Dear David

I am so happy that you are here with me! I love to hold you and cuddle you and you are just precious to me. I wondered how a mother could love more that one child, but now it’s so obvious to me! You are a joy to have around and have been such a wonderful experience for us! I am excited to watch you grow and find out who you will turn out to be. I pray that you will love Jesus, like your namesake David in the Bible. He didn’t care what other people thought of him, he just loved God! He danced in the streets and made a fool of himself because he loved the Lord so much. I love to look at David and see his troubled heart be soothed by contemplating the love of the Lord. What an amazing lesson, and one I hope you will treasure in your heart as well. I also pray for your purity, both of mind and body, because I know how hard it is for a man in the society that we live in today.

You are also named after your grandfathers and your daddy, all good men who love the Lord and their families. All have such good work ethics and the desire to take care of the ones they love. I pray that you will take after their examples and be a good man, husband, and father someday.

And finally, David means beloved, just like Amy, so you are also named after me. You are already our beloved, but first you were God’s beloved. I love to think of God calling me his beloved and knowing me and yet still loving me so much. It is the same with you. He loves you because you are his beautiful creation. And I love you, too, not because of who you are yet, although I’m sure that will come, but because you are a part of me. Nothing you can ever do will stop me from loving you like that.

Love,

Your Mommy

Loving God

In working my way through the Bible in one year, as part of my resolutions, I'm currently working through Ezekiel and Psalms. An interesting combination, and not one originally designed by the plan I am reading. To be honest, I got behind in reading Isaiah and Jeremiah, so I skipped ahead and read through the minor prophets, which consequently led me to Psalms. So now in an effort to catch up, I'm working through Ezekiel as well.

I've always been fascinated by Psalms, because there aren't many people in the Bible to be called a man after God's own heart, like David was. David loved God without restraint, even in the hard times, even when it might be embarrassing (his wife, Michal, hated his singing and dancing and praising God in the streets, but David didn't care! He had to let it out! 2 Samuel 6:16). But you know what else is interesting about David? He didn't have the New Testament, all he knew was the God of the Old Testament.

Yes, I know, He is the same God. But so often we take the qualities of Jesus and reflect on those as to why we love God. He is gentle, kind, loving, accepting of any kind of people, even if he rebuked their sinfulness. The God we see in the Old Testament is fierce, just, angry and full of wrath. How can we harmonize these two pictures?

Well, David did. He was able to see God's loving traits even through the sometimes terrifying picture we have in the Old Testament. And he loved God for every aspect of who He was, not just the parts that are easy.

Reading Ezekiel has put me face-to-face with this terrifying God. The visions that Ezekiel sees are enough to make anyone feel weak in the knees! His body is made of fire, for goodness sake! (Ezekiel 8:2)

But David says that God is our Fortress, He is our Refuge (Psalms 59:16). David is helping me understand how to love the terrifying God, as well as the merciful and loving God. The God that scares me so much is ON MY SIDE! I can run and hide behind his strength and power, and he will protect me, comfort me, and give me peace.

I feel very inadequate at trying to explain what I'm learning here. So I'll go to CS Lewis for a different analogy. In his Narnia series, Jesus is portrayed by a lion, about whom Mr. Beaver says, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe! But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

This God, who is all powerful and fearsome, is also good and loving, and on my side. Like David says, "In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalms 56:11) I should never fear.

So it must have been Providence that led me to read Ezekiel and Psalms at the same time, and not just my laziness at reading certain, more difficult, books! I'm learning to love God for all of who He is, and in doing so, I am able to trust Him more.

What I've Learned from Audrey: A Work in Progress

I started writing a post entitled "What I've Learned from Audrey" and had so many points listed out, I thought instead that it could be a series, of which this is the second. When I first started writing that post, I'll be honest, it was just to get one done in the month of May. But it really caused me to start thinking about the past two years, all I've learned, and how much I've changed through motherhood. And once in a while, a little introspection is probably a good thing. One of the scariest things about motherhood is the burden that we carry to pass on every lesson that we've learned the hard way and the knowledge of the impossibility of the task and the fact that our children will probably have to learn their own lessons the hard way, anyway! But I know in this short time that I do have with my daughter, I can make a (hopefully!) positive impact on her life.

I have to be so careful about what I say, or even how I perceive myself, because whether I want her to or not, Audrey will emulate me, especially in her youth. I want her to be confident, to love Jesus, to be compassionate and forgiving, among so many other things. Because of that, I have to be those things as well.

Even at two years old, I already see trying to be like me. Sometimes it's wonderful, like when she hugs me tightly and says, "I love you sooo much!" which is exactly what I say to her. Sometimes it's just in her expressions or silliness. But I know the time is coming when I'll recognize in her something that's not good in me.

I guess, in her own way, Audrey is teaching me to live the way I should have been living all along. By pursuing Jesus, by being healthier, by being kind, by prioritizing my time. It's still a struggle, but now I not only see the results in my own life, but in her's as well. So this burden that I carry is pushing me to improve myself and be the best mother I can be.

I feel the need to quote Frasier here:

F: "I meant burden in it's nicest sense!" F's dad: "As in, 'gee, what a lovely burden!'??"

This is indeed a "lovely burden".

Related: What I've Learned from Audrey: Love

30 Days of Thanks: Day 20

Today I'm so thankful for God's provision over my life. Today I almost hit a deer while I was driving on one of our windy, wooded, back roads. I've never had to swerve to miss hitting a deer before, and it was quite traumatic. I realized if there had been an oncoming car, or if I hadn't been paying attention, things could have been a lot different. So I am thankful we are safe (my daughter was in the car with me!), and I'm thankful That my life is in God's hands. I'm so thankful that He takes care of me.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 13

OK, I've decided to stop "cheating" and just skip a few days. It doesn't mean I wasn't thankful on those days though! But I guess I was less intentional about it. I probably should have done this on Twitter just to start with, but I like the chance to write not only what I'm thankful for, but why. Today I am thankful for texting. Now, before you dismiss this as silliness, let me explain my reasons. First of all, in the busyness of life, sometimes it's hard to keep up with your precious old friends. But it's so easy to write a text and just let them know you are thinking of them, or ask them how they are. Or even remind them of an old inside joke. I send those a lot, and I love to receive them!

Secondly, I have a failing when it comes to meeting new people. I don't come across as friendly. I get nervous. I trip over my words. It takes a while for me to get to know someone, so in the meantime, I can text them! I can plan exactly what I want to say and not worry about not being able to find the right word. It can really be helpful for me as a way to build new relationships.

So yes, today I'm thankful for texting as a means of continuing and building friendships. And even though it's embarrassing to admit this, I can't be the only one because otherwise, why has texting become so popular?

30 Days of Thanks: Days 5-8

Ok, so this is cheating a bit, but even though I didn't write the actual post, I was thinking about what I was thankful for on each day, which I will now record. Day 5: I'm thankful for my cozy, little home. Day 6: I'm thankful that my parents live nearby and that Audrey will have them in her life. Day 7: I'm thankful for the changing seasons that keep life interesting, and the snow that makes everything seem so pure and beautiful. Day 8: I'm thankful for new friends.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 4

Tonight I'm thankful for books on tape. I grew up watching my grandmother listening/falling asleep to books on tape and wondered why she enjoyed them so much. But in the past year, I've really started to understand. Not only is it so fun and almost comforting to be read to, it's also a great way to multitask! Have you ever tried to multitask while reading? Almost impossible! But with books on tape, I can do anything else at the same time: exercising, chores, crocheting, playing games on ipad, or even writing blog posts! I feel like I'm getting a lot of reading done, despite not having a chance to pick up a book recently! So that makes me really thankful.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 3

Today we got our power back! This past week after Hurricane Sandy was not fun, so I'm definitely thankful to have our power back (and to all the people who are working tirelessly to get it all fixed)! But instead of making that my topic, I'd instead like to be thankful for many of the things we DID have this past week: A place to stay during and after the storm Safety for my family A wood burning fire place A gas grill Good fellowship with my parents An ipad for Audrey to watch movies at night A warm bed with tons of blankets

I'm sure I could go on and on, despite my complaining of no power, but these posts are supposed to be short!

30 Days of Thanks: Day 2

Today I'm thankful for a husband who loves me. He works so hard to not only provide for his family, but to buy us fun gifts! Today, my new ipad mini arrived that Ryan had used his own gift card to buy me, and woke up at 3am to place the order! And this is my first post using it!

30 Days of Thanks: Day 1

Since today is November 1, I've decided to try to post a new thankful post every day (not an original idea, but one I liked enough to steal). Today, I'm thankful for language. That may sound a little bit weird, but I am a blogger, right? But, more importantly, my daughter used her first few sentences today, and one of them was "Mommy, I love you." Only it was way cuter than that because love came out "Wuv" and my heart completely melted. I am so thankful that she is learning to use language to get her thoughts, needs, and feelings across. Wouldn't it be so frustrating not to be able to do that?

So that's what I'm thankful for today.

I can't stand frogs who speak English.

I've been watching a lot of Curious George recently. I don't mean that as a complaint, because it is a cute show, and certainly better than a lot of children's shows! But in watching it, I've realized that I am now officially a grown up. It all started a few years ago when I read The Wind in the Willows and hated it (read my reasons why here). That should have been my first clue! I had such issues with a frog who could pass for a cleaning woman and animals that could apparently speak English. These are not issues that would bother a child!

When I was young, I lived in another world. I had pretend friends (yes, that's plural), a pretend unicorn (I guess I don't need the word "pretend" there), and like I said, a pretend world (called "Magic Land"). It was located on the rings of Saturn and I would ride my unicorn around them all day! (I also had two older brothers, Peter and Bobby, who interestingly looked a lot like their namesakes on The Brady Bunch.)

And what language do you think my unicorn spoke? English!

Now I watch Curious George and I wonder, how do all these people not realize their waiter is a monkey? Why is that restaurant reviewer not bothered by the monkey making her soup? Aren't there health code violations here?

But Audrey just giggles and makes monkey sounds.

So here I am, a boring, old, grown-up. Apparently, I can't find the magic in life any more.* But on the other hand, I have a beautiful, little daughter who is just discovering that monkeys can make soup and frogs can speak English, so maybe I can pretend with her a little while longer.

*Maybe this isn't really true, given that my favorite genre is fantasy fiction! Why don't I have a problem with worlds that are inhabited by hobbits, elves, wizards, and all sorts of other magical creatures, but it really bothers me when frogs dress up as cleaning women to escape prison???

What I've Learned from Audrey: Love

I started writing a post entitled "What I've Learned from Audrey" and had so many points listed out, I thought instead that it could be a series, of which this is the first. When I first started writing that post, I'll be honest, it was just to get one done in the month of May. But it really caused me to start thinking about the past 15 months, all I've learned, and how much I've changed through motherhood. And once in a while, a little introspection is probably a good thing. Before becoming a mother, I can't say I really knew love. Yes, I love my husband, my parents, my friends and family. But the love a mother (or father, but I can't attest to that personally) feels for her child is the most intense, fierce, gentle, terrifying, wonderful thing I've ever known.

Even though I don't have as much time as I'd like to spend in quiet meditation, I'm learning more than I ever did about God's love for me. How could he possibly love me more than I love Audrey? How could he love Audrey more than I love her? But He does, and that makes me love Him all the more.

Anyone who even compliments Audrey in some small way endears themselves to me. How much more someone who loves her more fiercely, gently, sacrificially than I do?

Love is also terrifying. I read somewhere that being a parent is like wearing your heart on the outside of your body. You are intensely vulnerable. Even when Audrey just pushes me away in favor of someone else, my heart breaks a little. What will happen when she leaves me for good? Or even worse, what if something ever happened to her?

Love opens a whole new door to fears, but it also reminds me of the hope that I have. This life isn't it for us who believe. We will all meet again in heaven, and my heart clings to that.

Every day I pray for Audrey's faith. I want her to have that hope, too. I want her to love Jesus more than anything. That has become my deepest desire.

Motherhood has led me on such a journey: one of faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13). So thank you, my sweet Audrey, for teaching me so much about it.

 

Counting to One Hundred

Every day I spend some time teaching Audrey in various ways. I'm teaching her the alphabet, the States, Bible verses, and her numbers. Yes, I know, she's only one, so I'm not sure she's really getting any of it. But I know she will someday. Right now it's mostly a way for me to spend time with her and play a little make-believe (I'm the teacher, she's the unruly student!). As I sing through numbers one through ten with her, I'm reminded of the very first time I was able to count to one hundred. It was such an exciting moment for me, and not as hard as I had previously thought it would be. So, just to extend my appreciation to the person who taught me how, I thought I'd write him a thank you note:

Dear Random Man on Chair Lift,

I've spend a lot of time thinking about you recently, like, why were you and I sharing a chair lift together? Why did my parents let me ride up with a stranger? Why were we sharing a four-person ski lift when there were just two of us? What made us start counting to a hundred in the first place? Were you bored out of your mind, or did you think it was funny?

I guess I'll never get answers to those questions, but I do know I have you to thank for counting to one hundred. Who knows, I may never have been able to do it without you! Your careful guidance through the tens, teens, twenties, and so on, made a distinct impression on my young life. I'm so glad you were there to share my joy at such a great accomplishment.

So thank you again, random guy on a chair lift. I hope you remember it as fondly as I do. And thank you, as well, for not being a pervert.

Sincerely,

Amy

He probably will never see that thank you note, but I feel better just sending it out into cyberspace.

So now, I will continue teaching Audrey and passing on that fount of knowledge passed on to me from that random guy. Hopefully her memories of the great one hundred will be just as sweet.

Hot Blog Posts of 2011!

One of my annual resolutions is to write at least one blog post per month, but last year I resolved to not just "phone it in" with them, and may I say, I think I succeeded. So here's the list of my favorites from 2011: Audrey's Birth Story - Since we are coming up on a year already, I just wanted to take a minute to remember everything that happened on that amazing day! OK, you may not want to reread it, so this is just for me.

Fuzz or Bug? - Nothing much, just kinda funny.

My Life Verse - I'm not proud of all my posts, but I am proud of this one.

Our Senses - Ditto.

My Things-To-Do List - This turned into a much bigger deal than I intended! In fact, believe it or not, I have been planning a book based on this post.

Randomness... - I would not have included this one, except that it got the most feedback of any of my posts, probably ever!

Balancing Mary and Martha - This is a post that I should read every so often, just to remind me of what's important.

Staring at the Sky - Ditto.

 

Related Posts: Hot Blog Posts of 2010! Hot Blog Posts of 20o9!

Staring at the Sky

A few nights ago, while I was taking Hugo out, I noticed how bright it was outside and glanced up in the sky. It was an enormous full moon, or at least it seemed larger than usual to me. I was awestruck by how clear it was, even as the clouds raced past its surface. It made me feel small and insignificant, and made me realize how huge and majestic the Creator of all of it is. I stared for a while longer before I remembered my purpose in coming out and lowered my eyes to look for Hugo. That's when I noticed the Christmas lights and decorations at our neighbor's house across the street and it really hit me again what this Season is all about. It's about the enormous becoming small.

It's about the Creator visiting his Creation.

It's about giving up living among the stars, in order to live under them.

It's about looking at the majesty and vastness of the universe then looking at the Christmas lights on a small house.

Our God, who is above the sky, who can hold the whole Earth in his hand, who was there before there was, came down to us out of love. What a beautiful story! How can we not be swept up by it this time of year? How extraordinary that we can be a part of it! How sad is it that some people don't know about it.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father

Philippians 2:5-11 (The Message)

Balancing Mary and Martha

My life since college has been Martha. I take pride in how my house looks for guests and the nice meals that I serve them. I like to put special touches on everything I do to let the houseguest know they are important to me. I prepare ahead of time, and much of the time they are here, to make sure they have a pleasant stay. If I had a sister like Mary, I think I would feel resentful of her, thinking "Doesn't she think I want to just sit around with our guest, too? But someone has to put the meal on the table!" (If you're unfamiliar to the story to which I refer, read it here.) Now suddenly have this amazing little person in my life (Pardon the comparison to Jesus, I certainly don't mean to be blasphemous!), who needs nearly constant attention. She changes every day by developing new skills, continually enthralling me. I love to sit with her and watch what new thing she can do. I take pictures like crazy so I never forget what it feels like in that particular moment. I just want to be Mary and the Martha in me gets thrown out the window.

Unfortunately, along with the Martha in me, a clean house, clean clothes, healthy, home-cooked meals all get thrown out the window as well. A part of me says, "Well, it's OK because a baby does need nearly constant care!" It's good to spend so much time with her, investing in our relationship and in her life. But then I have to remind myself that it's also OK to let her have some alone play time in her jumper, her playpen, or watching a little Baby Einstein!

So now my life is a balancing act between Mary and Martha, and I haven't quite mastered it. (And sometimes I want to be neither and just flounce in front of the TV and rest! And that's OK, too.) But I will continue to try.

Scariest Moments

With Halloween fast approaching, and today being a dreary, maybe even spooky, day, I have been remembering those times in my life when I've been so "eeeek" scared. (I say "eeeek" scared because, as we all know, there's different kinds of scared, just like there's different types of fears. There's the "what's that weird looking mole on my leg?" type of scared, and then there's the "eeeek" kind of scared.) It doesn't happen often, because I don't like to watch scary movies, and thankfully, that kind of scared doesn't happen very often in real life! So here are the few moments that come to mind. Years ago, when I was babysitting in a home with a large picture window facing the woods, I received a phone call while the little girl was watching TV. "I can see you," a deep voice said. "I'm watching you." I hung up immediately and calmly called the child to come to me and get away from the window, but inside I was frantic! Was someone really out that window watching us? Would they try to get in? I called my parents immediately and before I could tell them what happened, they told me a friend of mine had just called and they gave had given him my phone number there.  So we figured out it was just the friend playing a "joke". And what a horrible joke it was! Obviously, it scared me to death!

Once, when we were in India, we were staying in a "guest house", which was a main floor apartment. It wasn't completely decorated, but there were enough furnishings to get by on for a little while. The curtains were very simple, but there was still a lot of space around the edges that you could see out (and in). One night, Ryan and I were drifting to sleep, and I glanced towards the window, and there was a dark shape outside. When my eyes were finally able to focus, I realized it was a man staring in at us! I shouted out, and must have scared the man away, because he left before Ryan had a chance to see him. But from that moment on, we draped sheets over the edges of the curtains while we were staying there!

So that's two "eeeek" scary moments. There are a couple more, and I might share them, I might not. For now, I'm curious about your scary moments! What better time to relive them than on a cloudy, dreary, October day?

Introducing Audrey to October

Having been born in February, Audrey has never met October before, so today I took the opportunity to introduce her to my favorite month. We stood outside and I explained that whooshing sound was the drying leaves scattering in the cooler breeze. I explained the clouds in the sky gave the month a feeling of mystery and suspense. The cooler weather makes you want to bundle up in warm blankets in a cozy house. I also told her about the coming holidays that October always alludes to and heightens my sense of anticipation. She's never experienced Thanksgiving or Christmas, the two best holidays of the year. When you are with the people you love most in the world, when daddy gets over a week off work, when you decorate the house with beautiful lights and ornaments, when you open presents and feel that rush of excitement upon receiving one, and giving one, when we celebrate the most Wonderful Present of all time. She doesn't understand it all right now, but it makes me even more excited about things to come. My favorite month always brings that anticipation, and that's why I love it so much. And having a child to share it with this year makes it exponentially better.

Randomness. Don't even read it. It's not worth your time.

OK, I admit it. It's September 28 and I'm only posting today because I haven't posted since August 2 (and that one was pretty light on content). So I apologize in advance for a post that's written without a topic in mind. Plus, Audrey is upstairs waking up from her nap, so there isn't even much time to write, which I guess is fine because I don't have anything to write about! My resolutions have all been met except for one, and that one I've given up on. I've surpassed my number of books because I have become addicted to the Wheel of Time series. In fact, as I told Ryan the other day, I like them better than Harry Potter and LOTR combined, and that is saying something! I'm almost done with book six, and am excited that I still have seven more to go! I'm hoping to finish them all before the final book comes out next year. I find that my favorite parts are when "nothing" is happening. One of the reasons I love the books so much is exactly the reason I see so many people complaining about them: that they drag on and on and not much happens. I love that.

The resolution I've given up on is the Couch-2-5k program. It's practically impossible with a baby in the house! We don't have a jogging stroller, and it's too hot to run outside anyway. The treadmill is in our buggy basement, and apparently it is so loud when I run on it that I wake up Audrey from her naps! So I've started just walking outside, or using our Wii (which can give a surprisingly good workout!).

I read an article yesterday about how the most prevalent lie in our culture is that parents tell their children they don't have a favorite child. I was able to talk to my mom about it because as it happens, I'm the favorite. She says that parents love all their children the same, but may relate to one better than the others. I can see how that would be the case, but it also makes me worry about having another child. How could I possibly love another baby as much as I love Audrey?

I have switched from the two spaces between sentences to the one space. I'm not sure what made me change. I know that's how Ryan does it, and he insists it's more correct. I think I just got too lazy to put in that extra space all the time.

My things-to-do list continues to evolve. I have split my daily list into two lists: "Musts for everyday" and "Musts for days I'm home". There are just some things I cannot get done on days when I'm away from home. But there are some things I have to do everyday. It seems to be working well for me. I have also split my general list into two lists: "Things to do soon" and "Things to do eventually". The eventually list I hardly ever look at, but I still want to remember should be done.

On my list of things-to-do is a list of blog post ideas that I've been meaning to write. Some of them I want to do, but know in order to do them right, they will take a lot of time. We'll see if I ever get to them. I hope so. I had another great idea for a blog post, but never wrote it down, so I can't remember what it was! It will probably never get written now, which makes me sad. It would have been amazing. In fact, let's pretend I wrote that one instead of this one and you have been sufficiently amazed and fulfilled by reading that post.

It was as good as I said it would be, right?

Our Senses

There is nothing I like better than a delicious chocolate dessert paired with a good cappuccino.  Clearly I have always loved chocolate, but I don't think I could even fully appreciate it before I started to like coffee!  The bitter coffee taste is so complimentary to the sweet chocolate, and vice versa.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it! The other day, when partaking in the aforementioned duo, I mentioned to my husband, "Wasn't God good to give us the coffee and chocolate beans?  And have them work together to be so heavenly on our tongue?"  OK, I don't think I said it quite that nicely, probably because I was too busy chowing down!  But he got the point.

That got me thinking about our sense of taste and what a gift it is from God.  Food certainly didn't need to taste good to give us sustenance.  There didn't need to be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different flavors for us to enjoy.  And on top of that, He made it so we can appreciate different combinations of those flavors, like my chocolate and coffee!

And it doesn't end there:  Every time I look at my daughter's face when she's fallen asleep in my arms, every time I see the trees swaying lightly against the blue sky, every time I hear the rain falling outside or a beautiful piece of music that gives me goosebumps, every time my husband holds me in his arms, every time I smell a pine tree and think of Christmas, these moments are gifts from God.  Our senses could have simply been given to be purely utilitarian.  But instead, God chose to give us countless ways to make them come alive!

In no way is this an original concept, but I'm not sure you can truly grasp what I'm saying until you've had a moment where you realize what you are experiencing is one of God's gifts to you in this life.  And my moment recently was simply sipping a cappuccino and tasting some sweet chocolate.