Thursday, December 30, 2010

Questions Answered, Kind Of

Before I begin with my questions and ponderings (which are more of a tangled mess than anything), I want to say that even without answers to my questions, we have experienced such peace. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for us, written, called, or stopped by. We can definitely feel the impact of your prayers as God works through you to bring us comfort, strength, hope, and joy.

You would think that the midst of the holiday season would be the absolute worse time to experience a hardship like this. During a time when you are supposed to be happy, carefree, and jolly, we were hit with a tragedy we never expected. While our loss did damper our spirits, it was actually the perfect timing for such a difficulty to take place. Lawrence is a teacher, so he had most of last week and all of this week off. Since I only take care of teachers' kids, I too have had the same vacation time. Because of this, we have been able to spend a lot of time together as a family. We have been able to support and encourage each other 24/7. We haven't had to worry about work or any of the stress that comes with our jobs. We have been able to focus completely on our family. God's timing is impeccable, even when it deals with hard stuff you don't like or understand. And that has brought us even more peace, knowing that God has been in total control and is taking care of the smallest of details.

With all that said, I would like to think that I am completely ready to move on with life. I don't think I will ever "get over" losing my baby, but I do feel okay about going on with whatever God may have for us in the future. I still get scared thinking about all the unknowns and the "what if's." I would still like to know some particulars about the road that lies before us. It would be nice to have a detailed map and step-by-step instructions regarding the on-going journey we are on as we follow after God. But there is no map, there are no nicely printed out directions from Google, and there isn't a GPS that can tell us how many more feet before we make the next turn. BUT, we aren't left on our own. We have the best Guide ever, the Author of Life Himself is right beside us, every single step of the way. I think back to our wedding day and how we read Psalm 48:14, "For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end." Just because the path got a bit steep and we have had to climb over a few rocks, we know that God is still with us, showing us the perfect way to go. I still don't know all the places we will go along the way or what all will take place as we work to get there, but I do know my final destination and I am looking forward to my arrival. Some good friends lost their father this holiday season, and one of their comments about their dad's life struck me, "He ran with endurance the race set before him, fixing his eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith the entire way." At many times this past week I haven't felt like running the race set before me. I have wanted to quit, to give up, or at least to stop and rest. Haven't I earned that right, given my situation? Well, Jesus kept going, and He knew the cross was before Him. Thank goodness He didn't stop, or give up, or quit. Thank goodness that He has been with me to help me keep on going. I think of another verse, Isaiah 40:31, "Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." These past few days I haven't felt like flying or even running, but walking I can do. At first it was an effort to take one step after another. While I'm not ready to run quite yet, I don't feel like I am trudging along either. It's more like a slow walk, one where you take the time to enjoy the scenery and take in all the sights and smells along the way.

On this walk, I have been spending time in the Word, mainly the book of Matthew (only because that is where I had been reading, so figured I might as well continue). As I have been reading, I have come up with some questions, or at least some ponderings. Once you get past Jesus' birth and the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew begins to tell more about Jesus' ministry, which of course includes numerous miracles. Reading about Jesus healing people has raised quite a few thoughts and questions for me. For example, in chapter 8 a man with leprosy yells out to Jesus as He is walking by, "Jesus, if You want to, I know that You can heal me." Jesus stops to ask the man what he wants. Of course the man wants to be cured of his incurable disease. Jesus tells him, "I want to heal you," touches the man, and the leprosy is gone, just like that. The man goes away rejoicing. I think to myself, Jesus, I wanted to be healed too. I wanted You to help me. Why didn't You want to fix whatever was wrong and save my baby? Why didn't You want to help me? You could have. You have the power. But You didn't. Why? Why didn't you want to? WHY?!

There is no answer. Not yet...

I read on and come to Matthew 9:19-22. Jesus is on his way to heal someone else, but a woman reaches out and touches his robe. In the midst of the crowd, Jesus feels this woman's touch. He stops. He tells the woman, "Because of your faith, you are well." Again, I think to myself, Did I not have faith? No, I did have faith. I believed that God could have healed me. He could have saved my unborn child. I had total faith that He could reverse whatever had gone wrong and allow us to have a healthy pregnancy and a beautiful baby. I had faith! So, why didn't you make me well? Why didn't you stop and help me? WHY?!

Again, there is no answer. I am left with just my questions. For now...

I keep on reading. I don't get too far before Jesus heals another person. Matthew 9:27-29 tells of 2 blind men who have their sight restored. Just as Jesus told the woman, he says to these men, "Your faith has made you well." The same questions come to mind, Did I not have faith? Was my faith not big enough? If I had faith, why didn't you heal me? Why didn't you change my situation? Why, why, WHY?!

Yet again, no answer.

Just a few verses later (Matthew 9:35-36), I read how Jesus healed many who were brought to Him. The lame went away walking. The deaf could hear. The blind could see. The mute started talking. Demons were cast out. People's lives were changed. No one else could have done what Jesus did. Without Him, these people would have never been able to walk to the market, hear a friend call out, "Hello!," see the colors of a rainbow, or tell their child, "I love you." These men, women, and children desperately needed Jesus, and He took care of them. I am happy for all these people; I am glad that Jesus helped them. Yet, I know there were many more whom He didn't heal. I can empathize with them. For as I read about all these people healed "because He had compassion on them," think to myself, Why didn't you heal me? Did you not have compassion on me? Was I not worth Your time or effort? Do I not matter to You?! If You do love me and care about me, why didn't you help me? Why didn't you save my baby? WHY?!

Still no answers. Just questions.

Reading about all these miracles, I kept waiting to come upon the story of the man who was blind since birth. I even skimmed through the rest of Matthew to see if I could find it. When it wasn't there, I looked through Mark. I kept going, all the way through Luke. I had to keep reading until I got to John 9. Jesus and His disciples are walking along and pass by a man who is blind. In fact, this man was born blind. No accident happened as a boy (like a rock accidentally hitting his eye while he played with friends). Nothing tragic happened at work (like a splinter of wood flying off as he worked to build a house or a fish hook catching his eye instead of a trout). No, he was born blind. There was no reason for his blindness, at least not that man knew. There was no explanation, until Jesus came on the scene. Wondering why this man had been born blind, the disciples asked Jesus, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" They automatically thought there had to be a reason why this man could not see. They figured there had to be a reason why something bad happened to him. (much like we think today) Jesus told them it wasn't anyone's fault, no one was to blame. But He did know the reason why this man had been born blind, why he had been unable to see his entire life, why this man had suffered for so long. Jesus explained, “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him."

There's my answer.

It may not be the answer I wanted. It may still leave me questioning. But it's my answer. The only answer.

There was no explanation for the man being born blind. There was no logical reason. No one had any answers. No one knew why...until Jesus came.

The only difference between me and this man is that Jesus healed the blind man. The blind man went away a seeing man (after he washed the spit and mud off his eyes). But, Jesus chose not to heal me, not to change my situation. Not because I had sinned. Not because I didn't have faith. Not because He didn't have compassion on me or care about me. Not because He couldn't. But because, for some reason I still don't know or understand, God's glory would be made greater in this way. I still have lots of questions, but for now I have to accept the only answer God has given me, "This happened so that My power could be seen in you."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ALL Things

I write this with such sadness that I have never known before. Just days ago, I was full of anticipation as I looked forward to meeting our new baby. July couldn't get here fast enough for me to hold and kiss my precious child. All that has changed now...

It’s ironic. Today is Tuesday. Coralyn was born on a Tuesday. My labor started late Monday night, and she was born around 8 on Tuesday morning. That morning was full of such joy and happiness.

Late last night, I guess you could say I went into labor. Really, I had a miscarriage. By 8 this Tuesday morning, I was sure I had lost the baby. This morning has been full of pain and loss.

In the midst of my tears, I hear God speaking to me and feel His arms around me. I have His peace, but it is conflicted with anger, confusion, and worry. Satan doesn’t want me to trust God, to believe His is still good. Satan wants me to turn my back on God. Sorry, Satan. You lose. You’ve got another Job on your hands. I will still praise my Savior and my Lord. I will not curse Him. I will not give up and die. I know that my Redeemer lives, and I know that my precious baby is with Him right now. God gives, and God takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Yes, my heart is raw. I cry at the drop of a hat. But I can hear Coralyn playing in her crib as she settles down for her nap. How can I forget the absolute joy of that Tuesday morning almost 15 months ago? I am so blessed to be a mother, for many, many women never ever get that opportunity. I have an amazing daughter, and today more than any other I love her with all my heart. Today, even more than the day she was born, I appreciate her life, for it is truly a miracle that she is here. Not only was she perfect when she was born, she has been healthy and strong and safe these past 15 months. She is growing and learning and maturing. Today, I am more aware of that than ever before. So while I am saddened by my loss, God is helping me focus on the wonderful gift of my precious little girl. I will not dwell on what I do not and cannot have; instead I will fix my eyes on Christ and continue to run with endurance the race He has set before me. I will enjoy the daughter I do have. And somehow I will love her more deeply as we follow God on the journey He sets before us as a family.

I want to cry out to God in sheer anger. I want to yell and scream. I want to tell Him that He has no idea the pain that I am going through right now. But He keeps reminding me of two scenes. The first is Jesus in the manager. He willingly gave up His Son, sending Jesus to earth to live among men who would hate Him and eventually kill Him. Which leads to the second scene of Jesus hanging on the cross. He willingly died, on my behalf. And when He did, He took upon Himself my sin. God had to turn His back on His own Son. So, yes, He does know the pain I am experiencing, for He too lost His child, His beloved Son.

I want to tell God that this messes up my plans and my dreams. I want to say that I had everything figured out and nicely arranged as to how my life is supposed to go. But He keeps telling me that I am not in charge; He is. Not only that, but His plans are far better than mine. His plans are perfect. I may not see that right now or understand, but I just have to take Him at His Word; He never lies. Nor does He change. He always does what is good, what is best. He always seeks to bring glory to His name. So, somehow, in some way God is going to use this loss for His glory, and ultimately for my good. I don’t see it now, but this all fits perfectly into His plan. This is somehow part of the process that will shape and mold me into the woman God has created me to be. The transformation of becoming like Christ is somehow one step closer to being complete. I can fight against it or I can allow God to work in my life. He has just been teaching me as I read through Matthew that He uses people to bring about His purposes, whether that be men and women who were in the genealogy of Christ, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, or even King Herod. The point He kept making was that He always accomplishes His will, whether you work with Him or not. You may not see the results of the work in your lifetime, but they will come, and they will be amazing. I would rather be like Mary who said, “I am your servant, let it be as you say,” then King Herod who sought to put an end to God’s plans but failed. I would rather experience pain now and eternal joy later as I see the outcome of God’s work in my life. I readily admit I do not like this part of the process. I confess that I do not understand what in the world God is doing or why this is what He thinks is best. All I can do is trust Him. And wait to see how it all turns out.

Several Scripture passages keep coming to mind and bringing me encouragement and comfort. The first is Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I think about times in the Bible when God used “bad” things to bring about a greater good: Joseph being sold into slavery and then into prison; Daniel being thrown into the lions’ den; Mary and Joseph being accused of having a baby out of wedlock; Lazarus dying before Jesus arrived; Paul and Silas being thrown into prison for preaching about Jesus; and of course the ultimate of Jesus dying on the cross. This miscarriage falls into the category of ALL things, so that must mean that God is going to use it to bring about a greater good. What that is I don’t know. Like I said, I have to trust God, and wait.

Brining me to my next Scripture passage, Psalm 62:1-2, “I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my Salvation, my Fortress where I will NEVER be shaken.” God first showed me this passage when I tore cartilage in my knee in high school, making it impossible for me to achieve my dreams of competing at the state track meet and playing volleyball in college. He used that loss to bring about a greater good: I was a RA at Moody, met some lifelong friends, had the opportunity to go to Haiti, and the timing of everything eventually led to me meeting Lawrence at Ponca Bible Camp. I would say that our marriage and the birth of Coralyn are definitely worth the momentary pain and loss of not being at the state track meet or playing collegiate volleyball. I may have felt like my whole world was turned upside down at the time of the knee surgery, but God was in control. He was my immovable rock, my fortress, my stronghold. Yeah, he shook me up a bit, but I came out better grounded in Him than ever before. Once again, my world feels as though it is crumbling around me. Yet, I know that I am grounded in Christ. I will take Him at His word once again, and know that I will not be shaken. And once again, I will have to wait (which I am terrible at!) for God to show me how He is going to work this out for my good and His glory. I know that He will. I may never see how, but I know that He will. The hard part is waiting, but wait I must, so wait I will. Maybe not too quietly at first, but as the “peace that passes understanding” envelops me more and more, I know that my heart will be quieted and I will be able to rest peacefully in the arms of Christ.

A third passage that God keeps speaking to me is 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, “All praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ. So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in suffering, you will also share in God’s comfort.” I realize that Paul was not speaking of miscarriages here, but I think it applies, for God is most certainly my comfort during this trouble. Not only that but I have already experienced comfort from dear people He has placed in our lives. A good friend came over this morning to watch my daycare kiddos while Lawrence and I went to the doctor. She has had a miscarriage, so when she hugs me, I know she understands exactly what I am going through. When she says, “I am so sorry,” I know her heart has felt the same pain, the same loss. While I am so sad that she has gone through this before, I am comforted by her now. With that in mind, I pray that God will be able to use me to bring comfort to others in the future. Really, He has been preparing me for just such a thing. At my Bradley training I was told that at least one of my students would have a miscarriage. Out of the 15 women at the conference, 3-5 had had miscarriages. At that point I realized it was definitely a possibility that in the course of my teaching, I would have a couple who lost their baby. I never thought I would experience it first though. But now, when that times comes, I will be able to comfort them knowing what they are going through and feeling. And I pray that I am able to speak to them of God’s love and peace in their time of grief and loss. I pray that He uses me to comfort them as He has already used people to comfort me.

A final passage that God continues to remind me of is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Trust, trust, trust. I can’t lean on my own understanding at a time like this anyway because I don’t have any understanding. This makes no sense. There is no immediate answer to WHY?! Logic cannot explain this situation. The only solution is to trust, to take God at His word. And as I do, He will lead me, one step at a time. At first the steps might be slow and shakey, but His strong right hand will uphold me. He may not show me what the road ahead looks like, and that is probably best, for if I had known this was going to happen, I would not have wanted to follow Him here. I would have wanted to turn and run the other direction, as fast as I could. If I had done that, I would not be where God wants me. I would miss out on the perfect plans God has for me. So here I am, right where God wants me. I am at the end of myself, exactly where I need to be, because only here can I fully rely on Him. Only here am I truly aware of my utter and total dependence on Him. Where the path goes from here, I don’t know. It’s not my job to know (though I sure would like to!). My only responsibility is to trust and obey, “for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey” (as the old hymn goes). Trust, trust, trust. Wait, wait, wait. What else is there to do?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Au Naturale

14 months ago, our lives were changed forever when Coralyn was born. She has brought such joy and happiness to our hearts. We are so blessed to have such an amazing little girl. I don't think we can explain how much we love her. We loved her from the moment we knew she existed. So, really, our lives changed last February (on Valentine's Day no less!) when we discovered I was pregnant.

I am person who likes to be organized, informed, and know all the details. So, naturally, as soon as I knew I was expecting a baby, I went to the library and got as many books as I could on childbirth. I talked to everyone I knew who had a baby. I did research on the internet, trying to find as many websites as I could that dealt with anything related to being pregnant, the actual labor and delivery process, and parenthood. Boy, did I learn a lot!

Having seen a natural birth while I was in Haiti (thanks, Jennifer Ebenhack for letting me attend Brendan's birth), I knew that wanted to have my baby au naturale. I figured if Jen could do it, then so could I. And after reading and researching, I decided that was the best option. The problem was finding a place to have the baby since I really didn't want to give birth in a hospital. Mercy and Truth Birthing Center provided an answer to that "problem." Next on the agenda was learning how to have a natural birth (just watching one wasn't quite enough for me to feel comfortable knowing how to do it on my own). This is where the Bradley Method comes in. I had never heard of such a thing and had no idea what to expect at our weekly birth classes. After 12 weeks of classes, I felt confident that we had made a good decision and was totally prepared to give birth au naturale.

Coralyn's birth was, of course, one of the happiest experiences of my entire life. Some people might think that I am absolutely crazy and insane to not have gotten an epidural or at least some kind of pain medication. I know people also say that love makes you forget the pain of labor (which is why people have more than 1 child), but I can honestly say I remember my labor and delivery quite well, from the first contraction to the time Coralyn was born. And now that I am pregnant again, I am not scared one little bit of the pain that will come with this baby's birth. I actually feel even more prepared since I have gone through the process once and know what to expect (though every birth is different).

Since Coralyn's birth I have become more and more passionate about natural birth. I know that not everyone agrees with me, and that's okay. But, I would still like to help as many people as I can learn about how to have a healthy pregnancy and a natural, un-medicated birth. This is why I am starting to teach Bradley classes (that and I won't be able to do daycare anymore and need some form of income). If you are like I was before Coralyn was born, you have never heard of the Bradley Method and have no idea why I am so excited about it. You just think I am weird. :)

To give you a glimpse into my messed up brain and help you understand what this Bradley method is all about, here is an outline of the classes I will be teaching and why each topic is important to a healthy pregnancy that results in a healthy baby.

Exercise During Pregnancy: Labor is like a marathon. Just like any athletic event requires training and preparation, you have to get physically ready for labor.

Nutrition: Good nutrition can not only help prevent problems like toxemia and pre-eclampsia (a condition resulting in seizures), but also helps the baby grow and develop inside the womb.

Pregnancy: Knowing how the baby is developing inside the womb will blow you away. It's simply amazing how intricately designed these tiny babies are before they are ever born, not mention all the things they can do while still inside their mom!

The Coach: Having someone by your side to encourage and support you throughout the entire process is so important, not just at the time of labor but during the whole pregnancy.

First Stage of Labor: Understanding what is going on with your baby and your body helps you know how to respond to contractions and any pain. Knowing where you are at in the labor process also helps you focus on what is happening at the time and what to expect as labor continues and progresses.

Second Stage of Labor: Again, knowing what is happening, what to expect, and how to work with your baby and your body will help you have the best birth experience possible.

Planning Your Birth: Having a prepared birth plan will help you communicate with the birth professionals who will be at your baby's birth. There are many options as to what you what your baby's birth to look like, and deciding ahead of time will help things go smoothly once labor begins.

Variations and Unexpected Situations: Knowing what to do in case of an emergency or simply if something goes differently than you planned or imagined will help you remain calm no matter what happens during labor.

Advanced First Stage Labor: A more in-depth look at what will take place during labor and actual labor rehearsal so you are as ready as possible for your baby's birth.

Advanced Second Stage Labor: More practice and more relaxation they say, "Practice makes perfect."

Being a Great Coach: This class really focuses on the dads and helps them prepare for their role in the birth process.

Preparing for Your New Family: So you had the baby, now what? Knowing what will happen immediately after the baby is born and how to care for your precious child is certainly a crucial part of becoming a parent.

Well, that's a summary of the Bradley Method, or the classes at least. If you want to know more, I could talk your ear off (as I am sure you figured out by now). If you are interested or know someone who might like to take classes, please let me know. I plan on having my first class in February and would love to help as many couples as I can prepare for the birth of their babies.

Better Late Than Never

Coralyn's 14 month milestone was December 6, and I didn't post anything about her newest accomplishments. Like I said, better late than never. So here is just a few of the things Coralyn has been up to in the past month:

*Not only is she signing to communicate with us, but she is actually starting to say real words. You may have to listen closely or know what she is talking about, but I think you can understand the words coming out of her mouth. Her vocabulary now includes: Mama, Dada, more, please, eat, ball, block, book, da for "that" as she holds something up and wants you to say its name, wa-wa for water or drink in general, sna for snack, all done, ni-ni for night (or bedtime or her pacifier which she only gets at bedtime), and hi (which she says when she holds the phone up to her ear).

*She can moo like a cow, show the trunk of an elephant, roar like a lion, stretch out her neck like a giraffe, flap her arms like a bird (or airplane).

*She can drive the carts at Hy-Vee. Well, she can pretend to steer at least.

*She can stack cups and put the rings on the tower thing.

*She can put a puppet on her hand and make it say hi.

*She waves hello and good-bye. She runs to the door any time I say someone is here for daycare. She knows to run to the door in the kitchen (out to the garage) when I say Daddy is home since he always comes in through the garage.

*She goes right to her chair when I say "Let's eat a snack," or "Time for lunch."

*She will help clean up her toys.

*She will throw away dirty diapers and put the wipes in the basket.

*She will go on the potty (not all the time, but hey I take anytime!)

*She can throw a football (and other balls too). She knows the ping pong balls are downstairs and goes to the door and says please to let us know she wants another ball.

*She will get down on her hands and knees (and sometimes stomach) to look for balls under the coach or chair.

*She can use a fork or spoon if I put the food on it for her.

*She can color a picture (and knows right where the crayons are!). She will help put the crayons away when she is done. And she puts her picture on the chair every time since that is where I always have the boys put their finished art projects.

*She can play with play-dough and roll it out into a snake. She will put it away too!

*She will help me get her dressed by putting out her arms and legs. She will try to put her socks and shoes on.

*She can shake her NO to let us know she doesn't want something.

*She bows her head to pray.

*She rubs her hands to wash them.

*She knows what cup/bottle belongs to which daycare kiddo and will take the cup to him/her.

*She will take her play camera and face it the right way and smile really big then take a picture of herself (can you tell she is used to the camera!).

*She can turn on the TV and will bring you the remote so you can get the video ready (we only watch TV after snack time, but she gets the idea of how the TV works).

*She can brush her teeth.

I am sure there are many, many more things my amazing daughter can do. She is excellent a mimicking what she sees others around her do. Really cool that she can pick up on things like that, but kind of scary too. I have to make sure I am setting a good example for her!

I am amazed at how quickly she is growing up. I know it's a good thing, but at times I get said when I think how she isn't my "baby" anymore. Well, she will be until June or July, at least! I can't wait to see what kind of big sister Coralyn is!

Monday, December 6, 2010

God's Sense of Humor

God has a great sense of humor. Let me explain...

Lawrence and I know that we want lots of kids. Well, I would love to have 6-8 and Lawrence would be content at 2. We compromise at 4. Of course, those are our plans, not God's. He tends to have a way of working things out somewhat different than we have in mind. We would like our kids to be close in age, about 18-24 months apart. So, as soon as Coralyn turned 8 months old, my mind told me that it was time to get pregnant, immediately. I hate waiting! Well, one month of waiting turned into 2 and that turned into 3 and then 4. I was getting quite impatient and worried that my perfect plans of the kids being 18-24 months apart was not going to happen. (Heaven forbid!) Of course, God had everything under control, as He always does.

Around the beginning of October I started not to feel well, every day. I felt light-headed and dizzy. I was getting super tired, even though I would make an extra pot of coffee in the afternoon to try to boost my energy. I was hungry all the time, even though I was eating normally. So, I took a test at home to see if I might be pregnant. A big fat NO. I was disappointed but knew that God's timing is perfect (I just wanted Him to get on my timetable). A week later, I still felt sick and tired and hungry. I took another test. Got another NO. I decided I was probably just imagining my symptoms because I wanted to be pregnant so badly. Yet, I still didn't feel any different several weeks later. Figured maybe I could take another test, just for fun. Well, the result again wasn't what I wanted to see. Sigh. I guess I was a glutton for disappointment because a week later I took another test since I was still feeling yucky all the time. A fourth negative. By this time I decided that since I wasn't pregnant, I needed to figure out what was "wrong" with me. I made an appointment at the birthing center where Coralyn was born, at their women's clinic.

My appointment went like a normal visit and I started out with the usual trip to the bathroom. The nurse checked my vitals and asked about my symptoms. Then she did a pregnancy test. It was negative, so we went to get the midwife to draw my blood and do some tests that way to figure out why I was feeling icky. Another nurse came in, looked at the pregnancy test on the counter, and told me, "Congratulations!" I was quite surprised since 5 minutes earlier the same test had been negative. But sure enough, there was a line on the pregnant part!

The midwife isn't sure how far along I am since I took 4 tests at home and they were all negative. She figures I was only about 6 weeks or so at that time (the middle of November). If that is true, then the baby should arrive sometime in July. If I was pregnant before and the tests were all messed up, then the baby should arrive sometime in June. Guess God is going to keep us on our toes on this one and expect us to trust Him with the timing of things. Imagine that! I hate not knowing all the details, but I guess God knows them and that is enough.

The timing of the birth (whether June or July) is perfect because it won't interfere with my daycare families' routines. I can watch the kids until school is out in May and then not start up again when school starts in August.

It's also great that God provided the funds for me to go to Dallas this past weekend and take the Bradley natural childbirth training. I will be able to start teaching classes in February! With this new "job" I will still be able to stay at home, but not do daycare. I will be able to take Coralyn to the park and library. I can visit other stay-at-home moms during the day. I can be more actively involved with DC MOM, the mom's group at our church. So many positives, plus I get to help other couples learn about natural childbirth and prepare for their babies! It's a win-win situation.

And, as God showed me, He knew exactly what He was doing. The kids will be 21 months apart, right smack dab in the middle of my "required" 18-24 months. Funny, how that just "happened" to "work out."

I love God's sense of humor. I have prayed for twin boys, so we will see how His humor works out on that one. Watch, and we will have triplet girls :) Whatever the case, we are so excited to welcome another child (or more) to our family!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Jumbled Mess

That's what I feel like today.

I am super excited about my trip to Dallas for the Bradley training. By going I will learn a whole lot about childbirth and be one step closer to being accredited to teach natural birth classes. I am thrilled that God provided the money for me to go on this trip. I am so thankful for the opportunity to meet other people who are interested and passionate about babies, pregnancy, childbirth, families, and other such related things. At the same time, I am sad about leaving. I would love for Lawrence and Coralyn to come with me, but that's just not realistic. I am going to miss them so much. I know that I will be busy attending seminars and filling my head with lots of technical terms and trying to process everything I am learning. But I fear that the days are going to creep by as I am away from my precious family. This will be the first time I have left Coralyn for more than a few hours. Granted, my mom is going to be taking care of her during the day and Lawrence will be with her in the evenings. She is in great hands. I am not nervous about that, though I do wonder about how Coralyn will do without me around as she tends to be a Mama's Girl. I know that I am going to cry when I say good-bye at the airport tonight and when I get on the plane on Sunday to return home, it won't be able to travel fast enough. And wouldn't you know it, my seat is in the very back of the plane. I already hate the deboarding process and think it takes far too long. I can only imagine how impatient I am going to be Sunday night.

Well, that's about it. I am a big jumbled mess today.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Colors of Fall

I love autumn! It is my favorite season, second to spring. I enjoy all the vibrant colors as the leaves change and the perfect weather. Granted, I don't particularly like that the leaves fall from the trees and then completely cover your yard. I found out on Wednesday as I was running out to get the mail while all the kids took their naps that the massive amount of leaves in our yard were doing an excellent job of concealing a huge hole. I about twisted my ankle! But back to the good parts of fall, mainly the amazing shades of red, orange, and yellow.

I got to enjoy these colors up close this afternoon as I raked the seemingly endless amount of leaves in our front yard. I filled the yard waste container, having jumped in numerous times to press down the leaves. Yet, our yard didn't look like I had even raked a single leaf. Figured I would rake the remaining leaves into piles and Lawrence can take care of them tomorrow when he is back from deer hunting. Here is what I left for him:

Think Coralyn will have fun jumping in the piles of leaves? I look forward to our family time tomorrow afternoon!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Simple Things

I have found myself smiling at Coralyn a lot lately, at very simple things.

Like a couple nights ago when I let the water out of the bathtub and told her the water was going bye-bye, and she started waving.

Or yesterday when she brought me the container of play dough and signed "please" so I would open it for her.

Or today when she handed me the bag of crayons and signed "more, please" because we had just finished coloring, but she evidently wasn't quite finished yet.

I smiled last night at supper when Coralyn tasted something she didn't like and instead of throwing it on the floor (like she usually has done) she handed it to me.

This morning after I finished changing one of the baby's diapers and Coralyn took the wipes and put them in the basket for me, I smiled.

And of course I had to smile as we sang "The Wheels on the Bus" and Coralyn did the actions for the first time.

When I saw Coralyn take a piece out of her farm animal puzzle and then put it back (actually getting it all the way in the hole) in the right place, I smiled at her accomplishment.

One of Coralyn's favorite "games" is to take all the toys out of container and then put the empty container on her head. She can't see, but she walks around laughing, and I just smile.

Lately, Coralyn has been bringing me books and turning around to sit on my lap, which makes me smile with utter joy as my heart overflows with love.

Of course I smile when I hear Coralyn say my name, laugh, or when she looks at me with a cute smile of her own.

One of my favorite times of the day is when Lawrence gets home from work and I tell Coralyn, "Daddy's here." She does a happy dance, squeals with delight, and heads to the door to greet him. That makes me smile.

Like I said, it's the simple things of life...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Coincidence, I Think Not

This past weekend was the beginning of deer season, which means we went to Sedalia so Lawrence could hunt at his parents' place. Last year Lawrence didn't see a single deer, except the dead ones his dad and brother shot. This year I have really been praying that Lawrence would get a deer, even 2 or more. Not only does actually shooting a deer makes getting up early and sitting quietly in cold weather for hours on end worthwhile, but it also means lots of cheap meat.

Friday evening we went out to eat (thanks to our volleyball team we had a free and delicious meal at Rancho Grande) then made a trip to Wal-Mart for Lawrence to get his deer tags and a box of bullets (270 Springfield, 150 grain) since he only had one bullet left. After making our purchases, we headed down to Sedalia.

The next morning Lawrence was up bright and early at 5 and out in his deer stand before 6. He loaded his one remaining bullet, plus 3 of the new ones, knowing he might need more than one shot to kill a deer. Then began the waiting. Around 7 he spotted a nice 8 point buck and looked for a good shot. Although he would have to shoot through some brush, Lawrence thought he had a neck shot and took it. The buck fell immediately, but was twitching and kept twitching as Lawrence got down from his stand to check out his deer. He figured he better shoot it once more to put the poor guy out his misery quickly. His gun kept jamming though. Lawrence looked to see what was wrong and only then discovered that the Wal-Mart guy had given him the wrong kind of bullets (30-06, 150 grain). Since he couldn't shoot the deer again, he had his brother come over and use his gun. Matt shot the buck in the neck again, but still the big fellow wouldn't die. While Matt came to get the four wheeler and trailer to haul the deer up to the garage for the skinning process, Lawrence stood watch by the buck and waited for him to finally give up and die. Since the buck wouldn't surrender, Lawrence had to take a 3rd shot. Thankfully, he had loaded his one good bullet first and was able to use it to get the deer down initially. If he had put any of the other 3 bullets in first, he wouldn't have been able to get the buck. Coincidence that out of 4 bullets, he loaded the only good one? I think not. God was totally in control.

Not only did God allow Lawrence to get a buck, but after it was skinned, cut up, and ground into meat, we had 62 pounds of burger and 6 pounds of jerky to take home. 68 pounds of meat is going to go a long way in feeding our family this winter. Once again God has blown us away with His abundant provision! Just to emphasize this point: Lawrence's brother Matt shot 2 does later that day and got 36 pounds total. Lawrence's one deer was double that amount! I love how God takes care of us, so much better than we could ever imagine.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lucky 13

While 13 is my favorite number, I know there's nothing really lucky or unlucky about it. But it is definitely the best number this month since Coralyn is now 13 months old!

In honor of the number 13, I thought I would list 13 new things that Coralyn has added to her accomplishments:

1) She raises her arm and makes the noise for an elephant

2) She roars like a lion

3) She moos like a cow

4) She often lets me know when she needs to go potty and uses her special potty frequently throughout the day

5) She folds her hands to pray (my favorite!)

6) She can touch her toes (when we ask her where her toes are)

7) She can hold a crayon and "draw" or "color" a picture

8) She tries to put the matching puzzle piece in the correct spot (granted, she doesn't actually get it in the hole, but she has the right idea)

9) She can say "down" to let us know she wants down or is done with a meal

10) She goes to her chair when I tell everyone to go to their spots for a snack or lunch

11) She will get her socks and shoes for me when I say "let's go outside"

12) She will help clean up her toys

13) She will sit in my lap to read books or watch a Baby Einstein movie (the fact that she sits for any length of time is quite the accomplishment!)

I am so proud of my "Baby Girl!" She is growing up so fast. Part of me likes it and part of me is sad to see her become a "Big Girl" because I know she will never be a baby again. That's okay though. I am excited to see her continue to grow and learn new things. She will always be my baby no matter how old she is! :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Family Time

Since Lawrence had Friday off, we enjoyed a 3-day weekend and got to spend lots of quality time together as a family, which was super nice since we didn't get hardly any time together during the week due to grad school, parent-teacher conferences, and meetings.

The pictures ended up being in opposite order, but oh well...

Lawrence and Coralyn at Trunk or Treat

Coralyn and me by the tree in our front yard, right before Trunk or Treat

Walking along at Deanna Rose...she would not let us hold her hand early in the day for family pictures (that little stinker!)

Lawrence pushing Coralyn on the little red tractor, which she absolutely loved.

I was a bit sad when I woke up this morning, knowing that the weekend was over and that the week ahead would be busy as usual. BUT I am so thankful for the time we had together this weekend. I am blessed with an amazing husband and a wonderful little girl! Family time is definitely one of my favorite things in the whole entire world!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Learning from the Little Ones

Being a mom has taught me quite a bit about myself and my relationship with God. Doing daycare and taking care of 4 other kids has taught me even more. Without knowing it, these little ones are teaching me and showing me how I need to grow up!

For example, my two and a half year old boy is in that stage where he likes the words, "Me" and "Mine." Sharing is a difficult concept, but lately we have had another dilemma. He will be playing quite contently with a toy or be having fun doing some activity until I show Coralyn or one of the other kids a toy or suggest something for them to do. Then it's as if that toy is the greatest toy ever or that activity is going to be so much more fun. His toy no longer provides an enjoyment. As soon as I start playing with one of the kids, he immediately jumps up and says, "I want to play with that too!" or "Me do that too." Five seconds ago he didn't even know I had that toy. Five seconds ago he had no interest in playing that game. But now, not only does he want to be involved, he wants to be the middle of all the action and the center of attention. This makes working with the babies quite difficult, but is quite the opportunity to teach sharing!

The lesson I think is trying to teach me through this little boy: How often am I quite content with what I have until I start comparing myself to others? I see that someone else got a new shirt or a new washer or a new house. All of a sudden I am not content with the wardrobe in my closest, my appliances, or my home. I want what they have, and I want it now!

Yet another way this little boy is helping me see where I need to grow up is in the area of obedience. Every day we clean up the toys before we have a snack, again before we eat lunch, and then one last time before the kids go home. (Yes, I know that is a lot of cleaning up!) I try to give the older boys specific jobs rather than just saying, "Pick up the toys" so that they know exactly what to do. So, I will tell Carson to put the blocks away and Aaron to gather all the stacking cups. Instead of cleaning up the blocks, Carson focuses only on finding the cups and trying to get to them before Aaron can. Yes, Carson is picking up, BUT he isn't doing what I asked. He isn't obeying. He is doing what HE wants.

What is God teaching me? I often try to do what I want and justify it. What I am doing is a good thing, BUT it's not what God told me to do. I want to do my thing instead of His. I am not obeying. In fact, I am outright defying God. I don't like when my kiddos do that to me, so why would I think that God excuses me when I act the same way?!

How is it that such little people can teach me so much?! Because God is using a BIG way to help me grow up...that's why!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Counting My Blessings

"Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done." That's how the familiar hymn goes. I remember singing it back in the day, but recently God has brought the chorus to my mind, challenging me to actually do it -- to count my blessings.

See, I have been kind of "down in the dumps" lately. Really, it's a matter of focus and perspective. I have been feeling sorry for myself and letting all the "negatives" take over my heart. Because I do in-home daycare I am at home all day, every day. Due to the number and ages of the children I watch I am not able to safely take everyone outside to play, drive or walk to the park, etc. Thus, I feel trapped. I also start to feel the monotony of changing diapers, singing the alphabet song, fixing snacks, watching Baby Einstein, changing diapers, wiping snotty noses, refilling bottles, stacking blocks, changing diapers, picking up toys, counting to ten, changing diapers...well, I think you get the idea. The past couple of days in particular I have let these feelings overwhelm me and I have become discouraged. I focus on the things I am not able to do, the places I am not able to go, the activities I am not able to be involved in, etc, etc.

God is so good though. He always knows exactly where we are at, the condition of our hearts. And He knows what is best for us. Instead of changing my situation, He is going to help me change my attitude, my perspective. Because I am stubborn, He knew that I would need to hear the same thing several times before I really caught on to what He is trying to teach me.

Last Wednesday in our small group, Jay mentioned the song, "Count Your Blessings." This past week I have been doing a Bible study by Beth Moore on the fruit of the Spirit. When I read the very familiar 1 Corinthians 13, "love always hopes, love always perseveres through every circumstance, love never fails" really stuck out to me, especially the persevering part. It was kind of like God was reminding me that my situation isn't going to change, so I need to "deal with it" and just keep going. Next, Coralyn and I went to the library one evening after everyone had gone home for the day. I got some kids' Scripture memory CDs. The first song, "Give Thanks to the Lord." Last, but not least, I started the next week's homework for the Beth Moore Bible study. We are on the second aspect of the fruit of the Spirit -- JOY. How fitting! I think I am at least starting to get the idea. :)

So, figure I should act on that and work on changing my attitude and perspective. I need to focus on the positives, and there are so many as God has blessed me abundantly. Since I'm a literal person, I am going to "count my blessings" and "name them one by one."

1. God has saved me, rescuing me from death and eternal separation from Him. He has written my name in the Lamb's Book of Life, guaranteeing that I will spend all eternity with Him and forever enjoy His presence.

2. I have an amazing husband who loves me. Lawrence is my best friend and the greatest gift God could have ever given me.

3. I have a precious "baby" girl. Coralyn is the second greatest gift from God. I am so delighted to be a mama.

4. I get to stay at home with Coralyn and spend every day with her. I get to see all her "firsts" and help her develop new skills. Not only do I get to teach her letters, shapes, colors, etc., but I get to teach her about Jesus.

5. I have 4 really good kiddos who I get to take care of every day. They are well-behaved and get along with each other (for the most part, they are human after all!). Coralyn gets to interact with other kids all the time and learn from them.

6. I watch teachers' kids, so I have the same vacation days as Lawrence and we can spend that time together as a family.

7. I have a wonderful family. My parents love me (and Lawrence and Coralyn) so extravagantly.
8. I have some fabulous in-laws. Lawrence's family loves us and I am so blessed to get to be a part of their lives.

9. We a part of a great church where God's Word is preached and we are given the opportunity to live out the gospel message in the community.

10. We have some fantastic friends. Our small group especially challenges and encourages us as we live out life together.

11. We have a house in the "perfect" location. We are close to church. We are close to all the stores and shops we could ever need. Yet, we are in a quiet neighborhood, close to a park.

12. We have money to buy groceries, pay the bills, and put aside some savings.

13. Our closets are more than full.

14. We are free to worship God. We have His Word in our language. We can meet with other believers without fear of imprisonment or other such persecution.

15. We live in a community with a school district known for academic excellence, as well as its extracurricular activities.

16. We live in a country with a democratic government and we elect our leaders (granted, the person we want may not win the election or we may not like everything our leaders do).

17. We have live in a country with a road system that includes paved roads, highways, stop lights, stop signs, cross walks, etc.

18. We have constant electricity and running water.

19. We have a plethora of books in our own language that are free to borrow from a local library.

20. We have a variety of restaurants available for us so that we can go out to eat and not have to prepare food or do any of the clean-up.

21. We have endless options for entertainment.

22. I am in good health and can enjoy working out at the community center or going for a run through town.

23. Lawrence is also in good health. We get to enjoy walking, hiking, camping, etc. outdoors together.

24. We both have jobs where we get to use the talents God has given us.

25. We get to make a lasting impact on kids' lives. Lawrence gets to invite students to Ponca every year, and as a result many children have accepted Christ as their Savior.

26. We get to be a part of what God does at Ponca and develop relationships with some pretty amazing people in the process.

27. We have two vehicles that are in good condition, and no car payments.

28. We don't have any allergies and get to enjoy all the foods we could possibly want.

29. Our fridge and cupboards always have food in them.

30. We have an oven, microwave, and many other appliances that make our lives easier, including a coffee maker!

31. We have furniture in every room of our house.

32. We have air conditioning and heat.

33. We have a computer and printer.

34. We live in a part of the country that has all 4 seasons (usually).

35. I have all five senses. At this time of year, I am especially glad that I can see and enjoy the beautiful colors of fall.

36. The Holy Spirit is living within, meaning that all of God's power and wisdom (not to mention all His other qualities) are available to me 24/7.

37. Because of Jesus Christ, I can have direct access to God at all times.

38. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and has promised to return. When He does I will be transformed and share in His glory.

39. This world is not my eternal home. I am only here for a short time, compared to the eternity that I will spend in God's very presence.

40. God has forgiven me of every single sin I have ever committed or will ever commit. He sees me as perfect and innocent, pure and holy because I am washed in the blood of Jesus.

41. God created me in His image. He designed me so that I am unique and exactly the way He wanted me to be.

42. God gave me special gifts and abilities to use so that I can accomplish the plans He has for me. He actually lets me play a role in His kingdom work.

43. We have had both the opportunity and the means to travel to different places and see some really cool parts of God's creation.

44. God has kept Coralyn safe so many times it's not even funny.

45. I have shoes that fit. They don't have holes and aren't coming apart. If I don't like a certain pair, I have plenty of others in the closet that I can wear.

46. I have a bed to sleep in at night, and it's very comfortable.

47. While I may not be talented musically myself, I am still thankful for music. And that there are many different kinds to enjoy.

48. I got to sleep and rest last night, and woke up again this morning.

49. I saw 7 deer while I was running this morning.

50. Right now all the kids are quiet. :)

And that's just 50. I will keep counting my blessings as I go throughout the day. And the cool thing is that as I have been naming my blessings this morning, my attitude has been better. I have had more patience with the kids. I have had more fun playing with them, even if it is the same things over and over again. Thank You, God, for opening my eyes and changing my heart.

Now I feel like I really can sing along with the kids, "I've got joy, joy, joy down in my heart...deep, deep down in my heart."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wonder Woman

I am a little late, but better late than never is what they say. Last Sunday was Wonder Woman's birthday. No, no, not the superhero. My mom. In honor of her birthday, I thought I would list the top 60 things I love, appreciate, admire, and respect about her. So here goes:

1. I would have to start out with the obvious fact that if not for my mom I wouldn't be here today. She had quite the time getting me into the world, and after having given birth myself, I now have a new appreciation for those 48 hours of labor and then the C-section she "endured" to make my life possible.

2. Another obvious one, for anyone who knows my mom in the least, is that she is the most generous person I know.

3. To along with her generosity, my mom is extremely thoughtful, always looking out for things other people may need or ways that she can bless those around her.

4. In addition to that, my mom is a caring person. When other people are hurting, she is hurting.

5. This is probably redundant, but my mom is selfless. If she is blessed, she immediately looks for ways that she can use that to bless others.

6. Again, my mom is a servant. If someone needs help, she tries to find a way she can meet their need -- including selling stuff on ebay for them, having a garage sale, working the clock at sporting games, or driving someone to a game.

7. Following that, my mom is supportive. When I was in junior high and high school, she was at all of my volleyball and basketball games and my track meets. Now she still supports Berean and attends many of their athletic events.

8. My mom is encouraging. She always has something nice to say to you to make your day.

9. Along with that, my mom is attentive. It's like she is trying to pay special attention to what is happening in people's lives so she knows how she can serve them, help them, or encourage them.

10. I think this goes without saying because everything so far has been an example of this, but my mom is loving.

11. My mom is reliable. If she says she will do something, you can count on her to do it.

12. Again, probably repeating myself here, but my mom is dependable. If you need help, you can ask her and she will be there for you.

13. Right along those lines, my mom is faithful. She frequently calls me to see how we are doing, and if you are in her life, she is going to do her best to be an active part of it.

14. My mom is also patient. A few months ago I watched her take care of my grandma -- helping her walk, getting her food ready, dressing her, bathing her, and so much more. Now that is patience at its finest (well, besides dealing with me day in and day out for the 18 years I was home).

15. Mom is crafty. She has made Coralyn numerous sleep slacks, bibs, a denim skirt, and of course her birthday tutu.

16. Hand in hand with that, my mom is resourceful, finding creative ways to put "junk" or "leftovers" to good use.

17. My mom is also thorough. If she is going to do something, she is going to do it well.

18. Personable is another word for my mom. She enjoys talking with people and sharing in their lives in so many different ways.

19. Mom is committed. The latest example of this is her commitment to lose weight and have a more healthy lifestyle. She had ridden hundreds of miles on her bike and stayed on track with her "diet" as part of this commitment.

20. Going along with that, my mom is dedicated. If she puts her mind to it, you can count on it getting done.

21. Another side of that is that my mom strives for excellence. She always gives her best.

22. My mom is also family minded. She enjoys spending time with us and shows us her love in so many ways.

23. Open arms are another pair of words that describe my mom. She has welcomed Lawrence into our family, not to mention his entire family as well.

24. If I am going to be honest, I have to include that mom can be opinionated. That's good though because she's not afraid to let you know what she's thinking.

25. On the flip side of the coin, my mom is also understanding. If she disagrees with me, she tries to understand my position and let me have my own opinion or way of doing things. She's done great at letting me be the mom I want to be for Coralyn.

26. While we are on that note, my mom is a fantastic Grammy. Coralyn is supplied with clothes, coats, bibs, diapers, shoes, and much more thanks to her (and Lawrence's family too).

27. Thankful is another word for my mom. She is good about expressing her gratitude for all God has given her and what He is doing in her life.

28. Mom is also humble. She doesn't like to draw attention to herself or the many ways she has been able to bless others.

29. Hospitable describes my mom too. She may not cook all the time, but if you go to her house, she will take great care of you. Every time we go to visit, she has Mountain Dew for Lawrence because she knows that is his favorite kind of pop.

30. Mom is down to earth. She doesn't have to have the latest, greatest, biggest, best thing.

31. Determination would be another characteristic of my mom. I think about when we were hiking in Arizona and even though she didn't feel well at all, she was determined to make it back to the car without help.

32. Busy describes my mom to the "T." She is always doing something. I don't think she can sit still for longer than 2 minutes! :)

33. With that said, Mom is a hustler, in a good way. She works fast and hard to get things done.

34. My mom is also very observant. She notices little things that most people don't even think about. It's like she is on the look out for things people may need or things she could do to help.

35. Along those lines, my mom is willing. She gives of herself, her time, her talents, etc. cheerfully and finds joy in doing it.

36. Okay, we're getting further down in the list so I don't want to reuse words, but I'm pretty sure I haven't used this one yet: ambitious. Mom isn't afraid to take on "big" tasks and does a great job getting them done.

37. With that, she is industrious, working as long as necessary to finish something.

38. Mom is also proactive. She doesn't sit back and wait for things to happen. She takes the initiative and starts the ball rolling.

39. This one probably goes without saying since a lot of the previous words are evidence of this trait, but my mom is kind.

40. She is loyal as well.

41. Sympathetic would be another word to describe Mom. She often calls to let me know how I can be praying for people who are in difficult situations.

42. Energetic fits my mom well too. She's like the energizer bunny and just keeps going and going and going.

43. My mom is intelligent, especially when it comes to grammar! :)

44. Experienced is another word I think of when I think of my mom. She has worked many different jobs in her lifetime.

45. Competitive is definitely a characteristic of Mom. She's where I got it. When I was little she would enter me in the distance events at track meets so I would be guaranteed a ribbon or medal.

46. Thought of another "C" word: competent. Mom is able to do quite a few things and does them extremely well.

47. Staying with the "C's" my mom is a conversationalist. She loves to talk!

48. When I think of my mom, another word that comes to mind is seamstress. She has made Coralyn blankets, bibs, sleep sacks, and more. She can repair tears, replace buttons, and lots more so I don't have to. :)

49. Independent also describes Mom. While she does like being with people, she can do things and go places on her own.

50. Almost there...I thought I should use some intellectual ones here at the end. Mom is amicable (friendly and good-willed).

51. Gregarious: Mom likes talking to people and is energized when surrounded by large crowds of people.

52. Convivial: she is full of life.

53. Now we get simple. But still so true. Irreplaceable. There's never going to be another person like her. So blessed that she is my mom!

54. Unforgettable. Once you have met my mom, you will remember her. All you have to do is go to a Berean athletic event and say "Cleta" and everyone will know who you are talking about.

55. Generous...I know I already said this one, but it's so true it needs to be said again.

56. A blessing. She has touched so many lives!

57. Wonderful.

58. A. MA .ZING. What else is there to say?

59. Well, I need two more...Inspiring is definitely word I have to include. My mom has lived out what it means to be like Jesus, and she inspires me to do the same.

60. Last one...precious. I love my mom a whole lot. She is a very special lady! She is a Wonder Woman!!!

Happy Birthday (like I said a bit late) to my mom!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Our Little Monkey

We went bananas celebrating Coralyn's birthday. Our theme was Jungle Safari. Check out my pictures on facebook to see all the decorations, the cake, and other party festivities. I can hardly believe that it's been a year (well, almost...her actual birthday is Wednesday) since Coralyn was born. Lawrence and I can't really seem to remember what life was like before she was a part of our family. She has captured our hearts in so many ways and we are looking forward to celebrating many more birthdays with her in the future.

Weird how it seems like she's grown up even more since Saturday. She got jeans for her birthday and it's the first time she has ever worn them. Granted they are way too long and they about fall off (she's gonna look like a fool with her pants on the ground), but they are so cute. With a monkey t-shirt and some Sketcher tennis shoes, she is just down right adorable! I just wish she would let me put a bow or clip in her hair. She is a tomboy through and through (an answer to my prayers!).

I don't know what else to write because I am overcome with love and joy at being a mama. I am so blessed to have a daughter. She lights up my life like nothing else (except Lawrence of course). Happy Birthday to my precious baby girl, who's not really a "baby" anymore! I love you so very much, Coralyn! I am excited to see what this next year will hold, what new things you will be able to do, what adventures we will have together. Again, I love you, I love you, I love you!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crunch Time

The next few weeks are extremely busy, and full of celebration!

Wednesday Lawrence and I will have been married for 3 years. Friday we actually get to celebrate, thanks to some amazing friends watching Coralyn for a couple of hours.

Saturday we are having Coralyn's first birthday party...a safari theme. Needless to say, I have much to do. It's going to be a great time though and worth every minute I have spent planning and every dollar we have spent on supplies.

The following Wednesday is Coralyn's actual birthday. And my in-laws' wedding anniversary.

Sunday, October 10 is my mom's 60th birthday and my parents' wedding anniversary.

Once we are done celebrating all our family stuff (and eating all that cake), we get to have Halloween at the end of the month! :) Like I said, we're going to be busy, so as I get ready for the coming celebrations, it's crunch time!

Monday, September 20, 2010

True Love

God continually uses my daughter to teach me about His love for me. Today I was reading her a book before nap time. It's one of my favorites. I think I have it memorized since I have read it so often, but it never gets old. The message is just too good. The book is called I Love You Because You're You. I thought I would share it with you (you'll have to use your imagination to create the pictures, but think about a momma and her precious baby -- in this case they use a fox family).

I love you when you're happy and grinning ear to ear.

I love you when you're sleepy and want to snuggle near.

I love you when you're silly and dancing round and round.

I love you when you're frightened and hear a scary sound.

I love you when you're bashful and hide behind my knee.

I love you when you're brave and from my arms you flee.

I love you when you're curious and searching here and there.

I love you when you're proud your head held in the air.

I love you when you're sick and need to rest in bed.

I love you when you're frisky and standing on your head.

I love you when you're sad and need a kiss and hug.

I love you when you're playing and rolling on the rug.

I love you when you're angry and cross your arms and pout.

I love you when you're wild and yell and scream and shout.

I love you any way you feel, no matter what you do.

I love you any way you are. I love you because you're you!

Isn't that just how God loves us. Amazing. We don't deserve it. At all. Yet He keeps on loving us. Abundantly, too.

Oh, that I would learn to love as God loves me!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Everything in Its Place

This weekend was a busy one for us in the Young house, and it felt really good to get so much done. We coached a volleyball game, went to some garage sales, bought groceries, and then reorganized our kitchen and play room. I had been getting really frustrated with all the clutter and lack of space. My perfect solution: have bigger kitchen with more space (well, really a bigger house all together would be absolutely perfect...until we ended up with more stuff to fill all the space). Since we obviously can't just go out and get a new house (and don't really need one to be honest), we decided to make due with what we have and make it feel bigger. Our plan: get rid of what we don't need at all, put stuff downstairs in storage that we don't use that often, and reorganize what we have left so that's in a practical, easy to use arrangement. It's amazing how big and uncluttered our kitchen was after just a couple hours! Our next move was to the play room. We bought a shelf thingy at Aldi. Lawrence assembled it, and I put all the toys in the bins. Once again it was amazing how much more space we seemed to have in the play room. Granted, it will get cluttered (numerous times a day!), but at least there is a place for everything and for a few minutes each evening after Coralyn is in bed, you will be able to see the floor.

This weekend I was reminded of the verse, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." I would love a kitchen with more counter space, more cabinets, a pantry for our food, and an island in the middle to boot. I would love to have a play room without having to "sacrifice" having a formal dining room . I would like to have a room that is just an office, where the kids can't get in and push buttons on the computer. But all of these things aren't really absolutely necessary. They're just wants, nice bonuses. So I have to learn to be content, like Paul, in whatever circumstance I am in at the time. And enjoy all that God has given me, and He's totally blessed our socks off! Right now I am taking great delight in my newly organized kitchen and play room where everything is in its place.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Out Spot Out

Lady Macbeth couldn't get rid of the blood stain. Too often I can't seem to get rid of the blueberry, peach, banana, black bean, carrot, or whatever else she ate stains out of Coralyn's clothes. Today is laundry day in the Young household, so as I read Hebrews 1:3 this morning part of the verse really stuck out to me.

"After He died to cleanse us from the stain of sin..." I was already thinking about stains and God knew that. He speaks my language (funny, how He seems to relate every day things to His Word and living for Him). To God our sin is a big stain. We are dirty and gross. We are grimy and yucky. We are really one big nasty stain, compared to God's holiness. I think of the verse in Isaiah where it compares how even the good deeds that we do are like filthy rags. Thank goodness God has the power to remove even the toughest stains! His magic formula? Jesus' blood! Normally you would think of blood as a hard stain to remove not something you would use to get a stain out, but God always seems to do things a bit differently than we would! :) And God doesn't just spray a little bit of Jesus' blood on our sin. No, no, no. He washes us in the blood and makes us completely clean. As the verse says in 1 Corinthians, we are totally new creations! There is no hint whatsoever of our sin once we have been cleansed by Jesus' blood.

How thankful I am that God knows how to get even the worst of stains out! Now, let's just hope that Oxy clean does the trick on Coralyn's clothes today! :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

One Month Away

How is it possible that in just one month my baby girl will be 1 year old?! Seriously, has it been a whole year already since she was born and totally changed our world?! What a year -- or 11 months so far -- it has been!

In the past month alone, Coralyn has grown so much and is able to do so much more. A month ago she started walking. Now she can go from sitting to standing without having to hold onto anything to get up and get on her way. She can carry things while she walks, usually a ball or a car or a book or a stuffed animal. And since she can get around so well, she is able to get into everything! One of her favorite things to do is go in her room and plop down by the little pails that I have her socks in and either dump the pail out all at once or pull one pair of socks out at a time until she has completely emptied the entire pail. Then she moves on to the next one. When both pails of socks are spread out on the floor around her, she gets up and walks over to her book shelf. She then proceeds to pull off every single book. She might sit down and "read" through one, but then she's on the move again. Usually she heads to the dresser where she opens the drawers and pulls out the onesies or pants or towels or diapers or PJs or whatever else she can find. After destroying her room, she comes out with a huge smile and something in each hand. About the only time Coralyn is still is when she is standing in front of the door, looking outside. She loves this! She would rather be outside, but if she can't do that, she at least likes to be able to see what is going on out there. When we do get to go outside, she loves to ride her tricycle that my mom got her. She may not be able to move the pedals, but she holds onto the handle bars and grins from ear to ear while we push her. If she wants off, she just "hops" right on down and will try to push the trike herself. Another favorite outside activity is blowing bubbles and trying to catch them. She lifts her little arms in the air and waves as the bubbles go by. She also loves to pick up balls and carry them wherever she may be going. Jumping on the trampoline is also quite fun. Coralyn is already a pretty good gymnastic, as she enjoys standing on her head while we hold her legs up and help her point those toes.

In addition to constantly moving, Coralyn is starting to "talk" more and more. She knows exactly what she wants and thinks we should be able to understand her. Unfortunately, I haven't quite mastered her language yet. She is learning some signs though and that is helpful! She has "milk" down really well, but hasn't figured out that she can use other signs when she wants something else. More than once, she has stood by the door and signed milk furiously. As soon as I opened the door, she was happy. We're working on "eat," "more," and "drink." She really needs to get that last one down, as she loves to drink from her sippy cup with a straw. She grabs onto the cups and just gulps down the water. At times she drinks so fast she about drowns herself with all the water. She says "Mama" really well too, but like the sign for "milk" she says "mama" for just about everything. I hear other sounds more and more when she is trying to "explain" what she wants, so hopefully we start understanding each other better soon! Coralyn is also good at waving bye-bye and hello. We went to the zoo this weekend, and every time she saw an animal that we pointed out she would lift up her arm and wave to the animal.

Some of her favorite toys are books, balls, and cars (not much of a doll girl). She loves paging through her books all by herself. When I sit down and read with her, she likes to turn the pages before me (sometimes before we are ready to move on though). She loves to play with balls too, now that she can pick them up and carry them all by herself we have started working on throwing and rolling them. The car is a favorite too. She takes the little cars we have and moves them back and forth on the coffee table. It's fun to "race" them with the daycare boys.

Coralyn's still a great eater too. She loves just about everything we give her, even asparagus! I don't know where all that food goes though, because she still weighs about 16 pounds and is wearing 3-6 month and some 6-9 month clothes!

It's so much fun to watch my little girl walk around, play, talk, and do so much more. I love being a mom! The best part is knowing that she loves me. I just about melt when she looks at me and smiles for no other reason than I am her mama. She is getting good at giving kisses and hugs too. I usually end up all wet after she kisses me, but the slobber is totally worth it! The past 11 months have been such a blessing. I am looking forward to celebrating her birthday in a month and hopefully many, many, many more in the years to come. Watching her grow up and become a godly woman is going to be an amazing journey!

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