Thursday, December 30, 2004

Two outta four

This will be brief b/c my brain's weary. I'm almost through my heavy work week. I picked up a few days this week (Wed, Thur, Fri) and another next Monday (actually my last day at RPCI) to earn some extra money for the move. Matt took time off work to be Mr. Mom, which he's doing an amazing job at! The kids are well-rested, clean, fed and happy when I get home. Matt even had a dance/jam/jump session with Izak tonight. Love it. He's such a great man. Thank God, thank God...

Will blog more after I rest some.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I May Bottle.

This morning, at about 5:50 a.m., I heard Izak say his first sentence. It tickled me so that I just laid there and laughed. Z is an early riser, typically about 6:30 a.m.. He wakes up singing, sometimes jumping, sometimes banging about in his crib. This morning I heard a crash, then something that sounded like crying (you can never be too sure because Z does a great fake cry). So Matt crawled out from under the covers to go make sure our mini-Paul-Hamm didn't hurt himself. The second the door opened I heard the whimpering stop, and a little voice say, very clearly, "Bottle. I may bottle." What a scream! Matt laid him back down, told him that it was too early to get up, attempted to rub his tummy a little, but Izak pushed his hand away as if to say, "Look, I gave you a clear, indisputable request. If you can't help me out then please leave." By the time Matt came back into the bedroom we were both chuckling. And so began the morning.

I look forward to the day when Izak uses more words. I do okay with pre-verbal because I have a handicapped sister that has a very limited vocabulary, and I work with critically ill people, many on the ventilator, that can't talk, so I'm pretty good a charades and body language. But real words! How exciting! In speaking with other "experienced" parents (who don't know me well enough to know that this pisses me off), a comment that often comes up is, "Enjoy the silence because once they start talking/walking/crawling... (eyes rolling)." You know, there are plenty of parents in the world who wish their babies could communicate, but can't, for whatever sad reason. Don't whine about the gift you've been given! (my eyes rolling) Having a handicapped sister has changed the core of my mother's heart into something that doesn't allow me to blend very easily with the typical mom. My thoughts are often, Stop b*tching and moaning about the beauty of a healthy, growing, developing child. Get a grip. And while you're at it, shut up and celebrate! Geez.

Mothering is an amazing job, a feat to be performed with as much grace and optimism as you can muster. Why not muscle through the hard parts (yes, there are hard times) and welcome the new skills? Sure, none of us particularly like having our routine messed with, but greater than the predictability of our schedule is the gift of a healthy growing child. I've been surprised to find little areas of my heart that were secretly prepared for the development of my children to halt. It probably has to do with being from a home with a perpetual toddler. I was pleasantly surprised with Izak's ability to crawl, walk, jabber, and now talk. Thank you, God, for the new little words that I hear Z use. Thank you that Libby is close to rolling over, that she smiles and coos and can almost hold her own bottle. Thank you for this precious time.

Monday, December 27, 2004


This morning I'm enjoying watching Izak study his new Lady Blacksmith Mambazo. He looks up every now and then, laughing, imitating a particular sound, a certain rhythm. I think back to a negative review that I read on Amazon prior to buying "Shaka Zulu" (Grammy nominated, BTW). It said, "It sounded like buzzing bees." Nice. Way to be ethnocentric.

Along that same line, I had an interesting conversation with a man whose son had decided to go into the pastorate. In the midst of explaining it, he said, "I can't say too much; I have prejudices." I probed a little, since his son was in the United Methodist denomination. "Like gay marriage?" "Yes," he answered, "like gays and blacks. But I've probably said too much already." I felt this knot in the pit of my stomach. Wow, bigotry and discrimination in the same sentence. It was obvious to me that this gentleman had never truly gone been outside of his white, conservative circle; he'd never really loved anyone different than himself.

Connect that encounter with the tsunami that devastated Asia yesterday morning. 24,000 deaths and still counting. I am holding my breath to hear whether our friends in Tamil Nadu are still alive. Sam Stevens and his daughter Becky (of India Gospel League) have been to our church and our home. IGL is an evangelical church planting organization that has planted thousands of church in India. My prayer is that they are unharmed, but I'm sure that their people were impacted. Can you imagine? People from your church, children, babies... gone, never to be found again. The grief must be unbearable. May the church, the real Church rise up and pour out the love and power of the risen Christ in this day.

I am thankful for the transformation that Christ has, and is taking me through in regards to how I view those who are different than me. Other races, other beliefs, other socio-economic brackets. My ability to love those just like me is cheap and weak and easy. But what about the culture that I do not understand? What about the people group that has no reason to reach out to me, who regard me as an enemy? What about those who struggle with their sexual identity? What about witches? What about democrats? It's so easy to sell verbal barbs that disregard groups of people that you don't agree with, but Christ called us to LOVE individual people who are different, who are lost, and who are seeking.

I think the groups I still struggle with not discriminating against are protestant denominations. I still catch myself categorizing and generalizing people based on the name of the door of their church. I use names of churches way too often.

So, for the record, I believe that Christ mandates us to love all individuals. How God doesn't just strike us dead when we belittle or berate others in our own self-righteousness I'll never know.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Night

Hi all. Don't know if I'll make much sense. I've been up since 5 a.m. and worked all day in the ICU. I'm a little cross-eyed from being tired. Last night I was having a difficult time mustering up the good attitude to go into work on Christmas, especially as another 10" of snow fell. Beautiful storm, one during which it would've been nice to look outside and say, "I don't have to go anywhere. Good." Instead I was fussing about whether I'd be able to get into work the next day. (For the record, we get doozie storms here. During one storm I was snowed into my car on the freeway for 5 hours. Of course, I realized that right after I finished my 32 oz. coffee... . At least it wasn't as bad the winter before where hundreds of people were stranded in their cars for 24 hours, or at strangers' houses. More on that another time.) But this morning it was gorgeous. They plow masterfully here in NY. Plows and snowmovers as big as my house. So the roads were great.

On my way in I felt so pleased to be going to work. I can't help it, I just love working at Roswell, so by the time I got there I was all smiles and "Merry Christmas"-ing my way along. There is something about working with people who have cancer, esp. in the ICU that keeps my occasionally piss-poor attitude in check. My thoughtful husband even packed up the babies and came up for a quick Xmas hello! It was great... I remember doing that with my mom when we were little and she worked. History repeating itself.

Once I got home we had a quick meal with Audrey, Larry, Ainsley et al. Came home and introduced Izak to the conecpt of opening presents, which he absorbed pretty quickly. His favorite gift so far-- his own CD player and a new Lady Blacksmith Mambazo CD. He started it over and over again, but by the time he was heading to bed he was singing the first song. Not bad considering it's in ZULU! Libby was into bows and ribbon, of course. Low maintenance baby this year.

But we are together, and healthy, generally happy, and much loved. A perfect Christmas in my book. Good night.

BTW, check out my husband's blog. WARNING: Only for the open-minded. If you haven't changed your mind about anything recently, then don't waste your time.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve 2004

Merry Christmas, everyone! What a precious time of year. I don't know about you, but having a baby boy has changed my perspective on Christmas forever. Two year ago I sang "Mary, Did You Know" for Christmas Eve services. I had a 2-month old little bundle of boy, all dressed up in his turtleneck (?!?! he HAD no neck!) bear sweater, and mini-khakis. Oh, and sneakers... with tread. Because you wouldn't want to slip when you're running at the age of 2- months! LOL! Anyway... the gift of Jesus coming to man, a father sending his son to certain death and pain... it strikes deeply in my heart now. There's a line in the song that says "Mary, did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? That the child that you deliver would soon deliver you?" - whew, that was a tough thing to choke out every time I sang it. Even more than salvation of my soul, Christ has used the tool of motherhood to save me from myself here on earth. Without kids I can see where I would've been lost in self-centeredness, rigidness, and impatience. Did I love the Lord before I had babies? Yes. But do I understand now more than ever what kind of love the Father has for me and what He requires of me, sacrifice and service? Absolutely. And can I revel in a deeper, more mature love for Him and His children, my family?. Thankfully, yes. Sometimes I can barely look at that little boy baby in the manger, because the joy of new life and safe delivery has hanging in the shadows the shape of a cross. My cross. And that precious little baby took it from me.

Jesus, there are many people that I love in this world. Love deeply. But I would never give up my blonde hair, green-eyed boy for their salvation. Not my son. Thank you for the eyes that motherhood has given me to see the enormity of your gift. I am humbled in new ways each year as I reflect on your love for me.

The kids are so little this Christmas season. I had hoped to have some sort of traditions in place, peanut brittle in the snow, reading the Christmas story, a decorated tree. *sigh* Not this year. I'm struggling to keep up with the latest need, stay out from under the pile of accumulating dirty diapers, and the toddler insists on un-decorating the tree as fast as I can put things on. We did go out and buy plastic ornaments so that he could "play" with it. It's his house too. So all of the ornaments are in a big bowl on the end table. I volunteered to work Xmas in ICU. I didn't have to, nor am I getting holiday pay for it. I deeply regret it at this point. I want to be home with the kids. I know, they won't know, but I will. And the reason I'm per diem if so I can be home for the important times. Actually, it just hit me. I've been SO irritable about being separated from them (just ask Matt. Poor guy) Maybe it's because they're actually my sanity during this time of transition. And even a bit of security. My girlfriend, Theresa, once said (and now I soooo understand it...) that when she had her first baby she saw how much Mary Jane needed her. But with her second, Ruthie, she became acutely aware of much she needed her daughter. It makes me cry as I write that. There must be something there...

Sara, TY so much for letting me vent via IM last night. I really appreciate it. (Can you tell I'm having a hard time getting my milk to dry up?!? LOL Sitting here with my bra full of cabbage, I smell like a salad!) Before we know it we'll be neighbors. The anticipation brings with it such a bitter sweetness, it makes me squirm. But your prayers and words of encouragement are such a source of strength.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

My small group

Last night was our annual small group Christmas dinner. I've mentioned in the past that my particular small group has been together since we moved here in 1998. There's usually been one of the four couples that is coming or going due to moving and life changes, but the Furrs, Musielaks and Gobles have been tight since the beginning. We have recently invited a new couple to join us. Jim and Kjica G., you guys are the perfect people for us. Welcome! We will miss you.

We feasted and then played games - Catch Phrase and Guesstures. Always boys against the girls. Last night ended in a tie. Believe it or not, the boys won Guesstures.

The gift that my small group has given me everyday for the past 6 years is that of safety. I have not been put in a high place from which I might fall. They have never been impressed by my "position," they have always been loving of my person. They've gotten in my face about sin and sloth, they've cheered me through deep waters, they've made me laugh until I peed my pants. They have been my inner family. We cry about the upcoming move, but I don't think they'd let us change our minds for anything now. They've prayed with us and have seen God's hand. They have placed their hands on us and blessed us, and in 4 weeks and 5 days they will release us.

I cannot imagine life without them close by. I don't think I've taken them for granted because I've always had such comfort in feeling their presence nearby. Even if we did all have the Verizon "IN" plan, it won't be the same.

My prayer is that we will continue to share a fellowship even over the miles, accented by times of seeing each other face to face. I can't pretend that the friendships won't change, because mileage does something to the practical side of relationships.

One of the best things about Heaven, besides God and all, will be living among by soul family for eternity. No tears, no miles, no sin, no fatigue... no goodbyes.

Mom and Liberty Kathryn Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Being done

Lately I've spent a lot of time thinking about being "done." Not having more children via my body, anyway. It's a bittersweet thing. My experiences with being pregnant rank right up there with having a root canal without anesthetic or a nine month flu. I would probably chose either one over pregnancy. I have hyperemesis (excessive vomiting) for the endurance of the nine months. It's like the pregnancy test shows two lines and within a week I'm huggin' the porcelain throne. I used to laugh because people would tell me how much I glowed, and if I was feeling saucy I'd tell them it was from my multiple spa facials each day - the spray from the flushing toilet would give me that special something. LOL I even had the pleasure of vomiting both times all the way through labor... but within one hour of the baby being born, *poof* the nausea and vomiting disappear. The sores that I on my gums would heal up over night, coffee didn't taste like metal, and I had an appetite again. I did not have a good time being pregnant. Period.

I don't begrudge my girlfriends who have breezy nine-month experiences. I think that's great. Honestly I wouldn't wish my pregnancies on anyone.

But being "done"... it makes me strain to hear God's voice. I don't want to cut things off (no pun intended) if He desires me to bear another baby. The two children I have now were a result of His impression on my heart. I knew without a doubt when He asked me to become a mom. And two kids makes sense. But a third? I don't think so, I don't feel so, but my feelings in regards to childbearing cannot be trusted. We approach a date that will put a stop to the mechanical chances of more babies, but is this His will?

I sat in the attic going through baby clothes the other day. Sorting, folding, remembering. And I was sad. The emotion caught me off guard. I think it's more related to the sadness of time passing. Of the babies growing, and recognizing that those moments are gone. Written. Recorded. And that's okay. There seems to be a part of mothering that sighs and strokes the past like a soft blanket. I think I understand the ethos of the word "pondering" now that my little ones are growing and changing.

More than anything I want to be obedient. Joyful and obedient.

I need to go. The sitter is here so I can go run errands. more on this later, I'm sure.

Friday, December 17, 2004

You know you have a toddler when...

You know you have a toddler when you're sitting alone at the lunch table eating cold, cut-up ravioli from a bowl with a tiny fork, staring at the green dinosaur placement, and drinking from a sippy cup while the boy is playing in the living room.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

House news and best intentions

Well... we have a new home awaiting us in Lake Villa, IL! Matt did an awesome job and it was such a blessing to have Rick there along side him. The two of them did a fantastic job and found us a great place to live. Big colonial, 4 br/ 2.5 bth... plenty of room to entertain, lodge, and grow. I keep telling Libby, "Soon you'll have a bedroom with a DOOR on it!" She is currently housed in the sunroom just off the kitchen in a PackNPlay. After she goes to bed all family members are confined to the living room. Lol. Don't know what I'll do if I can actually pop a bag of popcorn after 7 o'clock at night without waking the kids. NWCC, I sure hope you're ready to party!

All of the details which unfold with closing one home and selling another are staggering to a detail-oriented girl like myself, but I think one by one we're addressing the issues. I have spoken to two movers, one more to go, and we'll see who will get to move us. I'm trying to get all the doctors' appointments out of the way so nothing will be urgent upon arrival to a new town... prescriptions filled, teeth cleaned, etc. I am aware how desperately I need strength and wisdom to manage each day to the max. Then add on top of that my kiddie rodeo... yeeha!

Thought I might let a little irritation air out here on line, mostly because I'm convinced that the offenders do not read my blog. Lori C., Aud, Jennifer G, Carebear, this is NOT for you! This is not intended for any of my young mom friends with their hands full of babies. It is more about other grown-ups who should know better. So here it is. Your verbal good intentions don't necessarily translate into meaningful encounters with me. For instance, it's endlessly annoying to me when someone says, "I meant to stop by all week and see how you were... I've been meaning to call... I thought I'd come give you a hand... I've meant to drop you a card...but I was _____ (insert valid reason here)" What do you expect me to say to that?!?! The reality is your stuff is more important than stopping in to check on a friend. One of my pet peeves is when someone says, "We should [get together], [have lunch] or [come over to see the kids], or etc...," and I say, "That'd be great. I'm almost always home. Give me a call and we can make a date." And they never call. I think the intention was to imply, "Hey, I really appreciate you as a person. You're a good friend and I like you. I like the time we spend together." If that's the case then just say those very words, and I'll remember them and hold them close. But when you don't follow through, the message is that you don't value it enough. Now, I don't expect that my situation eclipses your life, but what really translates into meaning for a person like myself is action. The card while my husband was away house-hunting (TY, Donut, all the way over in Oregon!) The call on my machine that says, "I was just calling to see if you needed anything." (Aud, Laura G) The home-made yeast rolls. The e-mail (shout out to Kim D.) The hug in the foyer with the simple comment, "I have been thinking of you," or, "I miss you." That's the stuff that transcends the momentary struggle and gives me something to actually hold on to. Maybe the frustration is greater because I used to use the same words to try to communicate value, but in reality, I was accidentally setting people up for disappointment. Maybe it's because I work with the dying. Maybe it's because I'm trying to capture the drops of friendship here to take with me into a time when I will not be as well known or understood.

Gary Smalley talks about the 5 love languages that communicate love and meaning to an individual... touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time. They're all important, but a person tends to have one or two favorite ways to receive love from others. I've always been a "gifts" person. If you want me to know that you love me, a present is a great way to express it. But as I'm getting older, quality time is emerging as a strong second.

Perhaps it's because I see time taken for friendship as the finest gift of all.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Libby at play Posted by Hello

Toes good for eatin' Posted by Hello

My Buffalo Boy Posted by Hello

House hunt

Matt's plane touched down in Chicago just before naptime here. Let the house hunting begin!!! Reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld commercial... "release the hounds!" I am so excited to see what God has in store for us, and I know that Matt is ready to get the process started. He has prepared very well.

Some people have asked me, "Doesn't it bother you that your husband will buy you a house without you seeing it first?" No, not really. Could I choose to obsess about it, in light of the fact that I like control and this is about as out of control that I've ever been? Sure, but I'm not going to. And besides, Matt's best friend, Rick, is there with him. He is a detail-oriented kind of guy who will represent my interests too. We have grown to trust and love Rick's wisdom over the last 6 years. Never have we needed it more. Now that's Biblical community, Baby.

The first moving company came yesterday to prepare a quote for us. They actually specialize in moving pastors, which means schlepping books, lots of books, to the office after unloading the house. We will probably hear from two more companies as well.

Libby just awoke from her nap, diaper full of poo. The last few days it's happened like clockwork. Funny the little happenings that you note with regularity. No pun intended.

Tonight is the first of four Christmas performances. *deep breath* I've got some great baby cowboys working with the kids in my absence. Tonight will be the Thurstons, a fantastic newly married couple. (I will really, really miss all of the premarital friends that I meet through Matt's wedding ministry. He has done an average of about 20-30 weddings a year since we came here. Newlyweds can be so refreshing to talk to and listen to. This particular couple is just pure class.) I just have to keep counting down the hours until the crush is over. At present, it is 45 hours and 30 minutes. Then I feel like life will go on.

Stay tuned for more info on the house. :)

Meanwhile, here's some updated pics of the kids.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Surviving and thriving

This week I'm in survival mode. Our church is having the big ol' Christmas she-bang this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday a.m. X 2. Despite my anticipation that I'd have a more minimal role this year than last, I am finding myself smack-dab in the middle of the production again. Solo piece, duet piece, trio piece, and in the chorus, maybe even directing the chorus. *sigh* I didn't do a very good job of putting my foot down. Now, I could have gone to Ben and told him to bag it, but there's also the realization that this is my ministry and the area where I provide leadership, so suck it up and do it. (If we weren't moving I think I could've nixed it.) So in light of the fact that I need to be singing every night this week, I have come down with a nasty head cold. And both of the kids are boogery. And Matt will be gone this weekend Friday through Monday to find a house in Chicago. Surviving. Period.

Now, I prefer to thrive by keeping my schedule quieter and adding a few events here and there. I'm not a socialite, not in need of a lot of outings. I prefer home. After I came home from work yesterday, Matt and I went to the Musielaks (Rick and Carrie, Gavin and Eve) for pizza and conversation re: the house. Rick is going in my place this weekend to help Matt with the house hunt. Matt headed home early with a very wrung out toddler who needed an early bedtime, and Carrie brought Liberty and me back an hour later. We were laughing at our stark differences when it comes to being on the go. I couldn't help but chuckle when Carrie said, "I have to force myself to stay home two days a week, Mondays and Thursdays, and not do anything but let the kids play." And she is well aware of how hard I have to work to muster up the strength to get out even once during the week. I like being holed up at home. Not to mention it saves me money. I really am a "stay at home" mom. Lol. So you can see how going out 5 out of 6 nights this week makes me feel like I want to curl up and die. But instead of getting even more cranked up about it I need to take a deep breath and go with grace.

Izak sat at the breakfast table with me and chatted away this morning. It was a type of game... he'd start speaking very intently about something and I'd get to guess what it was. A song, a book, a clip from TV. "Blue hat, green, hat, yellow hat... oooops!" "Joy to the world! Joy to the world!" "I wish, I wish, with all my heart, to FLY with dragons in a land apart!" It was so sweet. His eyes would light up when I figured out the rhythm and what it matched. Then we would laugh, and he'd pick out something new. He was leaning forward on the table with his arms crossed beneath his chest, about a foot from my face, so engaged, so happy. And I thought, quiet moments like this with my son.... this makes me thrive!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Liberty girl Posted by Hello


(Men, this blog contains very personal information regarding breastfeeding. You've been forewarned.)

At 2 a.m. it was my turn to do the flu dance. It doesn't appear that I have the all-out puke 'till you drop version, but I'm a bit off. So I awoke feeling pretty gross, dreading the day of taking care of the kids alone while hubby went to the office. The last few times that I've sat down to BF (breastfeed) Libby I've noticed what appears to be a significant drop in my milk production. I don't feel as full, she's not satisfied, and more often than not, I supplement with a bottle of formula later, which she scarfs. She's been a much better BFer than brother was, so I expected this to be a lasting engagement, but here she is almost 6 months and I feel that she's weaning. I would like to continue BFing 3 or 4 times a day, but currently there's not enough substance for that to be anything more than a snack.

I don't want to get into the impassioned discussion of BFing exclusively vs. supplementing with formula vs. introduction of solids, blah, blah, blah. Really, I don't want to go there. I have plenty of LLL friends, I know who I want to talk to if I think that rectifying the issue stood a chance. I am very polite when it comes to discussing BFing, but my personal feeling is that it is not the cornerstone of my mothering experience. I am not defined by whether Libby BFs or not. And I have always said, if I could choose a good eater or a good sleeper I would pick the sleeper anyday. The funny thing is that she's not a good sleeper either. LOL So do I feel ike she's detaching? Pulling away from me? No. She and I have lovely parties where we flirt and coo and play. She is very into me. It's just that my milk is drying up. Izak weaned abruptly at 8 months, and that week I started my period. A friend noted that research says the BM changes taste with the swing of the menstral hormones, takes on a salty flavor... can't verify that. Didn't try it.

The thought that does leave me sad (and truth be told, a little angry) is that she may be reacting to the stress I've been under for several months now. Babies pick it up, and stress has an impact BM production. (BTW, the recommendation to pump a few extra times a day to fix everything makes me want to run screaming. Scheduling time to pump and keep chaos at a managable level is not, I repeat, not a priority at this time.) I have the normal struggle of keeping guilt at bay, the looming suspicion that my second child is getting the short end of the stick. So I have an opportunity to let myself off the hook and allow myself to see that she's doing great, is happy and thriving on whatever she decides to drink, or I can shoulder that guilt.

But today my heart is sad. And the tears are flowing. And I feel weary and alone. And my daughter is weaning.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


This is the mantra of my next 60 days in Buffalo. Every day, every hour is filled with the challenge of prioritizing. What's urgent, what can wait a day, what will simply never get done? Issues seem to multiply when I'm not looking, and my checklist is practically useless. I am gingerly undertaking projects with the hopes that I will pick the right ones at the right times and maximize my outcomes. Dear God, make time stand still!

Last night I settled into a fantastic night out with my friends and, for the first time ever, didn't rush to get to a Christmas cast rehearsal (which I missed BTW). The priority was fellowship, affirming these friends who have walked through life with Matt and me since our first weekend in Hamburg. Larry and Audrey had just closed on their first home, Carrie and Rick were talking about their 6th wedding anniversary (we met them their first Sunday at church after their honeymoon), and Matt and I were, of course, sharing about Chicago. It was an evening alive with the energy of good friends unfettered by children (between the 3 couples we have 5 kids 3 years-old and under). The evening felt like it went a little slower than usual. Several times I would just gaze around the table and take it all in. My best friends.

Carrie leaned over the table and said, "Furr, has anyone be more pathetic than I was about you guys moving to Chicago?" Matt and Carrie have this synergistic-extroverted-club thing going on, where Rick and I enjoy the quiet pleasure of calculated introversion. So we all stopped to think, who has cried more or been the most emotional, and we laughed. The moments are so bittersweet. Because even though we were all laughing about it last night, there will be buckets of tears soon enough.

Audrey and Larry were recounting how Ainsley, their fantastic little 2 year-old is saying, "Furr go Ca-go. Very sad." She and Izak are exactly 2 months apart, but she buries him with her verbal skills! They were laughing about how little Ainsley almost let the cat out of the bag at a family gathering about our moving, when our small group had been so, so careful about keep our confidence in this long process. And I always delight in how the Gobles become so animated with their stories about their daughter, the little life that was preceded years and years of prayer and procedures. Audrey and I carried our first babies at the same time, pregnancy buddies. Everybody should have one. When we weren't looking, Larry snuck off and picked up the tab.

In my introversion I tend to lean into tasks, projects, lists. I consciously conserve energy and words this way. But God is faithfully keeping relationships in the forefront of my mind. I'm going broke on babysitters, but there are relationships that must be affirmed. This is priority. I want to make the time to be available to the friends who have been so open to me over the last 6 years.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Big News

As many of you probably know, we've got big news. Matt has accepted the lead pastor position at a church on the northwest side of Chicago, IL. We will be moving in approximately 8 weeks. Wow, it was shocking to write that. Could you hear me take a big breath?

The process of candidating has been very thorough. We've been "active" since August, traveled with the kids out there twice, once by plane, once by car. I prefer the plane, in case anybody was wondering. Shorter duration of "in your seat" time for Izak, and that's just down-right good.

I feel like I have so much to blog about now that the information is public. So much about God's faithfulness, His presence which he has promised, my friends, new and old (Shout out to our NWCC blog-reading crowd! Don't be shy!). Also about keeping a secret, treasuring information, self-control, pacing myself, seeking God in the middle of the night b/c I'm so tired that I can't sleep (and neither can Libby). About my mother's heart for my children - this intense, fierce protective mechanism that I strive to manage. The old enemy, Worry. About growing up and deciding to implement what God has been teaching me about Himself, rather than lying around whining that God's just a big, fat meaney. About doing things with grace and kindness even when I have not one more thing to give. About the amazing man that I've married, his heart, his talent, his risk, his strength. I promised to go wherever you go. I want you to be reassured that it has been my privilege to follow your lead, even when it's hard.

I am buoyed up by the prayers of so many. I rest in knowing that my struggle with the bitter and my rejoicing with the sweet will be, at times, a group effort.

More on this all in the future. Today my son refuses to nap, so I need to go for now.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Toddler Flu Strategies

Once aware of an outbreak, quarantine the children. It doesn't matter because they'll get it anyways, but at least you tried.

Keep the noise level in the house low so you can hear the faintest whimper that precedes the "episode."

If you have hardwood floors, be sure you wear socks and shoes in order to sprint at maximum speeds to intercept the "episode".

Keep spare towels and bowls everywhere.

Once you are aware of an impending "episode", be sure you remove all comfort items (Blankie, Froggy, Duckie) to a safe place to spare them from an emergency washing.

Breathe through your mouth when in the midst of the battle, especially if you have a weak stomach.

Though you may grow accustomed to the whining, do not tune it out. You may miss an important clue as to the possibility of an "episode."

Think of Lysol as a type of perfume.

Watch the clock. At least you know it's time well spent. And then one day you can recount, "I remember when you were little and you threw up for 60 hours!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Sifted or purified?

The past few months have quite difficult. The Furrs have a looming issue, soon to be announced, that has compounded the severity of everyday variances of life. It has seemed like non-stop challenges, colic to run-on ear infections to the flu (currently). It is taking sheer willpower and grit to get out of bed and do the day.

A phrase has been running through my mind regularly, "You are being sifted like wheat... sifted like wheat." I attributed it to a verse somewhere in the Bible that referred to allowing the Enemy to have his way with us, perhaps a test of loyalty. Somewhere in my pooped-out, mixed-up mind I crossed some theology and came up with a dangerous concoxtion... "Maybe God has handed me over to the Enemy to be sifted, like Job." So one Sunday I asked a friend, "What's the context of the phrase 'sifted like wheat'?" And he reminded me that it has more to do with the day when God will separate those who say they follow him from those who will actually receive eternal life, a kind of "goats and sheep" thing (see Matt. 3:12). So does this phrase really have anything to do with the difficuly of life recently? No, absolutely not. The phrase has sought more to discourage me and defeat me than actually reflect the reality of God's presence with me amidst the current circumstances. Therefore, I think I can acurrately surmise that it has been the voice of the Accuser. He wiggled his way into a small crack and has been camping out.

Job, a man truly tested by God, said, "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me I will come forth as gold." (23:10) The last few days I have started to run a new thought through my head, "What if all of these trials are a process of purification? Not a test to see if I can 'hang in there', but an opportunity to throw off some of the things that hinder, or are dead weight, and become more like the Christ I claim to follow?" Now there is the hope that gives me the strength to wash the toddler's pukey clothes and nuzzle my grumpy,teething baby. It allows me to fall asleep quickly at night, lifting the paranoia that it's not a seek and destroy mission, but rather a time to draw off of the reality that I am His child and I will not be snatched from His hand. A time of affirmation, not despair.

A wrong combo of right theologial truths can be dangerous. Understand context, compare it against known truths, and get a real perspective on what God's doing.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Cop Out

My blogger friends, I'm copping out. I have been so wrung out lately that I haven't even been able to blog straight. I don't think a blog that simply says, "Duhhhhhhh..." would be worth much. I am tired at an cellular level. Sweet Jesus, please make my sleep feel twice as long, and my burdens half as heavy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Sailor, the Newfoundland Posted by Hello

Ahhhh... HOME!

We are HOME!! Boy, does it ever feel good. Yesterday we made the 9.5 hour haul home. The kids did well, not too much crying, only a few fits from Izak who did not want to be in his seat ANYMORE. It was very sad to walk in and not be greeted by Sailor's huge jumping body. I miss her, very much, but I'm glad she's with the Fishers. It was so funny, we saw Dave and Sarah (Sai's new owners) at Suzy's house Friday night for pizza. On their way out the door we were all hugging goodbye, and as Dave leaned in to give me a hug he said, "We love -" and I thought the rest of the sentence was "-you", instead it was, "-Sailor!" I had to laugh later. I love her too. It's a good match. :)

It was so nice to snuggle into our home on a Monday night and watch some football without Matt having to get up at 430a to go to church on Tuesday. I slept like a rock last night, Libby was only up at midnight and 430a (so I guess someone had to get up early, LOL). Today we're just lounging around; the kids can stay in their pj's all day, I don't care.

I walked through the house last night saying, "My house! My cupboards, my fireplace, my land, my kitchen." And I heard this quiet little voice in heart whisper, "No Heidi, these are not yours, these are Mine." My mom often reminds me of a quote she heard from Corrie Ten Boom, "I have learned to hold the things of this world very loosely because it hurts too much when God pries my fingers off."

Friday, November 12, 2004


Motherhood has made me pliable in ways I could've never imagined. For instance, I can sleep almost anywhere, on any surface, with little to no bedding. Hardwood, carpet (without or without pad), kitchen tile, not a problem. I can use almost any object for a burp rag, a diaper, curtains, my sleeve, the edge of the baby's Sunday dress. I can breastfeed almost anywhere. I've recently met a group of new friends and one of my first thoughts was, They may not know my name, or what I think about this or that, but they've probably at least seen my boobs. LOL. If you knew me five years ago you may bear witness to the change, the very good adjustment that mothering has brought into my life. Before kids I was rather fixated on a lot of things, most of which (retrospectively) were not important.

I have been keeping watch with Libby the last 24 hours. She's come down with a large amount of thick drainage, the scary kind.

4-Year Nursing School degree $80K
10 changes of scrubs $400
Littman stethescope (back in Buffalo) $100
Knowing what to do with your daughter's boogers... priceless.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The show on the road, splitting up the pack

We are traveling ~ again. This is our family "vacation", the first one in a long time. Moving around with two little ones is NOT easy. Izak has yet another ear infection, precipitated by allergies gone bad. We were in my home town for a few days so we were able to see an old time friend, FS, a family physician. He confirmed my suspicions. Libby spent Monday night waking every two hours and less during the night. I was convinced she was coming down with something too, but FS said her ears were fine. This is not my idea of resting, but it is a change of pace and scenery. Hopefully we'll be able to complete our projected trip... after last night I was afraid that I was going to have to head back home my sick kids. We're still not out of the woods...

I was looking in the little storage areas in the minivan door and I saw gallon ziplock bags. I started to laugh. Vacationing with babies may not be easy but at least I'm not pregnant. I am still finding my stash of ziplocks all over. I had to use them all nine months of pregnancy for the vomiting... I highly recommend the gallon size because you can at least get your face in it and prevent a super mess. Pregnancy - miserable. A vacation with babies - hard, but not miserable (yet).

Sailor, our Newfoundland, has a new home. She's gone to live with my SIL, BIL and niece, Becca. They are from West Michigan, living within 10 miles of where Sailor was actually born. Sai now has a country home with another dog, a chicken to chase, a lake to swim in, and a family who absolutely adores her. Word has it that when the family begins to rise and shine in the morning, Sailor goes around to all the family members, woo-wooing. She even burst in on Becca at 5 a.m. barking, insisting that she get up too. Saying goodbye was bittersweet, but it's good to hear that she's adjusting well. She's behaving in ways that lets me know that she's established her new wolf pack.

My mind is pretty numb right now, trying to process a lot of things. The kids are a great way to keep focused on the immediate and truly important things. And above all I know that God is clearly guiding. Yes, Sir, I am ready.

Friday, November 05, 2004

A fast of silence

Joshua 6:10 "But Joshua commanded the people, 'Do not give a war cry, do not raise you voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!'"

I love reading Francine Rivers. One of her series was dedicated to significant women in the genetic line of Christ. One of the books, Rahab, talks about the legendary story of Joshua and the fall of Jericho. Rivers observes that before the Israelites embarked on the mission of conquering a major city (mission impossible by human standards), God called them to a fast of silence. Joshua met with God, got his orders, came back to his people and spelled out the (lunatic) plan (see Joshua 6), and capped it off by saying, "And not another word until I say so." (Which, by the way, was 7 days later.) How erie would it have been to move around in all day in silence? Can you imagine how quiet the camp was at night? Over a million people, tents for miles, but not a sound. Perhaps a baby crying here or a cow mooing there, but not a spoken word. I wonder what they were thinking laying their beds at night. I'll tell you what I would've been thinking... "This is nuts! You have GOT to be kidding me! Joshua must have sun-stroked, and now we're going to suffer. I don't really care if we conquer that city; why can't we just settle somewhere else in the county and be happy? Abort mission! Abort!"

And that is why God didn't let them speak. Though I'm sure there were plenty who believed and were really jazzed about the hair-brained scheme, I'm sure I represent at least some part of the weaker, more faith challenged Hebrew clan. In order to prevent the disbelief, the fear and skepticism from taking over, God had them keep their traps shut. When I encounter situations in my life that are difficult, maybe even semi-impossible, what's my first reaction? Usually to call a trusted girlfriend and vent. Not to run to God, not to quiet myself and receive instruction, but to talk (also read as whine or balk or run my mouth). But God, who loves me and desires me to come to Him as first counsel, is working that out in me. I think it's a maturity issue, sure, but also one of spiritual discipline ~ and don't I just looovvee discipline.

So I have been in a season of a silent fast. Letting God hear my thoughts, see my tears, witness my struggle. And the strange thing is that even though others are becoming aware of it, the outcome is that I actually feel more and more alone. But I am finding that only God can counsel, comfort, and guide me. The silence is good, because the day is coming when God will say, "Now take a deep breath, Heidi, and SHOUT!"

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Two in the tub Posted by Hello

You know you have two in diapers when...

You know you have two babies in diapers when someone compliments you on your french manicure, and you realize that it's not a manicure... it's Desitin.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Dear Laura,
Thank you for your sisterhood. You, the one girl in a family of boys, you are my sister. Our link is not blood, but spirit. The invisible, invincible family of the King. We are royalty, dressed in robes of white, standing before our Father. Thank you for speaking to Him on my behalf. I'm mute at a time like this, nothing to capture the essence of my heart. But I know that you understand. You prayed this prayer with others, not so long ago. And in your selflessness you were able to breathe another breath of encouragement into my tired soul. When I needed to lean I knew I could come find you. Thank you for your faithful, kindred heart. XO

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Why my husband is so cool

My husband is way cool. I couldn't be more proud. He is such an instrument of God, being both wise and honest. He is winsome and kind. Let me tell you what he did.

A friend of mine from work, PM, stopped me one day and asked if my husband would baptize their baby, if they were successful with adoption. I was flabbergasted that he would ask, let alone ask me. PM and I worked together 5 years ago. I hadn't always known what he thought of me, he liked to give me a rough time b/c I was religious, a "pastor's wife." Honestly, he made me a little nervous b/c he was a bit more aggressive than I was used to, speaking his mind ~ no nonsense. About 2 years ago I had seen PM carrying a little boy Izak's age. It was his foster son. He and G were in the process of adopting him. He'd been in their care (and hearts) since he was 2 weeks old. He was beautiful. Then I heard through the grapevine that something went wrong during the legal process, the biological father decided he did want parental rights after all, and took the little boy back. They lost their 18-month old little boy to the druggie sperm donor. As you can imagine, P and GM were devastated. For a man who already seemed cynical about spiritual things, this seemed like it would be the nail in the coffin. When I saw him a work he looked like hell, every inch of him suffering.

I was walking by the desk at work when he popped the question about Matt ("Father Matt"). Does your husband still work at that big church on McKinley? Does he baptize babies? Because they were going to be adopting soon, and they wanted to get that done as soon as possible. Once I scooped up my lower jaw I stammered, Yes, sure. I'm sure he would. And PM was so chipper, so hopeful. Almost like a different man... and then came the day that he called me at home. They had a baby boy, born one day before Libby! We swapped war stories and laughed together, and then he asked me to ask Father Matt if it would be okay to baptize their new son. I gave him Matt's office number, the name of his assistance, and told him to call Matt and set it up. I got off the phone so psyched! So I ran into the living room, and guess what Matt said. "I don't baptize babies, Heidi. You know that."

I begged and pleaded, I bargained and whined. Please, please, please!! You've gotta baptize PM's son! See, he's always been so skeptical of Christians, he's a disgruntled catholic, and been so wounded! And now he's reaching out, maybe for the first time! You've just gotta do this! Don't blow this!

Matt simply asked me to trust him. He understood the significance, but also knew better than to sell out his theology. He had P and GM come in and meet with him at church. (I was biting my nails the whole time, praying and fussing. A real woman of faith, you know.) They had a great visit. Matt was able to explain what he believes the Bible teaches about babies, their souls, salvation, and dedication. He set it up as, "You can always depend on me to be honest. So I want you to understand why I don't baptize babies." And P and GM completely resonated with his explanation. It was, in fact, freeing for them, answering many incongruities. Matt wasn't trying to sell the church, but did say that if they ever wanted to visit they were welcome. The day I walked out of the worship center and saw PM walking towards me was the day work world and church world collided. He saw me, smiled, walked up and kissed me on the cheek and said, "I didn't know that you could sing." What a sweet encounter. After they had a chance to think about the options that Matt presented, they called and asked him if he would come to their home and do a special prayer of blessing for their baby boy.

So that's where Matt was today. At their home with family, celebrating a beautiful little baby boy. They were pleased. And I'm just proud because my husband is so cool. God gave him incredible wisdom to serve my friends lovingly and with integrity. Oh Lord, for a faith that is honest and winsome!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Loving my neighbors

Got a call on Sunday from my neighbor, JB. When I answered the phone (which I rarely do on Sundays b/c of Family Day) she said softly, "I just wanted you to know that dad died Friday. We didn't want you to read it in the paper and not know about it." Sweet JB. We talked for a few more minutes, then she told me that dad's dog, Phantom, also died earlier in the week. Two losses, one week. Some saddness, some relief. Monday we stopped by during visiting hours at the church, it was a time of memorial, no body, so we took Izak. He was all practiced up to say, "Sorry." He refused to perform. Figures.

I'm struck by the difference from 5 years ago to now. When we first moved in I was not impressed by my neighbors. They were too loud, too messy, their dogs barked all day, pooped in my yard and tormented my dog. I was inconvenienced by them. The dog thing was like a constant alarm in my head, irritating me to death. They did have a problem controlling their dogs, we did make and log calls, they were always very pleasant and responsive to our requests to take the dogs in. One day we took them to court, after what seemed like the bazillionth time of their dog in our yard. Actually it happened during a big party. I had at least 15 kids under the age of 5, and Phantom came over to see what the good smellin' meat was on the grill. He was the most docile dog, menacingly huge, but a real whimp when Matt grabbed him by the back of the neck and dragged him home. I was mauled by a German Shepherd as a little girl. I couldn't have small kids endangered. We took them to court. The judge reemed Mr. B out and threatened to have his dogs destroyed if there was another complaint within a year. Things improved after that, dog-wise.

But I was uneasy. I know that scripture teaches that if we say we love Jesus, but we don't love our neighbors, we are not truly followers. It bugged me that I didn't like my neighbors at all, but I also didn't know them at all.

The guy that we bought our home from was a man from our church and he was terribly excited that his pastor was buying his house. So he took the liberty of telling all of our neighbors, up and down the road that we were the pastor and pastor's wife of his church. Great. One day I stopped by the little roadside fruit stand of our older farming neighbors to buy some herbs. There were some other elderly women there too. I was feeling rather out-going at the moment and introduced myself to the farmer's wife as her new neighbor down the street. All of the women stopped talking, and one piped up, "Oh, Mrs. Furr! It's nice to meet you! And how is the Reverend?" OMG. I almost died. So needless to say, it's been a little awkward getting to know folks without the religious weirdness.

So anyway, I knew my neighbors must have known that we were in the ministry, and here we were, sorta at war, definitely not neighborly at all. I felt God's hand in my back, first softly, then more firmly. I fussed about it for at least 4 or 5 months. I felt God wanted me to reach out to them, but I was embarrassed, stubborn, self-righteous. One day I shared it with my mom, and she said, "Just take over a plate of cookies." Yeah, but what would I say?! I had no idea how to even broach the subject. "Sorry we took you to court." "Sorry I'm so neurotic about your stupid dogs." "Hey, nice weather we're having!" Whatever. I was pregnant with Izak, maybe I could work that in. OK, here was the line, "If I call about the dogs a little more frequently in a few months it's because we're going to have a new baby."

I baked a plate of rhubarb custard cake, prayed, practiced my line, "If I call about the dogs..." and went over. I wouldn't blame them if they were pissed, gave me the cold shoulder, I hadn't been very nice for three years. I knocked on the door. The granddaughter answered the door, "Is your grandma here?" Before grandma came to the door, JB walked up. A young, single mom, my age or a little younger, on her heels was grandma, Mrs. B. I held out the plate of rhubarb, trying not to look nervous, but feeling really outnumbered. And before I could even open my mouth Mrs. B steped forward and grabbed me in a big, warm hug. I couldn't talk, tears were welling up in my eyes. So much that didn't even have to be said. I smiled, "I hope you like rhubarb." Oh, they squealed, we do, especially Dad! So I offered my line, we laughed, they rubbed my belly and we talked about pregnancy, morning sickness, and babies. We were suddenly old friends.

Since then we've had long talks over the fence, JB has shared beautifully and openly about her life, her dreams, her passions. Mrs. B has cheerfully waved as she's driven by the house. They bought a gorgeous figurine for us after Izaks birth, a Willow collection called "New Life." JB openly cried as I opened it, sharing her desire to have more children. We've shared rhubarb, herbal rememdies, graduation parties, family reunions.

I don't hear the dogs much anymore (actually I don't hear Phantom at all! ). I don't care if they're louder than we are, or different than we are. I just don't. I believe I am living in obedience to Christ. And that is such a peaceful thang. So tonight when I stood on the porch with a big bowl of soup I couldn't help but remember how much God has redeemed this relationship. I am so thankful.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A perfect evening

We had a really good day today. It was really a little crazy at the start, but ended so peacefully. This weekend Matthew was flat out at church, leading a big, huge missions weekend with some internationally heavy hitters, Clive and Ruth Calver. I was also on worship team last night and today. We had SO much fun as musicians, really rocked the house. We enjoyed working with a new drummer (Paul, the beat felt GREAT! Welcome!), did some edgy numbers, some tender pieces as well. The quality of the band was very high, and Foxy mixed it hot up in his nest. I was able to entrust the kids to some wonderful women while I led worship. Good music is like food to me. It is so completely satisfying.

Have I mentioned that Izak is picking up music? It's a little on the scary side. My Dwell (by Vineyard) CD was playing in the kitchen, he was listening so intensely, frozen, staring. And later that day he began to sing, the words, the rhythm, all correct. Spooky, but cool. It was so neat to go into his room and hear him singing a praise song. So all weekend he's been running around, "Not my will, but Yours be done. Come and change us. Not my will, but Yours be done. Come and save us. Dwell in the midst of us." Wow.

Matt came home after church and found me stretched out in the LazyBoy watching football. (Bills lost again, but New England beat the Jets. Yessss.) Libby and Izak were napping hard, so he was able to rest too. After we all crawled out of our sleeping holes (around 5p) we ordered our traditional Sunday dinner, Dominos chicken pizza. The evening was not too chilly, so we all bundled up and went for a walk as a fam. It was sweet. Izzy walked with Daddy, holding his hand. I had Libby in the Snuggli with her big, white fuzzy hat on. I think she looks like the Mad Hatter, Sue called her "the czarina". I had her buttoned inside my fleece jacket, her pink booties hung out the bottom. I also had Sailor on the leash. She was thrilled to be out for a walk again. The colors of the leaves were so pretty, An orange tree against a bold red tree, with a bright green tree alongside. My son singing praise songs, my daughter grinning contentedly. We cut throught the fields and woods on the way home, letting Sailor off her leash to run, Izak chasing along behind her, laughing.

Deep down inside me I felt like this scene was something I've longed for all my life. It was perfect.

Now, if the Red Sox would just win again tonight.. pure heaven.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Whispering in the dark

Matthew is running crazy this week. He has a huge mission weekend (we've been planning around this thing for months now), a few weddings, a ton of meetings. So I've been hunkered down at home with the babies. Nighttime routine done alone can be daunting with two little ones. Wanting to get everyone's bath done in a timely fashion, get the jammies and lotion and diapers on, stories read, songs sung, bottles administered. And then everyone off to bed.

Izak's language skills have completely turned on the last week or so. He's a singing, parroting jabberjaw. We call him the hootenanny, defined as one who celebrates loudly in public and invites others to join along. LOL So bedtime becomes a time for much song and shenannigans. Sometimes he'll be in there for an hour or more singing and chatting. But last night, after he'd been down for 1.5 hours I heard a very sad, scared little cry. As I went in, he popped up in his crib, whimpering. I don't know what happened, maybe he's getting a little scared of the dark, but I laid him back down and leaned in closely until our noses were almost touching in the dark. And then he said, "Baa baa basheep?" (Note: This is his universally favorite song and I am called upon to perfom it at least one hundred times a day.) So I began to whisper it to him, "Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?" And then he began to whisper it in unison with me, "Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full...". We whispered the whole song together, pushing away the boy's night fear, edging out the mommy's loneliness. At the end he would, in full voice, say, "Again? Again?" And then we would start again, whispering so closely that I could smell his breath and freshly shampooed hair and baby powdered belly. After, oh, say nineteen rounds I left him to fall asleep, tucking away these most tender memories in my heart.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


The house is so cozy, smells like homemade chicken soup. The babies are going on their third hour of naps, so I thought I'd try to write down a little something during my reprieve.

One of my favorite pastors, Rev. C.L. Adams from St. Paul in Marion,IN once said that God has 4 ways of answering our prayers ~ 1) yes, 2) no, 3) wait, and 4) you have got to be kidding!?! I wonder what God is thinking about some of the questions I have been putting to Him lately. I am puzzled by some of the answers I think I've seen unfold.

Here I am with two beautiful babies, who were, for the most part, nowhere on my life radar. I sit in my living room, breastfeeding, chasing, lugging around the two little bundles of flesh that came from my very body. My girlfriend sits in her living room, desperately wanting children, has miscarried four times, was diagnosed with breast cancer, had to remove her breast, is receiving chemo that makes her feel two seconds away from death, cannot use her left arm to carry or lug due to the changes after her surgery. The irony chokes me.

Why did God chose this as the answer for her? Granted, it may not be the ultimate answer, but why, when the prayers were for healing, was the answer "no"?

As I look at our financial situation I feel like there's so much that needs to be done with the extra paycheck (wa-hoo for extras now and then!). I feel unsure about what to do with it in order to make the most impact. If I just knew the future I would be able to dole it out better. If I just knew the future... and He says,"Wait. Do the best you can and wait."

I don't mean to exasperate God. Sometimes I withhold my heart from Him because I'm afraid that one of these times He's gonna absolutely fly off the handle and scream at me. And then I might feel very small. But consistently, whenever I've been totally honest, especially about the littlest things, I sense His pleasure. And I know He wants to answer me. Sometimes the answer is what I'm most afraid of.

I'm mentally overworked lately. Got a lot on my plate to figure. A lot of unknowns. Trying very hard to stay in the present and embrace the reality of each moment and not stress out about what's ahead. Searching desperately for answers, and gingerly putting one foot in front of the other. Don't get out too far in front of me, Lord. Don't leave me behind. And He says with a wry grin, Girl, you have GOT to be kidding."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Two years old today! Posted by Hello

A two year old boy

Today my Izak is two. Happy birthday, sweet one. Love, Mommy

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Home again

What a weekend! Let me start by saying that my back-up plan backfired in my face. LOL! I was able to get ahold of another antibiotic for Izak to treat his ear infection (cefzil) without calling my doc. Ahem. Well, after his second dose I noticed this strange rash all over his trunk... can you say drug allergy?!? So Friday morning I had to call my doctor back and tell them that I'd been a bad girl, using my conniving nursing powers for evil, not for good, begged forgiveness, and had to buy a second dose of Zithromycin. Daddy, me, and mint-chip ice cream helped get it down the boy without much incidence whatsoever. So everybody had drugs on board and this was good.

Flew to Chicago to spend some time with friends Saturday morning. This was a test of the tensile strength of my marriage. Typically I struggle to be easy-breezy with my babies when it comes to getting them out of their routine and surroundings. But the trip was booked and there was no backing out, even if they did have ear infections. My tendency would be to make Matthew pay for the stress I was undergoing on behalf of my children. I was only mildly grouchy with him as we were shuttling towards the airport. Getting through security was hard. Had to unload the kids from the double stroller and car seat, put everything through x-ray, and reload. Fortunately we got to use a short line for strollers and wheelchairs. No wait. It was groovy. The kids did great, minimal fussing. Dad did a fantastic job keeping the toddler amused (betcha didn't know he could change the toddler standing up in the little airplane toitey!). Both ways we were able to arrive at destination around naptime.

I struggle with flexibility. Have my routine. Like it. Keep it. Husband loves adventure, change, spontaneity. I try to accommodate him. But can I just say that after four days of adventuring, I'm ready to begin traveling in my usual orbit. I don't know if there's a correlation, but it makes me think about teachability ~ am I teachable? I had always thought I was open-minded, but then someone gave me a great tool by which to assess the reality. It's a simple question. "When's the last time you changed you mind about something?" If you haven't changed your mind, your position on something or someone, then chances are you're not teachable. And that is very unbecoming.

Lord, keep me soft and moldable. Teach me that real change is a gift from you. Change my mind, shift my routine, and draw me in closer to where you are.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Staring at Panic

So we were up all night. 12:30A TO 5:00A. That's pretty much all night in my book. Matt came home at 11:30p from his board meeting up in the city, I was just drifting off, the babies were asleep... and then all hell broke loose. Libby woke with a need to feed and then I heard Izzy starting to sob. He was running a big fever after his afternoon nap, I knew he needed to get to the doctor's today, was just trying to buy some time with Tylenol. After I got Lib down I took him a loaded bottle of milk with more Tylenol, he was burning up. I just kept thinking, "Hang in a few more hours, Buddy." He drank the bottle (good), was quiet for a few minutes(good), but then I heard this funny sound (bad) and a few minutes later he started to sob again (really bad). I opened the door and could smell the vomit, which covered his bedding and jammies and head and hands... ewwww. Thank God I'm not pregnant because that would've been the end. I got Matt up to just help hold the boy while I stripped him and rushed Blankie to the washer for an emergency washing at 1:30A. Got more Tylenol in him, Matt was able to not joing the chuck wagon even though the boy stunk. Good. Got Blankie at least clean (and quite damp), got Izzy back to bed and he was quiet. Good, very good. Then Libby started up. It was seamless really, fine coordination between the two. I pulled her, knowing she didn't need to eat, but with all the rucous she was bright-eyed, smiling, charming. Bad. And then she melted. Very, very, very bad. It was far worse than her former colic days. She screamed until I thought she'd come out of her skin, or die trying, for 2 hours. Two hours! Thankfully Matt was functioning really well and he hugged and snuggled his girl for part of the time, and I tried for the remaining periods. At 5A everything was finally quiet, I collapsed on the couch, Matt was cashed in the bed (Poor guy has to speak tonight). I was just glad that I didn't see the sun start to rise. It always makes me cry when I've been up all night and the sun rises, it feels sooo hopeless. At 7:30A Libby was chirping in the other room, smiling, cooing (where did that other baby go?!?), so I rolled out the family and we headed to the doctor's office at 8:30A. Ear infections for everybody, antibiotics all around.

I thought that would be the end of my crisis. Well... I've gone and done something really, really stupid. I took Izak's one-time dose of Zithromycin and mixed it in his bottle, which he generally drinks without a problem. Well, no go. He refused, took it and threw it out of his crib. So I thought, I'll just dillute the dose into two bottles, one before the nap and one after. Still NO GO. Now I'm thinking I've gone a wasted time and money. I need to get these babies healthy by Saturday b/c we're going to Chicago to visit some friends, flying and everything! Auuuugh!!! So I'm in a panic. I'm working on getting him another dose, it may cost me another $25 and, worst of all, another 24 hours. I should've just hog-tied him and forced it down, a maneuver that I'm getting pretty good at. But sleep deprivation clouded my judgement and I blinked! !*@#$%^!!! I SCREWED UP! If there are any prayer people out there, please, please pray for my back-up plan.

On top of it all I'm preoccupied with several HUGE issues, some of which are my girlfriend's breast cancer (lymph nodes were positive after all) and upcoming chemo, our best friend's dad went in for gallstones two days ago and they found a mass on his kidney, looks to be cancer, my other girlfriend's struggling marriage. Some not-so-huge issues- my babies are sick, one won't take his meds, I have to pack and run errands to get ready for the trip, try to find time to eat and sleep, haven't balanced my checkbook in a week, can't remember if I paid the hospital bill, need to call people about Izak's birthday party before it's too late, and the list spirals on. Overwhelmed at the moment. Staring panic down eyeball-to-eyeball. Feeling a little forgotten by God, that somehow I must have slipped off His radar. This all seems much harder than it should be.

Yet I continue to find solace in His word. Lat night I sat down and wrote out the verse that has become so meaningful to me, again and again.

"Can a mother forget a baby at her breast, and have no compassion for the child she has borne? Thought she may forget, I will never forget you. See? I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are ever before me." Is. 49:15, 16

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bradley girls Posted by Hello

My Bradley Posse

Two years ago, when Matt and I were preparing for childbirth, we took a Bradley Childbirth class with 6 other couples. Bradley believes (in a nutshell) that healthy moms make health babies (good prenatal education re:diet and exercise), birthing babies without pain medication, augmentation, or episiotomies,and emphasizes the importance of the father's involvement as a coach during pregnancy and labor. We had 10 weeks of classes, every Monday night from 7-9 p.m.. We had the greatest Bradley class ever. So much so, that we're all still in touch except for one couple who moved to California. The classes were very fun (also informative, thank you, Brigitte. :) ) It was really hard to try to relax and focus like we were in labor when we were all giggling about some smart-aleck comment made by one or the other. We shared our birth stories with one another as they happened, blow by blow, and acted as a base of encouragement during the early months with a newborn. Now we e-mail or call, get together occasionally for Mom's night out and play group. I absolutely love my Bradley girls. I think one reason is that I feel more free to be myself and not the pastor's wife. I met these friends in a context other than a 2,000 member church, other than me singing on a stage, other than me being "Matt's wife." (Most people fall in love with my amazing husband before they ever meet me. I think that's a natural thing in the ministry. Not bad, just typical. The more paranoid side of me is pretty sure that there are those who tolerate me just because I'm Matt's wife. But that's only when I'm being paranoid... stop looking at me!)

We are all different. Artsy, international, analytical, scientific, musical. We had very different birth experiences. We all practiced different kinds of early parenting. We have different "favorites" when it comes to authors and websites. And all this without judgement or criticism of one another. This group taught me that diversity is good, there's no one way that's right or wrong. They have taught me the value of listening and learning to ask good questions. They've given me a broader base of reference for my parenting quandries, sometimes I ask, sometimes I watch and see what they're doing. It's just a very safe place for me.

So Aud, Lor, Priti, Anne, and Elana, thank you for being a special part of my life.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Cloth diapers

Now here's a real mommy issue! Cloth diapers vs. disposables. Quite a few of my friends know that I use cloth with my kids, not 100% of the time but a good majority. I was first turned on to the idea by a great friend of mine, Diann. They were at our house one afternoon, it came time to change the toddler and Diann whipped out this adorable thing she called a cloth diaper! It was a print All-In-One by Bumkin, for all you CD (cloth diaper) fans. She held it up to me and laughed, "Isn't this just the cutest?!" From then on I was curious about it. Why cloth? Why that style? How much money? How much work? I wasn't even pregnant at the time, but I began to turn the thought over in my mind. I don't necessarily do things just to counter the culture... it's got to be pretty practical in my book if I'm going to deviate. I haven't been captured totally by the "Save the Planet" argument, I don't buy the scare tactic that there's some conspiracy between disposables and higher cancer rates... I just love the feel of cloth on my babies, and it saves me a lot of money. I think that their skin looks better in cloth than in disposables. I love washing them, hanging them to dry, stacking them. It's a type of hobby for me. I did prefolds with Libby, the big square white diaper that you fold, pin and cover... two dozen diaper, six vinyl cover pants and four diaper pins=$30. This has managed her first four months beautifully. For months 4 thru ???? (Izak's still going at 24 months) I have a beautiful collection of All-In-Ones (AIO's) by Bumkin. They are layers and layers of cottony flannel covered by a colorful waterproof shell. For added absorption I throw a hemp doubler inside (looks like a giant cotton maxipad) and a biodegradable, flushable liner (looks like a giant kleenex) to catch the solid mess. I get 3-4 hours out of a diaper with Libby, and 4-5 with Izak before it needs changing. I have 20-sz.M for LIbby and 16-sz.L for Izak. I wash diaper approximately twice a week; I line dry my AIO's b/c of their waterproof covers and machine dry the doublers. The AIO's cost about $13/each. Most I received as shower gifts and Christmas presents, some I bought new and some I won on eBay. At night I do use disposable Night Diapers.

I have a handful of friends that use cloth, and others that would if they could. I'm not a purist, but I feel like there's something old-fashioned about cloth diapers. It's a little like what I wrote about when I discussed natural childbirth as it relates to making me feel connected to history (see blog from July 3, 2004). It's my own unique contribution to my style of mothering. And it's not that much extra work. In my future life (LOL) I hope to someday teach Bradley Childbirth (Natural method) classes, and I hope to be able to throw a few unconventional ideas out there, like cloth diapering, prefolds, AIO's - just to let people hear a new thought. I never feel like I have to convince anyone to use cloth. It's not my place. But I was influenced by a good friend taking to time to share her experiences with me. It's fun, I enjoy CDing, and will really cherish this memory as a part of our baby years.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

New Family

While I was at my mom's I had a chance to meet new family. My grandpa's half brother, Wayne (78-ish) and his new wife, Maxine, made a special two hour trip to come and see the babies. I was really taken aback by that - two hours to meet us? What a wonderful visit. They're two of the sweetest people ever. Uncle Wayne is a retired train engineer, a big man with white tussled hair, plaid shirt and red suspenders curving around his big, jolly belly (not too big, Uncle Wayne...). Aunt Maxine is a sweet woman with reddish hair and thin rimmed glasses. She has a smile that warms you up like a good cup of coffee, and a look of rapt attention when you talk, like she simply cannot imagine what wonderful, exciting thing you will say next. To be honest I was a little nervous to meet them, a little shy I guess, but within ten minutes it was just as mom said, " you've known them all your life...". I believe Uncle Wayne and I meet many years ago, once, but I wouldn't have known him if I'd fallen over him. What a neat couple. They were both widowed and found each other at their 50-year class reunion. They've been married 7 years now.

As we were all sitting in the living room I found myself doing something rather strange. I kept saying, "Uncle Wayne (blah blah blah)" or "Aunt Maxine (yadda yadda yadda)." It's like I couldn't help but refer to them using their family titles. I thought, I've only known these people for ten minutes. This is so strange! And I would catch myself looking at Uncle Wayne thinking, Part of this man's blood also runs in me, and in my children! We are family. It was profound for me because I come from a relatively small family. My dad's an only child, my mom's one of 3 girls but I only really knew my Aunt Esther, Uncle Laverne, and their two kids. Two cousins. That's all I related to growing up. But here, right before me was a lovely man with part of my DNA in him. And because he was so kind it made it all the better.

I have spent the vast majority of my twenties and thirties looking at the people in my family, carefully maneuvering around, and diagnosing the qualities that I would like or hate to acquire. I do believe that we're a product of our family lines, good or bad, sometimes both. But the best part is that I believe that God redeems the tragedy that runs in our blood. I'm referring to the generational sins, the habits and patterns that ruthlessly repeat themselves with each new family line. Because my family reads my blog I won't go into our particular saga, but I'm sure you can identify. The question is am I free, or getting free, of the ruts of my family line? Each generation has the chance to find liberation, a chance to re-write the future, and with God it is always an entirely new volume with a great new ending.

The kids and I are all fighting colds, allergies plus something else. Daddy is snot-free at the moment. Little boogers are a big problem when you're as old as Libby and your airway is the size of a pin, so I'll be on breathing duty tonight. Maybe someday, 20 years from now I'll get to sleep through the night again....

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I was at my mom's for the last week - did you miss me? We loaded up the minivan after church and headed west, made it through customs without much trouble (twice) and pulled into my childhood driveway at about 7:30 that night. My folks were thrilled. My grandma was also pleased. She's 96, fading but still pleasant. She was enjoying Libby so much, having their little conversations, and then she'd look up and say, "Now you just need to have a boy." And then I'd remind her about Izak, and she'd say, "That's right...".

Traveling with two under two is a lot of work (let's hear it for the understatement of the week!). It was great to have Mom by my side, although with a fragile 96 year-old mother-in-law under her roof and a 36 year-old handicapped daughter, she had her hands full too. By the end of the day I wasn't worth much; hence the break in my blog.

A wise woman once told me that it takes as many days as you were gone to re-enter into your life once you get home. Today is day 5 and I feel like I'm beginning to see straight again. I have so much to share with you all, so stay tuned.

Friday, September 17, 2004

You're a stay at home mom when....

You know you're a stay at home mom (SAHM) when you don't know what the date is, you're not sure what day of the week it is, you don't wear a watch... but, without looking at a clock, you know EXACTLY what time it is.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Libby and Grandma, hand-made dedication gown Posted by Hello

Babies, brokenness, and sugar

Sunday I was in the fellowship mall at church, listening to an acquaintance of mine vent about troubles he's experiencing with his son and DIL and new grandbaby. My heart was really quite taken with his plight, and as a lull came in the conversation (one that feels like, "Okay, now I've told you all this... say something, please.") I said, "Babies bring out our brokenness." Of course I was choking back tears, I think he'd already cried most of his. And later I thought, now where did that come from??!?

But I think there's some truth in it. Life is balanced, polished, under control... then along comes a baby and it throws everything off kilter. And the dark parts of a person that were carefully governed are now hanging out. For me I think I struggled with the sudden lack of control, inability to make it better for all parties (Dad, Izzy, Libby) all the time, another unknown future to worry about. And that brokenness is only ministered to, really ministered to by the hand of God. He alone is totally aware of my image management, the parts of me that are (at a minimum) not very pastor's wife-like, the thoughts that cut and curse, the words that do not flow out of the better places of my spirit, the selfishness that lashes out. So chalk it up to sleep deprivation, hormones, noise level, whatever... I really think that for a period of time babies bring out brokenness. The question then is what to do with it...

On the lighter side, Wednesday night was my night on the town. Well, not really the town, but I did get to escape to rehearse with the band. :) I have this little ritual that I do on my way to rehearsal. Since I can't have caffeine or chocolate (Thank you, Libby) I stop and get a roll of Shockers, this wicked tart candy, and I eat the whole roll. Makes me drool just to think about it. Anyway, last night I bought myself two rolls! By the end of the night I definitely had a left-over sugar high going on! Matt said I was talking rather loudly! Hahahaha! Mmmmm, sugar good.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Libby at two months, having a grand time Posted by Hello

Cathedral singing

Saturday I had the opportunity to solo for a catholic wedding at a catherdral in downtown Buffalo. St. Louis' RC Church is the oldest catholic church in Buffalo, est. in the 1800's. They've recently spent a boatload of money to rennovate it, and it is breathtaking. (I almost wrote breast-taking ~ you can tell I'm a nursing mom! LOL) There is NO carpet in the place, so you can imagine what the acoustics were like... LIVE is an understatement! I was accompanied by the humongous pipe organ. Amazing. I was able to harken back to my classical side, using overtones and straighter sounds to really bounce the notes around. All of the years I had of french horn training and college chorale really taught me how to find the center of a tone, which was a definite plus when I was going for the purest, cleanest sound I could pull off. It was sooooo much fun!

People are very kind when I sing at church. One man said, "When you sing it's like the heavens opened up and the angels came down." Singing in that vast, grand space on Saturday, perched up in the choir loft out of sight beside the massive pipes, and listening to the echo of pure, pure tones... can I be honest? For once I actually felt like an angel singing.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Izak Matthew, Super Toddler! Posted by Hello

You're the mother of a toddler when...

You know you're the mother of a toddler when you have chili on the back of your t-shirt, spaghetti in your hair, and you didn't even have the pleasure of eating it yourself.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A tiny house

Well, we're recovering from my sister and bro-in-law's visit. Izzy was out-of-his-little-mind excited to have them here! He was jazzed every single minute to have a new audience to play to. Visitors add a bit of extra mass to our little home since it's a small, adorable Civil War era cottage. We have two little bedrooms, one little bathroom, and a total of three little closets (b/c who needs closets during the Civil War? You only have two dresses!). We never thought we'd have kids when we bought our house. Boy, talk about growing pains. Liberty naps in our room during the day, and sleeps in the sunroom in a PackNPlay during the night; she's still a little too fussy at times to expect them to sleep together yet. But I feel that time coming, perhaps with a little more intrepidation since there's really no other choice long-term. Our cottage was originally built by the sleigh maker here in Water Valley. It also served as a temporary one-room school house when the other had been burned down and was being rebuilt. Our hardwood floors are made from the trees on the land. We enjoy a beautiful 2-acre backyard that has picture perfect sunsets in the summer. You can see two chimneys on the roof ~ one to our current fireplace, and the other that went to the fireplace that used to be in the kitchen (b/c that's where and how you cook your meals pre-appliances...). The detached garage was still set up as the stable that it was when we bought it. Matt took down the stalls so we could attempt to park in it; I might be successful with the minivan if it weren't for those stinkin' mirrors! There are apple trees, wild tart cherry trees, and a pear tree. I love my home and it's historic past... but it's feeling so small. Having a small home makes you evaluate everything you bring home. It prevents you from being too much of a pack rat, it keeps the volume of toys, appliances, groceries to a minimum. In short, it keeps things more simple for me by controlling the amount of stuff that invades my life. Doesn't mean I don't want more stuff... it just makes it impossible for me to indulge that desire.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Two sick kids

Talk about exhausting. My kids are sick simultaneously. Monday night Izak cried out, Matt went to check on him and I heard him sneeze... 4 times in a row. This, despite the fact that he had his daily Zestryl dose on board. And I knew immediately he was getting sick. Tuesday he was a bleary eyed, congested, Booger King. I started the familiar regime of Cold and Allergy elixir in each bottle, on top of the Zestryl, and 24 hours later I could tell we were winning! He was sick, but it wouldn't go to his ears. Then Thursday Libby started sneezing, and I thought, "Uh oh." I also feel punky, right side of my head is all clogged up, but since I'm breastfeeding I can't take a thing. Especially a decongestant b/c that will dry up the breastmilk. Last night Lib started to run a lo-grade temp. Dr. Rob said it was ok to give Tylenol and itty-bitty doses of cold and allergy around the clock. She was all ready for bed at 7p, Izak had retired at 6:30p because he napped poorly with the cold, only 2 hours, so Matt and I went out on a date. Our friend Laura stayed at the house. When we got home at 9:45p Libby had just finished up another 4 ounces of formula, pooped for the 3rd time that day, and was fussing in her crib. No temp, but all jittery from the meds. A temp of 101 or greater in a baby less than 3 months old means they have to go to the ER where the battery of tests included a spinal tap, IV, lab draws, and mandatory admission. So I need to remember that no temp is about the best we can do here.

I slept with her in bed (Dad on the couch), had her propped up on a wedge, and ran the humidifier. It felt like the Amazon, but she did okay once she got down. Woke to feed at 4:30a, struggled to get back to sleep, and then went until 9:15a. Today, less boogers, but she's only napping an hour at a time. Nursing every two hours. It's brutal. And Big Brother blew his nap again due to coughing. It's too hot here to be out so we've been playing in a little tent that I set up in the living room. We're all bored and counting the minutes until Daddy comes home!!!!Let's just say I'm beat from not having any downtime. And tomorrow I get to go to work and then do worship team in the evening and early Sunday morning. Kill me now...

My little sister and her husband are coming up from PA to stay a long weekend with us.

Today my thoughts are often of the hostage situation in Russia. It makes me really sick.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Breast Cancer

My girlfriend had a mastectomy today for breast CA. She's 35. I can't imagine being told that the pain you felt (and reported) for over a year, the mass that you felt on the underside of your breast was CA. The day she told me I was dropping off some fresh herbs from my garden (because who has the time to cook with fresh basil when you're chasing a toodler and a newborn?!?!). And she said, "I have some bad news. I have breast cancer." You could have knocked me over with a feather. Since I work at a cancer institute I was an instant team member in her new battle. I spoke with the docs, relayed information about intractable nausea, history, etc, called my co-workers in the recovery room and gave them a heads up. And I prayed. For what, I'm not exactly sure, but I thought about, and prayed about her for weeks.

I was praying for her in the middle of last night when I was breastfeeding, asking God for any amount of miracle that He would see fit to pass her way. I've thought several times about the special people I've known with CA. It dawned on me that I haven't known any of them before their diagnosis, only after, so the experiences, the changes and failing that I went through with them was not unexpected. This woman has only been healthy since I've known her ~ what would happen if I were to have to go through the deep waters with her? What if she was terminal? How would I feel about my calling then? I believe that I'm called to work with the dying and the suffering, but there's a safety in it when you minister to the one in the bed in the ICU, not an established friend on the outside who was blind-sided by CA. And for the first time in a long time, I felt my limits and I was afraid.

I ran up to see her once I thought she'd be out of surgery. She was in her room; I was her first visitor. She looked fantastic. She felt good ~ and her lymph nodes were negative! When she said that I threw my hand over my mouth and cried! All I could think was,"Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you." And then she grinned and said, "Hey, we can do Tamoxifen, right? No problem." And I was thinking, Friend, if radiation and chemo are all we have to go through, then you're right. No problem!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Us Posted by Hello

My Husband

I remember the summer I became "okay" with the idea that I may never marry. I'd dated a few guys, pretty much losers on a spectrum of bad to worse. I was usually hurt when we broke up, but deep within I knew it was better than the alternative ~ staying with a loser. My mom has this great saying ~ "There's only one thing worse than being alone for the rest of your life..." and then she looks at you. Yes, the one thing worse is being with the wrong guy. I was convinced that God didn't have anyone out there who could complete me. And that summer I was okay with that.

Then I went back to college for my junior year, and this great guy (a man I'd admired from a distance for a long time) became a really good friend of mine under very natural circumstances. We spent many, many evenings playing racquetball and talking, joking, sharing... and gosh, he was really cute... but I was ok being single. It wasn't working though, all my self-talk. I really was nuts about him, but in a very healthy sort of way, and if anything, I really loved our friendship. Then came the night he asked me to go for a walk on a frosty Indiana November evening. I thought, "Uh-oh. Here it comes. He's either going to tell me he's gay, or he wants to date my little sister (who was quite popular on campus). The ol' 'sister in Christ' bit." But he wow-ed me when he, very diplomatically of course, asked if a woman like me would consider dating a guy like him. Those were almost his exact words. So careful. I responded by tucking my mouth down into my winter jacket so he couldn't see my expression. I was grinning from ear to ear thinking, "I've got him! I've really got him!" But the reality was, he had me. And to this day he still does.

I decided when I married that I would be my husband's biggest fan--that I would defend and protect our relationship with fierceness and passion. Not because he's mine to control or "have," but because he is the most precious of possessions to me. And I decided I would adore him, not in a PollyAnna sort of way , one that winks at weakness and panders to insecurities, but in a way that believes and communicates, "You are a great man. God has created you for big things, and I am privileged to be your helper." Marriage to Matt isn't full of rainbows and butterflies; we do have those moments. But when you're walking in the presence of a man with whom you know God speaks and leads, you are secure. I may not know what the details of tomorrow are, but I am confident in my husband's love. I may not know the plan for our life, but I am steadied because the captain of the ship is a great man of faith and skill. One of the best parts about Matt is that he's constantly working to improve our marriage. I tell him what I need, and I get it. I need more presents. *poof* I need more foot rubs. *poof* I need more of your attention at home. *poof* He is always willing to grow. Having a husband like him fortifies me and allows me to become that which God is calling me to. And when God speaks to the Church in His Word in terms of marriage,and being her Husband, I am able to think, "Yes, our God must be like my Matthew."

Husband, I love you deeply. You are a fantastic friend, father, and lover. I rejoice as the one that God chose to complete you.