Mr. President

I just finished watching the Presidential Inauguration (thank goodness for DVR!). Many different thoughts and emotions struck me during this momentous occasion. Watching the sea of Americans who traveled to Washington, D.C. for this man made me wonder if there have ever been that many present at an inauguration before. I am not usually a fan of politics, and I don't typically follow government so closely as I have since this last election. However, even I find myself caught up in the emotion and the excitement of what Barack Obama delivers to our nation. Watching people in Kenya and other nations around the world and seeing the joy that even they have, I can't help but be excited that this is happening in my country, during my lifetime. Our new President gives many hope and an assurance that all will be well. Our economy will grow stronger, our earth will be greener, and nations will grow more peaceful.

As badly as I want all of these things to happen, I can't help but wonder how much we're putting our reliance on one person. I can't help but feel sorry for him, as an entire world rests all of their burdens on his shoulders, praying that he will fix it for them. Unfortunately, even I have to catch myself falling into this idealism. When I listen to his speeches and get dreamy-eyed about what our new leader will do for our country, I realize that I also struggle with looking to him to "fix" us. If my heart leans that way, even with the faith that I hold, how much more will others who have no faith lean toward that?

Listening to Rick Warren pray for our new President, I was in hope that that sea of people would truly be listening to his words - words about Jesus Christ and our hope in Him. Christ wants us to put all of our burdens on Him and pray that He can fix them. Truly, He is the only One who can make any of us better. Through Him are we able to reach our full potential. Through Him are we able to bring change to America and to our world.

Colossians says, "For by him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him."

We are here for God. We were created by Him and we are here to glorify Him. This is our purpose. It's Barack Obama's true purpose also, being created by Him just as everyone of us has been. So I'm going to pray not that Barack Obama would take care of our nation, but that God would use the rulers and authorities He has put into place to allow His work to be done. America is not God's chosen nation - but we, those who hold Him in our hearts, are God's people. His chosen sons and daughters. Let's look to Him then, not forgetting that He is in charge - He is the ruler of not just the free world, but the entire universe. And that He not only rules it, He created it and He loves it.

I am hopeful for our new President and I'm hopeful for a better world. But let's find our true hope for a better world in Christ - our real Rock and Redeemer.

Me Jane?

Last night Jake and I were playing a game with Cole before we put him to bed. While playing, Cole was being incredibly silly.

I said, "Cole, where did you come from?"

He replied nonchalantly, "I don't know. Tarzan?" To this, I erupted into laughter with Jake, who also gave me a joking, "Is there something I don't know?" look. Oh, where do kids come up with these things? Hilarious!

A Look Back

I keep thinking of 2008 and how to best sum up my year, full of much pain and joy. I found this meme to copy and thought I would fill it out! Here goes....

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? I tried some really crazy Mexican food with Jake on our anniversary. It was totally out of the box for us, but delicious!
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Ummm...did I make New Year's resolutions last year?? I have a bunch for this year and I've actually written them down! Maybe I'll share in another post....
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Myself, first of all, then my sister-in-law, and a few of my good friends!

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, Jake's Grandma 'Laine.

5. What countries did you visit? This year was definitely a year we didn't go very far....does Ohio count??

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? More dates with Jake and a bit more calm.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 31 when I was first sent for my 7-week hospital stay, March 18 when the girls were born, March 26 for Cole's birthday and the first time we held the twins, May 23 when Hayden came home, June 7 when Maurah came home.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Surviving my time and the girls' time in the hospital and then figuring out life after the twins came home.

9. What was your biggest failure? Keeping my house clean or even half-way clean.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? You can visit my other blog for all the details!

11. What was the best thing you bought? Tickets to Wicked and the Phantom of the Opera! Amazing!!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Every human who lives in my house. Here are a few examples.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Mine - here's why!

14. Where did most of your money go? Diapers, coffee, stain remover many times can you mention diapers?

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The girls coming home from the hospital!

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? Anything from the Wicked soundtrack - I belted it out every day in the car to and from visiting the girls. Also, "I'll Be" by Reba McEntire. I sang it to the girls when they were still in my belly!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? (a) happier, thanks to God and His amazing grace (b) fatter, thanks to carrying the twins, then thinner, thanks to chasing the twins (c) richer, thanks to a bit of a raise from Jake!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? personal Bible study and intense prayer, also keeping in touch with family and friends a bit better

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Focusing on my stresses and not my joys

20. How did you spend Christmas? With my beautiful family and friends - no way to better celebrate!

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? Yes - with two new chubby faces, rounded toe heels, grown-up jeans, gingerbread lattes, short hair, and more in love with Jake

22. What was your favorite TV program? Oh, my guilty pleasures! Jon and Kate Plus 8, Brothers and Sisters, Private Practice, LOST and The Bachelorette

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? What???? This question is silly - I didn't hate anyone this time last year or this year either! Just call me a Mama of Love!! :)

24. What was the best book you read? Sadly, I've not had much time to read. So my favorite's are Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which I read for school. Also, the kids' book "What Makes a Rainbow?"

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? That when I turn Wicked up really loudly in the car, my voice sounds like it matches the performer's! Hmm....just let me bask in the moment while I think that I really do sound like them!

26. What did you want and get? Healthy baby girls and a toddler who didn't struggle with sibling rivalry right off the bat

27. What did you want and not get? A peaceful heart and the motivation to work out

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Oh, I'm bad - not much of a moviegoer at this point! Can I just say my favorite movie ever? Well, who can say I can't! I love the new Pride and Prejudice. Also, we just saw The Dark Knight and I thought that was really well done too - not the first movie I'd choose on a rainy day, but I definitely loved it thanks to my hubby!

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 25 and spent the day with sweet Hayden who came home the day before. Best birthday present ever!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A housekeeper

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Another one that makes me laugh. Personal fashion concept? What does that even mean? Well, I bought what I call "grown-up" jeans. Basically, they're jeans that don't make me look like a teenager! I love them! Other than that, I'm very much a sweater and jeans girl - this will probably be my personal fashion concept in 2009 too because I haven't changed much over the years!

32. What kept you sane? My amazing husband and God's grace!

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I guess I would put Katie Holmes mainly because I copied her haircut. I will be forever thankful she went to a bob!! Aside from that, it would be Kate Gosselin. Love her!!!

34. What political issue stirred you the most? An act I recently heard of that Hillary Clinton is trying to pass where you could be arrested for spanking your child. Ugh! Why are we such extremists?!?!?!

35. Who did you miss? All of my family and friends in Michigan, my Grandpa who is in Heaven

36. Who was the best new person you met? Dr. Ojomo and all of his nurses, the NICU staff, Ken and Ginner Rudolph

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. I have two - 1) To always say goodbye. I didn't say this to Cole when I left for my ultrasound on Jan. 31 - and I then spent 7 weeks away from my little guy. Heartbreaking. 2) "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; Blessed be the name of the Lord!" Basically that God is in control and that whether He gives or takes away, He is still good all of the time and loves us more than we can ever possibly fathom.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave!"

What do YOU think?

I saw this topic on another blog and thought it would be fun to see what my own bloggy friends feel about it. How do you feel about a collection of stuffed animals in the back window of cars? I admit that I tend to judge people right off the bat when I see them and kind of turn my nose at the fuzzy faces staring back at me while I sit at a stoplight. I can give grace when I see a carseat in the vehicle and think that maybe they're the kids' toys. But what does a 50 year-old woman need with them? What is the meaning of it? Is it just for decoration or for something more? I am truly boggled by this and I can't wait to hear what you all have to say!

One Sick Mama

I'mb sick.

Mby throat hurts, I'mb coughing and mby head feels like an dobersized balloon. I'mb taking the twinds to the doctor today and then I'mb picking up Cole and we're combing homb.
Pweeze, God, hab the kids take long-g naps this afternoon!

Oned Sick Bmabma

Quick Bites

Just a bit o' news from the Manne homefront:

A new favorite of mine from Maurah: This is really one of the first pictures I've ever gotten of her with her eyes open. It may be just another picture to you, but trust me - with 4370 photos in our Kodak gallery and maybe a handful of Maurah with her eyes open, it's a moment for us!


A new favorite of mine from Hayden: I love how she turns her head to the side like this. She's a real thinker, who constantly analyzes her toys with a very serious look on her face. It's so funny when we're talking and she looks at us like this - I'll bet she'll grow up to be a therapist or a ministry worker! HaHa!
Both of the girls are working on crawling. Maurah seems to be more persistent in it than Hayden at this point. As soon as you sit her down, she's reaching to be moving somewhere else! I can't believe we're at this stage already. I keep thinking they're too young, but they make sure to prove me wrong!


We have painted! Well, Jake has painted more like it! But Cole and I started - here is a look at our handy work! Don't be alarmed - it looks like a mix of a dirty diaper or Hershey's kisses melted on the wall. However, it looks amazing now that it's done. It's the entryway from the side door and the stairwell down to our basement. It makes our kitchen look so much better! So I would recommend Hershey's kisses to anyone!

Last night, Cole was playing my Grandpa's harmonica, which he lovingly referred to as a whistle. It was really sweet for me to watch him, knowing that my Grandpa would have loved Cole so much. He would have loved all of my kids, I'm sure, but Cole has very similar interests to my Grandpa. Unfortunately, he never got to meet him, as my Grandpa passed away two weeks before Cole was born. I often watch Cole play with trains or airplanes and think of how God provided me with a piece of my Grandpa through him. So last night, as Cole was breathing in and out on the harmonica, I was reminded of how Grandpa would play every Christmas, my mom at the piano and my Aunt Beth singing along to 'O Holy Night'. What a special memory to have renewed right after this Christmas season! I felt warm and at home inside. Isn't it wonderful how children are such a gift in and of themselves but how God can use them to bring back memories of loved ones who are with Him? Of course, I took a picture!

Farewell 2008, Welcome 2009

Ok, so I'm the last person who should be promising to post pictures or video! Sorry about that one!

I, for some reason, am not able to find the cord that I need to transfer the video of Cole singing in church. So! A synopsis would be that he walked in with all of the kids and hung his head low the entire time. I, apparently finding the stage-mom within me, got his attention, telling him to ring his bell and sing. Instead of complying, he began yelling over the other kids, "Come on, Mom! Come on, Mom!" Laughing ensued, and I'm hoping other parents weren't disgruntled that Cole stole the show from their kids. I just sat there and thought, "Story of my life. He wouldn't think of coming to me - he wants me to make sure I come to him!" It was sweet though, and definitely a moment to remember! The girls got to make their debut as well, wearing little star halos on their heads and being carried in by beloved friends in the church. So sweet!

Our Christmas season was wonderful. It was the first time in my life that I was able to keep the real reason for the season in tact. What a difference that made in my celebration of Christ's birth! We spent Christmas morning opening our own family gifts and enjoying monkey bread with sparkling juice and then headed to Hastings to spend the rest of the day with my family. It was so fun, having my sister and Adam spend the night with AJ and my grandma came and stayed with us too. I loved it! We then traveled to Kent City to spend the rest of our time with Jake's family, his sister from Alabama in particular. It was so nice being reunited with family we barely get to see, but heartbreaking when we had to say goodbye again. Jake and I then went to our old church Sunday morning where it was so nice to see faces we haven't seen in quite a while, but people who we still love dearly. We spent that evening with our best friends, Derek and Katie. It just gave the feeling of home again and it was so nice to just be relaxed and ourselves. A huge blessing was having coffee the next day with two girls that I had in my small group when I was a youth leader in Kent City. What a joy to see how the Lord is working in their lives still and so humbling to be told that Katie and I have a part in that! It is a true gift when you can see how God uses you. All of this to say, we had a great holiday time! We were worn out by the time we arrived home, and it was a good feeling to walk into our house and have it all be so familiar and warm. We rang in the New Year by watching Pride and Prejudice (my favorite!) and doing nothing at all. No expectations, just being with each other. It was our best New Year's so far! (And I won't even mention how I dominated Monopoly the next day!) After all that has happened in our lives in 2008, we are excited for 2009 and what God will bring for us. I feel like it's a fresh start - a clean slate that I'm waiting for Him to write on and give us a new story to share for this year. Hopefully it won't be full of hospital stays or traumatic events that the last year had. But we know that it's in the Great Author's hand and we faithfully accept whatever He brings us. Thank you for keeping up with us throughout this last year and for all of your prayers and encouragement! We look forward to writing and sharing with you in 2009!Happy New Year!
Love, The Mannes

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...