Monday, November 28, 2011

A magical walk

On Friday night, the kids and I went with Grandpa to a Luminary Walk.  We were actually supposed to go with my brother, but he ended up having to work at the last minute.

Thanks, Jim, for the tickets.  I can't believe we'd never even heard of this place before!  It was really quite amazing.

The weather - perfect.

The paths through the park wind around ponds, lakes, and streams, and out into the woods and back.  All of the paths are lit with luminaries.  Thousands of hand-lit luminaries?  There were carolers and instrumentalists, and fires and warm cider throughout the walk.  It really was quite magical.


And Santa was there.  He was meeting with kids from 6-8pm.

Here's the stark contrast between my children.  At the ripe old age of 3 years and 5 weeks, Zach took one look at a mall Santa and looked back at us and said, "That's just a guy in a costume, right?"  He has never believed in Santa.

Luke ... on the other hand ... heard that Santa was meeting with kids in the visitor's center and said, "WHAT?!?!  SANTA IS HERE?!?!  REALLY?  SANTA?  WHERE????"

I explained that kids were waiting in line to talk to him, but that we could walk up near the front of the line and just look at him.  It was already 6:05, so I figured he'd already have a child on his lap.  However, he wasn't there yet...  We came back about 15 minutes later.  The line was longer, and the same people were still waiting at the front of the line - looking more displeased by the second.  We'd decided that catching a glimpse of Santa just wasn't in the cards, so we headed on out to our car.

Look who we passed on the way?

Both of the boys gave cheery high-fives ... so excited, that it didn't even occur to Luke to tell him what he wanted for Christmas.

The whole evening was perfect. Awesome weather, beautiful lights, well behaved kids, Christmas carols ... and, as much as we keep the Santa hype to a minimum, it was delightful to see Luke get so excited over seeing this man in the beautiful red suit with the flowing white beard.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving tradition

As we approached our first holiday season as husband and wife in 2002, Bryan and I began talking (at the last minute of course) about what our family traditions would look like.  We settled on putting our tree up on Thanksgiving evening while snacking on leftovers; however, there were two issues.  One - Thanksgiving was the next day.  Two - We had no tree or decorations.

So, Wednesday night we headed out to pick up the necessities.  We stopped in at Lowe's first to look at trees.  We liked one a lot, but decided to look at Target first before buying.  Target had ornaments that we liked, but not a tree that we loved.  So...   We headed back over to Lowe's.

But, there was a problem - Lowe's had just closed.

But my husband, now fully committed to this tradition that we dreamed up two hours prior, wasn't to be deterred.  He spotted an employee in the window and knocked until he got their attention.  Through the window he pleaded, "Can we come in PLEASE?  For just a minute.  We just need one thing.  This is a Thanksgiving emergency."

I still giggle at our Thanksgiving emergency.  Christmas tree shopping!

The nice guy let us in and we bought our tree and were out in a matter of minutes.  Then we headed back over to Target to buy our ornaments, but found that the ones we wanted were on display, with very few remaining on the shelf.  And we were told we couldn't undress the trees to buy the ornaments ... even though they were individual ornaments and each had a price tag on it.  So, each time the worker looked away, we'd sneak what we wanted off the tree!

The birth of our Thanksgiving tradition is always funny and wonderful to look back on.  My husband loves me so much that our tradition was an emergency

For the first time in ten years together, Bryan worked on Thanksgiving this year.  We changed up our tradition a little by putting the tree up on Wednesday ... and dining on smoked ham, candied sweet potatoes, twice baked potato casserole, and sweet potato rolls.  Regarding the menu, our kids put it best - we love the potatoes and pig around here!

We had another blessed Thanksgiving this year.  We put our tree up on Wednesday, then went to my mother-in-law's for Thanksgiving lunch, turned on our outdoor lights, took our first light drive of the season, and had Bryan's father over Thanksgiving evening.  God is so abundantly good and generous.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A suitcase full of nurf guns

This is so awesome. I can't help but laugh out loud. Where did he come up with this stuff?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More on prayer (could also read Moron Prayer)

A few years ago I was invited to be a part of a prayer team for a nationwide woman's ministry.  Explaining that I was no where near a "prayer warrior" I agreed to pray for and correspond with women who wrote in with wounds specific to childhood abuse or sexual trauma.  About a year later, I sent an embarrassing email saying that I just stunk at praying for their needs, and perhaps they shouldn't count on me to ever become a "prayer warrior".  Shortly after, I stopped receiving specific needs, but to this day, I remain on a general list of prayer requests.  They were so gracious.  They didn't just drop me like a bad habit ... but, if I'm being honest, I secretly wished they had so I wouldn't feel guilty over being terrible at prayer.

Through Bible study this fall, the issue of my prayer life moved to the front burner.  I passed a note to a woman in our group, asking that she join me in praying that my prayer life would be set on fire.  And it has been!  I have found myself walking through my days praying constantly, fervently, with depth and faith, and with personal needs and desires.

I have long been a thankful prayer; however, I have never been one to ask for much.  I've often wound up saying "I pray that what you want happens and that I'll be at peace with it".  My seasons of praying little had been prompted by this idea that "God knows what's on my mind and in my heart.  He knows what I desire and what He plans, so my prayers really won't affect anything other than my attitude, and I'm already okay with God being the boss so I'll just let it play out..."

But it's recently hit me that He really wants me to ask Him.  It's not enough for God to just know what I'm thinking and wanting - He wants me to ask Him.  And I needn't be ashamed or embarrassed, guilted into believing that asking for things is selfish.

So...  I was feeling unsure of how I fit in in a certain environment, so I asked God to allow specific conversations to happen - so I'd know where I stood.  I fought the urge to chastise myself for being needy and insecure, relying on the acceptance of people rather than just "being filled up by God and God alone."  I prayed that I would be affirmed by a specific person, and I was!  Right away.  First it was very casual, and I prayed that He would really draw us together and give us hearts for and vulnerability with one another.  Immediately, we were led to meaningful conversations that both of us really needed to have.  I praise God for moving this person towards me, prompting our discussions.  It could not have happened in reverse; and what seemed an improbability turned out to happen very easily and naturally.

God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want, but I do believe He is eager to pour out blessings on us and give us fulfillment beyond anything we can imagine.  But maybe we don't get all of what He wants to give us if we don't ask for it.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."  Matthew 7:7-8

"I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need."  Luke 11:8

Prayer is so simple ... yet, for me, it has not be a natural or easy concept.  I'm so glad to have such a patient and generous Heavenly Father who puts up with my slow learning curve.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bathtime bliss

On the rare occasion that we slow down long enough for Luke to take a bath, it's like heaven on earth for him.  Normally, it's a rushed shower.  Often with his brother in there - taking up space, hogging the water, bickering over who's freezing or who's fault it is that water is all over the floor.

But, Zach showered this Luke has the freedom to bathe on his own tonight.

He's swimming as I type.  Dunking his head.  Using plastic restaurant kids cups to pour water (because I recently threw away the cutesy stacking cups from the "baby days").  Liberally applying way too much soap as he washes each toe individually.  Giving himself a mohawk.  Diving for sunken treasure.  He probably has some green army guys in there too.

As I watch him play in the tub, I wonder why we don't slow down more often.  Childhood passes too quickly.  I'm going to try to plan bath time better - allowing for lazy days in the tub as often as possible.

I could benefit from a lazy soak myself!


And I never want to forget...  Zach was responsible for helping Luke get the tub ready.  He picked the right water temperature, laid the bath mat out for him, plugged the tub, even fetched the toys Luke wanted.  He stopped by one last time to check on him before settling into a TV show.  On his way down the stairs, he was beaming as he said, "I sure like helping Luke.  It's fun!"

I will remember that tomorrow when he protests, "Why do I have to do everything?"

I love being their mom.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween fun

Pumpkin patch with the Cobin family


2nd grade party

The boys' first walk-thru haunted house...complete with scary guy chasing you out of the backyard with a chainsaw!  We had to come home and watch a little Noggin to clear our heads before bed.


Painted pumpkins


Trick-or-treating with Carol and Caleb