Ho-Hum, Ho-Hum

Sorry for the absence (not that you've been sitting around, just waiting for me to show up! :)).  There hasn't been too much happening to write about, I suppose.  A little of this, a little of that.  I needed to get my silly photo off the top of our blog though!  So.......here's a dreaded bullet list to fill you in on the ever-exciting life of the Mannes:

  • The kids and I attended our first ever MOPS playdate at the park.  It went really well and I'm looking forward to trying out this program more to meet some more moms who are in the same stage of life I am.  I'm especially proud of Cole who almost tried jumping in the blowup jumpy castle (you know what I mean?).  Almost.  When he tried to go through the teeny opening with at least five kids with their dirty socks in his face on their way out, he got a bit freaked.  I can't imagine why that would freak him out.  Yuck.  This almost is a big step for my timid oldest and I'm so proud.
  • Beth Moore's study on Esther is wonderful.  I've only done the first week but have learned so much about God's Word and myself already.  If you haven't done it, you should try it!  I do it by myself each morning for my alone time with God so don't feel like you have to do a group study to get anything out of it.  I'm looking forward to these next eight weeks!
  • Another Beth Moore plug - I've just finished reading her book, Feathers From My Nest and it's another great read for moms.  Some days life as a mom can seem so mundane and have little value.  I was feeling this way when I ordered this book from Amazon and I'm telling you - I have a new focus and have been so encouraged!  A new 'tude as my kids would say!
  • Jake just had his last week of two-night youth group.  For the rest of the time, he'll only be gone on Wednesdays.  This decision was made in the best interest of the youth group, but I like to pretend it's because he wanted to be home to help me with the bedtime battles.  :)
  • I've been thinking a lot about Cole starting preschool in the fall.  In just a couple of months, he will no longer be with just me all day.  It's the first time ever that someone else will get much of his days.  I'm sad and excited all at the same time.  I'm trying to get as much fun in this summer as we can because my time with him is growing limited already.  I'm sure I'll lament on this more later.  
  • The girls are talking nonstop now.  It gets incredibly loud around here.  I try to keep in touch with people through phone conversations but it just can't happen unless Jake is home and I'm in our room.  Alone.  With the door locked.  And the fan on to block out the noise outside of the door.  
  • Our favorite new fun is having a dance party to the Laurie Berkner Band.  If you haven't heard her dinosaur song, you should.  (Here you go.  :))  We pretend to be dinosaurs and run around like crazy.  Honestly, I haven't had this much fun in a long time.  
  • I've been spending some time playing Legos with Cole every day.  I love it.  He does too.  I'm so glad we're out of the pretending to be Storm Troopers stage and we can sit and build.  It's great.
  • I'm learning how to get crayon out of carpet.  As in - bright orange crayon.  As in - an entire block of carpet colored.  I will not report the culprit except to say that this is the same person who "shot the bad guys" with an entire container of baby powder.  The doctor says this person has an incredible imagination and it's a sign of intelligence.  I say, when did intelligence get so messy?
See?  I told you that I really don't have much to say.  I should change the name of our blog to "The Dulldrums.....No News....Sorry!".  I guess overall, it's just been nice to not have too much happening!  A great respite after such a busy spring!  Although, I suppose the name of our blog is just right.  "Celebrating the Everyday Ordinary."  Sometimes it's in the ordinary that things are most wonderful.

I leave you with my little lady who, if you notice, has shins so chubby, they fall over her sandals.  If you feel the need to reach into the computer and pinch her cheeks, I don't blame you.  Be still, my heart.  Bless her.

Invisible Children Update & CELEBRATION!

All of the petitions signed, funds spent, weird looks for wearing these t-shirts to church, awareness raised and prayers prayed were worth every second.  I'm proud to say too that many of our youth group kids were part of this mission too.  It's awesome to see what youth can do when they move together.

I'm so excited because I'm wearing my first-ever I.C. t-shirt tonight too!  Yes, this is really me.
Yes, I took a picture because I am a huge dork.

I figured that, if you read this blog, you must be a dork too.

And yes, I do believe I.C. will be calling me to model their newest line of tees soon.  

But BIGGER things are happening now and I am so giddy!!!!  Check it out!

Dedication and Mother's Day

Two Sundays ago, Jake and I dedicated Laina to God.  I find myself taking the actual ceremony a bit lighter than normal, only because we prayed over her and dedicated her to God when she was born while we were still in the hospital.  So, I suppose this was more our public display of promising to raise her in the Lord more than us just starting to create that environment for her.
The silly thing is, she slept through the entire thing.  Every.single.moment her head was buried and we have pretty much no pictures of her face!  I thought she'd at least wake up when I handed her over to Pastor for him to pray but she didn't perk up one bit!
 Pastor said a beautiful prayer and Jake read the verse he picked especially for Laina - the Great Commandment that Jesus gives to love God and love people.  This is our prayer for all of our kids; that they would be people who live to wholeheartedly serve God and others.
Here's our sweet girl with her eyes OPEN!  The hair is disheveled from all of her napping but I just wanted to get a shot of her with her dedication flowers on this very special day!
This past Sunday was a great time celebrating Mother's Day with Jake and the kids.  I still get a bit somber on Mother's Day ever since Mother's Day 2008.  I guess the gravity of me having four beautiful, healthy kids and knowing so many women who long to be mothers or who have lost babies or even the babies who are waiting for families hits me differently sometimes.  I often get comments from friends or family members saying I'm a "super mom" or " wonder mom" and I feel badly because I know the reality....and that's definitely not the reality!  There may be another post coming on this later.  :)

So, I don't mean to be a downer.  Really - WE HAD FUN!  Jake surprised me and took me to the zoo with the kids which is my very favorite thing to do as a family.  I really think Lincoln Park Zoo is one of my top five favorite places ever.  Evah.  I have to say the best part of the day were the cards I got from Jake and the one from the kids.  Both were homemade and the sweetest things ever.  Again, EVAH.  I don't think there's a better gift than something the people you love took the time to make for you!

Here's a pic of my blessings and I.  They're my world and so much of the joy that I have in life.  It only took us about six rounds to get a shot of all of our faces turned in somewhat the same direction with all of our eyes opened.  And for some reason, it was necessary for them to take their backpacks to church with them.  So don't be confused - this IS a Mother's Day picture and not a 1st Day of School photo!  :)

Good Ol' Solomon

This morning in my time with God, I was hit with something that I think is going to be revolutionary in my life.  At least, I hope it will be.

I don't usually share what I'm learning on here because - well - most of the things God is teaching me seems to be specifically for me.  Or they're too personal to put "out there".  Or I want to and never get around to it.

Anyway, I hope that what I'm about to share makes sense and that you might be encouraged by it.  Mostly, I just want this moment's idea to be ingrained in my brain and my heart.  If you're still reading this rambling, come join me on a trip to King Solomon's time - - - - - and wear your seat belts because it's quite a journey!

I have been reading through the 1's and 2's for a while now - you know, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, etc.  This morning I read in 1 Kings about Solomon building the temple for God.  Finally, after how many years, God's temple became a reality!  I've read this passage of Scripture before but always skipped over it because it gets kind of repetitive with measurements of cubits.  I am not a numbers sort of girl when it's measurements I understand let alone something of a cubit!

What I got out of reading through these couple of chapters is how absolutely beautiful Solomon built the temple.  Gold covered pretty much everything.  Pure, refined gold.  The details were exquisite.  I think of how God's presence dwelt there and then how He came and lived next to us, still perfect in a messy world.  He set aside His full glory for a time to be the Messiah we all needed - and many still need today.  He was Immanuel - God with us.

Now, for those of us who believe in Christ and have accepted Him as our Lord, He dwells within us.  God lives in me - one of the messiest of people, whose sin nature makes this world a messy place to be.  As thankful as I am that this is true, I am quick to forget that He hasn't set aside His glory this time - His Spirit is in His fullness in me!  How quick I am to cover Him up with my pride and insecurities.  I wrote these things in my journal - - - forgive me if they're not the most eloquent.  Here are two ideas going through this crazy brain:

1)  If I am now God's temple, I should be paying very close attention and detail to how I'm "decorating" His courts.  Are they filled with disbelief, mistrust and insecurity?  If so, I need to put them in the fire and refine them until they're as pure as gold!
2)  I think there's a fine line in being the weaklings that we are.  What I mean is, there's a glorious beauty in the God of the universe wanting to live in us but I think we far too often stop there and don't move forward in that.  While we don't need to dress ourselves up for Him to love us, we do owe Him a place of honor.

All of this to say that I know I get comfy in my weaknesses and end up using them as excuses to not be bold and to live with the power of Christ in me.  I end up squelching His power and His glory because it's scary to me.  This is why I struggle to move forward in faith sometimes.  I don't embrace what He has to offer fully and completely!

I prayed this morning that this insight into this passage would be life changing for me; that I will tear down my messy walls and begin to cover them in gold.  I know it will take a long time - it took Solomon 7 years working with materials that didn't have a sin nature and baggage!  The work is worth it though.  I want to give God a glorious temple to live in.

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...