Monday, October 31, 2011


Several phrases are heard quite frequently in the Young house these days...

"Mommy, help please." Whether she is asking me to snap the lid on the marker all the way, get the last bit of yogurt in her spoon at breakfast, or join her in search of a missing toy, Coralyn has gotten pretty good at asking for help. Often she is able to figure out the "problem" on her own and doesn't end up needing my help after all, but I am always glad to offer my assistance. Other times, such as in cases of her trying to carry 5 stuffed animals, she might not need my help, to say pick up her purse (stuffed full of more toys that she just has to have). Either way, I am delighted to hear the words, "Mommy, help please," from my daughter's mouth. It means that she still needs me. I know the day will come all too soon when she thinks she doesn't. I am definitely not ready for that!

"More books, Daddy." Coralyn loves, loves, loves to read. And my teacher heart loves that! We go to the library every Monday, and by Monday night we have already read through all 20+ books that I have checked out for us to read that week. By Wednesday I think I have the books memorized :) Lately, one of Coralyn's favorite things is reading with Lawrence. As soon as he gets home from work, or right after we finish eating supper, or before bed, Coralyn climbs up by Lawrence on the couch and they read book after book after book. After each book, Coralyn exclaims, "More books, Daddy." I love to watch this interaction. My heart just bursts with joy and I can't help but smile as I see/hear Lawrence reading to Coralyn, her pointing out things on every page. I love that she enjoys spending time with her Daddy, and that one of their special times is reading books. I hope she never outgrows climbing up by her Daddy and listening to him read to her.

"Hide! Hurry! The mouse is coming!" I have no idea where she got this, but Coralyn will come racing out of her room and announce that the mouse is coming and she needs to hide. If it's not a mouse, it's a cow or snake or some other animal. Whatever the case may be, she needs to hurry and hide. So she runs to her bed or the couch or under the table and gets in the fetal position (with her cute little butt up in the air) and says, "I'm hiding. The mouse is coming. Hurry, hide Mommy." (or something very similar) I love her imagination! Sometimes I try to get her to expand her pretend story and ask her questions. Why is the mouse coming? Is he running away from the cat? Why is the snake after us? Did we make him mad? Why is the cow coming? Does he want to play with us? The other day I caught myself telling Coralyn we didn't have to be scared of the mouse and hide from it. I couldn't help but smile because if a real mouse was coming, I for one wouldn't be hiding, I would be standing on the couch screaming! :)

"Potty!" I still ask Coralyn if she has to go potty, and I still take her if I think it's been too long between visits, but for the most part, Coralyn lets me know when she needs to go potty. And most of the time (only 1 accident in the past 2 weeks...knock on wood) she lets us know with enough warning to get in the bathroom and on the potty before she does anything. I am really glad that she has gotten to this point (where I don't have to take her all the time) before the baby comes. I am hoping that by the time the baby is born, Coralyn can get her pants down by herself (and back up) and use the potty without any help from me. I don't know how to feed a baby (or change a diaper or whatever I may be doing when nature calls Coralyn) and help a 2-year-old go to the bathroom at the same time...but I am sure I will be able to figure it out if I need to :)

Some quick ones:
"It's nice out." So then she proceeds to take off her jacket.

"I want coffee, Mommy." Ahh, she knows what's good already :) At least when she has a sip of my coffee, it's decaf!

"I want a taste, please, Mommy." As soon as Coralyn sees that we are getting ready to bake something, she asks for a taste. She likes a drop of honey on her finger, a spoonful of peanut butter, a glob of dough, or whatever else we may be making. I love having her "help" me in the kitchen, but if I let her have her way we would never actually make anything because she would eat it all before we got the chance :)

"People out!" She was dead set on making sure everyone except Michaela (our pastor's daughter, whom Coralyn likes and plays with at church every weekend) left the nursery room before she would go in last Saturday for church. She didn't know one of the teenage workers and kept telling him to leave. I felt bad for the poor guy.

"I work on computer." Coralyn likes to "work" on the computer. Somehow she has opened Word before. Usually I make sure the computer is locked first so that she can't actually do anything, but she doesn't seem to mind. She will sit at the computer and "type" away, scrolling with the mouse!

"No, Carson!" Coralyn is pretty good at reminding Carson of things he is not supposed to do. I think she has the big sister mentality already :)

And my all time favorite...

"Bye, see you later. I love you." Lately, Coralyn will pretend she is going to the grocery store, library, church, work, or wherever. She will get her purse all ready (stuffed the brim with every toy imaginable) and either get in her car, walk down the hallway, or stand by the door like she is going to leave. She will then turn to me and/or Lawrence and announce, "I'm going to the (wherever). Bye, see you later. I love you." She has just recently added the last part, and that melts my heart every time. I love that she knows every time Lawrence leaves for school in the morning we tell each other "I love you." Or when I leave to go somewhere and she stays home with Lawrence, I say "I love you" as I walk out the door. I love that she has picked up on this and uses it in her imaginary play. And of course, I don't mind hearing, "I love you," from my little girl, ever!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Miss Julie

Sometimes, in life, you cross paths with a person and your life is forever changed. The life-alternating changes can be big or little, momentary or life-long.

During the four years I attended Moody Bible Institute I crossed paths with many, many great individuals. Quite a few of those people had just a "small" part in my life as our relationships didn't continue past college. However, a select few of those young men and women are still my close friends today, though I guess we're not all that young anymore! :)

The summer of 2004, while I was serving at Ponca Bible Camp, the most important of all life-altering path crossings occurred though. This, of course, was the year I crossed paths with Lawrence for the first time. And at the time, it seemed like just that...our paths had crossed for those two weeks, but then we were continuing on in separate directions never to see or hear from each other again. That is, until God winded our paths back towards each other and eventually connected them to form one path. What a journey it has been too!

This fall I crossed paths with Miss Julie. To be technically correct, I guess I should say Mrs. Julie, but whatever. Like most times when you cross paths with a person who influences your life dramatically, you aren't planning on meeting them, let alone having them change your life forever. This would certainly be the case with Miss Julie. When I took Carson and Coralyn to Chick-fil-A for Kids' Korner for the first time, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I figured I would get to talk with other moms and the kids would have fun playing. Correct on both accounts. However, I got an added bonus when Miss Julie stopped by to introduce herself. She is the story lady for Kids' Korner, you see. But she does so much more than just read several books to the kiddos. She stops by the play dough or lego table to see what you are making. She takes the time to comment on the picture you are coloring. She does a "magic trick" with a pretend ball and bag (shhh, don't tell Carson and Coralyn the ball isn't real). She gives hugs and high fives. She remembers your name.

Every time I tell Carson and Coralyn that we are going to Chick-fil-A, they ask if Miss Julie is going to be there. As we walk in the doors, they are searching for her. And right after we give the posterboard cow a high-five, we beeline our way over to Miss Julie to say hello. And then Carson waits oh so anxiously for story time with Miss Julie. Sometimes, he doesn't even bother playing he is so excited to have Miss Julie come with her bag of books...he just stands there and watches her clear off tables and interact with other customers, not wanting to miss the second she goes to pick up her books and start making her way to the back of the restaurant for story time.

This morning was no different. As soon as we entered Chick-fil-A, there was Miss Julie to greet us with her delightful smile. She came over to say hi and tell us that she had missed Carson and Coralyn while she had been away on vacation the past two weeks. She commented on their adorable raincoats (Coralyn looked like a duck and Carson was quite the yellow fireman). And of course she promised to be back in a little while to read some stories.

Storytime is quite the event at Kids' Korner. It's in the play area so many of the children have a hard time sitting still and actually listening to the story as Miss Julie reads (understandable). But not Carson. Oh no, he is glued to her side and listening intently to every word that comes out of Miss Julie's mouth. He doesn't seem to notice that all the other children are running around like maniacs. He doesn't really care that he is the only one paying attention to Miss Julie's story. After she has read her books and it's finally time to go, he is always sure to tell Miss Julie good-bye and give her either a high five or hug.

I'm not sure what Carson is going to do come Thanksgiving and he doesn't come to my house anymore for daycare...and we don't go to Chick-fil-A on Wednesday morning for Kids' Korner (aka storytime with Miss Julie). I'm also not sure what Coralyn is going to do come Thanksgiving when Carson stops coming over every day, but at least she will still have Miss Julie on Wednesday mornings. And for that I am oh so grateful. Yes, I am so thankful that we have crossed paths with Miss Julie and that our lives have been forever changed as a result.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's the Point?

Today I cleaned the kitchen. I always clean the kitchen on Tuesdays, that's the kind of scheduled, organized person I am. I have a routine with my cleaning and like to stick to it, although this morning I was feeling very unmotivated to clean anything at all, especially the kitchen.

The dishes in the sink needed to go in the dishwasher, but first the dishwasher had to be unloaded (which means I had to put all the clean dishes away).

The counters needed to be wiped off, like take everything off them first and then give them a good scrub down.

The microwave needed to be wiped out, not just a quick swipe.
Same with the stove top and front of the dishwasher.

The trash can could use some disinfectant, or something.

The table needed a good thorough cleaning: top, legs, everything. Oh, and the chairs too. Of course, I feel like I clean the table and chairs at least 5 times a day, what with all the sticky hands (covered in peanut butter or yogurt or whatever) that cross paths with the table and chairs throughout the course of the 12 hours the child is awake.

The floor needed to be swept, again. And then mopped, again.

And so I sat there drinking my decaf coffee postponing the task ahead, thinking to myself, "What's the point of all this cleaning anyway? By snack time (or better yet, right after Coralyn finishes breakfast) you won't even be able to tell I cleaned the table, swept and mopped the floor, or did any of those other things I mentioned earlier. So why bother?"

Well, being me, I couldn't not clean. The black cat hair on the white linoleum was driving me bonkers. By the way, whoever invented white or off-white linoleum must not have had any pets, or children for that matter.

Gathering my cleaning supplies, I dutifully started my cleaning regimen. I even moved the table away from the wall and swept in those hard-to-reach, barely-ever-get-touched places. I washed those chairs from top to bottom, removing every single icky fingerprint or glob of leftover food that I could find. Then I got down on my hands and knees and mopped that floor, scrubbing with all my might. I did all my other cleaning tasks too, but I won't go into detail (don't want to bore you completely). When I was finished, I felt pretty good about my clean kitchen. I could almost see my reflection in the white linoleum (yeah right!). And so all that work was worthwhile, even if it will only last for a few short moments. I will enjoy those moments to their fullest extent. :)

As I sat back admiring my work, I wondered to myself if God ever gets tired of cleaning up after me, or if He asks Himself, "What's the point in forgiving her yet again for the same sin she struggled with yesterday? She's just going to go and mess up again today and then have to come ask for forgiveness one more time?" I hope the phrase, "Why bother?" never crosses God's mind. If it does, I am in deep trouble.

Thankfully, our God doesn't get fed up with our messes. He keeps wiping up after us, sweeping up our dirt, mopping up our spills, and whatever other cleaning needs to be done. So the next time I get frustrated about sweeping the kitchen floor for the seemingly 100th time that day, I am going to try to remember that God is constantly following me around with a broom, cleaning up after me. And He doesn't have a bad attitude about it, either.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Walk to the Park

Friday night we didn't have any plans. We wanted to do something fun though, but it had to be free. Thankfully the day was beautiful! The weather was gorgeous, and we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to be outside. After supper, we started getting ready to go for a walk to a nearby park. Lawrence's school had spirit days all week, and Friday happened to be PJ day. So, he was still in his plaid pajama pants and long-sleeve t-shirt. He wasn't doing anything to indicate that he planned on changing before we went on our walk which would take us outside, down the street, across the main road, and to the park. I am thinking to myself that he will change into jeans or something before we leave, but when he went to put on his shoes, I figured I was wrong. And I couldn't have my husband going out of the house looking like that! I mean, heaven forbid you go for a walk in your pajamas! He is a grown man after all! I'm 8 and 1/2 months pregnant and I wasn't going to wear pajama pants.

I kindly suggested that he change. Actually, I think I asked, "Are you going to wear that?"

Either way, Lawrence was taken aback and somewhat offended that I make such a comment, that I wouldn't want to be seen with him in his pajamas, out in public.

But, being the good husband that he is, he agreed to change. Coralyn and I waited in the living room. Patiently. After about 5 minutes, Coralyn was getting restless, and I was beginning to wonder myself what was taking so long. How much time does one need to take off pajama pants and put on a pair of jeans. 10 seconds? I figured he was up to something...

I know my husband well. He came out of the bedroom, wearing jeans...with a blue dress shirt (long-sleeves and buttoned all the way to the top) and tie!

Again, after laughing hysterically, I asked Lawrence to change, to just be normal. He complied and changed into a t-shirt. Finally, we were off to the park, looking like regular people, a happy little family having a grand time. And indeed we were.

We actually let Coralyn walk, rather than pushing her in the stroller, since we weren't in any big hurry. She ended up running about half the way since she was so excited to go to the park and play on the slides! Everything was going just fine and dandy too...except that only Lawrence was allowed on the equipment, per Coralyn's orders. The second I put my foot on a ramp to go up to the play area, she gently pushed me off, and told me, "No, Mommy." Daddy was welcome to play, however! "Come on, Daddy, let's go!"

My pride hurt just a tad, but I figure Lawrence gets that all the time as Coralyn usually tends to prefer me over him. I didn't mind, really. I got to sit back and watch my husband and little girl play together. It was precious. My heart was melting.

Then Coralyn starts acting funny. She walks/runs over to the benches and isn't looking for flowers or anything like that. After wandering around for a bit, she explains, "I need to go potty, Mommy." Joy, there is no bathroom at this park. So we improvise and "pop a squat." No big deal...she can just pee right there in the grass. Oh wait, that wasn't the kind of potty she meant! Before I know what is happening, my daughter has pooped! Evidently, she wanted to take her sweet little time though, and my arms began to get tired of holding Coralyn up, so Lawrence took over that position while I went in search of something to clean up her mess. Thankfully, someone had left a styrafoam cup lying on the ground. When Coralyn was done with her business, we tidied up and went about playing like nothing strange had happened.

I was just glad she hadn't gone in her pants (in fact, we haven't had an accident in over a week...and she's been telling me every time that she has to go!).

I guess I got more than I had expected when we decided to go on a simple walk to the park. There's never a dull moment when you're a wife and mom!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This morning we barely made it to Chick-fil-A in time for Kids' Korner...Coralyn slept until 8:30 (no complaints there) and then ate her breakfast oh so slowly, meaning we left at the time Kids' Korner actually started. Thankfully, it's no big deal to be late to these kinds of things as the kiddos just get to play with blocks or play dough or color pictures or run around in the play area.

I am still a stickler for time though and like to be on time for everything, including laid-back events like Kids' Korner at Chick-fil-A.

Whatever the case may be, we got there, and had a splendid time. Miss Julie, the regular storytime lady, was gone on vacation, but Miss Brenda did a fantastic job filling in for her. She must have sprinkled some magic dust on the children too because they all actually sat and listened to the story (well, there might have been 1 or 2 kiddos climbing around, but out of 15 that is pretty good!).

The story was about a fox and his friend (a badger I think) looking for treasure. They had seen a rainbow and thought for sure at the end of the rainbow would be a big pot of gold and silver, so they set off to find this precious and valuable treasure. Along the way they met a squirrel who was busy gathering acorns, walnuts, and other nuts. Somehow the squirrel was convinced that the nuts were treasure enough and declined the fox's offer to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Next, the fox and badger came across a mother goose who seemed to believe her little baby goosling was her treasure, and she too said she wouldn't be joining them in their quest to find the silver and gold. A little while later, the two friends crossed paths with an old rabbit who tried explaining that memories were his treasure, but the fox and badger weren't satisfied and went on their way, determined to amass great wealth once they located the end of the rainbow. By this time rain had started to fall again, so the fox and badger tried to find cover. While they waited for the rain to stop, they had time to think about what the 3 animals had said to them on their way to find the rainbow's pot of gold. The fox and badger decided that the squirrel, goose, and rabbit actually had a good point and realized that getting rich and having lots of gold and silver wasn't as important as it had seemed at the beginning of their journey. When the rain stopped, they headed back home, happy and content with all the treasures they already had. They were so delighted with their new-found treasure they didn't even notice the beautiful rainbow behind them.

Throughout the story I kept thinking of the verse, "Wherever your heart is, there your treasure will also be." Or the one about not storing up for yourselves treasure here on earth, where moth and rust destroy, but to lay up for ourselves an eternal treasure, of far greater value, in heaven. I was reminded of the story of the man who found a pearl and sold everything so that he could purchase this precious gem. He gave up everything to have that which mattered most, that which had true and lasting value. So then I think of the quote from Jim Elliot (I believe), "He is no fool who gives what he cannot give to gain what he cannot lose."

And I ask myself...
What do I treasure?
Where is my heart?
What does my life actually show that I value above all else?

With the past couple of months being kind of stressful financially, I am beginning to realize how much I can do without, how much excess I really have. I am beginning to learn to appreciate and value the "little things." I am starting to see how truly valuable those "little things" are, and that they don't cost any money at all!

So, like I said, I am glad we got to Chick-fil-A today and that the kids had a good time. I am even more thankful to be reminded that my treasure chest is not just full, but overflowing, with all the blessings the Lord has so graciously bestowed on me and my family.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Every time the telephone rings, and I don't recognize the number, I automatically assume it's someone from Children's Division calling about a possible foster child (or children) placement.

This afternoon was no different.

I was working away on the computer, getting descriptions of counted cross stitch books ready to list for ebay (don't pee your pants from all the excitement!). My pocket starts ringing, so I run upstairs to answer the phone where we actually have a signal. On my way up the stairs, I take a look at the number, not recognizing it, and preparing myself to hear, "Hello, this is so-and-so with Clay County (or Jack or Lafeyette or whatever) Children's Division, and I was wondering if you would be interested in a foster child placement...."

Sure enough, a wonderful lady from Jackson county was in her office, with a sibling group of 3 kiddos, needing a place for them ASAP. They all have the same mom, but different dads, with whom each child was living, until today. Somehow, all 3 dads tested positive for substance abuse at the court hearing earlier today, meaning that all 3 kids had to be immediately removed from each of their dad's custody and placed in foster care.

So, we get a call wanting to know if we can take the two younger kiddos, brothers ages 3 1/2 and 5 (just had his birthday actually). They were looking for another place for the 14-year old sister. I write down all the information (a few lines worth) and call Lawrence to see what he thinks.

Given this would be a long-term placement and so many different people are involved, not to mention the substance abuse and alcohol involved with the case, both of our guts told us to say no this time.

The Children's Division lady calls back, as she promised, as soon as I hang up with Lawrence. I have to tell her no, not this time. She was persistent and asked if I could take the older girl. Once again I had to say no, given that I would have been 14 when she was born and that would be somewhat awkward for me (which is why we have said we will take anyone 2 to 12 years old, but of course they will ask about kiddos on either side of your age range anyway).

I felt bad saying no, two times. I know the lady is making phone calls as fast as she can in order to find a foster home for these kiddos before her work day ends at 4 p.m. I realize she is desperate, as it's the beginning of the weekend and people may be out of town or have pre-arranged plans. I understand she most likely doesn't want to take these kiddos home with her tonight, or stay late with them in the office until some kind soul agrees to have them stay in their home. And so my heart is heavy, wishing I could do something, but knowing I can't, at least not right now. There are just too many variables involved: alcohol, substance abuse, multiple parents, most likely a long term placement, and then the cherry on top of being 8 months (on Sunday) pregnant myself.

I don't know if I have ever come out and said it point blank, but I am going to now. If you are at all interested in foster parenting, please check into it. There is such a need for good, quality foster homes with loving parents for these precious kiddos who need a safe, secure environment where they can feel accepted and appreciated and given the opportunity to reach their full potential. The pay isn't great. The road is uncertain. The details are murky in most situations. But the reward is so much greater, so worth any heartache or headaches that are basically guaranteed to come about as a result of fostering.

We've only had 2 placements, but I feel like we have learned so much from them and been changed as a result of the time these children spent in our home. I don't know when we will have more children stay with us, or what the kids will be like, but I do know I will love them for as long as they are with us. And that when they leave, part of my heart will go with them.

For now, I will do all that I can...pray for these 2 brothers and their sister, that they will find a home today where they can grow and flourish.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Peanut Butter, Packaging, and Pushing

As a mom, the letter -- or word -- "p" is a common part of my vocabulary. I don't know how many times a day I say, "pee-pee"...

Does anyone have to go pee-pee?

Big girls go pee-pee on the potty.

We don't want to go pee-pee in our pants. That's yucky!

Where do we go pee-pee?

Yay! I'm so proud of you for going pee-pee on the potty like a big girl.

Be sure to tell me if you have to go pee-pee.

I'm going to go pee-pee on the potty. (Yes, I even announce when I am going to the bathroom these days.)

Thankfully, this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with pee-pee though! It just happens to be about three things that start with the letter "p" and I thought it was quite appropriate since I use the letter/word so often.

The first "p" is peanut butter, one of my favorite "p" words. Well, it's actually one of my favorite things of all time, if we're being honest. I like peanut butter so much, I think it should be in a food group all of its own. I can eat peanut butter by the spoonful. You can make peanut butter and honey sandwiches (I prefer honey over jelly). Apples, and bananas, are great with peanut butter. Peanut butter smoothies are amazing!

Thankfully, Coralyn is not allergic to the best food on earth. In fact, she is a girl after my own heart and enjoys peanut butter very much! Almost every morning (and every afternoon for a snack) she asks for bread with peanut butter for breakfast. If we are having muffins, no matter what kind, she wants peanut butter on top. Pancakes, even blueberry ones, aren't complete unless they are topped with peanut butter. And not just a little bit either. Oh no, she has to have "A LOT," as she motions with her hands just how much peanut butter she needs.

I don't mind giving Coralyn peanut butter. I figure it's a good source of protein and much healthier than other foods she could be asking to have. And so every day, usually more than once, we get out the jar of peanut butter. This morning was no different. Breakfast was vanilla yogurt, blueberries, and a slice of bread topped with peanut butter. Coralyn was eating away contentedly until the peanut buttery bread kept getting stuck to the top of her mouth. At least 5 times I had to reach into her mouth and gently remove the sticky mess. And so, this morning, for the first time in my entire life, I was not that happy about peanut butter.

I quickly got over my frustration, however. Coralyn just had a mini corn bread muffin for her afternoon snack. And of course it was topped with peanut butter! :)

The second "p" word is packaging. I am talking specifically about the packaging of children's toys. After helping Coralyn open several of her birthday toys, I have come to the conclusion that children's toy makers are not parents themselves. Otherwise they wouldn't make removing a toy from its package so extremely difficult! I think it took me at least 5 minutes to get Ariel (and then Cinderella this morning) out of her box. Coralyn was patient for the first 30 seconds or so, but having to wait to play with such an amazing can you expect that of a 2-year old? :) Of course as soon as Ariel and Cinderella were free from their boxes, Coralyn was handing me a box with not 1, but 3, trucks. She desperately needed them, right then! And so I began working on getting the trucks out of their box. 10 minutes later I had opened the box, unwound the plastic ties around each and every truck, lifted the trucks out of the box, then cut the previously mentioned plastic ties so that I could unwind them from the tires, and finally handed Coralyn her new toys. I could have been able to finish the project in 8 minutes or less, if I hadn't had 3 precious kiddos waiting eagerly and standing as close to me as physically possible while I did my best to free the trucks from their plastic bondage.

The third and final "p" word is pushing. Unfortunately, we are having to deal with this bad behavior. And pulling too. I know they both come along with being 2 and learning how to communicate what you are feeling with words rather than just pushing or pulling, or screaming, to get your point across. Coralyn has been struggling with this more frequently the past couple of days, and so we are working diligently on learning how to respond when someone does something you don't like, how to share toys, what to do if someone is in your way, and other various scenarios. We are memorizing (kid version), "Be kind and compassionate to one another..." We discuss how pushing and pulling make Jesus sad because He wants us to love others and treat them nicely. He doesn't like when we are mean. Time out and saying "sorry" are becoming all too common. BUT, we are working on it, and making progress. At least I thought so...

I was quite embarrassed to find out Coralyn was sent to time out multiple times in the church nursery last night during our Bible study time. And not only that, she decided that a great way to "get back" at the workers for disciplining her was to pee her pants. Which brings us back to "p" word number 1. :)

Speaking of which, I had better take Coralyn to the potty to go pee-pee right now :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Birthday Girl

My little girl isn't so little any more. In fact, if Lawrence asks Coralyn, "Are you my baby?" She answers emphatically, "No! I'm a BIG GIRL!" (with a grunting-like sound and motions to show that she is not only big, but tough too)

Showing just how big she is now

Today, Coralyn turns TWO. It's hard to believe that just two years ago, I was holding my tiny newborn and helping her get used to this brand new world. I remember her birth as if it happened this morning. I feel like I just brought her home from the birthing center. Wasn't it only yesterday that she learned how to roll over...crawl...walk? Didn't I just take down all the decorations from her first birthday party? How can it be time to celebrate another birthday already?!

Ready to open her presents

A whole year has passed, and in that time my daughter has transformed from a baby to a toddler. She certainly is a "big girl" now as she continues to amaze us with all she can do and continues to learn on a daily basis. I am happy to report that Coralyn now sleeps in her toddler bed without any problems (for the most part) and that we have said good-bye to her precious boppers (pacifier). I would say that she is 99% potty-trained, as we do have the occasional accident when she gets too busy or distracted to remember that her bladder does have certain time limitations. She is talking in complete sentences more and more, with her most common ones starting out, "I want..." or "I need..." or "I'll do it!" "Mommy, help!" is also quite frequent as she attempts to do things on her own and then realizes she may actually need just a bit of assistance. Her vocabulary increases each day, and the things she remembers astonishes me. She is quite the observant little girl as well, noticing the smallest things or pointing out things as we drive that I never would have seen or taken the time to pay attention to really. I love her curiosity and adventurous spirit; she has no fear (which sometimes scares me) and is ready to tackle any obstacle in her way. She is also pretty attentive to what is going on around her and to the needs of others close by. Often she will pick up other kids' cups so they can get a drink, offer a toy they might like playing with, or give a quick hug. I am glad she is learning to be considerate and thoughtful, but we may have to work on humility because each time she does something good or helpful, she is sure to announce, "I'm nice."

Showing off her Birthday Girl shirt

Reading books, playing with her trucks or cars, and jumping on the trampoline are at the top of her favorite things to do. She also enjoys going to the park, picking flowers (especially yellow ones), coloring or painting pictures (and then showing them to Lawrence as soon as he gets home from work), playing with her numerous stuffed animals, doing puzzles, or making up games with Carson (they keep themselves very entertained). And of course she loves when we make a trip to the zoo. The monkeys and the tiger are her favorite animals to visit. Lately, I have been letting Coralyn and Carson watch a Dora episode each day while I get lunch ready, and now she loves Dora (and Diego). I checked out some birthday-themed books from the library, and her favorites are the ones with Dora and Diego. I am pretty sure I have read the books each about 1,000 times since Monday morning and could now recite both stories to you by heart. Coralyn loves the books so much that she has to have them for nap time and even takes them to bed with her at night. The first thing she talks about in the morning is Dora and Diego! Do they make Dora and Diego dump trucks? Because that would be her dream present!

Playing with her dump truck

Reading her Dora book

I love that Coralyn is also growing in her understanding of God, Jesus, the Bible, etc. Every time we go to pray and she closes her little eyes and folds her hands, my heart just bursts with joy. When I see or hear her saying her own prayer, I get even more emotional. The Bible is one of her favorite books, and she will often bring it to me so I can read her a story. Or if she sees me reading my Bible, she will run to her room and get hers so she can have devotion time with me. Now that does my mama's heart oh so good!

We continue to pray that Coralyn will be healthy and strong (we are so thankful to not have had any major sickness, or even minor really in the past 2 years!). But our heart's strongest desire is for her to know Jesus and love Him with all her heart. We have no idea what God has in store for our little (um, I mean big) girl, but are certainly excited to see His plans for her unfold. I pray she shines brightly for Him in every way possible and brings massive amounts of glory to His name. It's always hard for me to admit that Coralyn isn't really mine to begin with , that she belongs to God. And so today as she turns another year older and time just keeps flying by, I am reminded to give my precious girl back to her true Father. I love her so very much and could hold and squeeze and kiss her all day long. I don't think I can tell her often enough that I love her or express to the full extent the deep, deep love that I have for her. But none of that comes anywhere close to comparing with the awesome, wonderful, tender, powerful love of our God. I am so blessed to be her mama and take care of her and love her and teach her and all that parenting involves, but I am oh so thankful that she is ultimately resting in the strong, mighty, and gracious hands of our Lord Jesus.

To Him be the glory as we celebrate Coralyn's 2nd birthday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If the Shoe Fits...

Yesterday, Coralyn put on my tennis shoes and was doing her best to walk around in them. Not only that, she was trying to carry her purse, keys, sippy cup, and a stuffed animal to her Cozy Coupe Car. She made it to the car, after several attempts, but was really struggling to get inside. First, she had way too much stuff, and second, my shoes simply wouldn't fit. She was determined, though, to get in that car! Despite her many trips and falls, she was not going to give up. She set her mind to something, and she was going to do it!

I just sat on the couch and laughed.

I did offer some good suggestions:
"Put some of your things down and they try to get in the car."
"Take off the shoes. I don't think the shoes are going to fit. They're too big."

She didn't want my motherly advice. And so I continued to watch in amusement as Coralyn kept lumbering around in my tennis shoes and making a clown of herself. :)

As I sat there chuckling, I realized that I often try to wear shoes that don't fit, that were never intended for my feet. These shoes are WAY too big...see, they're God's shoes. So often I try to figure everything out, to get all the details lined up, to make plans and know exactly what is going to happen: when, where, how, and anything else minutely important. When faced with a problem or a difficult situation, I immediately go into plan mode. I rack my brain for solutions. I think of every possible thing I could do. And then, usually, I rush on ahead and carry out my plans. The problem: I am trying to do God's job. I am trying to wear His shoes, and only end up making a fool of myself in the process.

Right now God is teaching me to sit back and wait on Him, to let Him make the plans. This is really hard for me! I am not good at waiting, especially when I don't know all the details. I don't like being in the dark, not knowing what to expect, or how things are going to play out. But, God keeps reminding me that He is in control, that He has everything planned out (to the tiniest of details) and will get everything done (perfectly) in His timing (which is always best anyway).

So, instead of trying to be God and lead the way...instead of trying wear God's shoes (and make a huge mess of things and look like a clown in the process), I am beginning to realize that I just need to follow in His footsteps.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Snow Is Melting

Yes, I am aware that we are just starting fall. No, I am not confused about my seasons. I totally realize that the leaves are changing colors, and am actually quite excited about the brilliant colors all around us. I am also enjoying the amazing weather that comes with this time of year.

So, why in the world am I talking about the snow melting?

I am so glad you asked...

This past weekend, we had a guest speaker/musician at our church. After singing a few songs, she shared the story of Hezekiah going before the Lord with a "bad news letter" he had received from Sennacherib, king of Assyria. Basically Sennacherib told Hezekiah to surrender, that Israel's army was punny and would be easily defeated. Sennacherib had defeated many other surrounding nations and reminded Hezekiah that the gods of those nations had done nothing to stop him. The same would be true when he attacked Israel. Hezekiah could have caved in and given way to fear, he could have waved the white flag and spared his army the embarrassment of defeat (not to mention any lives lost in the battle). BUT, he didn't. Instead, he took the letter to God and spread it out before Him. Hezekiah pleaded with God to come to Israel's aide, to show Himself powerful, and put Sennacherib in his place. Hezekiah wanted everyone to see that God alone is God and that He is stronger and mightier than any earthly foe, no matter how powerful that foe may seem.

God came through for Hezekiah, and Israel. And He did it without anyone's help. There was no battle! God simply sent one of His angels to Sennacherib's camp and killed 185,000 of his men! When the rest of the army woke up the next morning, they were of course terrified and fled town. They never entered Israel, but returned immediately to Nineveh, heads hung in shame and defeat.

The singer/speaker (Lisa Marie Beckham) went on to share about how we respond to the "bad news letters" that Satan delivers to the mailboxes of our hearts. All too often, we let fear take over. We give in to doubt. We believe Satan's lies. We forget that God is bigger and more powerful than Satan, that He has already defeated the devil and all his demons. We don't trust God, but rather become overwhelmed with worry, stress, and guilt. She likened this to feeling like we are walking through "thick snow" and all we can see ahead is more "thick snow." We don't think there will ever be an end to our troubles. BUT, that is so far from the Truth.

Instead of believing Satan, we need to spread out our "bad news letter" before God like Hezekiah did. We need to remember "greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world." We have to trust that God has a bigger plan, one that we cannot fully see right now. We have to trust that until the "thick snow" melts, God will equip us with snow shoes to trudge through it, or He may even give us a pair of snow skis to glide over it! :) Whatever the case may be, we have to believe that "spring" will indeed come.

And so, although we are just beginning fall (my favorite season, tied with spring), I feel as though the snow is melting in my own life. This past month was kind of rough, as we had to trust God and totally rely on Him. Of course He came through, showing us His amazing power and faithful provision. He blessed us abundantly and helped us see His goodness on a daily basis. And as I have come to grow in my faith, to rest in God, and wait patiently on Him, the "thick snow" is starting to melt. I can feel the warmth of the sun, see the flowers poking their heads up through the ground.

I realize that more snow may fall, and indeed I am certain it will. However, I am not afraid. I will not let Satan's "bad news letters" dampen my spirits or cause me to lose focus. I am setting my eyes on Jesus and following His big ol' footsteps, which are getting a little bit muddier as this snow melts and gives way to the soggy ground underneath.

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