I'll post pictures and probably video for sure!
Understanding how awesome it is that Jesus came to our world.
Understanding the idea that He began His journey to redeem the world on that lonely Christmas night.
Understanding what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.
In my devotions, I've been reading about the promise of Christ throughout the entire Old Testament. How Christ has reigned supreme since the very beginning of time. God revealed Christ for the very first time when He said to the serpent, "You will bruise His heel, but He will crush your head." Again, He declared the promise to Abram when He declared that "all the peoples of the earth shall be blessed through you." Abram knew God wasn't talking about Him, but of the One who was to come through Abram's line of descent. David received the promise of the Messiah when the Lord God said, "your kingdom will reign forever." Again, David knew it had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with God redeeming the world.
In the book of Isaiah, we find four songs of the servant, which can also be referred to as Messianic prophecies. One that has always been read during the Christmas season is Isaiah 9:6-7:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."
What I find to be amazing are the verses that precede this text, rarely ever read together:
"Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan - The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For unto us a child is born...."
Do you see what I'm getting at? How incredible it is that the one who brought peace came in the form of a baby! I have many other thoughts on this that I will write in another post, but for now I want to focus on the issue of peace. Reading my friend Sara's blog the other day, reminded me of the war-filled world we live in. Having her husband as an Army Chaplain, I doubt that she is ever able to think otherwise. It is sad for me to read stories of real people who are losing their lives. Men and women who are fighting for our country, but also wars that are taking place around the world that we don't even know about. Civil wars like the ones in Africa, tribal wars, religious wars, etc. take place always. Will peace ever come to be in this world of hatred and hurt?
Yet, in this passage in Isaiah, God says that there is One greater than all of this. There is One who will bring peace. And peace means so much more than just an absense of war or an inner calm. My devotion suggested it as, "completeness, wholeness, fullness, soundness, firmness, safety, well-being, prosperity, and contentment." Being a Wonderful Counselor indicates wisdom and royalty; "Mighty God" is associated with power and victory; "Everlasting Father" points to His eternal and divine origins; and "Prince of Peace" means he brings peace and well-being to the earth.
It is so humbling to me to think of my God coming to earth as a human. Think of a baby you know and love; maybe your own child. Think of Christ in that precious form. Knowing that those tiny hands would be nailed to a cross. That those tiny little feet would take the grueling steps toward redeeming the world as the world threw insults and hatred at him. That his sweet, soft skin would be covered in stripes of blood. And that through all of this, we have the promise of peace. True peace that no President, pastor or peace treaty can provide.
Why is it we tend to bypass this great truth? Why do we only look to the cross on Easter? For truly, that little baby was looking to the cross on that miraculous Christmas night. I will never cease to be thankful.
- Waking up in the morning and knowing I don't have to hurry to get somewhere
- Being able to stay in my pajamas all day if I so choose
- Being surrounded by three little ones who love me regardless of me staying in my pajamas all day
- Cuddling in a blanket with Cole while he drinks his chocolate milk and watches the Disney Channel
- Getting little hugs and kisses all throughout the day
- Being the one who gets to give hugs and kisses back
- Teaching character traits to my children
- Watching the excitement in the kids' faces when they learn something new
- Knowing that what I'm doing will make a difference someday, even if it doesn't seem so today
- Knowing I'm doing what God has called me to do
- Snuggling my girls while they get ready for/wake up from their naps
- Being satisfied when I get stains out of clothing that should be impossible to get out
- Making a place for Jake to come home and enjoy after a day at the office
- Baking with Cole
- Hearing all of the stories Cole has to tell me
- Hearing the girls' sweet giggles and coos
- Watching the amazing imagination of a 2 1/2 year-old
- Building forts
- Building puzzles
- "Building" respectable little people
- Basking in the accomplishment of having the mound of laundry done, the dishes done and the house cleaned
- Accepting that those duties will begin again tomorrow, but being thankful that there is no pressure from a boss or CEO to get on top of them right away
- Praying with Cole at night
- Making a difference in the lives of my kids and my husband
- Just being there!
I feel like I've been in that stage for the last few months now. I have to apologize to all of my bloggy friends who faithfully check up on us to see how our family is doing. Unfortunately, this momma just has nothing to write! I have many ideas in my head, but they come out in the form of a;lskdjfopwerkja;cipawendcvoudoqhwig!!!
So, I've learned that when all else fails, post pictures of the kids!
I am proud to say that I exercised my right to vote today. As I stood in my newly digitized voting booth, I thought of what a real privilege it is that I get to vote. So many people around the world don't have a choice on who their country's leader is. I'm so thankful that I do. I was reminded of that when Jake was talking to Cole about why it is so important that we go and vote.
We took our kids along with us today and waited in line. I asked Cole this morning if he wanted to go and vote for the next President with us. He got really excited and told me he wanted to go vote. I wondered why he was so quick on his feet to get dressed and head out the door. Any other time I'm trying to get him ready for something, it's like pulling teeth with him.
Then, I got it.
As we stood in line, Cole asked me, "Mommy, where's the nest present?" It all makes sense. He didn't care about the President. But he hears the word present and he's there! I spent the next 15 minutes or so explaining that we weren't getting a present, but voting for the Pres-i-dent. He was none too impressed. Thankfully, the precinct judge had a licorice in her pocket. I'll be darned if that kid isn't so spoiled.
Oh well. Maybe he'll be more interested in the President in 2012. Although, it might help if that candidate has a Twizzler in his pocket!
So, if our family is one you check in with every day (and thanks to those who do even though I haven't been the best with my blogging consistency) just click on the link to the right of our page and follow our blog. Trust me - it's so cool!!
I realize this may not be that large of an event, especially compared to all that babies learn to do in the first year of their lives. But think - the very act of eating is what kept our baby girl in the hospital for 80 days. 80 days.
And so today, when I offered her cereal for the second time in her life, I actually wondered if she might have difficulty learning to eat solids. But she proved my doubts wrong by opening her mouth, bite after bite and swallowing each taste of rice cereal. I don't remember it going so well for Cole even!!
The only sad part was that Hayden was sleeping, so we don't have pictures or stories of her yet, but I will make sure to post as soon as I do. Until then, here are some to enjoy of Maurah! Dear Lord, thank You so much for bringing us so far. Thank You that Maurah is healthy and is progressing along as she should. Thank You for your unfailing love and faithfulness and for protecting our family.
- Maurah and Hayden both rolled from their tummies to their backs last Wednesday.
- Hayden rolled from her back to her tummy yesterday.
- Maurah rolled from her back to her tummy today.
- As far as we can tell right now, Maurah may definitely be Dad's girl. All Jake has to do is walk in the room and her face lights up like you wouldn't believe. I've never seen such a big smile on such a small baby. It's too sweet!
- Hayden is really into talking. She will just lay in her crib and babble for the longest time. It's so nice to wake up to this sound over the monitor versus screaming that she wants to eat!
- Both of the girls are really getting interested in toys and it's so fun to have them be more interactive. Jake and I don't really enjoy the newborn stage where babies don't really "do" anything, so we're really loving this phase with the girls.
- The girls LOVE each other. It's neat to see them bond already. Whenever we lay them down together, they end up holding hands. Could anything be sweeter?
Many of you saw on my Facebook profile that we were thinking we'd have to find a new house to live in. The reason for that is this:and this:
and this!Indiana definitely got its fair share of rain two weekends ago. The first picture I took is a field that leads up to a beautiful Catholic church. As Jake and I drove home from our church on Sunday, we found the field to be completely covered in water, looking like a lake. The second picture is one that shows how high the water was up on our van - to the doors to be exact. And this last picture shows how the lake we live on rose so much, many docks were covered in water. I have never seen so much water in my life. It took Jake and I an hour to get home from church and, finally, after attempting three different routes that were blocked by police officers, we found a road that led home - - - - to a home with no power, that is! We quickly packed overnight necessities and headed to our friends', the Evers', who gave us great shelter from the storm for the night. We were warm and cozy and it was wonderful! Cole made cookies with MacKenzie, and Shelley and I stayed up way too late watching a ridiculous movie that was supposed to be scary, but in the end was pretty hysterical. Our power was on and we were able to return home the next morning, but were so glad to have the time spent with friends.
In the town of Munster, where we lived just last year, a family in our church is still recovering from the flood where their entire basement was filled with water and it was coming up onto the main floor of their home. Just down the street from them, a house exploded. Roads were closed, schools closed, we saw a semi split in half from a tree falling on it - - - it was crazy.
SO! From all of this, we got a bit of flooding in our basement and discovered spores of mold that came through our drywall. We knew we couldn't stay in an environment that invited mold, especially with the kids and were planning to have to move out. But Landlord Ron (the most wonderful landlord ever!) saved the day. He and another guy (I forget his name so we'll call him Gut-out guy because he gutted out our house!) came and took our drywall out where mold had collected. They will come back at the end of the week to put up a charrail and some white paneling at the bottom so that we can pull it out easily if it begins to collect water. I am so glad that mold didn't grow in our wood because we would be done for then! I can't tell you what a relief it is to not have to move!!
In all of this, please keep in mind people who were not as fortunate as we have been. Many people's homes have been destroyed. With the economy in the state that it is, it's not an easy task for families to restore their homes to a livable status. We often think of flood victims on coasts - I know I was shocked to see Indiana get the weather it did. But we definitely have flood victims all around us right now and people are still recovering. Prayers are greatly appreciated!!
So, how do you explain to a 2 year-old that we're all tired, and we're all sick, but that gives none of us license to throw fits and be off the charts rude? Or, does anyone have suggestions for how to entertain a sick toddler who isn't really interested in being engaged with anyone or anything (besides the obvious answer of TV and movies!)? By the time I get any responses, we'll all be back to healthy and normalcy again, but we'll just save them for next time
Hope your day is a little less green (in more ways than one!) than mine.
- Last night while Jake and I were checking to see if Cole might have a rash as it became apparent that his diaper was bothering him, he said, "Hey, don't touch my penix!! Dat tickows!!" Jake and I burst out laughing, not even trying to hold it in. I was proud of him for saying the correct name because I can't stand when people teach their kids little pet names for their anatomy. It was still so funny to hear it come from his mouth so unexpectedly - - - - and as long as he doesn't yell it in public, I think we'll be okay.
- The other day Jake was talking to Cole and was trying to joke with him. Cole looked at him and said, "That was kind of funny, Dad!" Apparently his standard of funny has raised and Jake doesn't quite meet that expectation anymore. Good thing he's got a hilarious momma!! (Right, Aunt Heather?) =)
- While Cole is pretty hysterical, he can be awfully sweet too. This morning he was sitting on the couch next to Hayden and I heard him "teaching" her by saying, "See? You have toes, I have toes! You have legs, I have legs! You have hands, I have hands!" It's fun to see him turn more and more into the big brother who is also a teacher, a comforter and a friend. Sometimes a bully too, but thankfully the girls haven't picked up on that yet!
Now, get your kleenex ready.
A week or two ago, Cole was looking at the pictures I have setting on the ledge that follows the stairs down to our basement. I was in our living room when he came running in with a frame in his hands.
"Who's dis wif Gramma Jammet?" I replied, "That's Grandpa Mart. You didn't get to meet him."
"Weww.....Cole wansa' see him!" I said, "You know what honey? You will get to see him someday because he's in Heaven with Jesus now. He went to Heaven just two weeks before you were born, so you didn't get to see him yet. But you can one day."
"No, Mom, he's at Gramma Jammet's house! I wansa' go to Gramma Jammet's house!" Then I realized that he recognized my Grandpa from pictures in my Grandma's apartment. We resolved the issue of him wanting to go to my Grandma's house because that's what we're doing next weekend.
This struck me so deeply though because this was my first conversation with Cole about someone we know and love very much being in Heaven. Isn't it amazing the things children can understand? He walked away from that conversation happy to know that Grandpa Mart is in Heaven and especially that we're going to "Gramma Jammet's" soon. I left that conversation with a sadness that my grandpa never did get to meet Cole and also filled with the wonder of whether or not our loved ones really can see us from above. Sometimes I highly doubt this. But if so, I think I can see the smile my Grandpa had on his face as he watched our conversation.
Teething: Who decided it was okay for both twins to teethe at the same time? And when I'm toilet training my two year-old? (Say that five times fast! I must be on a T spree!) Orajel and Tylenol (ooh! another T!) have become my best friends yet again. And the up-down, up-down of these teeth! Just come through already!
Tears and Tantrums: These two are lumped into one category because they undoubtedly go together in our home. It always seems that Cole is throwing a tantrum while the girls are screaming bloody murder. Or is it that the girls are screaming bloody murder while Cole is throwing a tantrum? Either way, you can't have one without the other. They all really egg each other on. Especially Cole and Maurah. If Cole is crying, Maurah starts crying and vice versa. What is the deal with that? By the end of it all, I want to be in tears or throwing a tantrum of my own!
I'm Tired! (Ha! This T thing is fun!)
Christmas 2007 was the first time Grandma 'Laine had ever mentioned anything to me about God. I will never forget sitting in Jake's parents' house where his grandma brought up meeting this Baptist chaplain whom she surprisingly felt very connected to (she herself being raised Catholic, they obviously had very differing views). I walked away from our discussion encouraged that this man may be one of great influence on Grandma.
Never again were spiritual matters spoken of. So when we attended Grandma's funeral this last Saturday, my heart was heavy laden with fear that she really wasn't in peace. Then, Lee, her chaplain, got up to speak. What I appreciated so much is how well he knew Grandma 'Laine. Stories that he shared made it seem as if he had been a part of the family for years, rather than just a visitor in her home now and then. He took that one step further and asked where the grandson was who just had the twins. Jake raised his hand. Lee then looked at me and said, "I want you to know, Mom, that we prayed for you and those twins every time we were together. We practically willed those babies out of you and for you all to be safe. Whenever I asked Elaine how I could pray for her, she said, 'We have to pray for those twins.'" Jake and I were both moved to tears, feeling so loved and touched.
Lee continued to let us all know that Grandma is definitely in Heaven because she told him that often she wondered why she didn't die last year. He said that in the last couple of weeks before her death she said, "I now know why I didn't die a year ago. I wasn't ready then. But I am now." This brings tears to my eyes even now as I write. What a beautiful gift. Sometimes we have no idea why things happen the way they do. For the last year, I had such a hope that Grandma was surviving because God wanted her with Him and she needed the time to come to that. What an awesome, beautiful picture I have, thinking of her meeting her Maker for the first time.
People have said to me, "Some vacation!" when they have heard of all of the events that took place. No, it wasn't the vacation we had dreamed about. But it was one of the most beautiful gifts we've ever been given.
SO!! Anyone interested? Or do you know anyone who would be interested?
Let me give you a few details on both of them.
Mittens is our first cat that we got the January after we were first married. She was in theAnti-Cruelty shelter in downtown Chicago and I knew she was the one immediately. She is now six years old. She was skiddish when we first got her, but has become such a great family cat. She is fixed and has all of her claws, but really doesn't do anything with them. Cole tackles her all of the time and she has never once turned on him, although I wouldn't blame her if she did! We have just begun allowing her outside and she really enjoys this, coming back when she's finished exploring in our yard. So, she'd make a great indoor/outdoor cat or whichever would be preferred. She is such a lovey girl and we feel very sad about having to let her go as she is the first pet we've ever had. Her ideal family would be one that could spend some time with her, but doesn't have to be around all of the time.
Jackson is our tabby cat who is now 3 years old. We got him from a friend of my sister's as a kitten and have been loving on him ever since! He is the most lovey cat I've ever met. If you could put him in a baby carrier and carry him around all day, he'd be the happiest cat ever! He is also wonderful with children and has been through the ringer as well, getting attacked by Cole all of the time, but always keeping his sweet demeanor. He is fixed also, but is de-clawed in his front paws only. Jackson's ideal family would be one that would be around a bit more - you know, where he's not at home all day and night alone. He needs attention now and then, and sadly this is why we feel we can no longer keep him in particular.
Both Jackson and Mittens have been left in our home together for a couple of weeks at a time where we just gave them a ton of food and water and gave them a clean litter box and they both have done great. There really aren't problems with them at all, I guess, which is why it's such a bittersweet thing to have to give them up. But we can't continue to keep them and know we're not taking care of them the way we should be. They have dropped very low to our totem pole of priorities, as I'm sure many of their ancestors have had happen to them when babies come around. Just think of Lady and the Tramp - - - oh, wait. That's about dogs - - - -but still the same idea!!
Cole is going to be heartbroken and for that I'm very sad. But we just want our cats to go to a very loving home/homes. Obviously it'd be awesome if we could give them both to the same person, but I won't keep my hopes up for that! Just a loving owner/family for each of them is all we need! So please think about it if you're interested or help us get the word out. Thanks so much!
Cole is growing into such a great young boy. As much as I still want to consider him my baby, there is nothing "baby" about him. He is very verbal, which can make life crazier or more calm, depending on the moment. The thing I'm noticing the most though, is how great of a heart he has. Jake was leaving for work this morning and Cole said, "Bye, Dad! I love you!" What a joy to hear that come out of his mouth with no encouragement from either of us. He loves the girls just the same too, constantly wanting to snuggle them or give them a blanket. He talks to them in the sing-song voice we do too, saying, "Hell-o-o! Hi, pretty gwiwly (girly)! Hi, baby gwil!"
Some famous quotes include:
"You okay?" - said when we hurt ourselves, cough, sneeze, or he knocks us down in wrestling. And he doesn't give up asking until he's assured that we truly are okay.
"Thank you!" - now unprompted and sometimes even before you give him what he asked for!
"Oh, that's fun!" - said very emphatically about everything from building with blocks to changing the babies' diapers to us doing yardwork
"Play me!" - his sweet request given many times throughout the day - heartbreaking when I have to respond that I can't play at that moment
His imagination is growing like crazy right now and it is so fun to talk to him about the monkeys outside our windows (squirrels) or why his toys have to sit in time out.
He enjoys reading his Bible, especially about Adam and Cain. (Not sure exactly why he always lumps those two together, but we'll take it!)
Even with the toddler tantrums, he's a pretty easy boy. I count to "1" and he's doing what I've asked him to do (the max is 3). What's funny is that I've never even gotten to 3, so he doesn't even know the consequence at the end. (Once again, not sure why that is, but we'll take it!) =)
He is by far not perfect (see previous post for an example) but we are enjoying this stage of life with him so much. "2" definitely has its challenges, but I'm finding it more rewarding than any age he's ever been. For the first time, I am starting to see some of the fruits of our labor. And what a blessing it is!
Much to Jake's enjoyment, I have gone as far as taking pictures of Cole's toys and making signs to put on his toy bins so that he is able to put his toys away, where they belong, mostly on his own. My husband gets a giggle out of what he calls my "teacher mode". I thought it was a brilliant idea. Well, it was a brilliant idea in my head, at least.
The picture went something like this:
Cole wants to play Mr. Potato Head? He opens the drawer with Mr. Potato Head, and plays with the little spud. He wants to play with his cars? First, he puts Mr. Potato Head and all of his accessories away, then he gets out his bin with the cars.
After all, isn't that what the gazillion of toys in his room are for? To play with them?
Is this a funny concept? What am I missing here?
Oh. Maybe the fact that he's a 2 year old.
And it was.
We then took a walk down to the lake. With the girls in their double stroller and Cole in his wagon, we made our way two streets over to the water. It was beautiful weather and we took advantage of it! Cole likes to walk down the dock and watch all of the boats and wave runners go by. The water and sky were both a radiant blue. We didn't stay long, but it was just nice to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air together - fresh air that didn't involve yardwork, which is what we'd been doing the entire day before!
Then, Jake and I got a treat later that afternoon when we dropped the kids off and went downtown to celebrate our anniversary. We decided to be bold and try a restaurant we found online called Zocalo's - a trendy, authentic Mexican restaurant. The atmosphere was casually romantic with dark wood, bright paintings and candlelight at each table. The food was wonderful - many foods that we had never tried before. Here are some pictures -
We had such great time, realizing how much FUN we have with each other. It's hard to remember that sometimes when we're constantly serving others, namely our children. Dr. Stowell told us once that if we keep working at our marriage now in the midst of the craziness, we will have ultimate ecstasy when our children are grown and it is just the two of us again. Many couples seem to miss this - I hope we don't. If the friendship and bond we have now is nothing compared to what we can have, then I am certain great things are in store for us. Thank you, Short family for taking care of and loving our kids so we could focus on why we fell in love in the first place!
Five great years - and many more to come...
This is my first post since both of our girls have been home and our family is complete. Honestly, it's a miracle that I am even able to sit down and write this while all three of my children are tucked in their beds, sound asleep. I hesitate to even breathe too loudly for fear that this moment will end too soon!
Things haven't slowed down a bit now that none of us are residents in the hospital anymore. I don't know why I thought life would become a calming normal once we were all together - boy was I naive!! We got to spend a whole one day as just the five of us before we had to be separated once again. I think about that insurance commercial that says, "Life comes at you fast" - no kidding!
Our house, come to find out, had mold and mildew growing in the basement due to much flooding from all of the snow and rain we had this winter/early spring. I am dreadfully allergic to both and we of course feared the kids would develop asthma or allergies, so we (the kids and I) trekked up to Michigan to stay with our family. It wasn't too bad being a single parent once we got there - however, the ride there was one of the most horrible things I've experienced. When I arrived at my parents', my mom said, "How was it?" with a sympathetic look as if she already knew the answer. I replied, "We all cried at different points of the trip!" Once I got over the initial pain of the drive, we had a wonderful time. We actually ended up staying at Jake's parents' where his dad and sister helped out a ton when they were home. We had a wonderful time visiting friends and family we don't get to see often and were kept busy having visitors every day! It was great and of course I loved introducing the girls to everyone.
This visit lasted a total of a week and a half. For the last week, Jake was on our senior high missions' trip in Tecumseh, Michigan where our group participated in GROUP Workcamp. The kids had a great time helping people in need of repairs to their homes and came back a more solidified group. We are loving how every time we get together, we grow closer and closer with our students, and Jake had a wonderful time building even deeper relationships with them on this trip.
The Mannes were reunited a little over a week ago on Saturday in our mold-free house and are not making plans to be apart again for quite a while! The girls are growing and have become very acclimated to us and our noisy home and I think Cole doesn't even remember that it was ever just him. He loves being a big brother and he is such a good helper - sometimes too good (think picking up the babies when they're crying!).
So, we are back and ready to have some normalcy - even if it's some crazy normalcy! It's nice to not be writing about doctors and nurses and treatments all of the time. Many more fun stories and thoughts to come!
I think that the self-help industry jumps on this bandwagon and makes their billions off of it. "Just follow these few simple steps and your past will be forgotten completely."
But what if we're not meant to forget all together? What if our pasts, as painful as they may be, are supposed to be with us always? I'm not saying there isn't hope for restoration - of course there is. But when Jesus came back and appeared to Thomas, He appeared with the scars on His hands and feet. John 27 shows Jesus inviting Thomas to see His hands and feet and even takes Thomas' hand and puts it to His side where He was pierced. Jesus is in His glorified body, yet the scars are still visible.
I think our scars are supposed to be visible too. Really, it is through our scars that we are able to minister to others in empathy. When we have lost a loved one or had someone wrong us in such a horrible way - we can find restoration in Christ so those scars don't hurt anymore. But then, we can take ourselves, scars and all, and minister to others. We can take others' hands and say, "See me. Hear me. I care about you and I can fully understand what you are going through."
I don't understand why so many people are into erasing their past hurts when we can use them in such a way to bring glory to God. In reality, it is usually the hard times that mold us into the people we are - they are part of our identity. And for us to be able to take them once they are healed and give love and encouragement to someone else - what a gift.
The second man who passed away recently is the father of a very important family in our church. This man was a believer for many many years as well, raising his family to know and love Christ. He was a doctor and although not considered in full-time ministry as a position, he and his wife served faithfully in their church home and started up ministries that are still thriving today.
The third man whose funeral we attended was just 31 and had been married for three months. This was the hardest funeral I have ever attended, but it's the piece of the mosaic that makes it that much closer to completion. This man had just accepted Christ a few months before his passing. He was not well-educated in Biblical knowledge, and his job was a "normal" position of an electrician. He didn't carry with him the status a doctor has, or the pedestal pastors are usually put on. But he was a minister of the Gospel, sharing his faith with his family and telling them about Jesus and the exciting faith he found in Him.
When I think of these men together, I get a bit teary. In an earthly sense, they had nothing in common. But through their faith in Christ, they had a bond and now they are all in Heaven, rejoicing together with their Heavenly Father. I love that Christ takes us all, don't you? I love that we don't have to be perfect because He has taken care of that for us through His death and resurrection. I love that Heaven is a hodge-podge of believers and that none of us will look the same, even in Heaven. I just love how God works - and am thankful that He takes broken vessels like me.
The last couple of weeks have been very interesting in the Manne home. Many scenarios have arisen that continue to point Jake and I in the direction of growth. Whether it's an issue in our marriage, in parenting, or in our ministry in the church, we have found that these last few days have hit us hard with conviction after conviction. In a world where everyone is "always right," and humility is hard to find, it can be very difficult to receive these conflicts with grace and with true reflection on why these issues have come up and what we need to do in order to resolve them. In every case thus far, the solution depends on us changing something about ourselves, which we all know is not an easy task. It could seem that getting defensive and fighting back would be easier, but it's really not. Taking things personally and out of context of the spirit they're intended only brings dissension and even more hurt. So I am working on having a spirit of humility and discovering the amazing grace that God provides in situations such as these.
Proverbs 3:7 says, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil." How often do we think we're doing the right thing - and that the right thing automatically means it's the wise thing? I am learning through these difficult times that me acting out of my own wisdom is still me acting out of foolishness. Only God's wisdom is true wisdom - and if I act according to His knowledge and wisdom, then many problems in my life wouldn't occur. However, this takes much change on my part. I have to learn what it means to listen to God and to find His wisdom. I don't even know what wisdom looks like, let alone how to find it in all situations. But - that's where another common Scripture comes into play.
Proverbs 3:5-6 say, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." This is such a commonly used piece of Scripture. It's printed on pretty paper and matted in beautiful frames, stitched on pillows and etched onto many a coffee mug. We've all heard it and we can all recite it. But in my Bible study the other day, I found something about this verse that no one ever told me and it makes this verse that much more important and powerful. The Hebrew word used for "paths straight" means more than guidance. It means that God removes the obstacles, making a smooth path or way of life or perhaps better, bringing one to the appointed goal. So applying this to the above-mentioned conflict of me battling myself in order to change, God does that for me when I acknowledge Him and seek His wisdom for my life. Isn't that amazing? God removes the obstacles - and in this case, I am my own obstacle as I try to be wise in my own eyes. I am encouraged now and excited to see the growth the God brings as a result of all of the "messiness" around us right now. And I encourage you to see how God may be drawing you in to see His wisdom all the more closely as well.
Then, we come to today. I figured that naptime might be more difficult than bedtime mainly because he's more tired at bedtime and it's lighter during the day than at night. I laid Cole down and patted his back again, but could tell from the look in his eyes that he wasn't about to fall asleep with me at his side again. So I said "Goodnight", and left the room. Cole played for about an hour before I heard silence. I wish that I hadn't gone into his room when I did, because when I opened the door to lay him back in bed, he was already there, cuddling with his blankie and I think he may have gone to sleep on his own. But, because I disturbed the process, I ended up having to rub his back again.
My nightmare come true is if we end up like those overdramatized families on SuperNanny! However, I don't think that 15 minutes of back rubbing is too bad of a habit, do you? All in all, I feel like the transition is going very smoothly and I'm very excited about it, even though my baby has nothing baby about him at all anymore! I guess that's what I'm striving for as a parent though, right? For my child to become more and more independent every day. It's one small step for Cole, one giant leap for Mom! =)
Just wanted to share Jake's and my latest project that I'm so excited to have completed. This is Cole's new room that we painted and finally have in order. He's still in his crib, but as you can see, the toddler bed is ready for him - we'll keep working on that transition! Anyway, his room before was all white and terribly boring - now it's become my favorite room in the house. I learned something on this project too - if an idea sounds too easy to be true, it probably is! All we have left to do is the nursery - and much to Jake's dismay, that is the room with the 12' ceilings. I know he's not looking forward to that, but thankfully, it will be the last room he'll have to think about painting for a very long time!
So what are we called to in our lives? Much like Mary and Joseph, and that manger scene, I find myself in "messiness" much of the time. Many of my life's circumstances are not the perfectly beautiful ideal that I had in mind when I dreamed of life as a little girl. Still, I am realizing that God has called me to fulfill many different roles amongst the messiness. As a wife, mother, and follower of Christ, life isn't always filled with a pleasant aroma. But I am seeing now that when I choose to obey as Mary and Joseph did many many years ago, I too see the face of my Lord more clearly. There is nothing more beautiful and no feeling compares. Of all of the gifts I've been given this Christmas season, this lesson is one I am most thankful for.
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