Saturday, March 25, 2017

While Daddy's Gone

We are at Day 13 of 15 for Daddy's trip to Kenya and Ethiopia.

How have we been?

Well, it's been a somewhat eventful time.

There have been some difficult parts.

My first 911 call, during which I almost passed out (non-life-threatening, not for me or any of the kids). Two police cars, one fire truck, one ambulance, one trip to the ER, and a whole slew of medicine. Skin rash for Elliot. Josiah got a cold. My parents both got colds. Two 5-hour drives. Josiah got a fever and threw up. Elliot and Josiah got another cold, and Josiah got a horrible cough. Middle-of-the-night neb treatment. Bad dreams and nighttime fears. Fractured sleep. Temper tantrums and grumblings.

There have also been some very wonderful parts.

Elliot began sleeping through the night. An afternoon away at a coffee shop. Grammy and Grandad's patient, constant help. Cheerful playtimes in the backyard. Time playing with the Iowa cousins. An early birthday celebration for Josiah. Gifts purchased and mostly wrapped for the 5 upcoming family birthdays. Some sweet pictures and stories from Ben's time in Africa, and an occasional Facetime. A deeper, more continual awareness of my need for God's help and mercies, and life-giving times (albeit interrupted) in the Word.

Several times I have felt pressed to the breaking point, and each time I have seen God's kind hand strengthen, sustain, refresh, and help.

How are we doing?

We're doing quite well. We're really, really, really looking forward to having Daddy home again.

And so deeply thankful for the Father who never leaves, never changes, and has given His Son to make us His own, here at home and to the farthest ends of the earth.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

11 Months Old!

11 months old!

10 months old

9 months old

8 months old

7 months old

6 months old

5 months

 4 months

3 months

2 months

 1 month

 2 weeks old

Dear Elliot,

This has been a month of huge growing and changing for you!

Among many changes:

- As of the past couple days, you (kinda) crawl! It's actually more like push up on all fours ... lunge to your belly ... push onto all fours ... lunge again. But combined with your previous skills in rolling, it allows you to access a much broader area, and this mobility will doubtless revolutionize my entire life. Congratulations, big man.

- You imitate most everything. Waving and clapping, making noises like your brothers, thumping your chest, blowing kisses, and so forth. (Blowing kisses is sweet ... you clap yourself on the forehead along with your lip smackings.)

- You now know how to talk on the phone. This is obviously a significant milestone.

- You love trying out little bits of "big people food," although you still gag yourself semi-regularly. You still have just 2 teeth.

This is what happens when Momma gets distracted, and you feel that you are not being fed quickly enough, and you are just within arm's reach of your bowl of food... You were so proud of yourself.

- You're sleeping through the night! It took the convergence of Daylight Savings with Daddy's trip to Africa for me to stiffen my resolve, and you "clicked" into the new rhythm beautifully. I still love snuggling you for a few feedings during the day, but I must say, my son, a (fairly) uninterrupted night's sleep is a tremendous gift.

- You put every tiny thing in your mouth that you find on the floor. I hope that now you have increased mobility you'll be more interested in moving from point to point rather than consuming all the small, toxic chokables you encounter. May it be, Lord.

As you grow, Elliot, I continue to pray for you that God will make your name a true description of your heart: "The LORD is my God." When times of uncertainty or pain come, when you feel joy or satisfaction, when you are wondering what is coming next in your journey, may you find the Lord, your God to be your Keeper and King. I've been reflecting on Psalm 37 lately, working on memorizing it, and I love the way it always turns me away from self-effort, self-absorption, and self-reliance to the quiet, hopeful trusting in God.

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.--Psalm 37:5-6

I love you, sweet son.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

10 Months Old!

10 months old!

9 months old

8 months old

7 months old

6 months old

5 months

 4 months

3 months

2 months

 1 month

 2 weeks old

Dear Elliot,

Happy 10 months, big man! You are at such a delightful stage, buddy, and we love you tons.


- You are imitating so many, many things... clicking your tongue, making Mamama or Dadada noises, smacking your lips for a kiss, waving bye-bye or good night, shaking your head no, and so forth! You are such an inquisitive, expressive little guy and so much fun. When I'm holding you and Daddy comes by to give me a kiss, we generally hear a loud, repeated smacking noise from you, just so we remember you're nearby. :)

- You tip the scales at 24+ pounds. The substantial inertia is still keeping you from much crawling activity, but your little legs are strong! You can stand while holding on to something, and I think you might just start taking steps soon and skip the whole crawling thing altogether.

- You continue to tuck away your mush food very happily. You still gag on whole Cheerios but find it very entertaining to chase them around on your tray, and you are intrigued by whatever food is nearby on others' plates. You also still love to grab the tablecloth and pull and pull until something exciting happens.

- You had a horribly terrible cold/cough this month and were initiated into the wonderful world of neb treatments, along with your big brothers. And even that wasn't enough to kick it, so you and Victor both had a round of oral steroids too. The Evil Cough is a very hated sign of the fall to me, and I look forward to the day when there will be no more.

- You persist in getting me up to eat once in the night, and I could probably skip it, but right now you are doing so well sleeping all the way until 7am that I haven't put up much of a fight.

- Two little teeth finally popped up last week (your first)! 

- You are still happiest perched on one of my hips, one hand grabbing my hair or sweatshirt, and (ideally) one of my hood strings stuck in your mouth. Oh how I love your snuggles, little one! Too soon you will be ready to run off with your big brothers, so I am savoring these days.

A sweet friend of mine asked about the significance of your name a couple weeks ago, and when I told her that it means "The LORD is my God," she excitedly reminded me about Psalm 63:1.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

How I pray that you will know God in that earnest, personal way. He is the greatest goal and desire of our lives. May we seek Him with all our heart!

I love you, little pickle,

Saturday, February 18, 2017

100 Things I'm Thankful for in Our First 100 Months

100. When you send me to a coffee shop on Saturday morning to read my Bible and pray
99. Your accents
98. How you make me not self-conscious in group settings
97. Your pillow fights with the boys
96. Pizza night on Saturdays
95. When you hold the boys and sing with fervor during worship
94. Your cute smile
93. Shoulder massages
92. Our trip to Duluth for your birthday, about 6 months after we got married, when I got really mad at you for buying a huge specialty coffee
91. Chipotle burrito bowls with a tortilla on the side
90. Really good root beer
89. Family movie nights with popcorn (and Mighty Machines)
88. Praying for the "help-you cars" when we hear a siren
87. Our wedding verses: Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who called you, and He will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (half ESV, half NASB... half for you, half for me :) )
86. Early mornings setting up for worship at the South Site
85. When our car got towed at 4am one snowy Sunday morning. And it had the South sermon tape in it and the bulletins and everything that we needed for the worship service that morning! And your dad came and took me to the impound lot at 6am to get it, and God worked it out so everything was fine for church.
84. Your working in the South nursery every Sunday, back then
83. Watching Napoleon Dynamite at the Heinrichs with the South staff
82. Going to Cape Town with you for the Lausanne Conference over our 2nd wedding anniversary
81. How you love to travel
80. How you have been content to stay here with me so long
79. How you love to dream about traveling to bless and encourage our missionaries
78. How you always get excited to hear from our missionaries and still tell me we might go overseas someday
77. How you care about me and want to be sure I'm okay
76. How you and Aaron Davitch were hilarious together in the office
75. Early morning prayer meetings
74. You surprised me by arranging for me to go horseback riding on my birthday.
73. You persevered and finished your elementary ed degree.
72. When you made me white chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine's Day
71. Watching the entire Lord of the Rings series at the 501 Building
70. Going back to the Williams' cabin for our first anniversary
69. Running the Indi Mini together with Lori and my dad
68. Your tenderness to me in the hospital after Victor was born and I was so weak and sore and he was in NICU
67. How you always get excited to go to a wedding with me (free date!) and then you tell me that our wedding is still your favorite
66. Dinners at the Livingstons
65. You like my haircuts.
64. Family hikes at Lebanon Hills
63. Pray and Plans for our fam
62. When the pipes burst at the cabin where we were having a weekend getaway
61. Your vastly overspending "the underwear budget" to get me special things
60. Our date at the Melting Pot a week before Josiah was born
59. Your little black Geo
58. How you heard God's prompting to apply for BCS. Even though it was past the deadline and you were getting ready to start student teaching.
57. When you transitioned from being Logistics Coordinator to South Youth guy. (And we got to sleep in on Sundays and get home from church way before 3:30pm!)
56. Our first apartment at 3416 Portland Ave.
55. Having Char over for supper at our first apartment, and she drove that cute little green Bug and was such a blessing to us.
54. All Night of Prayers
53. How you love going to Iowa
52. Watching the BBC version of Persuasion with you. And how you like it too.
51. Your men's group and the way you prayed for those guys and loved them and were spurred on by them.
50. You're such a goofball.
49. How you love your mom. And my mom.
48. How you love your dad. And my dad.
47. How you respect and honor our pastors and elders at church
46. You accept even my most broken parts.
45. You're Positivity, Adaptability, Belief, Woo, and ??
44. I'm Responsibility, Harmony, Belief, Connectedness, and Input.
43. You loved that roasted chicken at Grizzlies up north.
42. How you jumped in as the Jr High guy Downtown, and how you just loved being with those kids and they loved being with you.
41. Walking around the lake with you
40. Sharing a decaf peppermint white chocolate mocha (my favorite) and looking at baby names in Barnes & Noble
39. Serving in the prayer room at DG Conferences together.
38. Going house hunting with you
37. Family dates at Costco with a huge pepperoni pizza and free samples
36. Squeezing 50 people into our basement apartment for a Christmas open house
35. How the boys get super happy when you come home from work
34. Celebrating Christmas with all the Kattersons when your mom and Jon came to town
33.The Fighter Verse skit when we were an elderly married couple...
32. Sitting side by side on the couch, even if we are just working on our own computers
31. When you bring me things you pick up for free somewhere and you know that it makes me so much happier than when you spend money on me
30. You don't mind when I put my cold feet on your warm legs.
29. Surprising you with all the boys when you are studying at Dunn Bros
28. How you are teaching our boys to take special care for ladies, like their Momma
27. When you like the food I cook
26. When you and the boys wash the dishes for me after supper
25. You encourage me and make it possible for me to use my gifts at church
24. You work hard to keep your priorities in order, even when lots of "good activities" could crowd out family time or such
23. You value my input and opinions
22.  Hearing you read books to the boys
21. Getting to know your friends as I got to know you
20. Hiking at Taylors Falls on a weekend away
19. When we took all 3 boys to Stillwater and went for a walk across the bridge, and halfway through a truck gunned its engine next to us and freaked out all 3 of them into hysterics
18. Family ice cream outings
17. Cheesecake Factory dates
16. You didn't get frustrated at me, walking the path of miscarriage and the emotional toll that took
15. Cozying up next to you on the couch to hear updates about your day after the boys are in bed
14. When you decided to get up earlier in the morning so that you'd have more time with God
13. When you decided to make yourself a schedule (even though you dislike them) so that you would be able to be intentional and purposeful in your use of time
12. How you love sharing with others
11. You want to keep pushing toward greater generosity in our lives
10. How you love to read Scripture on Sundays
9. Going to pre-service prayer with you
8. You want the gospel to shape our home in every way possible
7. When you make me a cup of coffee with cream and sugar, just how I like it
6. When you fold the laundry for me and put it away just to surprise me
5. You don't mind that I keep a "low maintenance" kind of look (i.e. mostly never wear make-up).
4. Watching Fixer Upper with you
3. You love connecting with people across the whole spectrum of ages and stages of life. I love that you want to reach out to the elderly and you relate to young people. There pretty much isn't anybody you don't want to connect with.
2. You take care not to embarrass me in public.
1. I just love being your partner in this life... caring for our boys, ministry to Jr Highers, tending to our home, sharing our families, reaching out to neighbors, finishing studies. These are days full of glorious, mundane, many-colored mercies, and I am so thankful for being next to you in the middle of them.

It's been a wonderful 100 months. And like always, with Jesus, the best is yet to come.

I love you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My Silly Gooses

I know I am forgetting an abysmally huge percentage of hilarious things that the boys say and do, but here are a handful.

Josiah, driving home from church Wednesday night: Are we going to Pizza Ranch?

Josiah, later driving home from church Wednesday night: Is this car driving itself?

Victor and Josiah (but mostly Josiah) have taken to randomly and frequently abbreviating words. It sort of snowballs in a conversation.

Me: Hi Joe.
Josiah: Hi Vict. Haha, I call him Vict.
Victor: What are we eating for sup?
Josiah: I think it's grilled chee.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Non Super Bowl Party

It was a very sweet evening here.

Pizza, guacamole, baked sandwiches, chocolate chip bars (oh, and cantaloupe and sugar snap peas).

Inaugural hospitality dinner in our attached garage.

Fun with my former roommate and friend of 13 years... and our (combined) 7 kids.

No football, but plenty of fun to go around!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday we bought a house. Our first.

It feels like one of those pillars to remember, of God's kindness and generosity, so much beyond expectation. A tale of God's surprising provision, and the evidence of so much grace in our lives!

We are rounding the bend in Ben's seminary, last semester underway (just one class). What a significant season! I can hardly believe we are nearing the end of this long road of preparation and getting ready to invest all that training in a fuller focus on ministry.

We are loving this little home. But the thing that really makes it sweet is being here with all the promises of God to bank on and the anticipation of His hand behind and before us and resting upon us in all the days to come.

And if you happen to be near Lexington, MN, you should drop on by to see us!