Why blog? I don't even have a facebook account...it feels like it makes life so public. But then--blogging is kind of like a diary, isn't it? It makes me feel a little like Doogie Houser at the end of the day--collecting my thoughts and putting them down. I don't want to blog because I want my life to be public (though I don't mind wearing my heart on my sleeve, most of the time) or because I'm a narcissist, but because these days of our young family are so precious I don't want to lose them to a faulty memory. This time, this stage, these moments truly are 'a time to keep', and blogging is simply the most convenient way to keep them and share them.

I really didn't think I'd ever start a blog...but now that Mac has stopped calling firetrucks "fire knuckles" (he now calls them firetrucks, and I'm so sad!), I realize I'll forget that he ever did that if I don't write it down. So, the blog begins. Welcome.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Scary Moment

On Tuesdays, a bulldozer comes by our house and picks up trash, yard debris, etc (whatever crazy stuff people want to leave on the side of the road). Recently, for unknown reasons, they skipped a week. So our neighbor's remodeling trash remained on the curb for over a week.

Mac became a little obsessed. He constantly talked about when the bulldozer would come. On every walk in the neighborhood, we had to look for it. Every time we got in the car we had talk about where it might be. I think we must have discussed the possible whereabouts of the bulldozer a dozen times a day--no exaggeration.

Earlier this week, Mac visited a new park, one which was a little less "secure" than our neighborhood park. (By this I mean there were multiple entrances/exits...or in other words: he could escape more easily.)

While he was playing in the sand, I was standing some distance away with Arden. A bulldozer came down the street. It made its way slowly, closer and closer to the park. I wish words could describe the look of utter rapture and delight that came upon Mac's face when it dawned on him: A BULLDOZER! He dropped his shovel. His mouth was hanging open in a slack-jawed smile. Every bit of his attention focused on this bulldozer.

And then--he took off. A bit of a jog for a few steps became a full-out two-year-old sprint, straight toward the park exit and the giant bulldozer lumbering down the street. In the exact opposite direction from where I was standing. For a second, I thought he was just running around the slide to get a better look. Then I realized...he's not stopping. He's not slowing down. He means to chase that bulldozer down the street into the sunset.

I'm so glad a friend was standing with me. She watched Arden while I took off after my racing toddler who had a good 60 foot head start. I was sprinting, sand was flying, I kept calling his name. He kept running, single-minded.

I caught up with him right at the fence, just before he made it out of the park.

He was all innocence, no idea that his terrified mother had just run the length of the park to keep him from harm's way. I was out of breath and emotional, torn between relief and anger.

He just pointed with his chubby little hand, looked at me and said, "There's a bulldozer!"

And it's all we've talked about since.

Monday, February 22, 2010


What a special day! I can't wait to go back and listen to the audio. I've heard that Dr. Ferguson prayed a very meaningful and special prayer for our sweet girl. I admit...I wasn't paying attention...Mac was wiping a huge booger on me...and I was distracted. I'm so sorry...I guess this is what it will mean for Arden to be a middle (hopefully) child.

But despite the distractions, I think Arden's baptism has been more meaningful to us that Mac's. Now that we've lived almost 2 and a half years, struggling to learn what it means to raise these children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord--and beginning to see some sweet fruit of the Lord's hand and our efforts (along with REAL proof that there is no good in us or our children apart from the Lord)...we are beginning to understand the depth of this responsibility. And the joy it brings.

There are so many ideas to reflect on when it comes to baptism, but the one that the Lord is really pressing on my heart is that these babies are HIS, entrusted to us as family. I love them fiercely--I can't imagine life without them. But I know He wants us to hold them with open hands, always His before they are ours. Always His.

Baptism (among many things) is a reminder of this--His gift to us in our children, our promise to him to raise them as His. What a precious gift.


As he was running (naked) to the bathroom the other day to use the potty, Mac told me--very seriously--that he needed privacy: "Mac need privacy Mama! Privacy!"

(Sounded more like: "Mac nee pira see Mama! pira see!")

I had to tell him...until you can actually do this by yourself, you cannot have privacy.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What else in a cup

Mac sometimes can't find the word for what he's trying to say, so occasionally, he will say to me, "Mac want something." (The something to which he is referring is a mystery I must figure out.)

This morning, he took it to a new level. He wanted a snack, but didn't know (or couldn't remember?) what he wanted. So he followed me into the kitchen and said, "I want 'what else' in a cup."

I wonder what he was expecting to get? So I asked him...Do you want cracker? Cereal? Raisins?

He decided on raisins. What else in a cup.

Friday, February 19, 2010

"If we knew the power of prayer, we'd be afraid to get off our knees."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sleeping Snowman

Here's what happens when a 2-year-old tells you that he wants to build a snowman:
After about 30 seconds, everything else seems more interesting, and the snowman is abandoned to become a snow bump. (Yes, I was helping--but he wanted me to stop and do something else. "No, no, no mama!")

Interestingly, Mac still regarded the bump as a snowman, and told me later in a matter-of-fact tone that the snowman was sleeping.

Arden, Our Beautiful Sweetheart

Snowy Saturday

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

"What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own, but belong--body and soul, in life and in death--to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: In fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him."
Heidelberg Catechism Question One

We used to recite this once a month at our North Carolina church. I love the way it sums up truths in Scripture (the whole point of catechisms, by the way). I have it on my mind this morning because I've been thinking about how "I am not my own" in a mothering sense: at this stage, with a toddler and a nursing infant, my body is not my own, my time is not my own, even my belongings are not my own (in the sense that I might find one of my church shoes in the pantry). In this sense, I am not my own but belong--in a way--to my children.

In another sense, I am my husband's. I've been thinking a lot about an article written by Dr. Barbian (counselor at our church) in the church's weekly newsletter. An excerpt:
"A second important consideration for marital love is to recognize that loving my spouse sacrificially is my highest calling. Think about this for a moment. God loves my spouse perfectly. Yet she cannot see him, hear him, or feel him. But she can see, hear and feel me. I become the tangible vessel through which God loves my spouse. She has needs for love that can and will only be met by me. My failure in these areas leaves her disappointed at best, feeling unloved at worst. Think about this tangible vessel idea. As you show your spouse kindness, patience, grace, physical and verbal affection, spend quality time, or meet any other love need, you are meeting needs created by God. It is your ministry and privilege to do so."

What a convicting though! I love the way Dr. Barbian explains this and reminds me of my calling as a wife. I think that while our children are at home, it also applies to our parenting (as in--our children understand God's love by the way that we as parents love them).

The point of all my ramblings? How does this all tie together? Ultimately, a reminder to myself that I am not my own, but belong--body and soul--to Jesus. And because I belong to Jesus--my life should reflect this in my attitude towards my husband and my children. Belonging to him means that--in a sense--I belong to them.

The funny thing about this? It's not as if I'm some victim, giving up myself in a way that makes my life terrible. Hard, yes; bitter, no. When I give myself to this way of thinking--praying that the Lord enables me to do so--I find the greatest joy and contentment. I realize that this is the way the Lord has designed families. (Funny that he most often uses family relationships to describe our relationship with him: the church as the bride of Christ; God the Father and us his adopted, dearly loved children.) When I look at my life, my time (this is a big one for me), my possessions as belonging to the Lord entirely, it frees me from feeling encumbered and resentful about giving away myself, my time, my things. They're not mine anyway.

And--as the catechism reminds me--"Christ, by his Holy Spirit...MAKES me wholeheartedly willing and ready...to live for Him." He works in me to do this. It's not a matter of "pulling up my bootstraps" and working harder to be a selfless, 'good' person. I heard this thought, attributed to Mother Teresa, recently:
My ministry is to realize the overwhelming love of Jesus for me, and from the overflow of that love to love others. (Not a direct quote--but something like this.)

It starts with Jesus, not with me. True love, not a burden. His power and love, at work in me as I change diapers and fix supper. The ultimate Valentine:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you,being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how WIDE and LONG and HIGH and DEEP is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the FULLNESS of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:16-21 {Don't you think Paul must have underlined and written in caps sometimes?}

Sometimes, the thing that is more than I can ask or imagine is being patient and kind when Mac is making me crazy, unloading the dishwasher--with joy!--when I'd rather be reading blogs, or being understanding and loving when Brad can't read my mind. What a comfort that the power to do this is in Christ, and not in me. I am not my own. What a comfort, what a blessing.

Happy Valentines Day!

"Choo Choo Far Away Church!"

This is what Mac says every time he hears a train whistle in the distance. Presumably, this is because the most frequent time we see trains is on our way to downtown, and our most frequent reason for going downtown is to go to church.

Like most kids his age, he can HEAR the train, and he NOTICES it. I never realized how often I tuned stuff like that out until he began pointing it out to me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Yesterday Morning:

Yesterday Afternoon:

After that:

Later still (as in, Mac should have been in bed...but it was magical outside):

A happy day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Potty Time!

Waiting for Mac to do something in the potty is like listening to Monica Seles play tennis. It can be quite amusing but I try not to laugh!

Also, a friend lent me 8 of her cloth diapers to try! So Arden has been wearing them some this week. (8 is about enough for one day--so she's worn them every other day this week. On the off days I wash and air dry them.) They're really pretty cool! They look something like this:
Pretty cool, eh? They're so soft and sweet! And have been working really well! The process for cleaning them is so thorough (but not labor intensive) that I'm not even freaked out about them being in my washer : )

So, given that the average child uses just over $2,000 worth of diapers in their infancy and toddlerhood, I'm pretty interested in saving a few dollars. I can think of MUCH better ways to spend the $60ish we spend per month in diapers! (That figure will go down once Mac's out of diapers and she's a little bigger and doesn't use as many...but still!)

The main thing I've learned in trying them...? I thought it would be a BIG DEAL to switch to cloth...but actually, it's not a big deal at all. I've got to change diapers all the time anyway--what's one more step in the process? Especially--ESPECIALLY--saving that kind of money. So we'll see. I'll use them a few more days, and make the final decision. But I'm leaning very strongly in that direction.

Oh--not to mention that it's so much nicer to put soft cotton on her little bottom than bleached, chemical-ridden paper!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Disciples

I went to the hospital today to visit my dear friend and her new baby. Here's how the conversation went when I got home:

Me: Mac, I went to the hospital and I got to see baby Peter.
{Loooong pause. Mac seems to be considering this.}
Mac: See John?
Me: Do you mean Mr. Jon? (The baby's father.)
{Pause...not quite as long as the first.}
Mac: No! See Jesus?

Mac evidently thought I went see Peter...as in the apostle Peter. And because the pictures of Peter in our Bible Stories book always have John, James and Jesus with him, Mac apparently thought I went to see them too.

(We actually don't know if all the pictures are of Peter, James and John...we just use those names because Mac asks who everyone is in each picture in the Bible. So we usually say the people with Jesus are Peter, James and John. )

In other news--Mac is really picking up on this potty-training thing! I'm so proud of him! The funny part is that he insists on removing all his clothes when he sits on the potty. I don't want potty-training to become a battleground, so I let him (rephrase: I help him) strip down completely. We'll have to break that habit soon, but for now, it's pretty funny.

Also, Arden is going to be a thumb-sucker, I think. I went in to check on her while she was napping today. I was watching her sleep--so sweet--and she stirred a little and brought her thumb right up to her mouth and relaxed again (all in her sleep). So great that she can comfort herself...but it's going to a painful habit to break one day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Changing Arden's Diaper and Grocery Shopping

I suppose Mac really wanted to be like me today?

Arden was lying under her play gym, endlessly entertained by her efforts to swat at the animals above her face. I was sitting on the couch folding laundry. Mac was running around doing Mac things. I looked down and realized he is bent over Arden, holding her legs up over her head.

Me:(aghast) Mac, what are you doing?!?!?!
Mac: (matter-of-fact) Arden need new diaper. Need wipes?

Yes, he was pretending to change her diaper. She was just looking at him.

Later, he was walking around with his cart and informed me that he needed to go grocery shopping. Next thing I know:
Please notice all the empty pantry shelves in the background.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yeah and No

Mac--who was late in learning the word "no"--now knows it well and uses it often. Like, all the time. As in...he says no even to things he wants to do.

He also is suddenly saying "yeah" (when he's not saying "no"). Ugh--"yeah" gets on my nerves! He used to say "yes" or "uh-huh"...but "yeah"!?!? I don't know why it bothers me so much. It seems disrespectful I suppose. So each time he says "yeah" we correct him--"yes ma'am", "yes sir."

Me: Mac, do you want raisins?
Mac: Yeah!
Me: Yes ma'am.
Mac: Yes ma'am.

This is how every exchange goes.

Now I hear a sweet little Arden cry...unusual...so I need to check on the sweetums.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Prayer in Parenting...and diaper change in the drive through

Yesterday I changed the diaper of my huge 2 year old son in my lap in the drive through of a Chic-Fil-A. It was pouring rain outside. He poured water from his sippy cup all over his lap. Our car was loaded with luggage from our road trip. This was the Chic-Fil-A in Spartanburg that has no eat-in restaurant--only a drive through.

The point in listing the circumstances: there was really no other place to change him.

So I unbuckled him, told him to climb over Arden's car seat, and come get a new diaper (and new pants) in my lap.

Just so it doesn't seem that I'm completely out of my mind, I should mention that Brad was driving.

I'm not gonna lie. It was awkward.

On to more serious things--prayer in parenting. This week Brad and I were able to attend an amazing conference designed to be a time of refreshment and fellowship for reformed-types in youth ministry. During one of the corporate times of prayer, a friend prayed out loud:

"Lord, forgive me for not praying for my children and just expecting that they would turn out fine."

Reflecting on his prayer caused several threads of thought to come together for me.

One thread: Brad and I have long wondered how NOT to raise "weird" kids in ministry. We have worried because so often children of people in ministry seem to be super-rebellious or super-spiritual (in a condescending, I-can't-have-normal-conversations-because-I'm-so-above-you way). We often ask older couples in ministry--who have raised kids who love the gospel as adults--how do you do it? Why have your kids turned out so well? We have received many helpful and practical answers.

Another thread: Pastor Doug at our previous church preached a 'mini-sermon' before a baptism once that stuck with me. In discussing infant baptism, he explained that the posture of baptizing your baby is the opposite of a baby dedication. In baptism, the tone is "Lord, you have given us this child to raise. We promise to raise him in your ways." In baby dedication, the posture is more "Lord, we dedicate our child to you. We promise to raise him in your ways." The difference is subtle--but profound if you think about it.

{Hear this! : I have several friends who attend baptist churches and have dedicated their children to the Lord. These are faithful, Jesus-loving families--I am not criticizing them!! I respect and love these families. This is a point of difference, that's all.}

Yet another thread: A book I've been reading on and off again lately, The Praying Life by Paul Miller. (I read fiction voraciously, but nonfiction is spotty for me.) The book has many, many good, convicting, helpful points--but one little quote has stuck with me. Miller says, "I do my best parenting by prayer."

Still one more thread: A friend was quite honest on her blog this week about her doubts concerning prayer. This is a godly girl who loves the Lord--but, she said, she always finds herself thinking...if God is in control, isn't he going to do what he wants anyway? When I pray for something and it happens, wouldn't it have happened anyway? I applaud her honesty--I think we all struggle with these thoughts, but fear being thought immature Christians if we admit them.

So when our pastor-friend prayed this prayer regarding his children, all these threads sort of surfaced in my mind, and I found myself with an answer I've been asking for years (long before we even had children).

How do we raise children who love Jesus?


If he holds our family in the palm of his hand, if he is sovereign over all things, if he has entrusted these lives to us, if he has set up prayer as a way to teach us his faithfulness...then prayer is the answer. If I believe my children have been given to me by him, then only he can mold and change their hearts.

In a way, these thoughts are so freeing to me. I have power to love my children, to teach them, to help them...but not control them. Their hearts are in the hands of the Lord. Their lives do not depend on how many catechism questions they know, how many hours are spent in church, or even how "good" a Christian I am (what does that even mean?). Yes--these things are influential, and yes, we hope to do them--but ultimately, primarily--we must pray for them.

All in all, this is hugely convicting and very much a challenge. This is an area that I fail daily. My prayer now echoes the prayer of our friend the other day: Lord, forgive me for not praying for my children and just expecting that they would turn out fine. Help me pray for my children continually.