Not Home Yet

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Last Thursday Dan called at around 6:00 in the evening to let me know that we’d be moving that night. I had nothing packed except for a bag of the girls’ clothes. Sometimes life feels to crazy to be for real.

Yes, this is our fourth move in a year. And, no, we don’t particularly enjoy the moving process. That’s not why we do it. Each and every one of our moves was for a perfectly good and logical reason, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. This time we had to move because our apartment building was filled with lots of smokers and the various forms of smoke were filling our apartment and making us sick. The real concern, though, was for little Abby. As an early preemie, Abby is already considered high-risk to have chronic lung problems and second-hand smoke was only adding to her risk factors. After seeking some advice from our family and doctor, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to stay out our lease.

It took a while, but eventually our apartment management released us. We thought we had another place lined up for the move, but once we got out of our lease and gave the landlord a call we realized it wasn’t going to work out after all. With two weeks left to be out of our apartment we still didn’t have a place to go.

Sometimes I look back at the things that have happened to us in the past year and I can’t believe it. There have been so many unexpected emergencies, changes, and a lot of waiting too. I can’t help but wonder what will happen next.

So, with two weeks to homelessness, a generous family from church welcomed us into their basement for as long as we need to stay. In a flurry of an evening we packed up everything we thought we might need for the next couple of days and drove off through the night to our new temporary home.

I never did get to that laundry room.

As we’ve adjusted to our new situation and discussed where to go from here, it has struck me over and over again how not in control we are. It doesn’t matter how much planning we do, what security nets we lay out, what advice we seek, God can change our lives in an instant. It would be scary, except that we are His children.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
Romans 8:14

In church this Sunday we sang a lot of songs that were quite fitting to our current situation. One that I especially liked is called “Behold Our God”.  It makes me think of the last chapters of Job.  Job’s life had completely fallen apart but God came in and reminded Job of how small Job was and how big God is.  God is on the throne.  God created the world.  He is above all things.  Again, it would be scary if Job wasn’t God’s child too.  So, this song reminded me of those chapters in Job and the message they contain:  God is the one seated on the throne, making decisions, leading His children, doing the impossible.

Dan and I had a lot of plans last year. I think God changed all of them. And, by His grace, I’m ok with that. I know His plans our better. So now we’re pressing on, seeking His guidance again, and letting Him lead.

Who has held the oceans in His hand?
Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice

Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of His Words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

Who has felt the nails upon His hands
Bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior risen now to reign!

Behold our God seated on His throne
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!

Meijer Meltdown

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A couple of days ago I decided it would be nice to get out of the house. So I packed up my girls and we headed out for a morning walk to Meijer. I’ve had a couple of small projects in mind for a while now and wanted to check out some prices. So begins my story, but first allow me to fill you in on some necessary background details.

A couple weeks ago, during another Meijer trip, I introduced Lydia to Sandy. Sandy is the brown horse ride every Meijer seems to have that only costs one penny. I told Lydia that, if we found a penny on the ground, we could use it to ride Sandy. We did not find a penny. We found a nickel. So you all know what that means, right? Five rides on Sandy. No, not all in the same day. I don’t know how it is at every Meijer, but the Sandy we know and love is in very high demand and it would be inconsiderate to take more than one ride in a row. Anyway, Sandy was a hit and has since become an almost necessary part of every Meijer trip. Lydia loves her, and for only a penny, how could we say no?

The second thing you need to know to thoroughly appreciate this story is that I have been pondering two small projects for a while now. The first is a “Bible Memory Book” for Lydia. She has done so well learning her verses (she’s up to five now), that I thought it would be fun to document her work. I was looking, on this particular trip, for a sturdy blank notebook. Whenever Lydia learns a new verse, I plan to record the verse and the date she learned it, then let her draw a picture. Just think how much fun she’ll have looking back at that ten or twenty years from now.

The second project I’ve been thinking about is a “Mommy Book”. I wanted a pretty journal to start recording special moments with my kiddos, birth pictures, inspiring notes and verses, that sort of thing. When I get stressed out or frustrated, or am just having a hard time doing my job, I can pull out the book and be reminded of how much I love my job and my munchkins. While Lydia won’t enjoy the project directly, I think she’ll benefit from its fruit.

So, back to my story. We headed to Meijer and all was going well. The air was cool and fresh and it felt good to be outside. As soon as we got to Meijer, Abby started crying. She cried through the aisles and all the way to the notebooks. Lydia wandered off to the end of the aisle where there was a collection of children’s books, while I priced out notebooks and journals and tried to keep the stroller moving so Abby would quiet down.

Then a lady asked, “Is that your baby screaming?”

“Uh, yeah…” I started to feel uncomfortable.

After she left, more and more people began to walk by. Maybe it was just my self-conscious imagination, but I was sure they were all annoyed at the crying baby and thinking me an incompetent mother. So I decided, sadly, it was time to leave without the notebook or journal. I grabbed Lydia’s hand and moved out of the aisle only to find myself with two very upset children. Lydia didn’t want to go home. So I decided it was really time to go and turned around to return the children’s books that Lydia has snuck into my basket. Then she really lost it. She wanted those books!

We hurried through the store, me pushing crying Abby and holding screaming Lydia. Oh dear. When we got to the doors the ruckus got even louder because Lydia realized she wasn’t going to get to ride Sandy. The rest of the morning was an absolute nightmare. Lydia wouldn’t put on her coat without riding Sandy. I wasn’t going to reward her outbursts with a Sandy ride. So I tried to get Lydia’s coat on, while the girls cried in harmony. Every time I put an arm in, Lydia took the other one out. Then she tried to unbutton it. And I’m sure every one within hearing distance thought I was just a monster for refusing to let my child ride the one cent pony.

The amazing part of the story was that I never lost it. By God’s grace I made it home completely unflustered.

After we were home again and the shoes and coats were put away, I started to think a little more about that trip and God showed me a lesson for my own life.

I am Lydia. I want those children’s books and I want to ride that pony. I don’t want to walk any farther and I don’t understand why God is taking me down a boring aisle to look at notebooks. I want what I want and I certainly can’t imagine that whatever He is doing is something I could possibly appreciate any more than that pony ride and those children’s books.

Let me break it down a bit more.

Lately God has taken Dan and I through changes we never wanted. Job changes. Housing changes. NICU changes. And we follow Him and I think of all the nice things I want. A nice house that we get to live in for more than a few months. A job where Dan can be home all of the time and love working at more than he loves playing baseball. A baby that makes it to a full 40 weeks and only spends two days in the hospital. And, as God takes me where He wants me to go, I look at all these other things and think how lovely they are, and I ask God for them. Meanwhile God is elsewhere working on something else that I don’t understand at all. But, like my projects for Lydia, I know that God’s plans are better, longer lasting, and for my own good. Someday I will look back and appreciate the trip we took and the gifts He was preparing. Someday I will be grateful that He didn’t do what I wanted and just give me a kid book and a 30 second ride on a pony.

I’ve been continuing my project: one year of thankful, but I’ve realized something more. While noticing blessings along the way will make the trip more enjoyable, the thing that makes the real difference is trusting that God has something good planned, something better than my own plans. Good for me. Good for my family. Good for Him. Good for His kingdom.

Kids have meltdowns in Meijer. It happens. And I’ve totally learned not to look down on a parent when their kid is crying because he didn’t get to ride Sandy. But grown-ups have meltdowns too. Sandy will always be a reminder to me, to trust God’s plans. They are better than the 30 second pony ride I think I want.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all thing to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.

Easter According to Lydia

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We had a wonderful Easter spending time together as a family and with friends, celebrating the resurrection of our Savior. There were new and pretty dresses. There was a potluck breakfast. There was a joyous Easter service. There were lots and lots of pictures. It was, indeed, a celebration. And on Monday, when all the festivities were over, Lydia agreed to share with you all what she has learned about Easter.

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“We Got To Love One Another”

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During lunch the other day Lydia and I were discussing Easter.

We learned that Good Friday is when we remember “Jesus died” (imagine an adorable two-year-old voice saying that part). Easter is when we remember “Jesus alive!”. I went on to inform Lydia that on Sunday a lot of people will be saying “He is risen” and the proper response would be “He is risen indeed!”. Suddenly Lydia beamed a smile and said, “Plam bracks!”.

“Plam bracks!”…

“Plum bracks!”…

“Plan tree?”…

She was so excited but I didn’t know what she was talking about. We puzzled together for a few moments before I figured it out: “Palm branches!”.

“Yes, we got to wave palm branches on Sunday because it was Palm Sunday.”

I have always enjoyed the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. I set aside my current Bible reading to slowly read through the last week of Jesus’ life in Luke, starting with Palm Sunday. It’s a time to remember, reflect, and be thankful.

I have always enjoyed the Good Friday service. When I lived in Arkansas for two years I was disappointed to learn that the churches in the area didn’t do anything for Good Friday. Here in Michigan I enjoy Good Friday: the hymns, the communion, the story of the cross, and the quiet way everyone leaves knowing that the next time we see each other will be in joyful celebration.

This year I’m remembering and celebrating Good Friday and Easter with a new joy: the joy of teaching the wonderful story to Lydia. We picked up The Very First Easter from the library on Saturday and each day I read a couple of pages to Lydia. There’s a lot of writing for a two-year-old, so we’re spreading the book out to last until Easter Sunday. After our two-pages, we look at the rest of the pictures in the book and I tell her the story.

We’re learning a new memory verse this week too:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ lay down His life for us. And we ought to lay down out lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16

I tried to put it to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and it sort of evolved into it’s own song. The only problem is that Lydia sings, “And we got to lay down our lives…”

I don’t know how much she gets just yet. But she can remember that Good Friday is when “Jesus died”, she can remember waving the “plam tree” on Palm Sunday, and she can say with enthusiasm “Jesus alive!”. And she’s learning that “We got to love one another”. It does this Mommy’s heart good to teach my girl some truth and celebrate together.

Happy early Easter. He is risen indeed!

Abby Update: 7 Months Old

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Weight: 12 pounds, 11 ounces

This month, Abby learned how to roll from her tummy to her back! Although she can now roll anywhere she wants, she remains pretty content on her back or tummy most of the time. When she does want to move, she rotates in a circle and can make it more than halfway around.

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Abby has also learned how to hold on to things and grab. She likes to hold on to blankets, toys, and her sister’s clothing. She, like her sister, loves to hold my hair.

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Abby has the most squishable chubby cheeks and amazing blue eyes. I don’t remember Lydia’s eyes ever being so brilliantly blue and I am secretly hoping the blue eyes and reddish hair are here to stay. But we’ll see.

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Can you believe she used to be the same size as that doll?

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Abby has no teeth yet and we are really enjoying her happy toothless grin. I’ve mentioned, occasionally, that I don’t want the toothless grin to ever go away, but Dan assures me it would eventually cease to be so cute. I guess he’s right. She is often very smiley, but occasionally gets in moods where nothing anyone can do will get her to smile.

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Abby is a conundrum when it comes to sleeping at night. Some weeks she’ll sleep until 7 AM every single day. Other weeks she gets up once or twice. She almost always will go right back to sleep, so I’m still a happy mommy. And, even though we can’t get her on a consistent schedule during the day, she always lets me get a nap so I am, again, a happy mommy.

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It is hard to believe that Abigail is now over half a year old. The first months were slow and long and hard, but since she has been home the time has flown and she just keeps growing bigger and happier and more and more loved.

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One Year of Thankful

Last Wednesday was my twenty-sixth birthday. Reflective person that I am, birthdays always cause me to think back over the past year and notice any blessings, hardships, lessons, or changes in my life. So this year, as I took some time to reflect, I came to a conclusion.

My twenty-sixth year was the hardest one yet.

From moves to job changes to NICU trauma, the year was full of hard things, harder things than I’ve ever gone through before. I started to wonder…was it a particularly hard year? Or is life just hard and I’m noticing it for the first time? It was a depressing thought, but I really was wondering if being a grown up is just plain old hard and I need to get used to it.

Whether it was a hard year or this is a hard life, I decided that I need to work a little more at thoroughly soaking up and enjoying my blessings, and thanking God for them. So I made a resolution. For my twenty-seventh year I want to be more purposefully thankful, deeply thankful.

This is nothing new, I know. But for this year I’m going to try to record one thing for which I am thankful every day. And, since I’m a visual person, I’m going to take a picture for each day, so I can easily look back and literally see some of my favorite blessings. I’m not sure how often I’ll share these on this blog, but I thought I could at least share a few to start.

God is good, all the time, whether life is hard or not. But God has also been so good as to fill my life with blessings. So call them gifts, or Edelweiss, or blessings, or silver linings, or woodchips or flowers…but here we go.

Day 1 – A fresh new year ahead to walk with the Lord

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Day 2 – A husband who will stop at nothing to make my birthday special and show me I am loved

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Day 3 – The opportunity and creativity to redo Lydia’s room, and enjoy the process

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Day 4 – Even when our plans don’t work out well, Dan and I can laugh about it together and still create happy memories

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Day 5 – My first real workout run to train for a 5K

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Day 6 – Dan doesn’t have unreasonable expectations. He sympathizes with the challenges of my job and helps me prioritize. Then he is pleased with the things I do and doesn’t care about the things I don’t get done.

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Day 7 – Watching my girls play together

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Day 8 – A gradual start to an early morning

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Eight days down…357 to go!

Lydia’s Room Redo

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Last month I spent a day organizing and rearranging our master bedroom. It was a lot of work but instantly worth it! Our room remains clean and happy and is my little haven in our home. I had so much fun doing it and have so enjoyed the results, that I decided to set apart every other Friday for big projects like this one. Then, illness, travel, and birthdays messed up my plans and it took much more than two weeks for me to enjoy another “Big Project Friday” (as I’ve started to call them). But, at last, it happened.

And, no, I still haven’t gotten to the laundry room.

The higher priority this time was Lydia’s room. It wasn’t really a disaster. There was just one problem: toys, and lots of them. Too many toys. And stuffed animals. And books. Everywhere.

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I thought I could take care of Lydia’s room and the linen closet and the laundry room, but Lydia’s room alone turned out to be just enough to fill a whole day. I must say, I’m particularly pleased with this redo. I sorted through piles of clothes from newborn to 18 month and ended up with two huge bags of clothing to give away and share with friends. I went through all of Lydia’s book and toys and determined that we really did lose her pink flower sunglasses. I found her missing baby doll bottle. Now I know where all of Lydia’s stuff is and where it belongs. And, like all of my organizing projects, this one got a lot worse before it got better.

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So, without further ado, here are the pictures. (I apologize for the quality of these pictures. Lydia’s room doesn’t have a lot of natural or artificial lighting. It’s fine in real life, but not great for pictures.)

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Lydia loves it. I love it. And, I’m pretty sure Dan loves it too. Lydia spends much more time playing in her room than she used to. The light switch on the wall actually turns on her lamp. And there’s a place for everything sorted and neatly put away into boxes and bins in the closet or under the bed (or in the bag next to the kitchen for easy access to the toy food, pots, pans, and aprons). At first I was afraid Lydia was too young to remember where things went. She was busily cooking some pretend soup and pulling out toys one after another. Later, she came out into the living room and I poked my head in to find that she had put (almost) everything away in its place. This is one happy Mommy with two happy rooms in this house.

Perhaps I shall tackle the laundry room next?

(A Little More Than) 30,000 Words

Our little Abby-girl is getting so big and chubby and strong.

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and cute.

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and smart.

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Oh and, don’t forget about this little munchkin!

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I recently promised her a tea party.

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Abby, can I get a smile out of you?

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Hey there!

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I think you are a…

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Pretty girl.

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Aren’t we charming?

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Abby too.

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Lydia is still bigger.

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Let’s hope she doesn’t take advantage of that.

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Abby, smile! Lydia, smile for real!

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Oh dear.

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A little better but we had to leave one out.

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Lydia sometimes asks to hold Abby.

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Ok girls, lets wrap this up with a picture of you both. Smile.

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Abby, you too.

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Now both…

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Close enough.

Munchkin Update: 2 Years, 10 Months

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Sometimes when Lydia is sleepy, all curled up in my arms with her hair in one hand and her thumb in her mouth, and I’m just holding her as she absentmindedly plays with that hair and sucks that thumb, I think “I don’t ever want to let go”.

This kid is full of






The other day Lydia disappeared into her bedroom. When she walked out again she had on a bracelet rattle, a talking toy purse, and a pair of pajama pants on her head. She said, “I’m Mary.” We still haven’t figured out if she is Mary from the Bible or someone we know named Mary.

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Later Dan took Lydia to Meijer. We always stop to let her look at the fish, and the last time we visited them she said goodbye to every fish tank before leaving. When she got home from Meijer she promptly went back to her room and put the pajama pants back on her head.

Lydia has been mastering Bible memory verses little by little. We are currently working on John 3:16 (to the tune of Silent Night). I added hand motions this time and was extremely confused when we had a visitor one day and Lydia kept telling her she liked the “lotion”. We finally figured out that she wanted to sing the song with the motions.

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Speaking of visitors, one of Lydia’s favorite things to do when we have a visitor is fetch them their shoes when they are getting ready to leave. We never told her to do it, she just figured out that when people leave they need shoes, and she decided to be helpful. Now she fetches their shoes, will give them their purse if they have one, and often insists on a hug before they leave.

Dan’s current favorite though, is at bedtime. After Dan spends a few minutes laying on “the green bed” with Lydia, he wishes her goodnight and gets up to leave. She stops him and insists, “No, no, stay for a while!”

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