Sunday, July 19, 2015

kindergarten will change things.

Over the past year I've neglected this space. I always wonder who is really reading these posts, who is really interested in my thoughts and the comings and goings of our family. And with kindergarten quickly approaching and the introduction of timehop, I'm realizing how much I've missed capturing this past year. I haven't jotted down the preschool memories, our amazing and cut-back Christmas, Cooper's 5th birthday, and some vacations to Florida. Instead of just playing catch-up, I'm asking that you'll forgive the year-long gap, and get excited with me about what lies ahead. I'd love for you to read these posts and join our family's journey into an unknown year ahead.

Today I keep pondering how our lives are going to change in 5 short weeks when Cooper starts kindergarten. The day-to-day routines and the flow of our family, home life, and schedules will be so different. I'm starting to pray about how I can create a relaxing and comfortable home life for Cooper and Andrew to come home to at the end of their days. I'm starting to pray that Cooper will be comfortable and safe enough to tell me about his day...a day that I will in large part know nothing about.

This growing up year for Cooper brings about a time of great change for me as well. What will I do with my time? Should I go back to work? Should I work part time? I'm afraid of having nothing to do. There are so many ways my brain is taking me. So many things I think about doing, dream about doing, and have to be doing. All of these overwhelming whispers are attacking my heart. But from the middle of my heart I hear "Be still and know that I am God." I  then breathe, and remember who goes before me, and who's holding my hand every step of this life I'm living.

My current plan of attack is to do just that. I'm going to be still. I'm going to let God be God and show me the way. Lucky for you, you'll get to read all about it this year. *wink face emoji*

In the meantime, though, I'll be creating some fun memories with this boy.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

Two years ago, I shared this post for Father's Day. This year we decided to do it again. 

"My Dad"
by Cooper

My dad is funny because he tells silly words about me.
My dad thinks I'm funny when he's talking to me.
My dad is 30...right, mom?
His favorite thing to do is play with me.
His favorite color is blue, black, orange, red, gray, and white.

My dad's job is going to church.
He loves to eat coke zero
He is really good at playing video games.
My dad loves when I beat bad guys.
My dad always says, "You're awesome."
My favorite thing about dad is that I love him and that he loves me, too.

Watching you be a father is one of my life's biggest pleasures. Your mini-me is growing up to resemble you in so many ways. Learning fatherhood from your example is setting him up to be a successful father.
"You're awesome."
We love you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dear Cooper: a 5th birthday letter.

Dear Cooper,

Happy 5th Birthday!

Every year I sit down and write you a letter around your birthday. Thoughts about your year, who you are, why I love you. But this year I've found myself fighting the urge to do it. I am sitting down with my fingers flying about the keyboard, but not with a longing to do it. Because maybe if I don't actually sit down and write this letter for you, you'll somehow, magically not turn 5. Yes, this year, I'm more sad and emotional about the turning of another year for you.

Sad because I am experiencing how the days are long, but the years short. I'm watching you grow up very quickly. The year between 4 and 5 is the year I have said goodbye to all signs of baby in you. You are a legit "big boy" now. From your features to the things you can do independently, to the conversations we have, and your interests. You really are growing up, and sometimes it's hard to accept.

Sad because I know how blessed your daddy and I are to have a healthy son. One of my friends is watching her 4 year old son fight a cancer battle. The other day as I dropped off meals at her house, I saw this mom change her son's clothes after he had thrown up and was smacked in the face with a dose of reality. I saw how skinny he was. I saw the outlines of his bones. I saw the tubes hanging from him. I saw his balding head. It was a moment my heart ached. It was a moment I was forced into humble thankfulness for you. I'm not sure why we got the healthy child and my friend didn't. But as you turn another year older this year, I'm very grateful that you are healthy; growing up and developing normally.

Sad because some days it's really hard to be your mom. You have this passion in you. You have this desire to be right; an instinct to argue. And some days being your mom brings be to my knees in tears and exhaustion. And those moments make me question how good of a mom I really am. They make me doubt my ability as your mom. And if I'm honest, there are many moments that being your mom is me being a mom who feels like a failure.

Even though this year's letter is a tough one to write because of those things, the core of me being your mom is one of joy. The roots of this tree we planted in you are roots that are wrapped around the King of the world. The blooms of that tree are sometimes sad ones but He cuts those off. He is somehow able to cut away the sad and bring about hope, joy, and great blooming smiles on your tree branches.

Some days I look at you and long to go back to the first year. Just to hold you again. Wrap you up in a blanket and rock you. Thinking back on those moments, though, I'm reminded of the thoughts I had when I held you, rocked you, prayed over you, and sang to you. In those moments I wondered what you would be like when you got older. Would you be healthy? Would you have learning challenges? Would you be happy? Would you know Jesus? What kinds of things would you like?

Those days when I sang to you I longed to know what the future you was like. Today I'm looking at the very boy I had always wondered about. I no longer have to wonder what you'll be like when you're 5. That day is here. Today I'm standing in the answered prayers I uttered 5 years ago. Cooper, you are everything I had hoped and longed for you to be.

You are healthy. I'm finding myself praising Jesus for this often lately. You are healthy. And I'm so thankful we have been given a boy who has developed normally, a boy who is smart (some might say too smart), a boy who I hear say "I'm going to eat an apple because that's a healthy choice" and "I'm going to do my exercises, mom." Your daddy and I fight a battle of healthy choices daily, and we have prayed that you will not have the same battle that we do. So to hear you utter those sentences calms my fear and gives me hope that even though my progress is imperfect, it's still progress, and hopefully you'll leave our home with a healthy lifestyle.

You are happy. Joy exudes from every part of your body. The way you get excited shows from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. When you smile, the blue in your eyes gets brighter, and your dimples flash bright beams of sunshine. Your laugh is one that cuts straight through my heart and warms my whole body.

You are growing in your faith. This year you and I have had some very deep and touching conversations about God. You're beginning to ask questions, and it makes me excited. This year you have asked questions like "How did God know how to put me together?" and "Why do I have to give my money to God?" And you've uttered phrases like "I want to give God 7,000 monies" and "I love God the most." My biggest desire has been - and always all be - that one day you love Jesus and build your life upon Him. These conversations are building your foundation. One day I hope to hand over this foundation to you so you can build upon it yourself.

The things you like, you don't just like. You LOVE them. You are passionate about them. You like all things video games and ninja turtles. You don't play cops and robbers for pretend, you play mario, pikmin, minecraft, and ninja turtles for pretend. You like to draw, following your father's footsteps a bit. Your drawings mainly consist of said characters. You like to run, jump, and do all things outside. You are great at impersonating characters and doing sound effects. Sometimes you'll make a sound effect and daddy and I will look at each other like "how does he do that?"

Sometimes daddy and I also look at each other like "Can you believe he's ours?" Cooper, we look at you with great pride and love. We love that we get to know what parenthood is like with you as our child. This title of mother has come with so many challenges, but also with love unlike anything I've ever experienced.  I'm five years into this ride of parenthood, and I'm loving it because of who I get to call my son.

Five years ago, you were passed to me and I saw you for the first time. You laid on my belly, where I stretched out my hands and touched your precious body. Over and over I repeated "Hi, Cooper" while smiling. I don't remember much about what happened to me next because my eyes were on you. I watched as they took you, weighed you, and did their tests on you. I watched as they covered the large bump on your head with a hat. I watched as they swaddled you. I watched as your father picked you up and brought you back over to me, with tears in his eyes and his mouth curved into a smile. Over the past five years I've continued to watch you, many times forgetting myself and focusing on you. I've watched you overcome challenges, I've watched you be tested in areas. I've watched you learn and grow. I've watched your relationship with daddy grow into a loving one.

Today, instead of daddy handing you off to me, you ran to me. Today you jumped into my arms, hugged me tight, and said, "you're my favorite mommy." **insert happy tears**

Cooper, today and every day, that's the kind of joy you bring.

Goodbye, sadness.

Hello, joy of having a 5 year old.

I love you.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

a perfect night.

Tonight was a perfect night for me.

Dinner was eaten around our table, all three of us there. We talked. We laughed. We ate yummy food.

During dinner I looked at Cooper, smiling while he talked. And it hit me. He knows much more about the way this world works than he did last year. But there is still so much that he's yet to learn. Here's an example. He knows pretty well how to get around town. He knows which way we need to turn at certain streets. (This is where small town  life helps a bit I guess.) But while we're driving around town I hear him say "Mom, did you know my teacher doesn't live at the school?" And after I respond he says "Yeah! Because there's no bed at the school." So while he's gained knowledge in so many areas, he's still learning. He's still quite the sponge - soaking it all in.

Once dinner was cleaned up we still had about two hours before bed time. I started a pot of coffee and we gathered around the table again. This time for games. We played two new games from Christmas. Both of them fun. Both of them igniting laughter.

At some point along the way I realized that nights like this are perfect. Not because they are out of the norm and full of memorable moments. They are perfect for quite the opposite; they are perfect because they are completely normal. Tonight was just the day to day happenings of our family. Tonight was an example of the perfectly mundane routines that make up the heartbeat of our family.

The normalcy of our family is a normalcy of great love. There is freedom to be who we are. There is freedom to express ourselves. There is freedom to be completely silly. Freedom to be and do because no matter what, love is known here. And while Cooper is still in that soaking-things-in-stage, I looked around tonight, knowing that he's soaking it all up in an environment of love.

And that makes this mama's heart smile.

Tonight during the normalcy that is our laughter, I snapped this picture. Sometimes you need the picture to remember. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fall of the Tire Swing

Read this in your best southern accent: "I do declare it's the fall of the tire swing." 

I've been watching a sweet baby boy a couple of days a week this fall. On the property where they live out in Amish country, there lives a tire swing. And it has become the thing we must do every day we are there.

The fall of the tire swing, y'all.

Monday, September 15, 2014

the burning bush

This weekend we switched up Cooper's room and the guest room. This used to be the guest bed and it is now in Cooper's room. 
This is now the playroom. All the toys are upstairs! Hooray! 

I know this picture is upside down, but I love it. Cooper was so excited that we could all fit on his bed. He kept putting his arms around us and pulling us in close to him. You can see his hand around Andrew's head. 
Last night I was brought to tears putting Cooper to bed. The past couple of weeks have reminded me that our time with him is going so quickly. And sometimes I wonder if we are on the right path, doing enough, etc. This special moment with Cooper confirmed to me that maybe we are on the right path, but also that the work isn't yet done. We've still got a long road of parenting/disciplining/leading ahead of us.

I've been trying to teach Cooper to pray by praising God, thanking God, confessing to God, and asking God for help. So, before our prayer time started, I hopped in bed with him and began this conversation.

"Cooper, do you want to know what one of my favorite parts of today way?"
"When you told me about your bible story. When you told me about how the bush was on fire but didn't burn up because God was in it. Isn't God so awesome?! God has done so many powerful and cool things that we get to read about and learn about in the bible."
   -Yeah. What else?
"Well, Moses, the same guy who saw the burning bush, was running away from some bad guys. And they came to a big sea. There was no bridge and no ship so they couldn't get away. And God told Moses to put his stick in the sea. And when Moses did, the sea parted. And the good guys got to walk across the sea to the other side. Then guess what happened to the bad guys? They started walking across the sea, too. But before they were all the way across, God closed the water back."
   -*Excitement from Cooper* Yeah, and God got the bad guys down. *sound effects*
"Yep. He did. Isn't God so awesome to protect us?"

I've been trying to teach Cooper to pray by praising God, thanking God, confessing to God, and asking God for help. So after making a list of why he thought God was awesome, what he was thankful for, what he needed to confess, and what he needed help with, our prayer started. I take a turn praising God, then he does, and we go through all four of those areas.

"God, thank you so much for the stories in the bible, like the parting of the red sea. God, you are powerful and strong, and are awesome. I love reading about those things in your word."
   -Mom, can we read the bible again?
"Absolutely, Cooper."
    -God, it's great how you could have that bush on fire, but it wasn't burnt up.

I'm not going to share the rest of the prayer. It was that line that tugged at my heart. We have been doing a devotional book with him in the mornings, but my 4 year old reminded me how devotionals can't quench my desires or my thirst like God's word can.

After our prayer, I told Cooper that the most important thing to me, that the thing I wanted most for him was for him to love God. More important than what he does I want him to love God. And looking into his eyes when I said that the tears welled up inside my eyes.  I walked away wondering what changes I need to make to help him see what it means to love God.

This morning I dropped Cooper off at school (going great, by the way) and headed to the gym. I've been listening to Elevation's sermons while I work out. The one I listened to today was called Marry or Burn. It's a sermon about marriage and he talked about our sexual passions. He tied it into Moses and the burning bush - go figure!

While on the treadmill I jotted down these notes on my phone:

"The wrong expression of the right passion could end in great pain. The things which we are made for are often the things that will bring us the most pain."

"When God is the center of my life, my passions will burn, but not burn up. Like Moses and the burning bush."

"First marriage, then passion. If you light the passion before the marriage, the flames will be out of control. Contain the passion in the marriage and you'll heat the whole house, not burn the house down."

And now for some notes from yesterday's sermon at NewPointe:

"Their number was added to daily because of the way they (the disciples) loved one another."

"Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether or not our message is truthful - Christian community is the final apologetic" - Francis Schaefer - - - WOW

Cooper is basing whether or not God is real on how Andrew and I love one another. Whoa! I so want Cooper to be passionate about what God made him to do. I don't want his passions to get out of control and burn him up. To show him that, Andrew and I are setting the example to him. We are setting the example of how to love God and others. We are the example to him of healthy choices. We are the example to him of financial sacrifice and giving. That, my friends, makes me want to do better. While I think we're on the right track, there's still a long road ahead.

Pray with me, will you? Pray that you and I can become better wives, husbands, parents, and friends for the sake of God's kingdom. May we love others deeply. May our love of others be the final apologetic.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Adventures in Preschool

A few weeks ago a package arrived for Cooper. Inside we discovered a new backpack - Mario of course. As I took it out of the box, I got a whiff of it's scent. I was instantly taken back to school days. I made Cooper smell it, too. I told him it was the smell of new things. The smell of school. The smell of excitement. With the arrival of the backpack, anticipation of preschool was in the air. With that anticipation came hesitation on Cooper's part. When I asked if he wanted to try it on, he answered "No, thanks." Conversations were had over the next several days about preschool and he was sure to tell me "I'm not very excited. I'm only a little bit happy about preschool." My momma heart became nervous for him.

Then came another mail delivery. This time, and envelope from his school; in it a note from his teacher, and a brief description of preschool. I read it all aloud because Cooper wanted to hear it all. After reading through he said, "Mom, I can wear my Mario backpack and my Mario shirt!" My first thought: Oh great, he's already picking out outfits! But really I was relieved to finally hear excitement in his voice about preschool. 

There have been a couple of times in this process where it feels like there's a huge lump in my throat, at the same time feeling really old, and feeling like I just want to hold my baby boy again. Those feelings came the day we registered, filling out paperwork, getting a physical for school, the arrival of a backpack, questions about school supplies, and orientation. Our Cooper really is growing up. It causes my heart to ache a little and my mind to ponder. 

As I was giving Cooper a bath last night, he talked a lot. But I don't remember much of what he said. My mind was consumed with thoughts about the next day, and in turn, the past 4 1/2 years. Have we done enough? Will he make good choices? Of course he'll make poor choices. How will we respond when he does? Will his teacher have patience with him? Will he make friends? Will he be a good friend? Will he still love home?

Today was a little rainy as we walked into school. We found where he puts his backpack, emptied the papers, and put away his snack. Then with some kisses, hugs, and a "You are kind, you are God's, make good choices" reminder, we were walking away. He smiled, waved, and went off to play.

I made it to the car before the tears came. Even while writing this the tears are still very present. I've realized parenting is a long drawn-out process of letting go. And today we got our first taste of it. A peek into what's to come over the next 14 years. Guys, it's like leaving your heart in a classroom for a couple of hours and saying to this teacher you've only known a few minutes "make sure it keeps beating, love that heart, help it thrive." And I get the teacher's side of it. I walked that road for 5 years. But being on this side gives it a completely different perspective. 

These hopes that I have for Cooper are starting to grow wings today. One day I'll watch my hopes soar high in the sky. But with the new-found knowledge of what this letting go feels like, I'm going to relish in the baby wings while they are still little.