Saturday, July 22, 2017

Exploring With Cousins

This morning while Nathan and Laura went to a wedding, I got to spend some time with the Katterson cousins! It was a bright, hot, lovely day, so we made a trek to explore their special secret fort place, "The Willow."

Pushing the double-stroller up the hill was a feat, but it was worth it to check out the neat fort the kids have been working on!

A little too much hot and muggy and nap-missing for this little guy, but he perked up with a freezie pop back at the house.

Ten cousins, all engrossed in Shaun the Sheep.

Sweet times. And good afternoon naps.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Letter to Elliot

Dear Elliot,

Mr. Eller Buddy, how can you be 15 months? You are 27ish pounds of sweet, squishy, strong little boy. Happily, I can still sweep you up in my arms and snuggle you in and pretend you're still a tiny little baby.

Oh how expressive, vocal, determined, and charming you are.

Your favorite word of the moment is "Mum," which sometimes means "Mom, I like you," sometimes "Please read me this book," sometimes "I need a drink of milk," sometimes "Where are you?" and sometimes "I cannot reach that little car." Regardless, you repeat it about every 10 seconds.

You are extremely infatuated with reading books about animals, especially if you can poke at a little furry patch of fluff on each page. You grow quite irate when I tell you that it is no longer your turn to pick a book and I am now reading one for your brothers. There are about 3 books of this type that are your favorites, and you are constantly bringing one over to me, with a very urgent, "Mum!" until I read it to you.

There is a pink highlighter and a brown hair clip on my bedside stand. A sweet ritual each morning is that you will kindly sign "please" to me, and I will give you your "special things" to hold. You bounce on my bed and happily wave them in the air for a few minutes. Sometimes you will just lean back on my chest and clutch them peacefully near and let me give you a good snuggle.. When it is time to go out and get Daddy and the big brothers, I ask politely, and you give them back to me so that I can put them back in their place at the bedside stand.

You absolutely love sweet baked things, and another occasion that brings great ire is if you see your brothers (or anybody nearby) eating something delicious when it appears you have been left out. You are a fairly tidy eater (although you still manage to wear a good bit of chocolate cake all over after indulging in a piece).

You are a sociable, friendly little fellow and don't have trouble going to nursery now for Sundays or Bible study.

You are frequently standing independently now, though not quite taking freestanding steps. I know that walking is close on the horizon!

You now have 5 teeth! Another top tooth popped through recently. You are still empty as far as molars though, so yogurt, cheese, noodles, and other softish food continue to fill the majority of your meals.

I've been working on memorizing this verse for you, though it is still a bit rough.
And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, "They are My people," And they will say, "The Lord is my God.” Zechariah 13:9

To truly belong to the Lord, and to know His nearness, His mercy, and His worth, that is my great prayer and desire for you.

I love you, sweet son.


A Letter to Victor

Dear Victor,

My, what a big man you are getting to be.

You are officially 5 1/2.
A voracious reader.
Tenacious and detail-oriented.
A joker, pun lover, and quite witty.

Josiah to Mom: You're skinny.
Victor to Josiah: You're all covered with skin too.

Your ability to labor and help has expanded hugely. You can put away silverware from the dishwasher when it's clean, sort the laundry, sweep the deck, clean the bathtub, wash mirrors, dust the stair railing, put your own laundry away, fold the towels, pick up sticks, and help wheel the garbage to the curb.

Things You Say:

Eating veggie straws: "I love these fruity noodles."

At the breakfast table: "Mom, do you know what a favorite number of mine is? 100,000 million. I think if you tried to count that you would say ugh."

You are very bright. But sometimes that brings a temptation to disregard Mom or Dad's instructions because you think you know better. Recently we had 2 incidents in a day, and as a part of your consequence, I asked you to color a picture or write me a note about the situation.

You shared these pictures with me, and I shared them with Dad.

In the first situation, Mom asked you not to step on the bench behind me, because our cups of coffee were there. So you drew this picture. At the top, you wrote "God," and you drew a picture of Jesus, dying on the cross to cover over our sins.

In the second situation, Mom asked you not to get the ice cubes from the refrigerator, and you drew this picture. Again, at the top you wrote, "God," and you drew a picture of Jesus on the cross.

Victor, you know that disobeying Mom or Dad is not just disobeying us. It is disobeying God, and that is a big problem. And that sin, just like the sin in Mom's and Dad's hearts, it can't be swept away or ignored. God will give what is earned, and we have learned in one of our verses, "The wages of sin is death."

But what a beautiful truth you have pictured for us here, to remember that the cost, the huge punishment that our sins deserve, has been paid for on our behalf by God's perfect Son, Jesus.

I pray that these pictures of good news, the gift of forgiveness and redemption that we receive through faith in Jesus, will be the true treasure of your heart.

May you say along with Paul:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost.—1 Timothy 1:15

I love you, my Victor, and I pray for God's grace to transform your heart little by little into the reflection of Jesus.


A Letter to Josiah

Dear Josiah,

You are my favorite little 3-year-old! You are a bouncy, energetic, snuggling, funny guy.

You love animals, your bear and blankie, digging in the dirt, playing with balls, and eating frosting (although you often leave the rest of the donut/cupcake on your plate).

And the things you love, you love to SAY you love!

"I love Taste of Scandinavia."
"I love bars."
"I do not love those glasses." (when Daddy was picking out new frames)
"I love this cereal."

You are also enthusiastic to praise the day ...

"This is a great day to go for a walk!"
"This is a great day to go to Wednesday Connection!"
"This is a great day to go to the library!"

I love when you are feeling joyful and thankful. We have our struggles putting aside a grumble heart very regularly as well.

You often wake up from your snooze in need of a good snuggle on my lap, and it's a sweet time to read books or just sit and be quiet together. You are certainly an introvert, and when we have too many days of people, people, people, you will sometimes just bury your head in my lap and need to be quiet. And that's just fine.

You're growing each day. You can put on your own Crocs, open the garage door, take the lid off the sand table, and put the silverware in the dishwasher.

Things You Say:

Carrying a big carton of water: "This water is so refreshing. It cools off my heart. Jesus cools off ugly hearts too."

In the car: "Can I put my water bottle in my hold cupper?"

Riding your Strider bike up a big hill: "My legs are getting sleepy."

One of my favorite things is that you recognize the shape of a cross, and when you see one (be it on a church that we are driving by or a small plastic toy), you say (totally unprompted), "That's like Jesus died on the cross!" Yes, my son, and how I pray that the cross will be a central reality for your whole life, remembering that our sins were fully paid for by Jesus, our access to God earned by His perfect record, our hope secure in the promise of life with Him forever.

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

I love you, sweet son.


Friday, July 7, 2017


We've enjoyed the celebration of the 4th of July this week!

Monday  night the boys were thrilled to watch a parade (complete with the huge mosquito float... ??) and gather a fresh bag of candy along with some friends.

Hearkening back about a decade, we partook of "red, white, and blue breakfast," comprised of raspberries, blueberries, and vanilla ice cream. A big hit.

We had a terrific time hosting a picnic lunch, full of a fun crowd of special people. If I counted correctly, there were 55 or so people (including 37 kids!). We were "berry bombed" by the sweet Bodes, who brought two flats of fresh-picked strawberries to surprise us! The lunch tables groaned under all the "pot-blessing" dishes shared by everyone. It was delightful.

Of course, in the mix of things I somehow neglected to capture one single picture of the fun.

Even my flowers seemed particularly bright in honor of the occasion. :)

Before supper, the boys had a refreshing run through the sprinkler.

All in all, much to be thankful for. Most of all, glad for the One who ransomed us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. Freedom indeed!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Our Story: Meeting and The Long Summer

To start at the beginning of the story, see Our Story: IntroductionsSecond installment, see Our Story: Rescued.  Third installment, see Our Story: A Long Wait. Fourth installment, see Our Story: First Sight. Fifth installment, see Our Story: Just a Hint. Sixth installment, see Our Story: What Is Going On?.

The Meeting and The Long Summer
Ben Gives a Call

Two months passed. A painful scramble of no news and hints of interest that kept me on pins and needles.

It was toward the end of May when the phone call came, a voicemail actually.

Would you be free to talk, maybe sometime tomorrow?

Well, sure. (Incidentally, I found that my dad had gotten a phone call a few days earlier himself.)

So, on a Thursday evening before Memorial Day, Ben came to the door, and we walked down a block and over a block to Dunn Bros. I got a decaf white chocolate mocha, which Ben paid for. It sat there mostly undrunk, cooling while we talked.

Ben fiddled with his glass, leaned forward, and said, "You probably already know this, but I'm very attracted to you. I've been talking to David Livingston, so all my wisdom is coming from him. First and foremost, I want this to be based on Jesus Christ. And I'd like to get you know you more."

The conclusion of the conversation: We were officially "friends getting to know one another." And when we got back to the house, he gave me a bouquet of little white flowers.

So began a rather tumultuous and emotionally turbulent summer, for me.

My whole family was actually coming to town a few days after that fateful meeting, so after the Saturday night worship service, Ben drove me in his little black Geo to Baker's Square to meet them all at dinner.

I was pretty giddy and happy there, finally to have some explicit confirmation of interest. But then the other side of me spoke loudly about the impracticality of it all ... It could never work. We are too different.

One evening a few weeks later, four other couples and Ben and I had dinner at the South office. We played round robin ping-pong and hit around a volleyball outside in the rain. Ben was goofy, and I felt conspicuous amongst the other "confirmed couples." The next few days were full of analyzing. I felt like we were from two different worlds--his exotic and far away and full of change and adventure ... and mine stable, focused, disciplined, secure. I felt very far away from him and a little scared at the way forward.

Weeks went by, and I continued conflicted.

We would see each other periodically. Sometimes Ben would seek me out, and I would feel a mixture of excitement and dread. Sometimes we would miss each other, and I would feel agitated and uncertain.

I found myself in the church kitchen one day that summer, mixing up brownie mixes for a big event. The solitude was so calming, and I prayed for God to lay bare my heart, to show me what the motives were behind all this turmoil.

Was it pride, thinking I was better than Ben? Was it fear that I would be thrown from everything known and familiar? Was it legitimate lack of connection? Was it avoiding conflict and not wanting to disappoint him or others?

The sense came to me that I was projecting beyond where today was--trying to find feeling in myself beyond our status, trying to peer into the future and see what would happen in 10 years, if I would be married to a stranger in a strange place. I wasn't waiting for the Lord to unfold His will moment by moment, quiet in His hands, receiving just what He was pleased to give.

I read a little piece from the Word, and a peace fell. I could rest right here, right where we were... officially, friends intentionally getting to know one another. Not more, but not less.

It wasn't the end of the questions, but it steadied my heart through a few more weeks of wrestling.