, his answer is always 'BLEH'", all loud and rude and in my face, and then he runs away to play.
But that if I get down next to him and play pretend with monster trucks, all of the sudden, all these juicy little details that mothers love come pouring out of his heart and his mouth, and I get to devour them.
Boys are weird, really weird. And I'm thankful for that.
And thankful that no matter how many times I fail him in this life, God will be behind me to scoop him up, and love him, and God will never fail him.
I'm thankful for the way the Dude is growing up into this fierce testosterone driven, man on a mission, giver of choke-inducing hugs.
Thankful for the nights, especially late night work nights, when I breathe a sigh of relief that he has finally fallen asleep, and in the next instant look forward to hearing his voice again in the morning: "mom, can we go downstairs now?"
How he drinks his tea English style with only a little tea and mostly half n half and watches "Art and Music" on netflix with his nose in the air. Thankful for nights like last night, when a cold or allergy wakes him snuffling, and he clings to me. And since my hormones are all wacky, I can never go back to sleep, so I just lay there listening to him snoring, and while I feel the warmth of his arms around me, I also feel the noctural little creature that is apparently now only the size of a bell pepper but feels a lot bigger than that when it's wiggling, thumping me from the inside out. And how I smile really really big, because this is life.
This is crazy exhausting busy and satisfying life, and I get to live it.

I am thankful for all the big things, and all the big moments we've had lately, and the excitement of our upcoming ultrasound.
But mostly, I'm thankful for all those little moments that add up like a thousand pictures in a collage of color, because I think they're really the stepping stones of all that we will become.
For eating together at night, and how The Dude goes around and asks: "so, so, how was your day? Yeah, mine was pretty good."
For late night runs to the beach, and chasing a glow stick together in the sand, and Aquaman letting The Dude win once in a while, and The Dude mostly not caring if he wins anyway.
For hot chocolate and fires.
And dressing the boys up in last year's too small Tigger costumes when it's not Halloween, decorating the wagon like a sled, and walking as a family to the 7-11 for Slurpees while the wind howls around us.
I'm thankful this year for all these things, and for so much more.
Thankful that if tomorrow morning I woke up, and all of it was gone, I could say "I didn't deserve it anyway. Thank you for the time I had."

I'm thankful that it all pales in comparison to what is to come.

What a bountiful harvest we have this year.
And how fresh and real it feels in the light of the 2nd trimester and the cooling air of fall.

"Fields are full of combines, threshing ripened grain
Trucks are hauling bounty, to the bin and to the train.
Barley, wheat, canola, and all the crops of worth
Harvesting a miracle, bread and oil from dirt. "
- Louie Vetter
What a miracle it all is. That out of the dirt of our flesh and failures and nothingness, such worth is born.
Thank you God.

Friday, November 15, 2013

We Made It

17 weeks, and I have fully entered the glory days of the 2nd trimester.

I can make a shopping list without turning green. Even better, I can cook, and eat, and enjoy both.

And today I hit nesting mode and finally started making sense of some of our closets, which are bursting at the seams with all the things you need for a family of 5.

We've entered a sweet spot.

On top of that, it also happens to be the most glorious time of the year to be a Floridian.
Forget fall leaves. I love the pictures from far away. I wouldn't mind one jump in a freshly raked pile of them, or to see watch the first snowflakes of the season fall.

But I'm happier in the upper 70s, with the wind blowing and kicking up the surf. It's during this time of year, that I look out over the ocean and the strength and power and awesomeness of God really becomes clear to me.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. There, we will not fear though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake with its swelling pride."
Psalm 46: 2-3

In life there is so much pain. It accentuates that there is also so much beauty. All those things I feel more deeply now that I have left the dull numbness of the struggling through the first trimester.

On top of the perfect weather and the excitement of the coming holidays, we have been blessed these past few weeks with a lot of fun.
Two weekends ago we stayed with JT's parents at the Floridays Resort for 2 nights, and met his brother and family at the Magic Kingdom.

Aquaman really came out of his shell this time. Last time we went in March, his favorite ride was the carousel, but this time it was Thunder Mountain. He's getting brave.
The perfect age for Disney. And even The Dude was a pretty good sport.The most fun was seeing the cousins together. Cousin Au calls Aquaman and The Dude "my boys". Cousin Ad was a great sport with all those crazy guys.

At the resort, we splashed in the pool and watched a movie on the big screen.

The Dude helped JT with the luggage.

And we spent one day visiting the cousins at their pools. Sadly, it rained the whole time as a cold front was coming through, but that didn't seem to phase them much.

The Dude's favorite part of Magic Kingdom? Cindarella. This was his time to shine. He was in complete awe of her.

My favorite part? Dropping everything and just being for a little while.
The gagging was mostly over, and even the twirling of the teacups wasn't enough to put me over the edge.

Then last weekend, we spent Friday and Saturday at a marriage conference, also courtesy of JT's parents, which was amazing. The boys tolerated the nursery reasonably well and we spent a great day together.
Being that I am now in 2nd trimester which tends to me my emotional one, I cried a lot.

I thanked God a lot. For my husband who said, while listening, that it made him feel like he was wrong, too much like a girl.
He is so sensitive and sweet and loving and affectionate. I forget that most males are not made that way sometimes.

It also made me realize that it is something that Aquaman will be blessed with as well. He struggles often now, with his sensitive spirit. Often he cannot play with the boys at school because "they all want to play bad guy games, and I don't like those." But "when I play with the girls, everyone laughs at me."
He drew hearts on the inside of his toy box, and calls it a love box. He draws hearts on everything. He gives hugs freely.
He is no less masculine than the boys who play star wars and spiderman. He is no better and no worse. He is just himself. I have watched him recently struggle with it, and have admired the conclusions he has seemingly fluidly come to: he does not jump to the conclusion that he is somehow wrong or they are somehow wrong. He just silently and respectfully observes that they are different.

Though I hurt for the pains he will feel more deeply than others, I look forward to seeing the beauty it will bring to all of his relationships some day.

My favorite part though was the end, when the speaker talked about heaven. I forget so often. My heart gets weighed down with the details of the day to day dirt on the floor, and I forget to look up.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us all."

"the gasp" he called it. That magical moment on Christmas morning...x100.
What a thing to look forward to. What a way to bring perspective to this life.

Then on Sunday, we cashed in the free Sea World tickets, complete with free parking that a friend of JT's who worked there gave us recently.

The nets were a favorite. I pawned Aquaman off on JT thinking he'd want to do it all and I could stay low with The Dude. No such luck. I was a  huffing and puffing 15 week fat Mama on The Dude's heels.
I had a blast.
Here is where I know that the emotions of pregnancy have really taken over.

I teared up during the Shamu show.Wow.

But seriously, those whales are pretty amazing.

And to top off this amazing couple of weeks, I got my big ultrasound scheduled. I can't believe we're there already! 12/3/13 we will see this little baby of ours on the big screen. Hopefully it will cooperate, unlike *ahem* another little guy I know at 19 weeks.
What's funny is, this is the first time that I haven't been dying to know the gender.
I mean, trust me, I definetely want to know, but usually these weeks leading up to it go agonizingly slow.
This time, I have somewhat enjoyed the suspense.

With the other 2 I wanted boys. With this one, I really feel open. A girl would be exciting and different.

A boy would add another amazing hodge podge of perfectly synchronized personality to the wild mix. He'd give a friend to The Dude when Aquaman gets too cool for him.
And plus, sometimes I look at little 2 year old Dude, and wonder, wouldn't it be sad to never have another 2 year old boy.

I don't even say "I just want a healthy child."
I say this with fear and trembling, because I had a dream the other day about a baby on an ultrasound with 3 eyes, but I don't just want a healthy child either. I want whatever child God has determined to be the best fit for our family.
We will see a glimpse of this child in just a couple weeks.
Life has settled down a little, with my energy coming back, and the ability to drink the daily cup of coffee without gagging.
We have decided to cut back on my extra work because it just wasn't working out. We need days off together as a family, not one or the other of us always working. JT needs the energy to do well at his job, and to pursue other directions.
And honestly, the extra money doesn't make much difference when everyone is stressed out. You end up spending it in places you can barely track down because you have no time or mental energy.
I am relieved despite the constant wonder about how it is going to all fit together and work out. I am grateful to have a husband who is motivated and loves his career, and wants to further it, and I am happy to support it.
My jobs, though I love what I do, are only jobs to me.
My heart is here at home.