Category Archives: Family

Why Birthdays are Awesome

birthday21. You get to see where you came from. I turned 34 on Friday and realized that I remember when my mother was 34 years old. But instead of making me depressed, I actually felt better. I mean, my mom is loving her life right now. Her kids are grown, her grandkids are cute, and she’s pursing her dream of writing professionally. At 34, I see I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

2. You get to see where your going. Dan was gone on my actual birthday. We celebrated the night before and  I made plans for a pizza/movie night with the kids. The funny thing was how the kids kept trying to make the night special. I didn’t have cake, so Jesse wanted to put candles in my dessert pizza. None of my gifts had been wrapped since Dan took me shopping and my mom gave me money. This didn’t seem right to Ada. She wrapped up a tube of lip gloss that was ALMOST full and threw in a small package of SweeTarts. At 34, I see I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

3. You get really fun stuff. Gold earrings (from Mom’s money) mean I can wear earrings again – I have very sensitive ears which translates to needing more than $10 to buy earrings! A stylish gray scarf, coordinating gray pants (think Audrey Hepburn), and a night out with my husband means I’m recharged and refreshed. 3/4 a tube of pink glitter lipgloss means I’m the best-loved 34 year-old in my house! : )

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Courting

dandrewMy husband’s younger brother visited this week, thrilling my children and giving my husband a longed for piece of home. It was actually his brothers that I met first. They won me over with their boyish sweetness and made everything super easy for Dan! His Dad and Mom and sister were pretty great, too; I knew them all before I knew Dan.

Last week one of my Bible College students referred to the time before she made solid decisions to live as a Christian as the time when Jesus courted her. That made a lot of sense to me. Do you remember those days before you actually made up your mind to associate yourself as God’s? How did Jesus court you?

For me, it was by showing me His family, the Church. I grew up in a wonderful Christian home and a great Bible believing church. My parents’ friends demonstrated lives of true faith in many different forms: as professionals, as missionaries, as ministers, and as everyday people just trying to do right. None of them were perfect, of course, but they loved me and they loved God and I knew that. It was like God was showing me how great this family could be if I wanted in.

Dan’s family did the same thing, wooing me with their affection for each other and their interest in me. Now Dan and I are hopefully building the same kind of culture in our home, a place where other people want to be.

It is an analogy I had never considered: the way God courts us. Can you think of anything that God did before you started living as a Christian that looking back you would consider an act of courtship? How did God win your heart?

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And also March Madness

I mentioned last year my love for Fantasy Football. For all the same reasons, I also love March Madness – the NCAA Tournament! This year my team, Missouri, actually is something to be proud of, but even when they are not, I love this season. Right now we are in the middle of the busiest four days of the tournament with games on TV almost every time you check. It is a good time for a Spring Break – lucky me.

I think, in part, my interest in writing is related to my interest in sports. When I was in middle school, my dad’s office used to get several magazine subscriptions sent to our house. He would later take them to his waiting room for patients to read. Sports Illustrated was one of those magazines, and I started flipping through its pages looking for pictures of teams I liked. What I found were stories – stories of people who happen to play sports. I especially learned to look forward to the very back page of the magazine. Rick Reilly wrote a short essay on the final page. He has to be one of the best writers ever. I probably ought to blame him for my interest in all kinds of sports and the people who play them.

I hope you enjoy your March Madness. Even if you don’t find the sport interesting, if you watch a game I think you can find a human interest story or two. And if the one on TV doesn’t work for you, maybe the best story is sitting in his recliner in front of that TV. Dad, brother, son – at least enjoy that story!

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Happy Celebrating Love Day!

love

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Happy Birthday, Ada Jewel!

Dear Ada,

Today is your fifth birthday! This is a picture of you around the time when we all started calling you “Ada Bean” – do you think you look round and cute like a little bean? That’s what we all thought.

adaNow you don’t look at all like a bean. You are tall and slender and graceful. You still walk on your tip-toes like a dancer. You love dance class. You also love school. For your birthday you asked for a white board for your room so you can play school. You tell us that when you grow up you want to be a doctor and a police officer and a mom. I think you will be great at whatever you want to be!

Your real name, Ada, means “beautiful addition”. Daddy picked that because we were a little surprised when we found out you were going to join our family but we knew it was going to be perfect. I picked your middle name, Jewel, and I was right: you are a treasure!

You are the second mama around here. Your Daddy and I love to watch you trick Macy into eating her Cheerios. I think the way you help Claire off of her tall chair after supper is so nice. You are a good little sister, too. Jesse likes telling you jokes and playing games with you. You are good company for him.

I love it best when you sing songs that you make up yourself. They are always wonderful songs about love and happiness. I hope you never stop writing songs and singing them for us!

Well, it is finally your special day. We’ll eat pizza and decorate a giant cookie with red frosting and heart-shaped sprinkles. I think you must be one of my favorite 5 year-olds EVER!

ada4Love,

Mom

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I Corinthians 9:27

Today Claire had to get Botox shots in the calf and hamstring muscles of her left leg. Mom tells her she is just like all the pretty girls in Hollywood! Of course, Claire’s Botox is not cosemetic, but the concept is the same. Botox is injected into muscles to weaken them, keep them from contracting. In middle-aged men and women, Botox keeps you from developing wrinkles (and any form of facial expression). In little girls with CP, Botox weakens muscles that are too strong in hopes that the weaker surrounding muscles will have a chance to catch up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In our minds, it is worth a try.

All of this has me thinking about virtue. (Hang on, you’ll get there too.) Early this year I posted about training our spiritual muscles in the same way we train our physical muscles. This is what ancient Christians might have called “practicing the disciplines” and it isn’t a very glamorous part of the Christian life. It is all about hard work and determination and a big dose of grace. But when we work at it to the same degree that we work with Him, we start to see changes – improvements in our character and attitude. John Ortberg describes the spiritually disciplined person as the one who does the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, to the right degree. (Just think about that for awhile …. )

So, what do you think are the too-strong muscles keeping us from becoming the spiritually disciplined people we want to be? How could we Botox the selfish muscle, the jealous muscle? Claire knew those big shots were coming at her tiny legs and still smiled at me until the first big stick. Could we face the mortification of our own flesh as bravely? Tonight at the dinner table Claire said she was thankful for “Dr. Farid and the shots he gave me because they are going to make me strong.” She meant it.

hardwork

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Doin’ That Thing You Do

Big news in the White House this week. Claire got a 100% on this spelling test.

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She even had to write her own numbers. For a girl who couldn’t write out all the letters to her own name at the beginning of Kindergarten, she’s come a looong way!

I’m not expecting to take many spelling tests, but my own school career resumes this week. I’m going into my second to last undergrad semester and I’m feeling a new desire for excellence. When I started this endeavor it was only about finishing my college degree, something I had always intended to do but somehow lost sight of in the middle of marriage and kids. Now I’m setting my goals on grad school and wondering where I get the nerve.

spelling2

Encouragement is usually not hard to come by when God is speaking to my heart about something. During a family viewing of Facing the Giants this weekend I was reminded of the story of the two farmers who asked God for rain. Only one of the farmers actually believed he would get it; he’s the one who went out and prepared his field for the precipitation. Then my pastor spent time this morning reminding the members of our community to pursue with excellence the gifts and talents that God has given us.

I’m going into this semester like that farmer went into his field: I’m expecting something. I may not win any full-ride scholarships to grad school … but I might. I know I won’t if I don’t put in the effort of a person intending to. I also know this, if Claire can ace a spelling test, I can get my GPA up to cum laude standards.

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