Monday, March 21, 2011

Hymns from Prison

I've been doing a bible study with some friends of mine, and we've been reading Beth Moore's To Live is Christ, which follows the life of Paul. One of the chapters this week really struck a chord with me and some of the ponderings that have been weighing on my heart lately.

We read about Paul and Silas being stripped, beaten, and imprisoned. About how they spent that night in prison praising God and singing hymns while the other prisoners listened on. And about how God caused an earthquake that freed them from their shackles and broke open the prison doors. What happened next has always struck me as so peculiar:

"And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, 'Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.' Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'"
-Acts 16:27-29

I've heard this story before, and always wondered why in the world Paul and the other prisoners didn't flee at the first opportunity. I've tried imagining myself in that position, and I've got to admit that I would probably view the earthquake as God's "go ahead" on the whole fleeing option. I'm not sure what convinced them to stay in the dark depths of that prison rather than seizing the opportunity to flee, but I'm glad they did. They remained in their prison, in their place of suffering, and they won a soul. They were free of their shackles, but by dwelling in the place of their darkest hour, they freed the guard from his.

I've been following a blog lately called Teaching Tuck and Ty. I do not know this incredible woman personally, but I have become so invested in her journey over the past few months as she has openly and honestly shared about the sudden and tragic loss of her husband. I love reading her posts, but I almost love reading the comments on her posts even more. She is dwelling in a place of deep suffering right now, but she's dwelling there as a free and saved woman. And the way that she is praising God in the midst of her darkest hour is winning souls. I couldn't help but think of her as I read this week's study on Paul and Silas.

I have been blessed lately with a season of joy and happiness and good living. Things are going well with my family, and we are enjoying the abundant joy of having each other. I'm thankful for this, but I know that this is only a season. Life has it's ups and it's downs, and I will one day find myself in a darker place, I know. I hope and pray that God would continue to teach me through the faith stories of others, in His Word as well as in the world around me. I hope and pray that I will have the strength to sing His praises in my darkest hours, and to suffer victoriously as His freed child.

I pray that I would have the strength to embrace the dark places, knowing full well that there are souls to be won those prisons.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Just a Little Fickle Pickle

This is a misleading picture.

Levi is not a great eater. He's always nursed very well, but he's never taken a bottle without a fight. He just never seemed to understand the concept. He would chew on the bottle, shake the bottle, smile at the bottle, take in a mouthful of milk just to spray it back out, then giggle... I didn't think much of it, but I was looking forward to the day that we could start some solids just so I would have some other options when nursing wasn't convenient.

How I wish his biggest hindrance with solids was simply the urge to giggle every once in a while. No, giggling is no longer our stumbling block. Gagging is. And vomiting. Forcefully. Out the nose. Yep, sure miss that giggling.

He did ok with the first few things we tried, like rice cereal and pureed fruits and veggies. He seemed adventurous and willing to try new tastes. So one day I decided to chop up bananas real small and let him try some finger food. After he picked up each individual piece to examine it, showing absolutely no indication or interest in eating any of them, I decided to pop one into his mouth. Almost as if I'd hit some magic button, he proceeded to spew everything he's ever eaten. Ever. It was everywhere. With no warning whatsoever.

So we waited a couple weeks before we tried a second go at finger foods with some Gerber Puffs. Again, he thoroughly examined each little one with painstaking attention. Again, I decided to pop one into his mouth. He immediately spat it out and picked it off his chin with his left hand. The now wet puff stuck to his hand. This utterly terrified him. He frantically swatted at his tray and waved his hand in chaotic motions while working into a hysterical scream. I rushed in and rescued him from the half dissolved puff (how's that for superhero skill, Martha?). After that, he whimpered every time I walked by the puff canister, his new nemesis.

About two weeks later, after he overcame his fear of dissolving baby snacks, I managed to pop one in his mouth. And he vomited. Everywhere. With no warning.

I've tried introducing some slightly less pureed varieties of baby food. And he vomits every time. Everywhere. With no warning.

I've tried gradually making his rice cereal a little thicker. But he vomits. Everywhere. With no warning.

Oh yeah, and when he's not vomiting, he usually looks like this:

This boy puts nothing in his mouth. Ever.

SO, imagine my surprise when he made his first self-initiated attempt at solid foods today. We took Jacob on a bike ride down the street to NoNo's Cafe for lunch. Levi was sitting in a high chair down at the end of the table when out of nowhere he reached over, grabbed a pickle off of Jacob's plate, and popped it in his mouth! And guess what? No vomit! Sure, he recoiled at the taste and promptly spat it back out... but no vomit!

Such a strange little boy he is.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Prayer For You

I love your grins and giggles. I love that you are so generous with them. I love that you always offer a smile, even through teary eyes. I pray that you will always find it easier to smile than to frown. I pray that you will always spread your joy so generously to those around you. I pray that you will always find your joy, even in the midst of tears or a broken heart.

I love how you reach out to be held by anyone around you. I love how you offer kisses and high fives and hugs so freely. I love how you lay your head down on my shoulder when you're tired. I pray that you will always have such a welcoming heart. I pray that you will never forget how to offer a hug or encouragement to brighten someone's day. I pray that you will always find rest in the arms of your Father at the end of the day.

I love that you can't sit still. I love your curiosity in every little thing around you. I love your determination to get a hold of whatever it is your heart desires (though it boggles my mind that your heart desires electrical cords and other household hazards infinitely more than the mountain of toys picked out just for you). I pray that you will always be full of energy and zeal and enthusiasm. I pray that you will always ask questions and seek answers and remain forever curious. I pray that you will knock down all obstacles to grab hold of that which your heart desires (and I pray that those desires are all your own, never chosen for you by another).

I love that your heart is strong and healthy. I love that your joy is contagious and unending. I love that you are mine.

I pray that your heart will continually grow to look more like His. I pray that it will beat stronger and stronger for Him. I pray that it will remain spiritually healthy, even when flesh fails you.

I pray that you will always delight in Him, and that your contagious joy might lead others to His feet.

I pray you always know that you are mine, and never doubt my love for you. But more importantly, I pray that your life is filled with glimpses of His love for you, and that you never doubt that you are His.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's Behind Door Number Three?

A thought occurred to me early on in my pregnancy, and has continued into a growing concern ever since: Jacob and Caleb are 9- and 11-years-old. They like to play with toys that your average 9- and 11-year-old boy would. The toy companies of today appeal to 9- and 11-year-old children with millions upon millions of tiny, esophagus-shaped parts and pieces (hello, Legos?) Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Legos and think that they are the coolest toys on the market right now. But I can't think of anything more appealing to an 8-month-old's little curious hands. Between the Legos, action figures, puzzles, board games, etc... our house is just not baby-safe.

The boys have been great about keeping their toys mostly in their room, and diligent in keeping Levi away if they decide to play in the living room. However, Levi is now crawling (well, I use the word "crawling" loosely... it's really more of an army crawl, or how you might picture a legless person getting from point A to point B.) I generally try to keep the boys' bedroom door shut when they are not home for this very reason. Today, I was not diligent enough.

It took him 8 months, but Levi has finally discovered the endless wonders that lie behind that mystery door. And there is no turning back now, I can't seem to distract him with anything else in the whole apartment. He's drawn like a magnet to that room, even reaching his little fingers under the door when I close it. It's much like I imagine I'd be if I lived my whole life in a certain place, only to discover there had been an entire room full of endless, fresh Chipotle burritos just a doorway away the entire time. You can bet I'd be reaching my fingers under the door and whimpering until someone let me in, too.

Anyone have any tips for baby-proofing a home without taking the totally age-appropriate toys away from older kids?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Riddle Me This

And for today's pop quiz, can you see what the following three phrases all have in common with one another?

Note: All three phrases are to be read in a high-pitched, baby-talk voice.

"Did you go poopies?!? Yes you did!!!"
"Who's got a cute tushy? Do you have a cute tushy?! You sure do!"
"Peek-a-boo...I see you!!!"

Enter Jeopardy music here.

Have you figured it out yet? Found the correlation? Time is ticking...







All three of these phrases are wildly inappropriate when uttered in the private stall of a public restroom, especially if no one is aware that you are in there with your baby simply to use the changing table. Another one of those tidbits that just never made it into any of the parenting books intended to prepare us.

On a side note, I'm sorry Abby; it's true, bathroom etiquette just flies out the window once you've got little ones in tow. I had been warned it would happen, I just didn't realize it would be so soon.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Helmet Girl, aka: Martha Kent

My family has a good time together. We joke and we laugh. Nine times out of ten, I am the butt of that joke, and the good time is almost always at my expense.

A few nights ago we were out to eat with the boys. As is so often the case, our topic of conversation steered toward comic books. Caleb asked the very thought provoking question of which superhero each of us was most like and who we would be.

We determined that Jacob would be Bart Allen, Kid Flash, because of his mischievous ways and quick wit.

We determined that Caleb would be Spider-man, because of his smarts and his pure heart.

We determined that Jason would be Batman, because, well, he really likes Batman.

We determined that Levi would be Jack Jack from the Incredibles, because that would be cool.

Then it was my turn. There was a lengthy silence while everyone sifted through the countless possibilities. The conversation went something like this:

Jason: Maybe Wonder Woman?

Caleb: No, she couldn't be Wonder Woman. She can't fly. At least not without crying or throwing up.

In case you missed this post, I have a slight fear of heights. Ok, a crippling fear of heights.

Me: I like Flash, and he doesn't fly! I could be Flash!

Jacob: No, that would be even worse than flying. You would crash into things and trip over things and knock people over if you had to move that fast.

In case you're unaware, I'm slightly clumsy. Ok, it's a wonder I've survived this long.

Caleb: That's true. Maybe someone with lots of protective gear. You could maybe be someone that wears a helmet and a lot of armor.

Jason: Or someone that can walk through things. Like Invisible Woman.

Caleb: No, she'd never remember whether or not she was in transparent mode, and then just run into walls.

That whole "pregnancy brain" thing is the biggest misnomer I've ever heard. It does NOT go away after pregnancy.

Jacob: Yeah, plus it probably wouldn't be safe for her to be around Johnny Storm (The Human Torch, Invisible Woman's brother). She'd probably trip and then catch her hair on fire.

They really wanted to drive that clumsy thing home, I guess.

Caleb: Maybe you should stick to someone like Martha Kent. She's safe.

Thanks guys.

In case this isn't proof enough of my endless teasing, please see below picture. This is on the ferris wheel at Elitch's two years ago. The only reason I set foot on that death trap was because I lost a bet to Caleb. It's hard to tell in the picture, but I was crying. That's Jacob pointing and laughing at me. Can you feel the love?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Levi's Heroes

Levi is absolutely enamored with Caleb and Jacob. And who wouldn't be?! I don't think he could find better brothers than these two. Nothing warms my heart quite like watching the three of them together.