3.31.2014

A Two Year Old

A two-year-old is so many things.
A tiny discoverer of butterfly wings.
A hugger of teddies, a sweet sleepy head.
And someone to dream for in bright years ahead.
A special new person who right from the start,
has a place in the family and a course in your heart.
And just when you think you've learned all the things
that your dear son is, and the joy that he brings,
a hug or a grin comes with such a sweet surprise
that love finds you smiling with tears in your eyes.

What a big day we've had! We started out the day driving to a special hair salon for kiddos, where Kieran got his second real haircut (I try to stay on top of trimming it up, but it was time to get it cleaned up).



After that, we walked over to Scratch Cupcakery, where the adults enjoyed cupcakes, and Kieran enjoyed a cake pop--perfect for little hands.



Next, we headed over to the mall and enjoyed the indoor playground, since it was such a blustery day.



This evening, it was party time!




We enjoyed Kieran's favorite meal of homemade spaghetti and meatballs and, of course, more cake.



And there were presents!



This boy is a tractor fanatic!
We love this boy so much and had a wonderful day celebrating with him. As I said on a facebook post the other day, he is big at heart, and we love him to pieces. He is quick to share kisses and hugs and all kinds of love. His vocabulary is explosive, his affection for anything with wheels and an engine has remained strong, and sometimes he has so much energy that he is literally bouncing off the walls. We look forward to seeing him grow in stature, and we pray that he will one day grow in knowledge and in love of his Heavenly Father.

Kieran as a newborn, at his first birthday party, and today, at his second birthday party

3.24.2014

Three Truths for Lasting Love

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
--Ephesians 3:14-20 



Seven years ago, we had this passage recited during our wedding ceremony. When I read these verses again on Sunday, I realized just how well they relate to me and to marriage. There are three main points that ring true and are the key to a lasting relationship:
  1. Be united.

    Just as we see the Father, the Spirit, and Christ dwelling together in perfect unity, so we should strive for that same relationship. They are distinctly different, yet always one. There is complete satisfaction within the relationship--the Creator did not make us because He was lonely, but because He is loving. In the same way, a marriage consists of two people, not two plus the kids or two plus a mother or two plus a best friend. We made a promise to each other that we will not complain to others about our spouse (we should never complain at all, but that is a tough one to overcome), and we always try to discuss the important issues with each other first before we ever share them with a friend or family member.

    We need to face the future and all its unknowns together, but more than that, we must look to our future with a mutual trust in God. We will never find perfect unity as long as we are on this earth, but the only way we can even come close is if we are both striving to be like Christ and be united with Him. "Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself" (1 Samuel 18:1). This word picture of two souls being knit together, as they were with these best friends that were like brothers, relates so well to what a growing marriage should look like.

  2. Be loving.

    When I look at my two little boys, sometimes I am overcome with such an overwhelming love for them, that I really don't know how to contain it. But there is always that moment when one displays the ugliness of his sinful heart (and he is a product of me!), and I am not awash with mushy, sentimental feelings--no, I do not like this little person right now. ...Do I love him still? Of course! Love should never be contingent on another's actions or behaviors.

    But even my fierce mama love cannot compare to the love of Christ; "it is too great to understand fully." His love is strong. His love makes us complete. It is empowering. It is something we can cling to in the darkest of times. It is multi-dimensional. It is unconditional. If you want to love your spouse, seek to love like Christ. Because He is the only example of true, selfless love that we can ever hope to imitate.

  3. Be in prayer and in the Word.

    I fail at this. All. The. Time.

    But I cannot overstate the fact that if you want a relationship that lasts, then you are not going to find the answers in books or talk shows or from The Huffington Post. The answers are in God's words to us--and not just passages like Ephesians 5. The whole Bible is given to us so that we might know how to live and how to love. "'Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?' Jesus replied, '"You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: "Love your neighbor as yourself." The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments'" (Matthew 22:36-40).

    So simple; yet, so unattainable for our faithless hearts. How is it that we need help just to love the God who made us? In the same way, I desperately need God to transform my heart into one that is loyal to my husband. One that loves even when it does not feel loved. One that does not cower and wither and shut itself up when hurt. One that loves and loves and then loves more, even when there is nothing left to give. One that dips into the reserves of love and grace an mercy found at the cross and finds that there is always a way for love to conquer sin and suffering and even death.

"When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:6-8).

3.17.2014

Expectations

Everyday I expect certain things to happen. When I wake up and push the handle on my faucet, I expect water to come out. When I put my key in the ignition and turn it, I expect my car to start. I also have expectations of the people around me (like expecting my husband to take out the trash--wink, wink).

The danger, however, is when I start demanding what was expected of those in my life. Or when I expect things to go wrong, and waste my time worrying about them.

We spent several days this month with my dad's family in Florida, who we really only get to see once a year. Growing up, I always set high expectations on our time together, since we didn't get to see each other everyday. I would try to be on my best behavior, and I set out to never make any waves. I wanted things to be peaceful and to make everyone happy. Fast forward to my adult life and the fact that I now have a family of my own, and things haven't completely changed. Only, this time I am praying that we can handle our two boys flying on our laps when we have to get up before the crack of dawn to leave, and, oh, please, please let them sleep while we are there, and I sure hope nothing too valuable gets broken in a house that has not been toddler-proofed.

And there was my first mistake--I kept slipping into worry and anxiety.

Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them.


I've always loved this quote from Anne of Green Gables. It ties right in with Matthew 6:34, "So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." I would say that I'm pretty optimistic, but sometimes I'm afraid to assume something will go well, so, in trying to be realistic, I swing the opposite way and set my expectations low. What a waste of my time and energy! How much more enjoyable my time would be if I remember to look forward to the good things ahead and expect the best of things. And how detrimental the sin of worry is to my silly heart.

My second mistake was getting so caught up in the less important details of schedules and in all of the "what ifs" that I forgot to focus on the relationships. What I should have been doing was preparing my heart for our visit and asking God to help me to be a blessing to my family. Sometimes I struggle with how much my family and I are not involved in each other's lives. Oftentimes, I have expectations I set up for them that are not met, and my emotions come crashing down when they are not met. And now that my family members are grandparents and aunts and uncles, I feel similarly (if not more strongly) on my children's behalf.

How unfair I am.

How many times do I fail to meet up to others' ideals for me and am shown grace over and over again? How many times have I hoped or wanted or demanded someone to say or do certain things but never actually communicated these expectations to them? How many time have I held someone up to a standard that I myself am not meeting?



Have no expectations.

Once again, I am reminded that I need to adopt the mantra of "an attitude of gratitude". I am so thankful for the family I have been placed in and how they love me and my little family. I am so thankful for all I have learned through all the ways we function and dysfunction. And I am grateful that I have a Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters in Christ in the amazing family of God. We cannot expect our relationships to fill what is lacking in our lives--only Jesus can do that.

So appreciate what you have. And if you're struggling, give it over to the One who "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

2.20.2014

Kieran-isms


This boy is seriously the best. He may not be the smartest or the fastest or even the kindest, but he is the best first baby I could ask for. He is quite the articulate little fellow, and his vocabulary has just exploded. I wish I could record everything he says because, really, it's the intonation that kills me. Why is it that at least two-thirds of what they say sounds like a question?

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of my favorite things that Kieran says:
  • "Wias?" [Elias]
  • "Hi-ya!"
  • "Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy!"
  • "Sweet" Whenever he kisses his brother, I say, "Sweet." Now, he does, too.
  • "Oh, Toooooooooodahs!" [Oh, Toodles!] Although he doesn't watch it much, this is something he's picked up from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
  • "Meh-moi?" [More?] He can say, "more," but when he gets really excited, this is how it comes out.
  • "Appee-shawsh" [Applesauce]
  • "Iss dahk in heah!" [It's dark in here.]
  • "Wiggy wiggy!" I have no idea where this came from. He can say, "tickle," but he says this, too, when he tickles Elias.
  • "Dip it?" The boy loves ketchup.
  • "Cute" This one is used to describe himself. :)
This might have to become a semi-regular post, as I know there are much more than this. He has a long list of animals and can differentiate between cars, trucks, tractors, bulldozers, and dump trucks. He is learning to count (sort of), and he can name many of his friends. ...And I have a sneaking suspicion that he has learned my name.

2.04.2014

Three Months

Our littlest man is three months old today!


In some ways he is still so tiny.


But in so many others he has grown and grown.



 Elias is definitely Kieran's little brother, but he is becoming his own person more and more everyday.

Kieran's three-month photo on the left and Elias' on the right
Love my boys!