Thursday, February 28, 2008

What Will He Call Us?

Peter & Penny's little Jared Silas is a week old today. According to Grandma, he's quite the little man (imagine that!) :) Here is a picture of him with his big brother, Jonah, trying to refrain from poking him in the eye!
When thinking of our newest nephew today, I was wondering what he'd call us? While our older nieces & nephews can, of course, call us by our real names, the littlest ones have come up with their own versions.

To Moriah, we're 'bake' and 'teen'
To Karissa, we're 'bake' and 'nine'
To Jonah, we're 'book' and 'cookie'
So little Jared, what will you call us?

Please Pray for Leslie...

I'm not sure how many people read this blog but I figured there is potential for at least a few much-needed prayers. Please pray for a friend mine, Leslie, her husband, Tyson and their little boy TJ. Leslie made it thru brain surgery in November, followed by weeks of radiation for cancer which was found in her sinuses and then, just this week, it was determined she'll need to undergo another major surgery b/c of an infection.

Here are some of Leslie's own words..."My tears will not stop flowing. My heart and my spirit are so broken to the point of needing to remind myself continually of my child and dear husband, my reasons to keep going through all of these surgeries and battling through each day. Again, my mind has not forgotten what is true but my heart is struggling to believe it. God is still here. He still loves me. He has not left me in this mess to do it all alone. This is why I need the prayers of all of you. Your prayers will carry us. When my faith is too weak to believe, I need you to believe for me."

Thanks, in advance, for your prayers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

White As Snow...

"White as snow. White as snow. Though my sins be as scarlet... Lord, I know. Lord, I know. That I'm clean and forgiven. Through the power of Your blood. Through the wonder of Your love. Through faith in You I know that I can be...White as snow."

As I watched the snow settle gently onto the trees outside the window last night, my heart remembered the words of this song & begged God to plant them deep within me. The last several weeks, I have been fighting a fierce spiritual battle. The doubts, the fear, the confusion; the struggle seemed to come from out of nowhere and momentarily 'strangle' the joy from my days.

I was reminded again of the power of the Enemy whom we fight against AND the strength/mercy of the God whom we serve. The below is an excerpt from author Catherine DeVries and has, throughout my life, accurately reflected my heart's cry in times of distress.

Lord, I'm losing ground...
The enemy hunts me. Haunts me.
I feel like I'm wielding a squirt gun against a circle of slashing knives.
How weary I am...
The touch of your hand.
Hold mine tighter.
Help me feel your strength.
Lord, I'm gaining ground.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Waiting on Grace...

I read the following in a devotional today & thought I'd share it with you as an encouragement to do, whatever it is you are doing, WITH God and not rush before Him with plans of your own (no matter how noble/good they may be). NOTE: This devotional is based on the passage of Luke 2:41-52.

"She seems to me full of good will, but she would go faster with grace" (Brother Lawrence). In the rush of life, in the hurry to get things done, we sometimes try to go faster than grace; but we cannot. If we try to go ahead of God's enabling power, then we, like Joseph in Mary in the story of the 12-year old Jesus who was left teaching in the temple, will have to retrace our steps. Certainly the goal may lie clearly ahead. It may be purely spiritual, or it may be a more immediate piece of practical work. In either case, we can't go at it any faster than God wants us to. We have to wait and learn the lessons of life. If God will not go ahead with us, we must wait and go with God."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Home Renovations...

We moved this weekend! No, not to a new house but into our newly renovated master bathroom & bedroom. My hubby spent a good portion of his 'free' time gutting & re-building this part of our home and (although a bit biased), I think he did a fabulous job. And, it's so good to be back sleeping in a queen-sized bed (sorry for those of you who visit us and get the full-size bed in the guest room!) The only downside of things...I no longer have an excuse for a dusty, unorganized house. I can handle that! :)

A bit of an 'exaggerated' illustration of BEFORE...

And here are a few shots of the AFTER...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Daddy's Hands...

Within 5 minutes of arriving home from work last night, Blake began assembling the crib that's been waiting for months in the unfinished nursery. As he read the instructions (impressive!) and began assembling the piece & I began snapping pictures (my contribution to the project), I thought of an old country song entitled 'Daddy's Hands'; see lyrics below.

"Daddy's hands
Were soft and kind when I was cryin'
Daddy's hands
Were hard as steel when I'd done wrong
Daddy's hands
Weren't always gentle but I'd come to understand
There was always love in Daddy's hands"

Similar to our earthly fathers, I began to realize how, without a doubt & regardless of how it may appear from our perspective at the time, there is ALWAYS love in our heavenly Father's hands. 1 Samuel 12:15 reminds us of judgement, "If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you..." Psalm 37:24 reminds us of His protection, "...though (we) stumble, (we) will not fall, for the Lord upholds (us) with his hand..." And Proverbs 21:1 reminds us of His sovereignty, "The king's heart is like the channels of water in the hand of the Lord, He turns it wherever He wishes."

May we each praise the Lord this day for the love which He has & continues to demonstrate within our lives.

Here are some pics, my attempt at being 'artistic' in showing the 'love in Daddy's hands' as Blake assembled the crib.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Day of the Carpet...

My key task for today seemed simple when I awoke this morning - Make sure the carpet gets laid appropriately in the master bedroom & nursery. The workers are coming at 8:30, it should take 2-3 hours. That's not how it happened.

Upon arriving nearly 2 hours late (with nary a phone call telling me they were delayed), I delivered specific instructions to the 'crew leader' in regards to WHERE the carpet was to be laid. The instructions I gave were quite simple; I repeated the exact details which Blake had communicated to me last night. Even though I am outrageously intimidated by situations such as these (don't ask; that's just me), I thought my delivery was quite good. I was wrong.

The BIG Mistake: I took the carpet-layers at their word when they waved while walking out the door, "You're all set!" almost 6 hours after they had arrived. I know, I know. I should have inspected their work BEFORE they left (but, alas, I did not). About 20 minutes later, while sweeping my new carpet I opened the closet door to find that -EEKS!- there was no carpet in the closet where I had specifically instructed the remnant to be laid. And then I opened the next closet and -you guessed it- the carpeting did not extend beyond the doorframe. My key task for the day and I had failed.

I got a little weepy. I called the salesperson who had measured/sold us the carpet remnant. I got angry at the 'crew leader' who did not mention at any time throughout the day, "By the way, the carpet you so clearly asked me to place in the closet is not here!" And then I simply started feeling overwhelmed. So, instead of bursting into tears, I decided to indulge in another activity which I do quite well. I began dreaming.

I lugged the box of baby items I've collected throughout the past year from the attic, plopped down on the newly carpeted nursery floor, opened the doors to the closet that does NOT have carpet and I started unpacking.

I placed a little striped romper into the closet; the gift I gave Blake this past Father's Day along with a baseball mitt so he can someday play catch with his son. I imagined the two of them giggling as they barreled into the house asking for glasses of lemonade (& a bottle of milk).

I hung up the little clothes I've purchased at area resale shops, and began to imagine which outfit would be our son's favorite. Would he wear one of them at his first birthday party and would he celebrate that day in Ethiopia or here with us?

I folded a few blankets & dreamed of wrapping our son in one of them, the fabric as soft as his skin.

I placed some books on a shelf and envisioned the day when I would glance over and see our little guy pull his favorite from the shelf and stand at my elbow saying, "Book! Book!" just like his cousins, Jonah or Ty.

And then later, as I thought back to my time in the nursery, a room of dreams for me right now, I prayed a little prayer: "May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight. And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you tonight."


I received the book entitled, "How to Encourage the Man in Your Life" several years ago and find myself referring back to it's lessons on numerous occasions. Although this task/priviledge (of encouragement) should be a daily priority, with Valentine's Day coming up quickly, I thought I would share a paragraph from the book as an encouragement for you to use in your own relationship with 'your man.' While these words refer specifically to a husband or fiance, they can easily be ammended slightly & applied to other relationships.
"Encouragement is like this. It takes work -- constant, consistent work -- for it to be effective. When you're an encourager, you're like prospector or a deep-sea diver looking for hidden treasure. Every person has pockets of underdeveloped resources within him. Your task is to search for these pockets, discover them, and then expand them. As you discover the strengths in your man you'll begin to focus on them. You'll look at them and care about what you discover. At first what you discover may be rough and imperfect. Talent scouts do this all the time. They see undeveloped raw talent and ability but they have wisdom to see beyond that. They look into the future and see what can happen if all the potential were cultivated and developed. Do you? Is this what you do with your husband? Following is a poem which captures this idea in a unique way:

God, through the years
of our married life
You have been holding a crown
about ten feet above my husband's head.
He was simply too busy
loving and serving to notice.
But I saw it.
Not only did I see it --

I watched him grow into it.

Encouraging a person means you honor and respect him because you believe in him. And often, your encouragement helps your husband live in such a way that he is worthy of being honored."

May we each strive more diligently to be the wives that our husbands need us to be, to give glory to God for the successes in this area of our lives & pray for His grace to do better in the year ahead.

Happy Birthday, EMILY!

We returned from a few days 'down South' where Blake attended an APTA Conference and I spent my days with the Plattner Pals. It was my birthday the day we arrived (at 2:30AM b/c of weather delays) and it is Emily's birthday today so we celebrated by baking & decorating a 'kitty cake' (see picture). Thanks for sharing your birthday with me, Emily! I further expanded my 'expert' scrapbooking skills with the help of Anissa and Emily (and all their tools), Zachary taught me how to shoot a bow-and-arrow (and, I almost hit the box!) and Jonathan taught me the ins-and-outs of the different types of power saws (and which ones my husband owns!). I played 'cars' with Elijiah for most of Friday morning but found myself (and my tractor) in jail on many occassions. In the beginning, Moriah wasn't so sure about her Uncle 'Bake' but scrambled across the room one night to give me a hug just before bedtime; it sure warmed this Aunt's heart!. The weather was fantastic allowing us to go for a hike one afternoon but made the sub-0 temperatures upon our return to Chicago all the more extreme. Below are some pictures from our adventures.

Here's Elijah doing his chores with his own unique flare...

Emily and I celebrating our birthday. Can you figure out who's older? And here is Zachary showing out the proper form for shooting an arrow. ALWAYS stay behind the shooter!

Moriah & Daddy reading books...

One of my favorite pictures; Moriah, Uncle Blake and Anissa...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Little Jonah (and Family)...

I recently spent a couple of days with my brother-in-law Peter, sister-in-law Penny and my littlest nephew Jonah. I had a fun, fun time learning about the-days-in-the-life-with-a-toddler-boy; busy! busy! busy! Now Jonah is a blast BUT...I certainly learned why so many moms begin grinning with delight when glancing at the clock and realizing that 'naptime' is fast approaching! Here are a couple of snapshots of the little guy.

Look at those droopy eyes; a sure sign that it's naptime!
Jonah LOVES music and often stands pointing at the computer & 'requesting' his favorite songs be played. He gets the music-gene from his daddy and he's quite the pianist; a cute one, too, don't you think?