Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review of 2011: Last Week of July - December

***For the last 3 days of 2011 I want to recap our year...
Here is #3: Last week of July - December
This morning while I was working on these final picture collages, Micah came up behind me and together we began to look at pictures and talk about this past year. It has been a year like none other! We have seen God work in HUGE ways in our lives.  He has rescued us, humbled us, and is currently rebuilding us! This last season of the year has been a period of hope and healing.  
A day after I returned from Moldova, my dad and I began painting a mobile home that Micah and I had purchased. We repainted all the walls and the ceiling and moved in all in a weeks time.  
It was C R A Z Y! 
Our new little home was (probably) the last place I had ever imagined that I would live, but it is PERFECT!  The first few weeks were complete chaos as we worked through boxes and piles... downsizing from a 4 bedroom house to a 3 bedroom trailer. 
The kids went through so much transition with the two moves and their parents going on three different mission trips;  all things considered they did amazingly well!  I am so proud of them and how they have adjusted to their new home and our new life.
It has taken us awhile to get used to our new life... as well.  We get weekends off... we have family time... we don't feel guilty for going hiking, taking a picnic lunch to the park, or going on vacation. It is nice being able to leave work... at work!
This fall we have done soooo many things!  I love looking at the pictures and remembering all the adventures we have been.  We often took a picnic dinner to the beach and played until late, or we would spend the morning at the water park or at the playground...
We went raspberry and huckleberry picking.  We rolled down hills, listened to records, explored rivers, played, slept and ate... and played some more!
In September the big guy celebrated his 4th birthday.  Can't believe he is 4 years old!
Time has slowed down.  Life is simple... I remind myself to enjoy those simple things and simple times.  To not rush to something else or to do things to prove I am worth something, but to just worship our Creator and appreciate His creativity. It has taken time to slow down...
He is creating beauty out of the ashes of our life.  He has used the devastation to expose unbelief, idols, and incorrect theology (more in my life than Micah's... it seems God has been teaching Micah different things).  He is using His community to build up, encourage, admonish, and love us.  I am so thankful for the wisdom of my counselor and how she is speaking truth into my heart and mind. I am no longer trapped in confusion... and I praise God for this!
It has been a challenge for me to parent during a crisis.  To be consistent and honest... while pointing them to God and continually reminding them that God is good!  This morning at breakfast Micah read the story of Saul/Paul's conversion.  We asked Ethan if He thought it was mean for God to blind Saul and Ethan exclaimed, "NO!  Because God is always GOOD!"  That answer was precious to me.  He has been watching and observing us during this season of wrestling, tears, and questions... and it is encouraging to see he is "grasping" this truth... at least we pray he does! 

When Naomi returned home to Israel after years away she asked her friends to call her "Bitter" because the Lord had dealt with her.  I felt a lot like this at the beginning of the summer.  Everything had come undone, everything was in pieces... but I see (now) how God was using a "hard" life situation to humble, tear down what was not of Him, and to begin something new.  

It has been a process to think through this year.  There are still so many questions, but I echo Ethan's words, "God is always good!"  He has been faithful to us!!! He has brought us to this new place, for a new season and we trust Him for what He has ahead of us.
I am glad to say goodbye to this year... to know we are one year closer to being HOME with the Lord! I am thankful for all the memories, laughs, smiles and blessings He's lavished on us.  I am thankful that He heard every prayer, caught every tear that fell, and has begun to bring life out of devastation. 

Hope each of you has a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Review of 2011: May - July

***For the last 3 days of 2011 I want to recap our year...
Here is #2: May - July...

A couple days ago I was going through my pictures... deleting and sorting and I realized that I took over 7,000 pictures in 2011.  I had this wonderful idea to recap our year in picture collage form, but what I didn't even think about is the journey I would take to remember back through the year.  Yesterday was a "kick in the stomach" so to speak.  I cried a bit, felt sick all over, and could barely sleep last night.  Around 2 in the morning all I wanted to do was FORGET about 2011, but it is now part of our history... and God is still making good of the ruins.  Praise Him for that!  
On May 1st I loaded the kids into the Suburban and drove out of the canyon I had called home for the past 7 years.  I remember this moment like it was yesterday.  I was numb.  The Suburban was on auto pilot.  I didn't cry and I didn't look in the rearview mirror... once.  The kids were abnormally calm and quiet... Ethan had a temperature of 105 and Eden's was 104.  A day before I had listened to President Obama talk to the survivors of the tornados that had twisted through the country.  He promised that the nation would stand beside these people and do whatever it took to help them through this devastation.  Those words echoed in my mind... did anyone realize a tornado had torn through my heart, mind and soul?  There was nothing left standing... I was numb.
We moved into the MBC Dorms... we unpacked and made a new home.

I was numb for the next couple weeks. But the kids were reeling from the move and sorting through their feelings in the only way kids know how to communicate -- acting out.  Eden cried/screamed A LOT! Ethan just wanted to move back to his old house.
 Again, I coped by filling our days with crafts and outdoors adventures... We explored our new town finding the library and taking note of their story times; we found parks and played at different ones each warm day we had; and we baked A LOT!  Our favorite place was a little river a ways behind the dorm.... we played there almost every single day.

We went on hundreds of picnics and got dirty... EVERY SINGLE DAY! Some days we even had to take two baths!!!
Nana Rose came for a visit... and it was perfect timing! She brought out a playful side of Ethan that I had never seen before.  He loved his time with her (Eden did too, of course, but I think this trip was HUGE for Ethan)!  We kept busy while she was visiting... 

Another vivid memory I had during this time is the number of rainbows I saw!  It felt like every single day there was a beautiful bow stretching from horizon to horizon... whispering hope... reminding me of God's promises ... We splashed in a lot of puddles... 
We found Bozeman beach.... and a water park in Belgrade!  Whenever it was even a tiny bit warm... we found water... we splashed, squished, and everything in between.  Each and every single day was a reminder to breath in and breath out!

Bozeman is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived!  Everywhere I looked I saw beauty!  The clouds were different every single day... the flowers were bright and PLENTIFUL! There were  many evening that Micah and I looked at each other during a walk, breathed in deeply, and exclaimed how thankful we were for this new season of life!  As the land burst forth with the spring beauty we felt our hearts were awakening from a long, cold winter... everything was becoming new and beautiful!
Eden celebrated her 2nd birthday... life was beginning to settle down and 
life was beginning to be "normal"...
  The 4th of July was a highlight in our summer... it was an incredibly fun-filled day!  We went hiking, had a picnic at the lake and stayed up super late to light sparklers and to see the big fireworks!
Even though life was happening, I felt like my heart was in a coma... Often I found my eyes watching the kiddos play in the dirt, while my mind was miles away.  I felt like I was a ZERO... I had just received a F for ministry... I mean how do you fail in "ministry"???... and yet here I was... wrecked. About this time I got a call from my Mother in Love... Her friend, John was going on a mission trip to Moldova.  At that time there were no other females on the team and he felt strongly that the team needed a female. He thought of me.  When Rose told me this... I laughed!  Like Sarah (in the Old Testament), when she was told that her barren body would bare a son... She laughed... it was impossible.  That is how I felt.  I was washed up... and yet this call felt like I was on the beach with Jesus and He was restoring me.  He chose ME... He wanted me to go on a mission trip. I did go and while I was there I laughed, I cried, I laughed, I cried... and cried. It was an adventure... a tangible taste of GRACE!
Some more food for thought... I forgot about our Fajita pizza!!!  Yum... 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review of 2011: January-April

 ***For the last 3 days of 2011 I want to recap the year... 
Here is #1: January - April...
I have heard it said that it is always darkest right before dawn... not sure where that expression came from, but it is fitting for the beginning of our 2011!  Last year at this time we were in agony... trying to sort through the confusion mixed with our emotions... Although the death of "our dream" had begun months -- even years before, the whole process was a gradual/slow/painful death.  Thinking back to our college days and the evening we spent dreaming about our life together... a wilderness/discipleship ministry is where we imagined ourself for the rest of our days.  Another Prof had said to be a fragrance where ever you are called... and have the wisdom to leave before you begin to stink.  No matter what we tried, how hard we tried, what questions we asked, thoughts we came up with... it was met with opposition... we began to wonder if we were beginning to stink.  We realized we were becoming sick, in need of mentoring, encouragement, feeding... we were starting to stink.
Even now it is hard to look at pictures from this time.  It was dark, lonely... the most painful season of my life.  Now that I am in counseling I realize how sick my mind was... I was trying to survive... I was DOING all the right things, SAYING all the right things, but I was dying on the inside!  I tried to hide the tears from the kids... we dove into activities, had adventures and HONESTLY this blog kept me alive.  I had something to report... something good to write about... memories to record... good things to think about and be thankful for  --  It was the life in our house!  I am thankful for each of your comments, prayers... notes of encouragement and support.  
Each one was VALUABLE!
During these months Ethan was attending preschool a couple days a week and loved it!  Eden and I had special moments when we had the house to ourselves.  The kids drew, made messes, played outside... got into LOTS of trouble... Ethan started (for the 5th time) to become potty trained... We finally were successful (although lately.... again... I would beg to differ!)! We took several trips to Bozeman... looking at houses - apartments, jobs... sorting out if a move would work.
 While Micah led a group of students to Denver for Spring Break the kids and I went to Reno to visit Grampie and Grammie... it was a wild week... ending with a flu bug, BUT before the flu bug... we played in the snow, went to several different parks, Ethan got to ride a ferris wheel with Grampie... and we visited the cousins for a few fun-packed days... it was a bright spot in our spring... and a nice time to get away from the home that had become a dark prison.
We are thankful that we learned a valuable lesson during this dark time and that is WE CAN'T SURVIVE WITHOUT COMMUNITY! Nor do we ever want to be in another place where there is a lack of accountability, review, and support... it was a hard lesson to learn.  It is the darkest before dawn... I know this post is probably depressing... and it should be it was an extremely DEPRESSING time!  But know the morning light will pierce through the darkness... there is HOPE and that is more than I could say during this season of life...
As I was going through all the January - April 2011 pictures... I found some pictures I had taken of things I baked, cooked and made... I think in another life I will be a food photographer.... or a chef...

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Merry Christmas...

We had a beautiful Christmas.  
Micah was home... and all throughout the day I just found myself smiling... 
there was happiness and contentment deep inside my heart. 
 I guess the best way to describe it was that I was 
Thankful that we are so blessed, loved, and taken care of!
 Christmas Even we went to the Candle light service... the kids were so cute... I caught a couple pictures before my camera battery died!  It ended up being our only Christmas Service because Eden woke up Christmas morning covered in puke.  She seemed okay through out the day, but I didn't want to pass on the germs... and it was nice to just stay home for Christmas morning!
We had more gifts this year than ever before... it was almost overwhelming!
 We try to keep the main focus of Christmas a celebration of Jesus' birth... we don't want it to be all about presents and what we GET... but that what we ultimately GOT... JESUS CHRIST... and He is all we need!  It is hard to communicate that to kids, but truly as Ethan and Eden's parents that is what we want them to learn and know with all their hearts!  It is so easy to be selfish and self-focused!
 Our Christmas morning started out with a breakfast pie... yum!  I have to share the recipe... it was easy and delicious! You start with a roll of refrigerated crescent rolls and lay them in the pan as the bottom crust... then you pour the following ingredience on the crust:
8 oz cooked ham or sausage
1 cup frozen hash brown potatoes (which I TOTALLY forgot to put in!)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
1 4 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained (I used a couple handfuls of fresh mushrooms - I sauteed them with the onion and bell pepper)

5 eggs mixed with, 1/4 cup milk, salt, and pepper (sprinkle each) and pour over the rest of the ingredients... sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.... sooo good!
 We made our traditional monkey bread birthday cake for Jesus... and sang to Him! Ethan and Eden were more than happy to blow out the candles...
 Then we opened presents... the kids were over the top excited!
My Mom made these PJs for Eden... aren't they BEAUTIFUL?!
 Eden's expressions just made me smile... she is so animated and dramatic!
 We want to thank all our wonderful friends and relatives that flooded our home with packages and gifts containing delightful things... 
 My favorite part of Christmas was looking across the room and seeing my Love... I am so glad he is home - safe and sound!  When Eden first saw him she cried out, "Oh Daddy!  You are home!!! I missed you so much!"  She ran to him and threw her arms around him... so precious!
A princess for my Princess!
 One of my favorite Ethan quote was when he was opening up this box from Uncle Adam and Aunt Kim-e... it was wrapped in a pull-up box and when he saw it was a pull-up box he exclaimed, "Oh no! Not pull-ups!"  I think he was relieved to find it was actually his very own treasure chest box!
I really want to thank my parents for coming and staying with us while Micah was gone.  The kids were sad to see them head home this morning (and so was I).... they made our Christmas special with lots of fun gifts! My Dad (once again) did several home improvement projects (pictures to come) and my Mom sewed them PJs and lots of little doll clothes for Eden's new babies... They washed hundreds of dishes, read stories, folded laundry, played games, colored, rolled out play dough and were patient during all the kids melt-downs, moments of pure selfishness, temper tantrums, and all their sibling arguing!  We are so glad they came... they made our Christmas very, very special!  Wish they lived closer!  Hope you all had a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS... we sure did!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Birthday Happenings...

It has been a quiet day... thus far...
My tomato ripened during the night!  This tomato plant has been through a lot.  I bought it in May.  In June a little critter chewed off the stem... there were 4 green tomatoes on the branch.  But it came back to life... in August and after a move it got knocked off its stand and the stem full of green tomatoes broke off!  It grew back... and this is the first red tomato on this plant... on my birthday of all days!  Talk about perseverance... 
 Last night a friend and neighbor brought over gifts for the kids.  She gave Ethan a little lego Lightening McQueen.  He LOVES it!  He has put it together and taken it a part 100s of times! I think Legos is something I need to invest in... perfect for his little mind!
 This morning Ethan started making different kinds of cars with his lightening McQueen car.  He made a limo, Mater, a dump truck... etc.  I was amazed by his little creative mind!
(My friend brought Eden some play dough... and I am kicking myself that I didn't get a picture of her playing play dough with Grampie...) 
In the middle of our morning we made a few box houses out of some of the boxes that have been flooding into our house!  Amazing how many gifts we have around our tree this year!  Boxes are so much fun and full of all sorts of potential.  They make perfect houses, garages... hours of fun and play!
At one point I caught Eden playing with Baby Jesus.  Her dialogue just made me smile.  If you notice Baby Jesus is going for a ride in the donkey cart.  She makes me smile...

In the midst of all our happenings... I would describe this birthday being characterized by anxious waiting... around 1 I got a text than Micah was ALIVE and back in the country... now my fingers are crossed that he will make all his flights!  

But all in all it has been another simple day... 
and I can handle that!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day Before Blues...

I had a rough day today... I was being so strong -- handling it all in stride without Micah here and then this morning I was exhausted!  The kids woke me up around 2... and then cried on and off the rest of the morning.  I am sleeping with Eden so my parents can have the master bedroom and her cry was haunting. I don't like that!  The shrill pitch of it woke me up from a deep sleep... and then for the next few hours I lay there with my heart beating.  When she would quite down I would hear Ethan moan and bump into the wall... I prayed... asking God to give them good dreams and restful sleep... about the 4th time Eden cried out and Ethan hit his head on the wall... I went over to her crib and scoped her up and brought her to bed with me.  I just wanted her to be close... I wanted to comfort her... Around 6 the two of us fell into a deep sleep... Ethan woke us up a bit after that.  
Needless to say I was EXHAUSTED and emotional this morning.  I am done with Micah being gone!
Beautiful birthday flowers from my awesome hubby!
 Amazingly God knew I was sad... exhausted... so when a friend asked me to coffee I jumped on the opportunity. It was good to be out of the house... she surprised me with birthday presents... when I got home... I was greeted with flowers.  Micah had sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and chocolate covered strawberries... I need this little pick-me-up... I have my fingers crossed that Micah and Eli will come home on time tomorrow... It is the only thing I want for my birthday!!
(Here is a peek at my Birthday treat... 
I made it tonight so it would be amazingly moist tomorrow... 
can't wait!)

Thank you God for Your encouragement and love... You know what I need!