Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Turning Back

This morning, the boys and I did day 3 of our Easter devotional. We have this neat piece of fabric that hangs on our wall with a cross stitched to it. It has eight buttons on it, and each day we hang a fabric egg on one of the buttons. Each of the eggs is a different color, and there are little things sewn on each of them. Today's egg had the Passover cup on it and our devotion was about the Passover and the significance of what God did for His people during that time. We talked about the covering of the lamb's blood on the door frames of their houses and that a perfect, spotless lamb had to be chosen to sacrifice in order for God to protect their homes.

We discussed how that applies to us today....how Jesus is our perfect, spotless lamb, sacrificed because of our sins, and how God's protection rests upon us if we call ourselves children of God.

Cody asked Caden if he had asked Jesus to be his Savior, but Caden said he wasn't quite ready to do that yet. (Cody's been asking him this question since he was three.) I emphasized the importance of it being his decision and that we didn't want him to do it to make us happy; rather we want him to do it to please the heart of God. Caden said he wanted to wait and pray with Daddy when he got home.

Well, the events of the day took over and I hadn't really thought much of it until I was putting the boys to bed. Daddy has a seemingly never ending bathroom remodeling project underway, and I really didn't want to bother him, but then Caden said, "Mommy, I really want Daddy to come pray with me."

When Jerry came up to pray with us, Caden announced that he was ready to ask Jesus to be his Savior. Daddy led Caden in the sinner's prayer and when they were finished, Caden said, "That made me feel like I was at Monkey Joe's!" (If you remember, this is where he had his 4th birthday party, and I'm sure you'd hear him say it was his most favorite day EVER of his entire four year-old life.) But I know what he meant. He felt so happy inside.

I couldn't help myself. I burst out into song (because that's what I often do) and we all sang (well, I sang) "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus....no turning back....no turning back..."

My sweet Caden, welcome to the family of Believers. No turning back, sweet boy. No turning back.

"Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. ~Matthew 19:14

Friday, March 26, 2010

10 Years: March 26, 2000

Recently, in honor of our tenth wedding anniversary, my sweet husband asked me to complete a very special assignment: Write a memory from each of the ten years we've been married. Now, you have to know that I don't have a very good memory and I really thought this would be difficult. But when I sat down and began to write, the memories came flooding back quickly and easily. (So did the tears.)

And so, I invite you to join me on this journey back through the decade as we celebrate what God has done. The following are short excerpts from each of the years. I hope you enjoy sharing this look back.

To GOD alone be all the glory!

"But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." ~Psalm 33:11

2000: Our wedding day. I will never forget looking up into your sweet, beautiful eyes as we read our vows, hearing your voice catch with emotion and the swell of happiness inside of me as we were finally, after eight years, pronounced husband and wife. It was official!
"Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." ~Ruth 1:16-17

2001: Cody's birth. Remember how we just kept looking down at him, marveling at how perfectly beautiful he was? It was simply one of the most wonderful moments of my life. We were parents! You are a phenomenal father and our boys are so blessed to call you "Daddy." Your support and dedication to fatherhood were evident from the beginning. Thank you for getting up with me at all hours of the night, changing diapers, keeping me going when I was exhausted, staying home when I needed you and praying every day for us.
"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him." ~Psalm 127:3

2002: This year was filled with seemingly endless feedings and diapers, and to be truthful, I don't remember very much. I do remember loving my new role as mommy. This year was a challenging one for me personally as I was a relatively new wife working through the details of being a new mom, taking care of our home, running a business and just trying to keep up with it all. I learned a lot that year and I'm really thankful for the lessons learned!
"So they are no longer two but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate." ~Matthew 19:6

2003: Buying our first home. We had a toddler in the house, my studio out of the house, and a crazy neighbor across the hall. But we had each other and a place to call our own. We had many lessons to learn that year about finances and prayerfully making decisions before just jumping into them, and I'm thankful for the lessons learned.
"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain." ~Psalm 127:1

2004: Moving (again) and ministry begins at a new church. This was also the year we vacationed in Branson with Cody. It was so beautiful and we had so much fun as a family. Remember hiking through that national park in the Ozarks and all the turtles we saw sunbathing? Cody was so excited to take a boat ride and enjoyed seeing all the fish and turtles there. We had such fun on that vacation.
"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" ~Psalm 8:1

2005: In God's perfect plan, we conceived Caden. This was also our final reunion in Omaha with Poppop. I remember talking to Aunt Sass about our future plans for more babies. Little did I know I was already pregnant! I'm so thankful God blessed us with another baby boy. I am equally as grateful that we had such a special time with Poppop that year and that you were able to be a part of it. I'm so glad he got to see our family grow in those first years and that we were able to spend as much time with him as we did. My one and only regret is that he never got to meet Caden after he was born, but I am glad he knew we'd had another boy!
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

2006: Caden is born, Glen and Poppop go home. This was a very difficult year for the entire family, filled with many ups and downs. You were an amazing support to all of us, and I know you felt the losses as much as we did. The addition of a difficult labor and delivery thrown in there (as well as a colicky baby and difficult post-partum) made this year altogether challenging, but you were there to support me every step of the way. Remember the day you came home to all three of us crying? Caden was screaming in his crib because I was trying to get him to nap for the umpteenth time that day, Cody had fallen and hurt himself and I was sitting on the stairs crying while listening to my babies cry! I remember you saying, "I have no idea who needs me more right now!" Thank you for your endless love and support and for always being there and choosing your family first. I can't imagine walking this life without you!
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." ~Psalm 34:18

2007: In May of this year, we planted a pin oak tree in our back yard on the anniversary of Poppop's passing. I remember you praying over that tree, that it would take root and that it would stand strong. I do not take for granted the godly husband you are and the ways you encourage me in my walk with Christ. May ours be a marriage that stands strong, just like that beautiful tree!
"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." ~Psalm 1:3

2008: Homeschooling begins. I am so thankful that you and I are in agreement about the decision to teach our kids at home and for your daily prayers for us. Thank you for regularly affirming this decision and for walking beside me on this journey. Thank you for working so hard to keep me home with them. I know you don't have an easy job. I know your days are long and that you have some that leave you feeling completely emptied out and sometimes unappreciated. WE are thankful for all you do.
"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many." ~Deuteronomy 11:18-21

2009: Spring break spent in Gatlinburg. What a glorious time we had there as a family. I loved every single moment...hiking in the national park, reading "Little House in the Big Woods" while SITTING in the middle of a forest and relaxing around a blazing fire in our cabin, mini golfing on a mountain, driving through the mountains and hoping for a bear sighting, hearing you exclaim in wonder, "The heavens declare the glory of the Lord. The earth displays its majesty!" (I'll never forget that.)
"May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works; he who looks at the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke." ~Psalm 104:31-32

2010: This year's story is still being written, but I know that whatever God has in store, we'll walk through it together. Thank you for marrying me. I am so incredibly thankful for the day God brought you into my life 18 years ago. Words don't seem to adequately express my gratitude to you for all you have done and for all that you are. God has been so very good to us and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you. Here's to many, many more years ahead. The best is yet to come...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Monkeying Around

Yesterday was the big birthday celebration with a couple of Caden's preschool friends. He chose to go to Monkey Joe's. If you aren't familiar with this place, it's a big room with lots of inflatable bouncy houses. It's hard to keep track of the kids in there because the inflatables are huge, but they keep the kids pretty well enclosed and put someone at the door to minimize any "runaways." (I was a bit concerned about this and was thankful all of the moms stayed with their kids.) Here is the birthday boy:
My friend Diane made the cake. We had a little boy with peanut allergies and I was thankful she was willing to make this beautiful cake for us. (Not to mention it tasted WAY better than the grocery story bakery!)
The birthday boy with his cake in his big inflatable birthday chair:
Two of the kids were not exactly thrilled with Monkey Joe. Caden was one of them. As you can tell from the picture, he moved as far away from Monkey Joe as he possibly could. Later, he wouldn't even LOOK at him! He was relieved to be done with that part of the party and get back to bouncing.
And finally, you can tell that this place isn't just for kids. I must have gone down that slide five times...
....and I am so glad I did.

Happy 4th birthday, Caden!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Happy Birthday, Caden!

Dear Caden,

Today you turn 4. I still can't believe how many details I remember about your birth. You have always had a "warrior" kind of a spirit (which is what Caden means) and I admire your strength and your sweetness. You have such a good mix of the two!

You are soooooo funny. You keep us in stitches most of the time with your antics, yet you have a very serious side too. You love your family and adore your brother. I love hearing you two playing together, especially when you're laughing (no one laughs more with you than Cody!).

The other night I was rocking you when you awakened from a bad dream. As I cuddled you and rocked you, I reminded you how much Jesus loves you and you softly replied, "I know He loves me, Mama." I pray that your love for Jesus grows and grows to overflowing.

Sometimes I look at you and can scarcely believe that you, my baby, have gotten to be such a big boy. Your little hands, your sweet voice, and your adorable face are etched on my memory and will forever be remembered in my heart.

Happy 4th birthday, sweet Caden. MY cup overflows.