A Year Ago Yesterday...

Hayden came home for the first time!  

While this weekend has been a celebration of my birthday, I've been thinking more about this time last year and what a different place we are in.

Hayden, when we brought you home, you were still so teeny tiny.  The first sixty-six days of your life were spent in a hospital, fighting off infection, heart murmur, weak lungs and a whole lot more.  From the very beginning, you were such a fighter.  You still are!  When I see your spunk and the attitude you give when you don't get your way or when Maurah is taking a toy from you, I am thankful because that is exactly what got you through those rough days.  You seemed so frail, yet so strong.  And look at you now!  There are so many things I love about you and how I've gotten to know you in just this last year.

  • I love how you lay at our feet like a little puppy dog when you want to pick us up.
  • I love how dainty you are when you eat, taking each bite one-by-one - definitely not the way a typical one year-old eats!
  • I love the dimples in your elbows and knees and the one little dimple that appears in your cheek when you're really happy.
  • I love your high-pitched squeal of delight.
  • I love how you sneak over to the T.V. to push buttons and then leave us with a mischievous giggle as you crawl away.
  • I love how you snuggle with your elephant to go to sleep.
  • I love how you wave bye-bye.
  • I love how you say Da-da and then say Mama by tapping your hand to your lips and blabbering.
  • I love how you love to wrestle.
  • I love how you're our "little mama" who snuggles baby dolls and worries when real babies are crying.
  • I love how you like to show how strong you are by putting all of your toys over and behind your head.
  • I love how your hair wings out only on the left side - much like my own, I'm afraid!
  • I love your big brown eyes and how you scope out strangers with them.
  • I love your serious face.
  • I love how you splash in the bath and spray everyone with water.

Look at how far you've come!  I just love my Bady-Boo!!!

Fickle, Meet Faithful

This last Sunday we had a bit of a scare with my pregnancy. Without sharing the gory details, things just weren't the way they were supposed to be. Jake was at one of our youth fundraisers washing cars, and I was at home with the three kids. I called the hospital to let them know what was going on, wondering what I should do. They recommended that I come in. After many back and forths of getting a hold of Jake, finding someone to watch the kids, etc., I was finally in my van, driving to meet my husband so we could go to the hospital together. Thankfully, once we got there, we learned that everything is fine. Things weren't feeling the way they were supposed to, but they were where they needed to be and that was the key. I was sent home with nothing to worry about...a much happier Mama indeed.

Now, the part of the story that I really want to share is what was going on between God and me in those few hours. Here's something I wrote in my quiet time only days before...

"I pray that 2009 will be a year where You help me grow in my faith like I never have before. Transform me from the inside out and bring opportunities to share You with those who need You. You are so worthy. You are enough! Strengthen me, Lord. Chip away my weakness. Mold me, break me, do whatever You have to do to get me in a constant position of giving You all the praise."

My prayer on paper ends here because I stopped and started praying silently to God that, even as I wrote those words, I was scared that praying those things would give Him the place to take away this baby. Call it superstitious, and really, if I'm being honest, that's what it is. I confessed that to Him, and He knows where I'm coming from. It's just that, after last year with the girls, I don't think I can take the thought of losing a child. We came so close with them and, in my head, I justify that we've been through our pain and we don't deserve any more. Crazy thought, I know! It's just that I have this little fear instilled in me that I will lose a child of mine. Never before have I been a worrier, and I still am not to this day...except for this little thought.

So, in those few hours of fear on Sunday, you can bet that I was so quick to disregard my prayer. In my defense, I did at least fight to not have the thoughts I had. That's a start, right? But how quickly I turned my back on God! The One who I professed was enough. Enough means "occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations." Not only does God meet my needs, He meets my expectations! When things are going well for me, I am quick to say that He surpasses my expectations. But as soon as things are looking grim, I start to question whether God really is Who He says He is.

Thank goodness God isn't fickle like I am. For I am surely not enough for Him - and yet - I am. Another part of my prayer during that quiet time was...

"Lord, I want to be someone who is fearless for You. I want Your Word to be so hidden in my heart that I can't help but have my mouth speak it. I want your light to be visible in me. Lord, help me. I am so weak. I'm frustrated because I've let my faith be watered down by culture, laziness and petty church issues. I don't deserve You saying, 'Well done' to me. And yet, Lord, in spite of myself, You love me. I don't want to forget this and turn it into beating myself up without recognizing Your mercy and grace. For the first time in a while, I see how I really don't deserve You. But You still call me."

God is so good, isn't He? He says to us, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you" (Isaiah 49:15). Again, He promises, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). Thankfully, God doesn't change His mind like I do. James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

So, all of this to say, that I'm going to make an addendum to my last journal entry. That, not only would I grow this year, but that my faith in my Savior would not be a shifting shadow. That it would be firm and steady, recognizing God for Who He is always - even if He so chooses to take a child of mine. This is difficult for me to even write, but God is so worthy. He deserves my all and my very best. If you've made it to the end of this lengthy entry, listen to this song...one of my favorites and definitely one of my prayers.

Pearly Whites and Awful Fake Tans

This precious little three year-old had his first dentist visit last week. Amazingly, he did really well! I warned the nurse that we didn't have anything special for comfort, since Cole has decided that nothing is good enough. (Really - I gave him a dog we got him for his first Christmas to sleep with one night when he was having bad dreams and do you know what he did? He threw the poor thing off of his bed and said, "I don't like that dog!" The nerve!) The nurse assured me he'd be fine and then told me that they would just use me as his object of comfort. Hence, I sat in the dentist's chair with Cole on my lap, excited that he had the chance to choose a toy from the treasure chest because, "Then I get to be a PIRATE! I want to be a pirate when I grow up!"

A mother's dream.

We were able to leave the dentist's office with no screaming and no tantrums. An answered prayer? You betcha! His chosen "treasure" was a cheap plastic tractor, which broke only 5 minutes after we were back in the van. Thankfully, he didn't sail around the world and hold anyone captive in order to get that piece of junk!
Now....this precious one year-old is Maurah. This was the day I decided to let the girls eat Spaghetti-O's by themselves.

Never again.

By the time the girls were done, it looked like we had given them horrible spray tans. Think of the Friends episode where Ross had a spray tan and teeth whitened way too much. If you think that's funny, you should see it on two little babies!

Just look at the contrast of these pictures though. It gives you a good glimpse into the personalities of the girls and how vastly different they are already. Maurah, covered in her spaghetti-o's and her tray empty...
...and Hayden, with just a slight glow of a goatee and a tray still full of food. It absolutely cracks me up when I watch these girls eat. Hayden takes small bites, one by one, while Maurah grabs a handful and slams her hand into her face, catching whatever she can in her mouth. They're just hilarious. Actually, I'm supposed to be setting up a dentist appointment for them too...

Note to self: Do NOT eat Spaghetti-O's on that day!

Dinner Chat

Tonight at the dinner table we had a conversation that went something like this:

Jake: "Cole, what does Mommy say?"

Me, thinking to myself: "I love you, honey."

Cole, speaking: "If you hit Hayden one more time, you're gonna' hav-a sit in time-out!"

All my hopes dashed in a three year-old's brutal honesty. Although, he's right - I have to say that about ninety times a day. There was a bright spot when Jake asked, "Who says, 'I love you, honey'", and Cole did reply, "MOMMY!" I guess there's hope for us yet!

Thank You, Oprah

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that Jake and I are passionate about a cause called Invisible Children. A couple of weeks ago, I posted that we were planning on attending an event called The Rescue. This event's purpose was to bring awareness to the United States citizens, many of whom don't even know what is happening on the other side of the world. Advocates wore Invisible Children t-shirts and basically did peaceful sit-ins in the middle of large cities all around the U.S., waiting for large profile people to show up and make the awareness even greater. Once that person came, they were "rescued."

Jake and I made a last minute decision that it wasn't smart for us to attend this year, first, because I'm pregnant and wasn't sure how long our city (Chicago) would be out there. Jake was going to go on his own, but ended up having to stay to get some last minute work done. We kept track online, watching DeVos "rescue" Grand Rapids, MI and big name actors take over other large cities. John Kerry even sent one of his advisers to represent him and his support. The last city left? Chicago.

At first, I was so disappointed in our celebrities and government officials. Why couldn't they just make an appearance? Are these kids not worthy enough for them to lend their name to? After almost a week of sitting in the rain, sleeping in parks and parking garages, the group of 500 advocates for the children in Uganda finally got what they wanted...what they needed. They decided to march to Oprah's studio yesterday morning where she welcomed them and wanted to hear their story. Then, she invited them onto her show! If you watched Oprah at all yesterday, you saw the Invisible Children guys first thing. This is the event Jake and I so badly wanted to go to! All I could think, after I had been so frustrated all week, was that God must have had a plan in this. What better way to get exposure in the United States than to be on Oprah?

If you have a few moments, watch this video and you'll get the gist of it all.


I can't tell you how exciting this is and I am hoping so desperately that the millions of Oprah fans will make an effort to find out more about how they can help these kids be truly rescued from the evil hands of Joseph Koney. I would encourage you to check it out and do the same. When I hear the stories, I can't help but think of my own son, so if it helps you to have a bit more compassion, try and think of what it would be like if this was life for your OWN children. For some reason, people just become numbers when they're on the other side of the world. We need to start seeing faces if we're really going to care and do anything. Really, can you not give these kids a few minutes of your time and just read their story? I've posted the link all throughout this post, but here it is one last time:

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...