Friday, August 31, 2012

Christmas And New Years 12-30-08

Wow. Christmas came and went with a blur. Really. I can't believe that it is over, and not only over, but a whole week over. We had a beautiful time with our families. It was our final year of spending the night Christmas Eve at my mom's and waking up there for Christmas morning. It is time to say goodbye to my Christmas childhood tradition and start making those memories here, at home, for our children. But it was wonderful to squeak one more out. My extended family came over for the dinner that my mom cooked (40+ people~ my mom will feed anyone that shows up). The highlight was when I gave my Grandma and Grandpa their present, a wall clock that I searched high and low for because Grandma absolutely loves flowers, so I wanted one that was flowery. I finally found a Thomas Kinkade one and when she opened it, her whole beautiful face just lit up. I love that woman. I really, really do.

The boys enjoyed Christmas morning immensely. Noah was already a pro at opening presents because the entire week prior to Christmas Landon was wrapping up his old toys and putting them in his black library bag, then putting a Santa hat on and taking the gifts to our tree. There he would "unload" them all under the tree and him and Noah would sit there for a good twenty minutes while Noah unwrapped them all. It was really precious...and certainly prepared Noah for the real deal. Oh yes...and for those of you who remembered...Landon has hardly let go of Clarebel since she officially became his...and yes, he kisses her every night...but never goodbye

We went to Jonathan's sisters house Christmas evening where we saw his entire family and enjoyed dessert. Again, we had a beautiful time visiting with one another and watching the kids play together. We had another extended family Christmas on Saturday, company Sunday night, Monday night and Tuesday night. And probably overnight visitors early next week. We have been busy.

My internship is going really well. I had a session on Christmas Eve and am really starting to get in the groove, at least with this client. I am really enjoying the counseling aspect of my internship. I am still a bit apprehensive about the Well of Grace house, but confident that in time, I will do well there as well. If nothing else, it is a prime opportunity to make a real difference in some girls' lives...and I don't want to miss that.

And now we are on the eve of New Years. We have a nice quiet evening with one couple coming over here planned. I am making veggie pizza and meat balls and bbq waterchestnut-bacon wraps. We will be playing games and chatting all night long. I am really looking forward to it. But I have to say, again, that the whole one year gone, another soon beginning thing is just throwing me for a loop. Time is going so very fast.

How do I feel about 2008? I suppose there is much I wish I had done differently, and yet...a lot that was wonderful too. I finished school this year and I passed my comprehensives. I had the privelege of having front row seats to watch my boys grow into best friends. We are all healthy, and there were no life-altering illnesses or injuries. I lost no one I love. I found a few long lost friends. A lot of good came with this year. My hope for 2009 is that I will find the peace that my soul is so desperately searching for. That I won't long for the past, or fear the future. That God will heal what is broken, and restore what needs new life. That my home will be filled with joy and laughter and memories that fill our hearts with familiar nostalgia. And that foundationally, I will have the courage to stop running from that which makes me feel and relearn to embrace pain, to let go of bitterness, to forgive freely as I have been forgiven, and to trust in Love.

Happy New Year my friends...on we go into 2009...

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Catch up 12-21-08

Catch Up

Noah 004Noah 003All of the churches in our area closed today...there is at least 18 inches of snow surrounding my house, including a good 4 ft drift in front of my front door. Currently I can not even see the trees in my backyard...but there is something so cozy about being snowed in together for an entire day. So, I am using some of this time to play xanga catch up. So many of you have asked me questions, recommended websites, and answered my own questions...and I haven't had the time to say thank you or to respond...so here goes.

Lets see...a lot of you wondered what car Jonathan bought. He bought a Fusion with only 4000 miles on it and got a steal of a price. But our car situation is currently a disaster, so this may all be changing. The story is too long and too involved, otherwise I would share. So ask me this same question in a month or two, and my guess is that we will have further developments.

Thank you to all that offered your opinion on the flu shot! Some of you recommended websites, which I read...so thank you! Many of you have asked what I decided. Well...again, it is kind of complicated, I guess you have to be inside of my head. I have never been a huge proponent of shots...and I have never gotten my children or myself the flu shot. But that last sickness we had was so debilitating and loooooong and difficult that it nearly scared me into doing it. I am still considering (and I know time is running out), but a lot of what I read on the recommended websites just further confirmed my original feelings. So I am still sitting on the fence. I don't know what to do. Sitting in indecision...and praying fervently for health! That is where I currently am on this.

Ok, so I am going to attach a video of Noah eating his donut yesterday. We do not typically encourage eating off of the table and spitting food out...but he started doing it while I was videoing him...and it is just too cute. So enjoy my little joy boy...

If I forgot something you asked...just let me know. But I think that for now...that catches me up. Thanks again for your support this week. It was a HUGE week in my life and I am honored that you all were such a special part of it!


Well 12-18-08

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Well...

I got the kids packed up, driven down and dropped off at my mom's by 10:15. Whew...that was the most stressful part I think. Then I made the additional half hour drive to the office. The whole time I kind of wanted to throw up and laugh out loud at the same time. I waffled back and forth between anxiety and eager anticipation. Of course about one mile from my exit was an accident...which made me 5 minutes late, which is the cardinal rule of new employment...DON'T BE LATE. Oh well...I did the best I could with what I had. I filled out the necessary paperwork, got set up with a computer and then attended my first staff meeting. I met all of the counselors, and I have to say that I was taken aback by the genuineness and the skill of all of them. We prayed before and after the meeting and the counselors were so helpful and real and kind and did I mention helpful. I went to lunch with my supervisor and another counselor and I was absolutely blown away by the knowledge and applicable skill these women have. I feel like I have a whole new way of thinking to learn. I feel like I will never be where they are...they are that good. Really...the cases we discussed and their ideas for helping and therapy...were so practical and realistic and useful. I can't believe I get to learn from these people.

At three on Wednesdays I head over to the Well of Grace House, a residential facility for young women trying to get a grasp on life. I am there until 11pm. This is going to be a challenging aspect of my new job...but one I am sure I will learn so much through. Yesterday I shadowed an intern who is just finishing up. I was, again, completely blown away by this girl's skill...ability to think quickly on her feet, her ability to think outside of the box and to confront in loving ways. She taught me more last night than I learned in an entire semester at school. I have no doubt whatsoever that God planted her there last night for me. When I got there, some miscommunication had occurred and there was a tad bit of chaos. I have rarely felt as uncomfortable as I did in those moments...but having her there to process the situation and knowing that a few months ago she was feeling all that I was feeling...and understood and knew exactly what to say to me so that I was reminded that feeling inadequate and out of place and overwhelmed was completely normal...was absolutely invaluable. I thank God for her...she will be one of the best counselors out there...I have no doubt about it. She was that good.

Today I will see my first client. I feel inadequate and scared to death. I also feel excited and ready. But then there are the thoughts of, "what if I miss something." What if I do a diservice." You know the nature of counseling is people's lives...which is something that cannot be taken lightly. I just can't believe that I am being entrusted this responsibility...and yet, in my uncertainty, I feel confident. It is difficult to explain. But you can pray for me. My heart is in my throat.

Thank you so much for your encouragement yesterday. You have all walked this journey with me...and I am taking your support and encouragement with me into that office today. Speaking of, I need to get going...yikes. Just got butterflies again Here I go...wish me wisdom!!!

Onward We Go 12-16-08

Onward We Go

Here it is...10:15pm and the house is cleaned up, the dishwasher humming, and the kids tucked away cozy in their beds. Just like every other night...except that this one is a tad different. It is my last night as a student...as tomorrow is my first day as a working woman. More importantly, tomorrow is my first day as a working (ok, so only two days a week...but still!) mom and tonight is my last day as a SAHM. Tonight I went through my closet and tried on nearly everything that was remotely business casual. I decided on the two outfits I will wear this week...and set them neatly out. I contacted my place of employment, got my schedule for tomorrow, and printed off my hourly log. I am all ready. Ok, so I am scared to death...but I am also super excited. I just want to jump in with both feet and find out what God has in store. The last few days have continued to bring more and more confirmation that God is blessing this decision...and while at this point I have no idea what He plans to do with my counseling degree, I am ubber confident that He has something in store...and that, my friends..is pretty exciting.

What is this change going to be like for my kids and our family dynamic? Will be good at counseling? Will I enjoy it and feel effective? So many questions...that I am so ready to find answers to. I can't believe that the day has finally come to start this new job. For so long it seemed so far away, and all of those years of school my internship seemed like a distant reality. Now it is here and no longer will I have to study for hours on end and write paper after paper...but instead I will learn to translate that knowledge into practical application. That is the cool thing about counseling...I have a window of opportunity to touch people's lives...and I pray that I can do so in a way that helps bring healing and hope and restoration and peace. Oh I am so excited.

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A few mornings ago Noah actually slept in (I think he was sleeping off his sickness). I must have been exhausted myself because I never even heard Landon get up. When I woke up I found this blue wrapped present under the tree waiting for me and this beautiful mess on my kitchen table. I love my little Landon...and I am so thankful that after spending a few hours chasing a dream that God has planted in my heart...I can come home to him...and Noah...and Jon. So onward we go...to something new and exciting.

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Remember that Mountain 12-15-08

Monday, December 15, 2008

Remember that Mountain?

I have kind of had spotty xanga attendance lately. Have you noticed? Maybe not...but either way, allow me to explain myself a tad. At the end of October I handed in my final paper for my final class. I was looking forward to a nice long 6 week break before beginning my internship on December 17th (yes, that is WEDNESDAY!). However, I knew I still had to take my CPCE exam, which is a graduate requirement...a national exam that you have to score high enough on to graduate. You get three tries, and it costs about a $100 per try. Most people study 6-9 months for this thing. I was planning on doing the same, and taking it in March. However, when I called for dates that it was being offered in Michigan, I found out that it was offered November 17th and then not again until March. My supervisor really encouraged me to just try to take the exam, and she was confident I could pass it...on two weeks of study. So I talked to Jonathan, got all nervous and anxious and decided I had nothing to lose but pride (and $100...but I would know better how to prepare come March). So I bought the Encyclopedia of Counseling (the book recommended to study for the CPCE) and absorbed as much as I could for 12 days. I stole every single spare second I had to cram...naps, evenings, quiet moments when the kids were playing contentedly. I desperately hoped to pass and have the stress of this thing behind me. I traveled to the east side of the state and sat for the exam on Saturday November 17th. I sat for the integration portion of the exam on November 24th. I knew chances were slim on such little study, but I was hopeful.

And...I passed. BOTH! I was thrilled, shocked...elated...relieved when I found out. Do you know what this means? I am completely and totally done with everything academic regarding my masters. I begin my internship on Wednesday, but from an academic standpoint, I am completely done. If I decide to sit for licensure after graduation I will have to sit for my national licensure exam, but aside from that...as far as my graduate degree goes...I am an internship away from being done. I am thrilled, thrilled thrilled!

So there, perhaps that helps to explain why my comments have been few and far between and my posts dwindled there to one a week, or less. Now you know. Soon after I took the exams we all got sick...and now here we are. And I am happy to also announce that we are all healthy (praise the Lord!). Thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers last week. Wow was that ever an experience. Now if you could, please pray for my 15 month old niece...she is in the hospital with possible pneumonia. That stuff is awful...let me tell you.

And for my one piece of yucky news...Jon came home Friday night to tell me that his heater in the car was not working. We took it to the mechanic on Sat morning and went to breakfast while they repaired it. We got a call halfway through breakfast that there was a major problem and it would cost $1400 to repair the car. The dumb thing was only worth $2500. We had six gloriously short months of only one car payment. Jon had to get a new car...something we were not expecting. I know these things happen; I just hate being blindsighted by it when you aren't expecting it at all. The transmission was about to go as well...which was an additional $2000...so we really had no choice in the matter. Jon got an early Christmas present, I suppose that is one good way of looking at it

So, yes...I start work on Wednesday. I am sure that I will have a heap of thoughts on that. Just not now...bc I have to run out of here. I just wanted to share my good news with you all!

Upswing 12-08

Upswing....

First of all....THANK YOU. Your encouragement and prayers were timely and wonderful. I love that I can send an SOS out like that and you all rally around, encouraging me, strengthening me, praying for me...and being my true friends.

Landon's fever appears to be down today. I am cautiously optimistic. Hoping and praying.

Noah still has a slight fever, and was up a few times in the night coughing/gagging/throwing up. But he played more today...so maybe he is going to come out of this tomorrow or the next day.

Jon cannot talk at all. He has lost his voice...but that is the end of it, so hopefully by tomorrow or the next day he will be all better.

Here were a few pictures from Thanksgiving and other fun things we did before the plague hit. On a different note, how many of you got flu shots for your kids? I have always thought they were unnecessary...I never got them as a kid and I never recall getting deathly ill. But really...this past virus we had...it scared me and I don't ever want anything resembling its likeness again. Ever. So help me out...what did you do or what would you do if you had kids?

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The Past Week 12-9-08

The Past Week

EDIT: fever is not gone. 101.5. This is ridiculous. Thanks for your encouragement and prayers my friends. I need them...we need them...

Last post I told you how Landon had pink eye and an ear infection...well, that was just the beginning my friends. Hundreds of dollars later and a week of...well, you know what...and this is what we ended up with ~

Sunday-Tuesday ~ Landon has a junky nasty gross cough. No big deal though.

Tuesday night, Landon won't eat dinner (usually I make him, I could tell something was up though)

Wednesday around noon ~ Landon gets a 101 temp. Gear up for a few days of a virus, not too worried about it.

Thursday afternoon around lunch time ~ Landon takes a big turn for the worse. Fever up to 104, can't get it down even with motrin. Cough, cough, coughing. Hasn't eaten anything. Throwing up from coughing so much.

Thursday night ~ Landon and I sleep a combined total of 1.5 hours. I have never had such a horrible night as a parent...ever. His fever hovered around 105. Could not get it down. He was delirious. Coughing all night. Throwing up from the cough. Noah was up a few times with...surprise...a junky sounding cough.

~Friday ~ Landon fever of 105. Noah sick, but two days behind Landon. Landon to the doctor. Ear infection and bad virus. Landon lays delirious on the couch all day, night. Cough Cough Cough. Hasn't eaten in days. Can't get the fever down. Constant running for tissues, the puke bowl, a drink, a cold cloth. You name it.

~Friday night, more of the same...both kids up. Fever still around 105

~Saturday ~ Jon wakes up sick. Noah sick. Landon fever of 104. I am exhausted, physically and mentally. Don't feel like I can handle it anymore. My mom surprised me (and risked her life on the terrible roads) and showed up from 11 till 2:30. I love her, and God will bless her for her sacrifice, I am sure. It meant the entire world to me. I keep trying to give Landon his antibiotic...he keeps throwing up from coughing. Fever still there.

Sunday ~ more of the same. Although around 5pm, Landons' fever dipped to 101...YEAH!!!!!!!!! He actually got off the couch for a few hours, albeit to sit on the floor, but still. Noah...absoltuely miserable.

Monday ~ Jon home from work, again. Landon still looks horrible, low energy, fever around 102. Back to the doctor. Noah has an ear infection (surprise!), Landon needs two shots of antibiotic and a chest x-ray. Results...pnemonia. Both kids on ANOTHER antibiotic. Me wanting to dig a hole and bury myself in it.

Tuesday ~ Landon's fever is gone! Praise the Lord! Noah...absolutely positively miserable.

You know, by Sunday I really missed Landon. His random toys were scattered around, un-played with. I had not seen a smile in days...or a light in his eyes. He looked worse than I had ever seen him...and he has been very sick in the past. The kid gets hit HARD with sickness. His immmunity must be lower than other kids...I don't know. All I know is that the past week has taken it out of me. Big time. As soon as these kids are healthy, they are getting the flu shot. I was on the fence before, but five days of 105 fever that presented just like the flu but wasn't pushed me over the edge. I never, ever want to deal with this again...and if a little poke will help with that. Bring it on.

Praying Landon is going to continue towards health, and praying for grace as Noah has a few more days to go (and hopefully no pnemonia in him!). I am run ragged, friends. I really am.

New Kind of Strength 12-3-08

A New Kind of Strength

Thanksgiving 015So I took a little Xanga absence. I needed a break...to just focus on relaxing a bit. It helped that I was miserably sick last week...terrible sore throat, aches, chills, and a grand finale of laryngitis. Oh yeah...and Landon had pink eye and an ear infection, and somewhere in there Noah ran a fever. Oh yes...and a lovely Thanksgiving, a trip to the tree farm to cut our Christmas tree down, a night of decorating, and lots of family time.

I also had a night of shopping with a friend and another friend and her new little baby girl have come over twice now. The boys love that little baby...Noah brought her his toys and "showed her nice" by rubbing her belly or her hand or the top of her head. Landon just wanted to hold her...a lot.

But other things are on my mind today aside from the busyness that I had wanted to escape, but couldn't. Something much more inspiring. Someone very, very dear to me is experiencing a tragedy right now. Someone that they tried so hard and so long for, had for a very short time, and lost in the blink of an eye. This person and I go way, way back...to infancy really. In preschool, she held my hand and walked me into the world of school. She was my comfort and my strength, as a 4 year old child. As we grew and especially as life dealt them blow after blow, I somehow started to feel like I had to protect her. I prayed away this particular tragedy way before it was even a possibility, because after all that they have been through I just didn't think that she could handle this. I didn't think she would make it. But I was wrong. Beautifully and sweetly wrong.

Which brings me to a new definition of strength. I have a front row seat to strength being displayed in front of my very eyes. Strength is the courage to say I am hurting so badly right now. It is the ability to grieve and cry and scream for your loss. But it is also the tenacity to open your eyes, to force yourself through the actions of each day, desperately waiting for the moment when you won't think about the loss, when the weight won't be quite so heavy. It is the selflessness to care about others, to smile again, to laugh again, to claim one moment as your own. I am truly in awe of what I have experienced through this woman. She is stronger than I am, way stronger. She is full of grace and hope and is not allowing fear to take its foothold. She questions and wonders and at times gets a bit angry, but underneath it all is a foundation of faith so strong that it cannot be shaken. Two days ago she took a long fall from the top of Mount Jubilation to the Depths of Loss, but today she is gathering herself, grieving the loss and hoping for the future. And she is beautiful and full of grace. And I love her for it.

Left Wondering 12-1-08

Left Wondering

Things happen in life. Happy things. Sad things. Tragic things. Exciting things. These are the events of life that make it what it is. But sometimes something happens and you are left with empty hands and the swirling questions of why. God is sovereign and His ways are higher than our own. Translating that knowledge into a tangible covering of grace and peace is something I have yet to master. I can't really share any more than that. It is not me though...I am fine. But it is someone I love dearly...someone whom I wish I could take this pain from and make it my own. I deserve this pain a lot more than she does.

The questions of why sad, terrible things happen to wonderful God-loving, God-serving people whose desires are pure and earnest. I can't help but feel guilty. I just never wanted this particular pain for her...and I wish so badly that I could take it as my own and place in her arms, the desires of their hearts. I feel a tiny fracture of her pain and from different experiences in my own life I know the depth of what she is feeling and it is the kind of pain that cuts to the gut. The kind of pain that hits you like a wrecking ball the moment you open your eyes and reality sets in. The journey has been one of failure and sadness and for a moment, a blink of an eye, jubilation and celebration. But today, way too soon, that too ended in a heap of ashes. The fall from the top is a steep one...and I just didn't want this for her.

We serve a God of comfort who gives grace in the moment that I can't understand. I am praying that grace on her right now, but I am still left wondering...grieving...wishing so badly that this just didn't happen.

Something Soft and Squishy 11-21-08

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Noah...that boy, he just lights up my life. I had a feeling when I was carrying him that he would bring joy to this family. I just had an innate sense about it...perhaps it was that in his 20 week ultrasound we got a picture of him grinning ear to ear, almost as though he were laughing out loud. I still look at that picture from time to time...becuase it is so Noah. He is the type of kid that uses his face to express so many emotions. His eyes have the ability to light up when he gets excited about something. And his face takes on the look of amazement at such small things...like snow falling. His laugh is from his belly...it is deep and you can't help but smile (and laugh) yourself at the sound of it, because there is no inhibition to his glee. He just is. Everyday he makes something new to me...he is so interested and fascinated by everything around him. And he is still my baby. A few times in the past week I have had him out and about and little kids will see him and reference him as a baby. My heart gets happy when I hear that...because I want him to still be my baby. Maybe it is that he doesn't have as much hair as Landon did at this age, so he looks younger. Or maybe it is his pudginess...or the innocence that is still surrounding him. I don't know...but I love that he can still be a "baby" to someone...namely me.

HiLandonAnd Landon...he has such a giving heart. He has secretly been plotting what he wants to get those closest to him for Christmas. So far he has decided that his daddy needs some coffee with green branches on the package (I guess Jon walked by it and said he wanted it and Landon remembered) as well as the old version of the Little Drummer Boy (bc Jon once told him about listening to that when he was a little boy). He wants to get Noah a new copy of Tails becuase it is Noah's favorite book of all time and he has ripped the binding off of it. And he has told me numerous times that he has lots of ideas for me. And last night he went to Home Depot with his daddy and he was so good that Jon told him that he earned a candy bar...any kind he wanted. He chose a York Peppermint Patty...because he knows it is my favorite and he wanted to share half of it with me. So he gets in the car, tells me all of this, breaks it in half...and gives me my part. Noah started whining for some and I gave him a piece of mine to which Landon asked me with concern in his voice, "Mom, will you still get a lot?" He was so worried that I wouldn't get to enjoy the half of York that he chose for me. I love that kid. And the other night he had a dream that he got a wii for Christmas from my mom and that I was really sad that I didn't get a present. Crazy dream...I know. But when I woke up I found him downstairs with scissors, wrapping paper and tape...wrapping a present (one of his toys) for me. He wanted me to have a present bc I was so sad in his dream. I remember these tender hearted moments in the other times of extreme strong willed-ness this kid displays. He is a complex one...with a beautiful tender heart. My job is protecting that heart and it is a daunting task, let me tell you.

noah2redoI had a dream last night...a super, duper real dream. Where you wake up and have to actually analyze whether it was real or not. I was pregnant in my dream and I was having an ultrasound to see if it was a boy or a girl. As clear as day, we had a third boy. I wonder how another boy would fit with this family? Each of my boys has brought something so unique to this family, I know another would do the same. It is just hard to imagine...what that may be.

And with that, I am off. Oh yeah...the two pictures included in this post are from Amy (www.amywenzel.com). There are a few more on my facebook account. She still hasn't given me all of the ones she took, but when she does I will share with you my password (if you want it) so you can what she did. She took quite a few of the boys together and Jon with the boys...I don't have many like that and I can't wait to see how they turned out! Again, I am so thankful she is my sister-in-law!!!

Ok, I need to go pick up Landon from school and cram for an assessment I have on Monday. Have a great weekend friends!

Rant of Epic Proportions 11-17-08

A Rant of Epic Proportions

I have a lot on my mind. In fact, I don't even know where to start, exactly. Sometimes I sit back and look upon my life with a sense of detachment, wondering how I got here, and how time went as fast as it has. I sometimes even allow myself to ruminate on how different my life is than I imagined it being when I was 16, 17, 18, even 20. Not that my life is bad, just different. Some of my dreams were idealistic, some were lofty, some were impossible, but some...well, some I should have accomplished and I have failed myself in not doing so. Some of the slack I try to blame on people or circumstances that didn't or haven't fallen my way, but when I push away all of the excuses I am left with the reality that ultimately I am responsible to God FOR myself. Period. My responsibility, my choices, my life. God gives us free will. He also blesses us with grace and forgiveness and renewing.

Integration is what has me in the stronghold of spinning thoughts lately. I am so very sick and tired of people who are Christians who set such a firm dichotomy between their religious beliefs and their lifestyle. Tired of the materialism and the fakeness...the "it is cool to be a Christian" mentality that is so rampant in my part of this state. It is sickening, really. When faced with a decision, such as the election that just passed, so many of my Christian friends (and no, I will not put that word in italics because I have no grounds upon which to stand and judge their hearts) felt that it was important to separate belief and morals from the political decision. Such things as the economy (which I agree is in dire shape) became much more important than the sanctity of life. But I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops here and now. Christianity is not something that we put on and take off. It is not a part of us. It is all or nothing. It really is. Christianity is all about a love relationship with God; a relationship that defines each and every area of our lives. One cannot vote for a leader of our country and just casually set aside their morals in the name of politics. People who choose not to believe in God or who choose not to enter into a relationship with Him can indeed do this. Their morals are something that can shift and change and be put on and taken off with the shifting whims of society because there is no foundation. But we have a foundation and our God is one who never changes. Everything traditional and conservative is being flagrantly attacked these days in the name of change. Relativism is the name of the game...there is no truth, everything is relative and a personal decision. But this is so wrong. There is truth. And even the new generation of Christians who are in our colleges right now are questioning this very thing. People, we serve a God who does not change. He accepts us as we are and extends His grace upon us, but we cannot mess with the truth of Scripture and try to make it become whatever we want it to say all in the name of comfort or so called freedom. I am so tired of people making major decisions in their lives and giving the explanation of God told me such and such. But when questioned, their reasons don't hold truth or wisdom. Instead of "The devil made me do it" Christians like the excuse, "God told me to." I am not saying that God cannot speak to individuals. I believe that He takes a very personal role in our lives, I know He has mine. But if we are ever to claim that He is urging us to do something, we had better have Truth backing us up. Not comfort, not what ever feels good, not fear. Perfect love drives out fear. Stand on the truth of God's love. We are God's ambassadors to this world. We are His face and hands, and how it must grieve Him when we deface Christianity with hypocrisy, slander, selfishness and a general wishy-washiness that leaves everyone else scratching their heads in regards to our faith.

If you have read this far and you are not a believer or you have no idea of what I am talking about, or you think I am a crazy traditionalist who probably wears a long dress and cooks over an open fire, please message me for specifics (I don't wear dresses or cook over an open fire...by the way!). Christianity, as God meant it is not what you see on television. It is not the hypocrisy that reeks from the hallways of many churches. It is a relationship. It is peace and hope and love and most of all, as much as you may think that it will hinder your personal freedom, I want to tell you that rather than take your freedom...a relationship with God through Jesus Christ grants you the freedom that you never even knew was missing from your life.

I serve a God who is the essence of love. He is the giver of grace and the forgiver of sin. He has granted grace when none was deserved. He has blessed me far more than I will ever deserve. As or me and my house...we will serve the Lord, no matter how popular that may or may not be.

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Photo compliments of Amy Wenzel at www.amywenzel.com

Working World 11-10-08

This weekend was a real whirlwind of activities and emotions. We had planned on going down to my mom's late Sat morning, because we had a wedding to attend that evening and I had an open house event (Sunday afternoon) at the residential facility I am going to be working at come December. But...the kids had colds and Jon didn't really want to be away all weekend as he had stuff to do here, so I went down Sat night and went to the weddings while Jon stayed home with the kids. It was actually kinda fun because I went home and rode with my parents to the weddings, partied (in true Gilson fashion which means laughing, a few dance moves...even got my mom out there once and lots of good food) with them all night and realized in the midst of it all that it was just like old times...rewind 10 years before a husband and children. Brenn was there and I was there and mom and Ernie. We had such a fun time together. I love my parents. They are a blast. And I got to stay out a lot later knowing the kids were home all cozy in their beds. And Jon didn't even mind bc he got to work on his own thing most of the day. So it was all good all around.

Sunday we went back down to my parents to drop the kids so Jon and I could go to the open house event. I was a bit nervous as I was going to be meeting everyone I will be working for as well as the residents. Currently there are four women there. Everyone I spoke to said the exact same thing, " This is going to be a great experience for you." Something about the way they said it makes me a tad anxious. I start there on Wednesday December 17. The whole thing has me doing circles around my mind. For the past five years I have been a stay-at-home mom and I have loved it. I am still only going to be working two days a week, but I can already begin to feel the ripple effects of that. I sense some transition for all of us and while I am excited and eager, I am also a tad unsure and on-edge. We now have to discuss things like, who stays home if the kids are sick? And I now have to buy a clothing item other than jeans. I am working for people once again, whereas for the past five years I have run my own household (well, obviously with Jon as the head...but I am mainly in control of the kids...whatever, you know what I mean). I don't have a problem with authority and I am not worried about working for people again, but yesterday was a jolt back into reality as they requested I come in and shadow a few days before I begin and then sort of laid the pressure of work on. I can't really explain it. I just forgot what it was like.

Wedding 012Wedding 009So I am excited and I am anxious. I am about to scale the fence between work and family. I have gone over and over and over about the debate of SAHM versus working woman. I am secure and confident enough to say that I believe it is a choice every family makes for themselves, and what works best for them. I know a few SAHM that are so tuned OUT of their kids lives that they may as well work 80 hours a week. For me I have felt this call upon my life. I have been reassured of it over and over. I have nearly quit grad school twice and both times God affirmed very clearly for me that He wants me to continue in this. So I did and I am. I am not sure what He has for me in all of this. But I have a feeling that I am just about to get a small taste. I may not love this part or I may fall in love with it. Either way, I know this is a step that is necessary to get me to wherever it is that God is calling me to. I love it when He supplies that kind of personal touch to our lives that gives us full confidence in a major decision such as this. I know I am in for surprises and ups and downs. But I know that there is purpose in this and I am eager to discover what that is.

And thanks so much for your encouragement on the mountain I am climbing. If you want to pray specifically...next Sat is the day that I will actually scale the mountain. Right now I am just preparing for the climb. You all are so encouraging and I have told you a million times how thankful I am for you...but I will say it again. You all sort of traveled my grad school journey with me. You listened to me complain about assignments and you prayed me through tough times. You encouraged me on in my pursuit and you stood by me and lifted me up when I was doubting. It feels good knowing you will all be there for this next phase too. While I am confident in God's leading, it is a little scary to leave the comfort and security of my home. So it feels cozy knowing you all will travel with me...so to speak.

Trick or Treating, Chicago, and More 11-6-08

As of late, I feel as though my blog is a running commentary on the activities of my life. I guess that is fine, especially since one day I plan on using this handy tool to page through this era of my life. However, I realize that it can make for a boring read. Hopefully I can remedy that soon...but today I have very limited time (seems to be a commonplace thing lately) so here goes the running commentary...

November 005November 011We took the kids trick or treating Friday night. Landon was Darth Vader (yes, the star wars theme is really going strong in this household) and looked very cute, might I add. This was the first year that I did not force him to be something cute and cuddly. Last year I made him be a chicken and he looked absolutely ridiculous, so I promised him that he could pick out his costume this year (with some stipulations...I am not an advocate of blood and gore or haunts and witches). He has so enjoyed his Darth Vader costume and wears it regulary as him and his dad have light saber wars. Very fun. Noah, on the other hand...was forced to be cute and cuddly. Noah loves dogs, so I figured I would give him Landon's old dog costume. He liked being a dog, but did not like the heavy dog head hood. So he was a monkey, just like last year. Maybe it was the fact that the feet of his costume hit him at the knees or maybe it was the little curly tale that wagged as he ran up to the houses holding his little pumpkin...but the monkey was cuter this year. In fact, he really couldn't have been much cuter. We take the kids to a super nice subdivision down by the lake. Jon and I love walking the streets and seeing the nice houses, and we feel safe there. We all really enjoyed the evening...and the weather was gorgeous!

November 027Saturday we got up BRIGHT and early and boarded the train for Chicago. We had a nice hotel one block from Michigan Avenue and we had the whole day on Sat and Sunday free to ourselves. We shopped (for the first time in six years I am in serious need of business-causual clothes cause you know, I am about to be a workin' woman!), we had coffee and chocolates (twice!) and we went sight-seeing. The company took us out for a nice dinner Saturday night and then while they all went to the comedy club, Jon and I went up to the Signature Lounge at the top of the Hancock Building. It is free to go up there as long as you buy something to eat/drink. We shared tiramisu. It was lovely. We had a super great time...it just went by so quickly.

The weather around here has been aboslutely gorgeous this week, but the impending winter is definitely adding anxiety to my soul. Tuesday my kids were actually playing in the sprinkler in their bathing suits. Yes, you read correctly. I think we must have made history or something. It was awesome. Yesterday my dad called and wanted us to meet him at the zoo. I babysit for the 2 year old neighbor boy on Wednesdays but I really wanted to soak up the end of the warmth, so I took the leap and met him (with three boys!). It actually went beautifully. My sister Mallory met us too so there were plenty of adults to help. The kids really enjoyed it...all of them ate hotdogs for lunch...and the colors and weather were just awe-inspiring. It was a gorgeous day.

Today the temperature is near 70 again, but the winds of change are blowing. By tonight it will be over and for that I am very sad. I never used to hate winter this much, but this year it is really hitting me. Maybe it is that my kids have both already had their fair share of colds this fall, or maybe it is the ever-present darkness( I hate it being dark by 5 pm!), or maybe the marathon that it takes to get the kids anywhere when you have to put on coats and boots and mittens and hats. Enough complaining...it has its perks too. The snow is gorgeous. My son loves to play in it. And once everything is dead, it all gets to become new again in the spring. There...how is that for a dose of positive thinking

I just received an email from Liberty that they are taking a $125 dollar fee off my account. I could dance through the house! I am not a confrontational person, but this fee was unjust and totally undeserved. I did nothing wrong and I have given them TONS of my money...they did not need this additional $125 from me...it was basic robbery. So I called and then wrote pleading my case. And they took it off!!! Yeah...I am so so so so so relieved (and kind of proud of myself ).

We have a lot going on in our household right now. Please, if you think of it, pray for me in these next two weeks. I have a mountain to climb and I want to reach the top.

Pumpkin Carving 10-31-08

We did pumpkins last night. Landon has been looking forward to this for weeks, so he was super pumped that it was finally the actual day of pumpkin carving...well, night. The only problem was that I waited so long that the pumpkins had already started to get a little squishy. So there were not as many guts (squishy pumpkin parts, whatever you wanna call them) as Landon would have liked. But he still had a blast digging into the pumpkins with his dad. Landon wanted a witch face on his?, but Jon said he didn't know how to do that, so he sketched something on paper, showed it to Landon, Landon got all excited about how scary it was and viola...we had a scary pumpkin. I chose the classic happy face, which neither of my men understood. I told Landon that if he ever has a sister she will probably want a princess pumpkin...he said that was ridiculous. Ah well...

Noah wanted nothing to do with the pumpkins. In fact, he was a little afraid of the guts. So I gave him a popcicle and put him in the high chair. He was a happy camper. I made pumpkin chocolate chip bread, the boys carved away and Noah ate. It was a beautiful evening. In keeping with tradition, pictures are included at the bottom of the post....and I even put a picture from last year on here so that you can see the difference. Wow...how children change from year to year!!!

Tonight is the actual trick-or-treat event and my boys (well one of them anyway) are beside themselves. Boston Market is offering free dinners to kids in costumes...so since that is the favored restaurant among both boys, we will be dining there tonight. Yeah! Then off to darth-vader land (Landon) with monkey boy (Noah).

Tomorrow Jon and I leave at 6:45 am for a two day getaway. His company is taking us on the annual Chicago trip. They pay for the train, the hotel and dinner as well as the comedy club (which we are not attending due to the extreme blasphemy we were exposed to the first time they took us there). We are so excited to have a couple of days to ourselves...I can't remember the last date we went on....and the fact that it is mostly free makes it all even better!

I have had lots of random things to share...but it will have to wait. Maybe next week? Happy birthday Marla, Jamie and Sharon! Wow...three birthdays on the same day, and a holiday nonetheless. Crazy....must be something in the air, or a full moon...or something Happy Halloween friends!

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My Landon Bear 10-27-08

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My little Landon ~

Five years ago you entered into my life. How that much time has passed is a mystery to me, and yet I can barely remember our lives without you in it. The night you entered this world was a war in and of itself…a fight between you and my body. Your determination and strong will were evident even then…but in the end you were forced into the bright light that is this world and my eyes met yours for the very first time. In that moment, there was a beautiful stillness in that hospital room and even the nurses had tears in their eyes. You were so beautiful, son…fair and blonde and angelic. You clung to me for security and in that moment my heart was no longer my own as you came to embody a love that I never knew existed.

Your dad and I were so young and so inexperienced when you entered into our world. We tried our best with you, read every book, talked over every little decision. We wanted to do everything right, give you the best shot that we could. We wanted to protect you, as much as we could from the hurts of this world. But soon we came to realize that it is the bumps and scrapes along the way that often teach the most valuable lessons.So we stopped trying to raise you in a bubble and instead began to focus on how to help you get back up and try again.

As you learned to walk and talk, your personality blossomed and before we knew it you were running around the house smelling like peanut butter and jelly. You often wouldn't’t sleep, you often wouldn't eat and you often got mad at us for not understanding what you wanted. Still we pressed on, trying to train you up in a way that honored the Lord and that would inevitably grow you into a strong and good man. Those early years were difficult in that we often felt alone and unsure of what we were doing, but we made it, and before we knew it you were becoming a big brother; a role to which you not only adapted beautifully to, but embraced with your entire heart and soul. HiLandonYou are such a good big brother to Noah. You teach him and care for him and love him in a way that only brothers can truly understand and in a way that makes my heart swell with admiration for you. The lessons that daddy and I have been engraining in your since the day you were born are finally starting to show themselves in your spirit. Your care and concern for others gives me hope that one day you will understand the joy to be had by putting the needs of others before yourself. The obedient and honorable choices you make each day give me the courage to believe that you will one day be a strong and decisive leader who is wise beyond his years. Your questions and desire to understand the things of God give me great hope that very soon your heart will belong fully to the Lord and that you will love Him and serve Him for your entire life. More than anything else in this world, Landon, I want you to understand and experience the depth and height of God’s grace and love. There is no other acceptance or love that can ever compare to that of our Father’s.

Landon we have all learned together on this journey. You have taught me so much about myself and in so many ways, you have made the world new for me again. I see things in a new light and I experience life in a new and vibrant way, because of you. You keep me on my toes, but when you aren’t here in this house, it feels empty and I miss you. I miss your now toothless smile and silly expressions. I miss your laughter that fills the walls of this home with joy. You probably don’t notice, but often while I am working around the house, I am listening in on you while you play. Your imagination is awe-inspiring and I find such comfort and joy in the sounds of my boys happily playing. You and Noah fill this house with life and joy and together as a family we make these four walls home.

So for five years now you have been ours. I feel in many ways that you have grown me up and at the same time, we had the honor or raising you up. I am so proud of you Landon and I am filled with eager anticipation of what God is going to do with your life.

It is now 10:51 on October 27th. Exactly five years ago at this same time my water broke and I began the journey towards meeting you. Five short years…and yet, a lifetime ago. From beautiful, helpless infant to curious toddler to tender hearted boy, I have watched you grow. The transformation has been quiet and if one were not watching closely, it may have seemed to go by slowly and without incident. But to me, I have treasured each and every moment with you. Landon, every memory…every song…every dance…every word…they are all stored in my heart, chronicled for all of time. In an instant I can remember your eyes and your lips and size of your hands when they laid you on my belly the morning of the 28th. I can hear your little voice as you learned to talk. I can feel the room spinning around me as we danced to the B-I-B-L-E song. I remember every single moment…

I thank God for the blessing that is you. You were an unexpected miracle in our lives, but one that has blasted open our world and helped to make all things new. You were what I never knew I needed, and in every way I thank God for the privilege and honor of celebrating five years of your life. Happy Fifth Birthday, Landon Bear.

Love Always,

~Mama

Chicago, a Birthday and More 10-28-08

Thursday my cousin Jessica (Jon had to work and couldn't go with us) and I loaded up the kids and drove into Chicago for the day. It was a gorgeous day...sunny and semi-warm. We met up with Kelly and crew and walked all the way to the zoo. Quite the walk, let me tell you...but gorgeous. the zoo was pretty with leaves everywhere...and the exhibits were great. We were going to go to the Children's Museum after the zoo but it was getting late and the museum was pretty expensive, and we had aleady walked 3 miles and didn't feel like walking 3 more. So we took a bus back to Michigan Ave and got dinner, hung out at the hotel and then tearfully said goodbye. It was much too short. But we had a beautiful time. It was my first time driving in Chicago traffic and it was an experience...that is for sure. Not something I desire to do again anytime soon. I have to rave on my cousin for a moment. She is like having a second mommy around. She intuitively knew exacty what would be most helpful, what my kids needed, etc...before I even had time to ask or suggest or anything. She was awesome. I could never have done it without her. She is amazing...and the way she loves my kiddos makes me love her even more. And my niece...Katelyn...let me just rave about her for a moment. She just learned to walk and is about as cute as they come. And she did awesome on the plane, sleeping in the hotel...walking all around Chicago with no nap (or a very short one here and there) for days. She is one of the happiest, easy going kids I know and I just love her. And her mama...she is pretty special too.

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Ok, so then on Friday Jess watched my kids (again, LOVE her) so I could shop for Landon's birthday party. I was able to get EVERYTHING done which helped so much. That evening Jon and I took the kids to a nature center halloween event where we got to tromp through the woods in the dark and find animals hiding along the trail. The kids got to make crafts (a spider that is hanging from Landon's light in his room) and they got CANDY. Big hit. They both loved it.

Sunday evening was the party. I decided to make a Millenium Falcon Fighter Ship for the cake. Then I decided to make an enemy ship as well. I used two round cake pans to make the entire thing. It was easy and cheap as could be. Landon LOVED it and I have to say that it was pretty awesome I even had some edible silver dust to give it a metallic sheen. A lot of family came as well as my neighbors and dear friend from high school. It was a beautiful party and Landon...well, he got some of the best gifts ever. It really was a beautiful party...he loved it...we loved it...everyone stayed late talking and enjoying one another. It was beautiful.

And that about sums it up. I am trying to recover from the insane week that was last week...and am gearing up for another. Tomorrow is Landon's birthday so we will do something after school to make it special. Wednesday we are at my mom's. Thursday we are pumpkin carving. Friday is trick-or-treating and Saturday morning at 7 am Jon and I leave for Chicago (his company is taking us on the train again...yeah for a free get-away...JUST US!!!).

Oh yes...and my final paper is turned in. I am officially done with all coursework. Praise the Lord!!!!

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