love the water!

Ek taught herself to blow bubbles, which is good b/c i don’t know how one teaches another to do that. We think her goal was to get big sips of water and she ended up discovering she could do this!

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some favorite things currently

1- The book “A Mother’s Heart”- it is changing my life and how I view the everyday ordinary- highly recommend!

2- our newly rediscovered Espresso Machine- mmmmmm lattes!

3- homemade granola- thanks to mrs. lauren akers for sharing her recipe- its delicious and way cheaper

4- a visit from my sister Tori. I continue to love her honesty and vulnerability and willingness to just jump right in- we had a great weekend with her and as I”m thinking lots about sister relationships these days, I am excited to think about Ellie Kate and her sister.

5- EK has been sleeping till about 7:30 or 8:00 and we have been sleeping with the monitor off and this short bit of time before we get a new sleeper in the house feels like the promised land.

6- Pinterest- uh… maybe this is a non favorite, I can’t decide. How can one spend so many hours on this silly thing???

7-having Lewis “off” for 8 days in between semesters. We are literally using a babysitter 4 times this week (some free, some hired)- and I am starting to feel like its stay-cation mode!

8- snack cups- you know those little cups with the flexible lid, where you can reach in and grab a few cheerios but not spill them- thank you for creating these someone.

9-eggs- not a new favorite, certainly, but who doesn’t love a good scrambled egg with cheese or a hard boiled egg on your salad. Last week we went through 18 eggs- is that weird/unhealthy/creepy?

10- independent play time- since we got back from the holiday, EK gets about 20 minutes of playtime by herself in her pack n play and I get a shower or to clean up from breakfast- it has been such freedom to know she is safe and contained (and learning to love it).

love and more love and sisters

It is dark and quiet and toasty under my red blanket. I’ve had half an hour of this strange morning peace in our home, and my coffee, spirals of steam still rising, hasn’t quite hit my brain yet. Although my bed was still warm and pregnancy uncomfortableness had invited me to an hour or two awake in the middle of the night, I knew that sitting in this red and green striped chair by myself for a little was going to be a gift. And as I was reading this morning, I just had this huge urge to write, and so here I am.

I got up to finish my Bible Study (err… start…) for this morning’s meeting at church. I have loved being a part of this group of women from all ages and stages and loved the material, the leaders, the fellowship and the snacks. This semester we have just started Tim Keller’s new book “King’s Cross.” The man is a genius, with a beautiful talent and passion. To be honest, this is the first of his books that I have read (and only one chapter at that). Anyways, Keller is taking readers through the book of Mark, showing us how “the whole story of the world- and of how we fit into it- is most clearly understood through a careful, direct look at the story of Jesus. My purpose here is to try to show, through his words and actions, how beautifully his life makes sense of ours.”

Now, I can’t do it justice (read it!). But something has struck me this morning. Keller points out that “no person in the Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit) insists that others revolve around him; rather each of them voluntarily circles and orbits around the others. And if this world were made by a triune God, relationships of love are what life is really all about. God created us not to get joy, but to give it. He must have created us to invite us into the dance, to say: If you glorify me, if you center your entire life on me, if you find me beautiful for who I am in myself, then you will step into the dance, which is what you are made for. You are made to center everything in your life on me, to think of everything in terms of your relationship to me.”

But ofcourse, the fall is also the true reality of our world, and instead of choosing this, way back with Adam and Eve, we chose to revolve around self. Satan has been at work since forever whispering, “The idea of self giving love, where you make yourself totally vulnerable and you orbit around other people- that will never work.”

And here is why this is striking this particular January morning as my free moments of solitude inch towards the busy ness of the morning- We were made to love, to revolve not around ourselves, to have our lives filled up and brimming with loving relationship with spouse and neighbor, dog, student, brother, mother, father, sister, uncle, grocery store clerk. And I know there are a million ways that I fail to love selflessly Lewis and sweet Ellie Kate. But there are also a million ways that my heart fills up and overflows with love for them… but what about this new baby?

Finding out that is a sweet baby girl nestled inside my tummy has brought all these weird questions and emotions and ultimately brought us face to face with some messy control and expectation issues. Obviously, we are grateful she is healthy, but I think one can’t help but think, “I knew it was a boy. We have a girl already. Will we ever have a boy?” And in just a few short days we have fallen in love with this little one and can’t wait to meet her and actually can’t imagine what it would be like if she were a boy. She is perfect and we love her. And with that, I have started to spend some hours dreaming of her little room (er… closet space) and Lewis has spent some hours hauling boxes to storage to make room in her little room (closet).

And (now, here’s the point i’m trying to make) this morning, i felt this whisper of lies, of doubt, of insecurity… What if I love her more than Ellie Kate? What if her room is cuter? What if by making her a quilt it means I love her more than my bald ,(still sleeping currently!) joyful big girl? I mean, I know these sound ridiculous. And as I was praying over them, and the temptation to believe them as true, I realized, wait… I was made to love. And we continue to say, we had no idea the depth and magnitude of love we would feel for Ellie Kate when we first met her- she literally took our breath and our hearts… how can I even pretend I’ll know what love for two of them is like? If we were made for love, then certainly God has a plan for how I’ll attempt to love them both- our love is not divided, not subtracted, but multiplied because in a leap of faith, this is what we were made for.

And so that’s where I sit this morning, humbled once again in knowing that I can’t do this love thing, this momma and wife and thing by myself, and grateful for small whispers back to truth when I start to think I can. I don’t know what it will be like to love two little girls- to share my time and lap and favorite snacks- but each of us will be growing and making space and hopefully learning more about the sacrifices and joys of the selfless love we were called to. I will dream about her little room and I will dream for her quilt which probably won’t get made and I most definitely will dream of all the ways love for her will radically change our family-all three of us- ways we can’t even imagine.

Aunt TP visits!

Aunt Tori is in the middle of a very high profile internship in Chicago for this month – but she found time to fly and see us in St. Louis! We are loving having her here. EK is really loving it, because like any good aunt, she gets some good food on the sly from her aunt tp. Here’s a little snack football break on the couch.

thoughts on 2012

The last day of 2012. We have two more days before Lewis goes back to class, being a full time student. There is a wet snow heavily falling outside our windows and our dry Christmas tree is hanging on for just a few more days- its twinkling lights reflecting off of the smiling faces of our friends and family surrounding us via gorgeous Christmas cards. I think EK will nap for about thirty more minutes, so i’m going to try and reflect on 2012 a little.

When I think about this year, I think about all the changes, all the unknowns, all the unexpected twists and turns of love and hope. This year for our little family has been a year of experiencing unknown deep love, grief, anticipation and beauty. This has been a year where we have had to trust more, and inspite of our unbelief, indescribable beauty has risen in places we did not expect.

Early in 2012, we welcomed little Ellie Kate into this world and our hearts. We were completely unprepared for the deep love that would take over our whole selves, that would penetrate every part of our lives and leave us breathless. We still creep into her room at night and watch her snuggled with her teddy, deep baby breaths in the dark, and I am suprised and grateful for the tears of love and awe that i wet my cheeks. How could we have known we would love her this much?

Also in 2012, my brother was deployed to Afghanistan and safely returned home. We did not know that we would experience such desperacy in our prayers and such pride in such selfless devotion. We grieve for many things in our country, but we are deeply grateful for the land of the free and the home of the brave. Thank you for many of your prayers for him during this time.

Mid 2012, we packed our penske and left 2326 Highland Avenue and everything and everyone we loved in sweet Cville. We could not have expected the kinds and waves of grief that hit us for months after wards… and at the same time, we could not have expected that sweet joys that moving to St. Louis and this journey has already brought us. We know this is where we are supposed to be. We are grateful for the opportunity to trust and lean deeper into The Lord Jesus and His plans for us. We are learning what it means to be uncomfortable as we adjust to new callings as full time student and full time mother.

And here we are at the end of 2012, breathlessly awaiting our dr’s appointment next Tuesday to find out if baby #2 will be a boy or girl! Along the same theme, we could never have expected to become parents twice in the same calendar year! We cannot wait to meet this little peanut and welcome him or her into our lives and hearts and tiny apartment. We now know from experience that there is no way we can prepare for that kind of love.

2012 has been a year of tremendous beauty in unexpected places. In fact, even now, I don’t know if I would have believed I could call the suburbs of Creve Coeur where we live now, beautiful (especially compared to the Blue Ridge Mountains). But, from this view right here on my red couch, the snow covering the trees and patio furniture and roads, its looking pretty pretty. We are grateful for a year of growth and stretching and surprises and hope in 2012. We look forward to 2013 as a year to learn more about quiet surrender and trusting that His plans will always exceed our expectations.

The weary world rejoices

In about twenty minutes we are going to load a little girl into our Subaru and take off from Knoxville to st Louis to complete the end of our christmas travels. My ipad keyboard is out of batteries so I’m typing this on the actual ipad which isn’t that easy but I know if I don’t do it in these quiet moments it might never get done.

We left St. Louis with the tragedy of the december school shooting swirling all around us. We wondered, like you, how could a great god allow this to happen? How and why and what now and what if? And as the miles and the days brought us closer to home and actual Christmas Day, these questions did not become easier. We all wept with a nation, with strangers we do not know over their grief and loss, because it’s our grief and loss as well. And all we could keep coming back to was, ” this is exactly why Jesus came to our world.” What better picture of a weary world in need of rejoicing.. A reason to rejoice.

And I’m not pretending that fear and sadness and anger were wiped away by the 25th, in fact Jesus didn’t promise that for this side of heaven. But that is the only place our hope can lie, that because of his birth our weary, broken world can indeed rejoice in the hope that one day there will be no more tears.

Our own weary hearts have been deeply filled and satisfied this christmas holiday. The height and depth and breadth of love we shared with so many friends and family has been the best gift to us. Around your kitchen tables of good food, in your warm embraces, in your kitchens, meeting your new babies, oogling over your growing babies, nestled in your warm beds, next to your fireplaces, under your christmas trees, on your family room floors, with your “woof woofs”, we have been deeply loved. We love you. And we are grateful for you. Merry merry christmas and happy new year.

finished with first semester!

December 10, 2012

In the midst of Christmas lights and baked goods, our little family is finding ourselves almost (two finals away!) done with first semester. And in these last weeks, we have come to realize and timidly name that this place is starting to feel like home. I had to wrestle with the fact that that seemed like betrayal, that if this new life, apartment, friends, parks, were beginning to feel like home, what did that mean about our sweet other home, our sweet old home?. Lewis wisely reminded me that St. Louis, Covenant, doesn’t replace Charlottesville, but instead, it is becoming a place where we can thrive, a place we can add to our quiver of beauty.

Each time we come back to this place, it feels more like we aren’t supposed to leave. Weeks ago, I could never have imagined loving it here, feeling at home here, but now, as we get ready to leave for two weeks, we are sorry to leave our little Christmas tree and this new city. We are still learning- learning what balance looks like, learning how to explore this city, when the best time to drive on the interstate is, who to share our hearts with, but I think we are falling in love with our time here, certainly with the people.

On Saturday night, our little apartment was crowded with 8 other seminary couples for a holiday party. The lights twinkled and red velvet tiramisu trifle decorated the table and cran-orange bourbon spritzers were passed around. I sat perched in the living room so grateful that in such a short time we have friends to fill our living room with at this time of year. Already we have laughed and cried with these sweet people and we do not take that for granted.

Also in these short weeks since Thanksgiving, Ellie Kate has taken off in crawling, gotten her first tooth and her first real sickness (read: stomach bug she passed to mom and dad!) It has seemed there has been no rest for the weary around here. However, also in these last weeks she has become a little girl. She is not our baby anymore. She thinks things are funny and works to make us laugh (easy). She is clear about her wants and desires, she loves to play and see her friends, and girlfriend loves to dance (see video… where she learned like this, we don’t know!)

As we watch this little girl become a little person in the world, I have started, in early morning dark hours, while still wrapped in flannel sheets, to feel soft flutters in my belly of our new baby. These flutters are so gentle, as soft as a million butterfly wings or Ellie Kate’s laughter put to movement. I am falling in love with this new little life. And, I feel great. My body has done this before, so now that I am no longer sick, I am not adjusting to expanding, like I did with EK. Only 3 more weeks till well know if we’re having a little brother or little sister.

It is in all these ways we find ourselves holding our breath for the magic of the season and at the same time already feeling wrapped in beauty and wonder and delight.