Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The New Look

I decided to change the look of this blog for a couple of reasons. First of all, I was getting starry-eyed every time I spent more than a few minutes looking at the other one, so I decided that light print on a dark page is not likely to contribute to the preservation of my eyesight. And secondly, I prefer to have a wider view of the page so I can see more text at one time. Hence the switch. Let me know what you think.

FYI--The photo at the top of the page is one that Chet took of a Midland, TX sunset a couple of years ago.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rally Diapers!

We were watching the game again tonight, and Gabe was enjoying himself right along with us. He found a diaper (it was clean) in a basket in the hallway and brought it out to the living room. He was standing in front of the couch waving it around just like the people in the crowd waving their rally towels. I asked him if he was waving his rally diaper, and he got so excited! He whirled it even harder and smiled from ear to ear! Too bad we didn't get video.

Here are a couple recent Ladan conversations:

We were getting ready to take the boys to Parents' Night Out, so we put a fleece top on Ladan. Chet told him he was a cool dude. He came to find me and said, "Look, Mommy, I'm a COOL DUDE!" There's obviously no lack of self-confidence here.

Last Night
Earlier in the evening, I explained to Ladan that Horseland would be on in the morning (it's his favorite Saturday show). Fast forward a few hours... I was getting Ladan settled into his bed for the night...

Me: See you in the morning.

Ladan: And then we'll wake up? And we can watch Horseland... and you'll tell me it's not on yet?

Ha! This DOES happen just about every Saturday. On Friday night I tell him that we'll be able to watch Horseland the next morning. Morning comes. Ladan shoots out of bed and shouts with his arms pumping in the air, "I'm ready to watch Horselaaaaaand!" And Horseland isn't on yet (it doesn't show until 11:30)... so he has to wait. The good news is that he didn't wake up until 11:15 today, so he only had to wait about 15 minutes. Not too bad!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Popcorn and Peanuts

We've been watching a lot of baseball in our house for the last couple of weeks. We're not afraid to say we're rooting for the Rockies, even though they're currently behind. The Red Sox are a good team, but it would be so great if the Rockies surprised the whole world and came out of nowhere to win the whole thing!

Last night we were watching game one of the World Series. Ladan pays attention to just about every detail. At some point, one of the players hocked a big one (you know, spit), and Ladan said, "Oh. He just spit out all his popcorn. That's funny." Of course, we laughed, which caused him to laugh at himself, which caused us to laugh even harder! We'll just let him think that the guy was spitting out popcorn. If we revealed the truth, he'd want to know exactly how the guy did it, and then he'd spend his afternoons practicing. I think I'll choose place kicking inside the house over that any day! He'll be spitting all over the ground soon enough!

I took the little peanut (Gabe) to the doctor last Thursday for his one year appointment... a few weeks late. He weighed 18 lbs. 8 oz., which is EXACTLY what Ladan weighed at that age. However, Gabe measured 29.75 inches long, whereas Ladan measured 31 inches. Overall, even though Gabe is only around the 5th percentile for his weight just like Ladan, it's spread out over fewer inches, so it's not as big a deal. He also has quite the appetite, which lowers the level of concern. He eats like a horse, but he seems to burn it off as soon as his feet or knees hit the floor. That kid is EVERYWHERE! I've had to put the pack-n-play out in the living room area during the day so that I can put him in it if I need to get something done without chasing him. He actually seems to enjoy it. Ladan has to have a turn every day too, which is kind of funny.

I actually think Gabe is going through some kind of a growth spurt, because he's been waking up sometimes in the night needing to eat, even after he eats massive amounts of food right before going to bed. For example, the other night, I fed him two containers of baby food vegetables and then a large bowl of oatmeal mixed with another jar of baby food fruit... and he ate it ALL. Today, I took him to another appointment, and with his clothes on, he weighed a pound more and measured 3/4 inch taller than last week. So it could have been his clothes or just the different scale... or he could have really gained a pound and grown .75 inches. Either way we look at it, he's a little peanut, and it's going to be a while before he gets to turn his carseat around and face the front.

Gabe is starting to develop a bit of separation anxiety. We still leave him, realizing that he'll get over it sooner if we just leave him and give him a chance to figure out that we're coming back.

Chet and I get to go out tomorrow night! We're taking advantage of the seminary Parents' Night Out, which should be fun.

Speaking of Chet, he's still doing really well this semester in his classes. His Hebrew class was getting a little bit behind schedule (because they only meet twice a week instead of 4x per week). In an effort to catch up a bit, his instructor has decided to eliminate the rest of their exams and use that time for instruction time. And, instead of having a quiz at the beginning of each class period, they will only have a quiz once a week. This will put more weight on each assignment (there's still an assignment due each time) and on their quizzes, but it will allow them to cover more material, which is a big relief for Chet. After all, if you're going to go on to the next level, it's a good idea to have covered all the concepts in the introductory course. He still has a whole ton of stuff to do by the end of the semester, but in just 5 weeks, he'll be finished with his hardest semester of school!

One of these days, I'll get a second to post a photo or two of Megan and Mike's wedding....

Monday, October 8, 2007

Gabe's 1st Birthday!

Well, we finally had a cake for Gabe! We celebrated with our small group tonight. They also surprised me with a cake for my birthday, which was super-fun! Here are some photos of my little peanut enjoying his special birthday treat...

"There's a Clock in Your Watch It"

That's what Ladan says whenever he sees my watch. Hilarious!

On Friday, I was sitting out on the front stoop reading a book while he practiced his place kicking in the grass. After a while, he came over, sat down, propped his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees, and asked, "So, what are we doing?"

Our most recent favorite thing he says is, "Could you please put my moke [milk] in the frig-a-mator?"

He does a great job singing his ABC's now! He usually only misses a few letters. It goes something like this, "A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-J-L- -N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-P-W-X-Y-V", and when he's really on it, he says the Z correctly on the end. He gets so excited about everything he's learning!

I'm not normally away from the boys for longer than a few hours, so I don't tend to realize how quickly they really are learning new things. So this weekend, when I was away for three days, it became abundantly clear how much Ladan is soaking up in such a short time period!

Today marked the first day all week that Ladan hasn't screamed bloody murder at both his nap time and bed time because he's scared to go to sleep. For the last several nights, he's been startled awake by scary dreams, so he hasn't wanted to go to sleep in the first place. Thankfully, it seems like maybe he's over the worst of it. We'll see when 3am rolls around!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Overwhelmed... Part 3

In addition to the blessings of creation and the messages I heard at the conference, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of the Lord in providing amazing people in my life.

First of all, I have a wonderful husband who worked a week to pay my way to this conference even though he didn't get to go. He didn't enjoy the fact that we were gone for the weekend, especially since Gabe turned one on Saturday, but he always portrayed that in a way that let us know that he simply missed us... not that he was upset that we were gone or jealous that I was at the conference without him. He entrusted me to the care and protection of Matt for the weekend. My brother and Amber stayed at Matt's house too, so they were around plenty, but there was a lot of time where they were hanging out with their friends from college, which resulted in me spending a good deal of time with Matt himself. Now, of course, Matt is a trustworthy man (as proven over a long period of time), but Chet's trust in me (and ultimately in the Lord) is motivation enough to maintain faithfulness in our relationship. After all, who would want to ruin something so great? Chet and I are able to call one another to be above reproach while also trusting one another completely to be faithful. Some people may think this is crazy, but I am so grateful for this aspect of our relationship. What a gift from the Lord!

I am also continually reminded of the gift of a brother and sister-in-law who are some of my best friends on the planet. I realize that this isn't always the case in families, so I do not take this for granted. Whenever we're together, I cannot help but turn my eyes to the Lord in praise.

(Matt, Me, Vernon (my brother), and Amber, and my growing neice or nephew)

And now for the story of my dear friend, Matt... some of you who read this blog already know who he is and others don't. However, I don't think I've clearly communicated to any more than two or three of you why he means so much to me. Matt and I met in high school. Because of our activities and such, we kind of ran around with different groups of friends for the first few years, crossing paths outside of school only occasionally. I'm not exactly sure what happened that we started hanging out all the time our senior year (maybe the fact that we had 6 of 7 classes together), but such was the case. There were a lot of things happening in my life at that point. I was in a not-so-great relationship with a guy who had graduated already and was off at college; my parents were going through a divorce; I was concerned about my brother; and I was less involved in our church for a variety of reasons. Through all of these situations, Matt was like a rock for me, and his mom created a home that was a haven for me. Matt helped me through Calculus, made me laugh just by speaking (if you ever meet him, you'll know what I mean--he's hilarious!), could encourage me without a word, helped me find a dress for graduation, and generally provided a bit of normalcy in my life at that point. He granted me the privilege of riding in the "Silver Bullet", the large silver station wagon that he drove at the time. He was a true gentleman, always looking out for me and protecting me from all sorts of things--all without making me feel like I couldn't take care of myself.

We kept up with one another well through the first part of college, but then things sort of just dropped off for one reason or another. A few years ago, I was looking at my high school yearbooks, and I came across a more-than-hilarious message that he had written to me. I decided to call his mom to see if I could track him down. I did, and we've been chatting here and there on the phone since then. Each year when we go home to St. Louis for Christmas, Chet is gracious to watch the boys for a period of time so I can spend a few hours catching up with Matt. However, I still hadn't spent any length of time with him in years... until this weekend.

It was just like the old days! We had the best time! I got to hear all about his girlfriend (I hope I get to hang out with her this Christmas, because she sounds really great). He showed me his office at the Target Corporation. He took me to some of his favorite places to eat (Brit's Pub, Eli's, and Joe's Garage). He helped me find a dress for Megan's wedding. (I told Chet he probably needs to write Matt a thank-you note for this one! :) Chet hates to shop, and Matt's still great at it, so it worked out fabulously.) We watched a few shows on HGTV, talked about current events, spent time with my brother and Amber, laughed hysterically at the Miss Teen USA clip on YouTube, and went for a couple of longer walks around the city. He was always right on time to pick me up from the conference center when the sessions were over so I didn't have to walk downtown at night by myself, and he was always interested to hear how things were going. Basically, nothing's changed... except for the fact that we live 900 miles apart, I'm married with two kids, he's got Jen, and the Lord has totally changed my life since high school. Okay, so a lot has changed, but it appears as though his friendship to me hasn't. He still made me laugh, listened to my passions and desires, encouraged me with words or without, protected me, and made sure I had everything I needed. He'll probably never understand what a blessing he is to me.

And, once again, I'm so thankful to Chet for trusting me to spend time with a guy who, to Chet, is practically a stranger. They've met and had lunch together before, but for all intents and purposes, they don't really know each other except what I tell them about each other. I know they'd have a blast together, but so far, circumstances have caused their time together to be limited. In any case, I praise God and love my husband even more because he maintains a godly jealousy rather than a possessive lordship over me.

It was also a huge blessing to see some friends I haven't seen in a long time...

Jason Calcote sang with the conference worship team, and I was able to catch up with him for a minute. Jason is one of the most humble, God-honoring guys I know, and he happens to be one of the most passionate pray-ers there is. What a treat to see him... and hear him bringing it on the stage!

Rob Satrom was there with a group of college students from his hometown. I was able to talk to him and was so encouraged by his friendship. If you're reading this blog, Rob, thanks for being faithful to pray!!!!

I saw Pastor Mark and Brenda Janke for a minute on Saturday morning. Kind of funny, because they live practically down the road here in Louisville, and I haven't seen them in a few months. I pray that this conference was especially encouraging for them as they persevere in their endeavor to grow Grace Church of Louisville. What a blessing they are to our community!

I also ran into the ever-cheerful Haddon Anderson and was able to meet his beautiful fiancee, Karlyn. I actually met her before I even knew she was engaged to Haddon, which was fun! Tears came to my eyes as Karlyn told Amber and I that she had just received a phone call that morning from one of the women she had discipled in Guinea two years ago... and the woman was still walking with the Lord! Halleluia!!!

Finally, I'm praising God for Chet's mom, Glenna, who took such good care of my boys and made sure that Gabe had a really fun first birthday; for Shane and Shane, who labored to write and perform the music on the Pages CD which filled my heart with joy in the Lord the whole way to and from the conference; and for Ladan and Gabe, who gave me the most amazing homecoming reception a gal could ask for... may they jump up and down with smiles from ear to ear when they see me for as long as I live!

Overwhelmed... Part 2

The Desiring God conference itself was too much to describe. After every session, Matt would ask me how it went, and I only seemed to be able to assign one-word adjectives. There was so much going on in my head that I couldn't even articulate. I'm sure he thought I was a bit crazy (of course, this was confirmed way back in high school!).

As I was talking with my brother and Amber, we discussed the fact that it is incredibly humbling to hear people like Jerry Bridges and Helen Roseveare, who are 77 and 83 years old respectively, share about their ministries and their walks with the Lord. It was also a great joy to hear MacArthur, Alcorn and Piper. Basically, at the end of it all, we were talking about how it's impossible to hear these people talk and not feel an obligation to do something with what they've said. You CANNOT just let it go in one ear and out the other without it changing your life somewhere in between.

I fully anticipate listening to the conference sessions at least once every couple of months... maybe for the rest of my life. If you're interested in hearing them as well, please go to the Desiring God site and check it out. You can listen to the audio, watch the videos, or read the manuscripts.

After one of the sessions, I was telling Matt that I so want to be 80 years old and still passionate about the Lord and sharing Him with others despite a hunched back or bad eyesight. He kindly encouraged me by saying, "You can, you know." May I be faithful to do just that!

Two scriptures highlighted at the conference that perfectly describe the cries of my heart:
  • Psalm 27:4 (ESV) -- One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
  • Psalm 71:18 (ESV) -- So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Overwhelmed... Part 1

I am totally overwhelmed by the goodness of God. Seriously. My chest has been feeling like it's going to explode for the last 5 days. I took off with the boys on Thursday, and we drove to Chet's hometown. We arrived at Chet's mom's house LATE on Thursday night. I settled the boys in and gave instructions for their care (thankfully, I don't have to give Glenna many instructions, because she ROCKS). Then I woke up early on Friday and took to the road again... on my way to Minneapolis for the Desiring God conference this time. My brother and sister-in-law met up with me there, and we stayed with my good friend, Matt. He lives and works in the city just a few blocks from the conference center, so it was perfect! The theme of the conference was "Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints", and the speakers were John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges, Randy Alcorn, Helen Roseveare, and John Piper. It was phenomenal. The whole weekend was more than I could handle.

I'm going to attempt to put it all into words, but I'm sure it will be inadequate. I've been studying Genesis in my time with the Lord, so I think I'll try to pattern my thoughts after this first book of the Word....

The Wonder of Creation

I saw and enjoyed every aspect of the LORD's creation this weekend. I drove exactly 1,900 miles (1,000 with the boys in the car) over the course of five days... and I saw so many indescribable things.

On my way from Louisville to Novinger, MO, we drove through the Hoosier National Forest. Some of the trees had started to turn, but there were some that were particularly interesting. They were smaller and narrower than most trees, and inevitably, they were backed by dark green evergreens. These particular trees had lost all of their leaves except for one or two at the end of every branch. These leaves were bright yellow, and with the dark green of the evergreens in the background, they were breathtaking. The Lord is detailed in His creation!

As we passed over the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, I noticed how little rain we've really had. The sandbars jutting up above the water were enormous... bigger than I remember seeing at any point before.

On my way from Novinger to Minneapolis, I saw so many wonderful things:
  • As soon as I crossed over into Iowa, the roads were lined with the most beautiful yellow and purple wildflowers
  • I saw a couple Amish folks riding in their horse-drawn carriages. Their horses are always breathtaking.
  • I passed by the turn-off for the Bridges of Madison County and drove through the Silos and Smokestacks region of Iowa... both things I'd like to go back and see more of.
  • Two dead skunks... the only thing that made this wonderful was that it seemed like they had died long enough before my arrival on the scene that they didn't smell totally disgusting.
  • The OLD mansions of Centerville, Iowa and other towns along the way. I love small-town old houses. I don't think I ever want to own one, but I thoroughly enjoy looking at them. Speaking of Centerville, Iowa, their town sign says they are "Quietly Progressive." I thought that was kind of funny.
  • Driving through northern Iowa, I ran across a sign that read, "Politicians take note... Hogs don't vote!" Which made me thankful that I couldn't smell those resident hogs as I drove through! :)

And then I arrived in Minneapolis and was pleasantly surprised. I had assumed that it was a pretty cool city, but it is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Clean, well-designed, and full of interesting things to do and see. The buildings were huge, which made it seem like the airplanes flying by were traveling at about 4 miles per hour. I drove into the city to pick Matt up, and we went back out to the airport to pick up my brother and Amber. It was SO GOOD to be in the car with all of them... like I was home even though I was 900 miles away from home. I'll designate a separate entry to the happenings of the conference and our good times. For now, I'll finish with what I saw along the way.

Sunday I dropped my brother and Amber off at the airport and set out to drive back to Novinger. There was a pretty bad rainstorm going on, and I ended up hydroplaning twice on my way to the airport. So I called Matt and asked him to check the weather for me. He communicated that the storm should be letting up just south of town, so I pressed on. I'm so grateful. Somewhere into Iowa, the clouds started to part to the west. However, I was still under the ledge of clouds and rain. There was a bright blue sky with a setting sun to the west, and a black sky to the east. I looked over at one point, and I saw it... the brightest double rainbow I've ever seen in my life! It was totally uninterrupted, but within seconds, it vanished. Thank You, Lord!

As I kept driving, there were flashes of lightning that spanned the entire sky, with streaks to my right, left, and directly in front of me all at the same time. Our Creator is indeed the Father of Lights!!!!

Once I turned onto Highway 2 to travel across southern Iowa, I was officially in farm country again. I saw several dead deer (thankfully no live ones coming at me), a rat ran across the road, and a frog came hopping right at my car. I hope I missed him. After I had driven through several small towns, I looked for a place that seemed far away from light pollution, and I stopped. I turned off the car and all my lights and stared up at a sky full of stars. FABULOUS!!! (When I told my brother about this, he told me I'm never to do that again... being a girl driving by myself and all. I'll just have to make sure I don't tell him about it! :) Just kidding, Bro.)

On the final stretch of the drive, we were driving across Southern Indiana through the Hoosier National Forest again, and the sky was emblazoned by the biggest, brightest orange sun setting in the sky I have ever seen. We were driving away from it, but thank God for rear-view mirrors! I was able to watch it until it dropped off the horizon.

Praise God for His glorious creation! What a mercy to allow me to see so many aspects of the earth in just five days' time!

Romans 1:19-20a (ESV) -- For what can be known about God is plain to [man], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.