Tuesday, October 25, 2011

834.  first fire

835.  the girl who surprises me with these

836.  finding someone to work Christmas for me {!!!!!}

837.  Fair Day

838.  Jeff’s fair skills

839.  his smile

840.  how the Lord spoke here ten years ago {our altar picture}

841.  seeing Raj and Colleen follow the calling the Lord has placed on their lives, challenging me in every way

842.  B’s baseball games with happy endings

843.  Maria’s mochas at Panera

844.  time with friends that love Jeff and me

845.  loud, happy kid sounds outside in the night

846.  getting to do this with friends

847.  getting caramel icing right in just one batch

848.  birthday excitement from him

849.  that we’ve had EIGHT birthdays with him~ thank You.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Brighton’s Birthday Letter 2011: Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago, just 24 hours before your birth, I didn’t even have your crib put together.  You didn’t even have a room.  It was still your Daddy’s office. I knew about you, but I wasn’t thinking I’d get to meet you for another three or four weeks.  Then, I didn’t realize you’d fill my days with surprises and keep me guessing daily.  When we got the call that you were on your way, we dropped everything~ even Julia, into the care of a friend.

Eight years ago, I was a nervous wreck getting to be a helper during your birth.  Then, I didn’t realize getting to be an integral part of your entry into this world would truly be the most awesome event I have ever experienced.  Eight years ago, I had no words at 1:45 in the morning.  Nothing~nothing~ prepares a person for that.  God’s ways often leave us speechless.  And I was.  Then, I had no idea how many times God would use you to leave me without words.

Eight years ago, we anticipated a baby boy and as your Daddy likes to say, “You were just a little peanut.”  Your 5lb 5oz little self stole my heart in an instant and then, I had no way of knowing you’d do that at least twice a week.

Eight years ago, we only had a girl and we’d only had her for twenty one months.  From the beginning, I found you different, even in the way you settled in my arms.  Then, I had no idea you’d want to be in them even more than she did.

You’ve been stomping out your own path since those first seconds I saw you, needing a little special attention even before I could cut the cord.   You’ve hit milestones in your own sweet time, being sure not to conform to what any of us expected.  These may have been the only times in your life you weren’t in a hurry.  Even though you’ve stuck close to your sister all these years, you’ve always had strong opinions about what the two of you would do.  You make up your own instructions to Lego creations, you find people that no one is talking with, you make up your own music and you’ve even been known to question the math solution manual.  That trail you blaze can be a blessing or it can create parenting challenges.  You keep us on our toes~ or maybe on our knees.

It’s a store- in motion- with lots of things to sell.

That path your cutting narrowed considerably this year on January 16th when you put your trust in Christ Jesus.  I’ll always remember the struggle of the afternoon and the way you thought it through with paper and pencil.  Your words about a “bandit” was fitting and convicting.  Without Christ, we are all bandits.  That day, you became a follower of Jesus and our brother in Christ.  Now, the four of us are “working out our salvation” together.  We are all learning together that narrow path we all chose leads to the glorious freedom of wide open spaces where the “boundaries have fallen for [us] in pleasant places”.

Besides your making the most significant decision in your life, the other thing I will remember about this year is how you’ve moved towards your Daddy.  He must be one of your first thoughts when you wake up because you ask, quite often, “Is Daddy still here?”  Your desire to be with him and to identify with him has grown, as it should. Almost more than anything else, it thrills me to see the two of you together and enjoying each other.  The more time you spend with your Daddy, the better off you will be.  I promise.

This is also the year your bed got a bit more crowded.  Your love for all the furry animals with you grew exponentially.  You’ve always preferred to have things in the bed with you but this year is a marker for sure.  I still don’t know how you sleep in that tiny space.

You are growing up.  I found you asleep on Julia’s window seat the other night and I couldn’t help but notice how long you’ve become~ your feet, your frame, your fingers.  It’s all happened faster than I tried to prepare myself for.  You’ve matured as a student this year, grasping concepts quicker than last year and able to work diligently for longer periods of time.  You have matured as a teammate and player, following your coaches and Daddy’s suggestions on how to improve your skills.  Your piano skills are increasing and even though reading music isn’t your most favorite thing to do, you can do it.  You “ear play” a whole concert of songs now and I love to hear you note by note figuring them out. I have a feeling that one day you will fill this house with wonderful music.

Your little tongue hasn’t slowed down a bit.  You keep me grinning, sometimes outwardly and sometimes to myself.   I cannot keep record of all your “Brighton-isms”, but here is a collection for when I had the brain power to remember and write them down somewhere.  The words you put together speak volumes of your unique personality.

On Sonic drinks left in the car-- “Mom!!  My coke doesn’t taste bad!  God is SO good to me.”

On memories-  “You mean the birthday I smushed cake in my face?  The one I got Brighton bear?  The one I just sat in that high chair?”

On word forms - “amazed-er”

On money- “Spend it.”

Meet Happy Jack

On grades- “I’ve made even worser grades than that.”

On hard physical labor- “I was just getting a snack for me and my friend and we were going to talk.”

On notes from teachers- “She doesn’t really mean that, “You’re the best”.  Her kids and grandkids are the best to her.”

On school- “Julia, it’s not the list that is helping our school year go better, it’s us.  We were BAD last year.”

On body parts- “You know, Mom, knees are really useful things.”

On home-- “I love this place.”

On Frosted Mini Wheats in snack drawer--“Oh, I love these!   These are WONDERFUL!!”

On excitement- “My legs are just trembling. I look down and they are not moving.  They just have excitement inside of them!!"

On me- “I love seeing your face.”, “You’re just a teddy bear.” and “Mom, I loved you even before I met you.”

On any given day- “What are we going to do that’s fun today?”

On talking to God-- “Never tell God He is a loser.  He doesn’t like that.”

On chocolate- “I’m a big fan.”

On adoption- “God put me in her tummy but He knew I’d be your kid.”

On making CD’s- “Can you fire me a CD with Star Wars music?”

On my cooking- “Mom, you get all the instructions on food right!”

On life span- “We don’t live long, do we?  It’s good to live to 70 and some people get to keep going.”

On racing- “I wasn’t racing.  I was just running.”

On why you don’t want to lose permanent teeth- “Because God only made 2 packs of teeth.”

On Indian saris- “I bet it was made in China.”

On Jeff- “Where’s Daddy?”, “What time will Daddy be home?”

On vomiting- ““Mom, I am thankful for all the things you have ever done for me.  This is a very serious time.”

On having a stuffy nose- “I woke up with this at 5am and now it’s 9:13pm.  Still the same.”

On the Great Depression- “Mom, remind me what fell again?  You know, crashed on top of all those people?”

On crying- “Look, Dad I’m happy and I’m not crying.  I just about started to cry but I gave up on it.”

And that is just a few.....  As I have said before, when you are awake, there is no shifting of my brain into neutral.

There is one sentence you spoke to me this year that I cannot forget~ for your sake or for mine.  Who puts these thoughts into your mind?  When do you think about such things?

With arms around me, “I can’t be strong, brave, or courageous without the love of my Momma.”

Something had happened with the boys playing in the cul de sac and we were talking about bravery and courage at my desk.  I reminded you of how many times in your life you’d face situations that would require bravery from you and how, only with the Spirit’s help, would you ever be able to deliver.  And that is when you said it.  I know my role is changing with you. Eight years ago, my role was simple.  Then, I had no idea how much it would change and how it will continue to change drastically over the coming years.  I don’t like change, even normal change, right change, healthy change but I promise not to forget what you said and I will do my part, joyfully and wholeheartedly.

Eight years ago.  I loved you then, I love you now.

Goodbye Seven!  Hello Eight!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

All That Time

One afternoon last week, the kids and I sat down to read.  We were in between chapter books so I had chosen two wordy picture books I had gotten from the ~glorious~ library.  Henry Aaron’s Dream and Mary and Her Little Lamb.  Yes, one book from Mars, the other from Venus~ or something like that.  After educating B on the great Hank Aaron, we all got the news flash that Mary and her little lamb really existed!  The nursery rhyme is actually a true story.  My preschool teachers were holding out on me.  {Will Moses is the author and illustrator~ delightfully Americana in every way.}  The extra text of Mary’s story took a ride on B’s brain waves.  As we read we discovered that the reason Mary had a lamb to take to school was that its mother “turned her away”.  I know it’s an animal but that instinct always makes me a little sad.  I paused and reminded them that animals were not made in God’s image so a mother lamb acts only out of instinct, not love or hate.  I was about to go on and I heard B on my right shoulder say, “Some Moms do.”  In seconds, I wondered what books we had read or any movie they might have seen that prompted the comment and then I realized.  I turned on the animation, dropped the book, waved my hands for effect, “Whoa, boy.  I am not exactly sure where you are going with that but that ‘s not at ALL what happened to you or Julia.  Not even close.  You both know that.”  I went on repeating things I have said a thousand times before about how much they were/are loved and even though God knew us, their birthmothers didn’t, at first, but as they searched and searched for parents who would love the babies in their wombs deeply and thoroughly, He led them straight to us.  Those precious girls nailed it.

Julia never moved.  She remained molded to my left side.  Content.

Brighton pushed forward and said, “Wait, wait!  I think I get it.  God put me in her tummy and ALL THAT TIME He knew, I’d be your kid???”  “Yes, B”.  “So, okay, I’ve got it.  I was in her tummy, but I’m your kid.”  “Yes, B.  That’s it.  God knew that before any of us did.”  He settled back down on my right side and I felt his cheek swell, grin growing on my shoulder.  We finished the book.  And Brighton had tied up the loose ends on his runaway brain waves.

And just to keep you in the loop on the cutting edge products at your local library..... ; )

Ever checked out CD’s for your kids to listen to only to hear them agonizing verbally from their rooms in the middle of CD #3, just when the plot thickens?  Oh. So. Many. Times.  

No more, I tell you.  They have figured it out.  The new fangled thing is called “Playaway”.

Each unit is an mp3 version of the book.  They come in DVD size cases with a AAA battery for you to use.  Give your kids their favorite headphones and you have frustration FREE listening.  They have chapter books as well.  The picture book playaways have several stories on each unit.

I don’t keep up with much that is cutting edge~ too complicated, but the library, I can handle.
817.  friends staying late at the ball field

818.  RAIN

819.  kids turning their morning around

820.  grace words spoken over me

821.  one day vacation

822.  Julia’s joy in making dessert and our delight in eating it!

823.  keeping surprises a secret

824.  my children loving my wrinkles fine lines

825.  finding his growing frame on her window seat fast alseep

826.  friends showering grace on bride to be

827.  seeing my kids having fun

828.   letters from Jeff

829.   that, then, I had the camera close by and wasn’t off looking for his little pants

830. quiet Saturday morning

831.  opportunities for this

832.  these sewing girls- this class and, oh, that teacher!

833.  ALL THAT TIME I couldn’t get pregnant and practiced waiting on God’s best

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Repairing What Matters Most

A couple of months ago, we became the owners of an “in need of refurbishing" upright piano.  When it was delivered, it wasn’t fully repaired, thus not tuned, so as the kids played it, keys would fall and Brighton would find notes that sounded the same {D and E flat were identical and so on} hindering his fun in plucking out the latest tune filling his head.  Something on the inside was deteriorating and other things were just out of whack.  The company we purchased it from has made several trips to our side of town to make it perform and sound like.... well, a piano.  

At least twice, the young men who have worked on the piano have found new problems on the old piece.  The last time they came out, they took the whole thing apart and discovered they didn’t have a part they really needed.   They said they could get it and come back the very next day but it actually took more like 5 days.  The picture in the study was disturbing.  The keys were spread out on the hearth.  All the inner workings of the instrument were exposed causing temptation to 7 year old boy hands.  Every time I passed by the room, I saw critical pieces out of place, delicate workings uncovered from protection and absolutely useless where they had been laid.  But then they knew with certainty, our piano was broken.  

It happens to us too, you know.  To families, to churches, to marriages, to friendships and even within ourselves.  Relationships are a blessing, a gift.  We were created to be in fellowship with others.  God created us to love and serve each other in marriage, in families, in churches and in friendships.  In doing this, sometimes critical pieces are knocked out of place, some mechanism breaks down causing some malfunction, some pain.   We knee jerk ~whatever that may look like for you~ and the relationship stops “working”.  What once was lovely and a conduit of pleasure becomes in need of repair on the inside.  And that’s not fun.  The repairing part.  Something inside breaks and whatever caused it needs to be faced.  Hurt hurts.  And we do everything we can NOT to experience it or even acknowledge it.  No need to list all of our dysfunctional ways of protection because each of ours is different.  They don’t work.  Ever.  Facing it means to open it all up, to bare the inside that we so desperately want to keep hidden.  To speak of our inner workings, our most ingrained thought patterns reveals more than we ever dared to bare.  But day after day, year after year, it’s our choice.  And time is not our friend.  Our cover over the disrepair can last for years, but eventually the wear and tear shows itself.   On the outside.  And things as critical as keys on a piano fall.  The picture is always disturbing.   And we have to do something.  

What will that be?

When our piano keys started falling apart, I didn’t call a foodie at Central Market and I certainly didn’t try to open the instrument up and take a look myself.  Ludicrous.  Thankfully, with every new year or different season of marriage, parenting and friendships, I am finding one thing always is the same.  God’s ways work.  Praise the Lord.  They WORK.  So why do I waste so much time thinking or hoping something else will?    When we ask Him for the Truth and seek it, He’s sure to deliver.  

And guess what?  

The Truth sets us FREE!  FREE from all the disrepair.  FREE from all of our wondering and guessing.  FREE from all the hurt that only hurts and bears no fruit.  FREE from the pride that fosters the disrepair.  FREE from all of our coping ways-- the endless downward spiral in which so many of us choose to live.  FREE. 

I like free.  I bet you do too.  

In our lives, when any relationship lies broken, in need of repair, we can choose to cover it and in time, lie in a heap, useless, wasting potential or we can invite Him into the hurt with us and watch His ways work beautifully.  Of course.  As believers, when we finally choose vulnerability compelled by our love for someone or for our desire of healing and dare to open up, we find His Name etched on our hearts, claiming us in all our hurt.  Pull all the coverings off, ask Him to do the fixing and we find His Name imprinted where it means the most.  He was there all the time.  He knows your “then".  He was there.  He knows your “now".  He is here.  

We are His.  I am His.  

And when His work is done, the music is wonderful ~ whether it be Basketball Bounce or Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.  

Repaired is a lovely sound and a conduit of joy.  

Praise His Name.  

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.
John 8:31-32
799.  cancelled practices

800.  that he wants to throw with me

801.  Panera School

802.  Julia’s scary symptoms turning out to be nothing

803.  hearth time

804.  special “news flashes” from Atlanta

805.  the colors of the October sky

806.  Roxaboxen with friends (founded by the Cheek girls-- we missed you!)

807.  Emily~ her help, her company and ANSWERED PRAYERS!!

808.  long, steady rain

809.  airport “arrival” gates

810.  surprises in his suitcase

811.  get well notes from Mrs. Cox

812.  a Monday with no tears

813.  walks after dark

814.  raised windows

815.  reading with Jeff

816.  being repaired