Tuesday, July 21, 2015

- twelve -

 in no particular order,
what I love about you...

1.  the way you read to Isaac every night.  you do all the voices.  you can make any book exciting, and you do.  this is a practice that he will always remember.  it started at his earliest memories and is meaningful.  sometimes i listen at the door.  i'll always remember it too.

2.  telling me about funny comics.  i don't understand the fascination with them nor do i understand how to read them but i love it when you share them with me.  it's a mystery to see you light up.

3.  writing stories.  you are filled with imagination and creativity and uniquely the ability to communicate through written word.  you always like words. 

4.  your ability to be completely lost in a book,  in a crowd.

5.  patience. endurance with siblings, especially little brother.

6.  the quiet and private way you bravely soldier through disappointment or pain.  you are becoming a man.

7.  the way you love board games as much as their newer clone- the electronic version

8.  determination and vision you display in lego creations- hours worth of it.

9.  responsibility and maturity- we can leave the others home with you knowing you will carefully and thoughtfully obey orders and lead and serve respectfully.  one time we were gone for several hours (not the norm) and i called to check in since i hadn't received any texts or calls to find out that everyone was drawing or playing with legos because you had determined that the movie should be turned off since "we have had enough screen time"

10.  intensely inquisitive.  "my first dictionary" was your favorite book at age two, after all.  you will stop abruptly (or stop the reader of a read-a-loud) to find out the meaning if theres ever a word you don't know or something you don't understand.  

11.  spiritual growth.  for several years you have faithfully read a chapter of the Bible at night before going to sleep.  most recently you came to talk to us about baptism and have decided to take that step of obedience in making your faith public.  we have been waiting for that. 

12.  you still want to be a marine biologist when you grow up.  you have fed my fears of sharks over the years with all of your reading and underwater trivia.  thanks for that.  

Happy 12th Birthday, Jonas Riley.  We love you!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Contemplating the gift of life for five years

Remembering and rereading:

The Story (as recorded on Caringbridge)
Leaving the Hospital
One year ago today
Two years ago today
A day of rejoicing

While it is impossible to record the countless moments I fully celebrate and meditate on the goodness of God I cannot neglect the significance that this particular day, January 10, is for us.  It's a special occasion for us to give glory to God.  The words I can use to communicate fall short.  All I can continue to report is the faithfulness of our God and our continued growth in faith and in the likeness of His Son.  I have seen God through the love of a Father soften and shape my husband.  I have seen Jason respond over and over again in complete submission and humility and obedience to the sanctifying process God is doing in Him.  There are complications and daily inconveniences that Jason suffers as a result of his surgeries.  That's all that he would want me to say about that, but I don't think I could continue to have joy in what Jason endures daily.  God has called me to watch and to learn from his example of godliness and I'm so thankful for continued grace that is new and continues to be enough each day!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

praise me

"Praise me" is a phrase that we learned from some good friends about 5 years ago.  It's totally for fun.  Whenever we are feeling especially proud of ourselves and there is no one else in the world to brag to and you realize no on will even notice what you've done it's fun to say "praise me?!" to your spouse or friend.  Do you know what I mean?  That one time that I scrubbed the toilet and cleaned the floors and was caught up on laundry and had a wonderful dinner waiting on the table at a reasonable time and I just felt like I needed some praise, I just lovingly said, "praise me" and then proceeded to carefully point out all of my accomplishments.  We use the phrase in jest often and it actually feels good.  I'm guessing it's natural and common to want acknowledgment for a job well done no matter how menial the task.  Motherhood is filled with those kinds of jobs.  I don't even need to list the little things that we do daily for our children, spouse, and home.  Little things that matter and if they aren't done are noticed.  However, if only those things could be written in the stars or shouted from the rooftops or accolades of praise could be showered on us it seems like it would be more meaningful or fulfilling.  Mothers Day feeds my desire for praise and recognition for what I do.  I "deserve" mentality is everywhere! I deserve gifts, cards, candy, flowers, a day of "serve me", "love me", "honor me", "notice me".  It's not good for me.  I secretly crave it all year and it seems "just" to me on the day it happens.  I love the opportunity to praise my mom and honestly I will treasure every homemade card I receive tomorrow, but I wanted to record how I've been feeling this year because this little post has been in the works for a very long time.  While the idea of Mothers Day has been a gentle rebuke to me of my selfishness, I realize it's a time of celebration to many. To others though this day will bring only sorrow of regrets or unfulfilled expectations or memories of children who have gone before them, too young or even unknown.  Each day is a gift from God and no matter what our status as mother may mean to each of us or what meaning that word carries we have the opportunity to delight in our Creator and to be joyful in serving and to be content in living each day for His glory.  So, for tomorrow, Mother's Day 2014 I will not seek to hear "praise me" but I will be reminded to treasure the four children I'm blessed to mother. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

preparations for christmas in our new home

We moved to Oregon in June.  When we left Minnesota we sold or gave away or threw away many of our possessions.  This move was to transition us to our eventual ministry in the Philippines and part of that move was going to be that we would live with Jason's parents.  So we downsized our life and it felt good.  We arrived with free agendas and lighter because of fewer things.  It's been so good to reevaluate what is important in life.  After living with the Stampers for only two weeks, however, we learned of Jack's multiple myeloma blood cancer diagnosis.  We enjoyed 3 months of the summer in their home and then moved to our own place.  This decision was to provide Jack a quiet and more stress free and germ free environment that he would need as he goes through the treatments he needs.  Through a lot of searching and even more praying God provided a home for us to rent that is only 4 minutes away from Jason's parents home and our church.  It is a town home and while it could be frustrating to be so close to neighbors we are the end unit and even have a view of Mt. Hood!  We have had a light dusting of snow on two different days here this winter and the kids were so excited to see that!  These Minnesota kids had their snow gear on and were out the door as early as I would let them leave.  They were disappointed that the "snow" wasn't as fun as their Minnesota memories of the deep stuff was. 
 Jason has always told us about Peacock Lane.  This is a street in an old neighborhood in Portland.  Each homeowner signs a contract with the purchase of their home that states they will display Christmas lights.  So we were very excited to finally participate in the opening night after years of hearing about the Stamper tradition. On the first night of the season the cross streets are closed to traffic and you can walk this block and take in the details at your own pace.  The night we went was perfect.  There was a nice layer of thick fog and  it was about 52 degrees.  It was just beautiful and definitely a magical experience for our kids.
 We have really enjoyed having our own space to do school and be creative.  The light in this house is really great too.  I've included this picture as a special thank you to Ms. Mary who gave us so many Christmas decorations and these crafty things for the kids. 
 There are only a handful of Christmas items that we kept from our 11 years of marriage.  There were many boxes of things that had to go.  I hope my Minnesota friends are enjoying some of those things this year.  One of the things I kept is a small handmade ornament from my great grandma.  I remember the Christmas that we went to her old farmhouse and gathered with what felt like 200 cousins (that's not much of an exaggeration) who were running through the barns, cellar, upstairs, and downstairs enjoying familiar sights and smells and lots of laughter.  Great grandma Barker had hand sewn and personalized dozens of gifts and passed them out in large bags to each family.  That was a special Christmas to me and I'll always treasure this.
 The best part about our move to Oregon has been the amount of family time we are enjoying.  We have been able to reestablish some much needed routine with daily reading and training of our kids.  Pictured here, Jason is finishing up book 6 of The Chronicles of Narnia.  Isaac always claims the best seat in the house.
 As you walk through the front door theres a little nook or whatever it is that's been fun to have.  The brown stoneware croc is from my grandma Carol.  The nativity figures were hers as well.  They were on her table every year.  I'm thankful to have them.  I asked my grandpa to make the little stable for them just this year.  Thank you, grandpa!  It's perfect.   
 Sometimes tigers visit the baby Jesus also.  
 I've been surprised by the amount of cards that have found our new home this year. :)  I didn't know if all our friends could keep up with our travels over the past 6 months.  Thank you, friends!
 To the right through our front door is a small bathroom.  Our maps are hung there.  Sort of a little surprise when you sit down. We have only ever had one bathroom and this town home has THREE toilets!  We don't quite know where to go sometimes.  It's such a nice "problem" to have.  
 There are twinkle lights and paper snowflakes in that room also.  It's really a nice little place to be. 
 The one strand of large retro colored lights that I kept from Minnesota are lining the stairway to the second floor where our bedrooms are. 
 There's a corner fireplace in our living room and this home is so cozy at the touch of a button.  A very drastic difference from our Minnesota home with all wood floors and ice on the insides of the windows.  I'm not sure how this transition is roughing us up for our move to the Philippines, but we sure are enjoying it.  Since most of what we kept were functional items, I've decorated with books and school supplies.  It works.  It's our life.

 The kids have totally decorated the tree and I love it.  That's the way it has been for years. I love it that they pile on whatever they want- usually made with love and hung with care. 
 We had kept the pictures from Jason's office wall and so those are hanging in our living room.  It was Jason's idea to mount a little magnetic fixture to the bottom edge of each kids frame and then change out art as they create it.  And of course, I kept several of my grandma's quilts and use them here.  
 Isaac has enjoyed painting lately and this is his baby Jesus in a manger.  He painted it for grandpa who is in the hospital for the month of December. 
 Isaac turned four years old two weeks ago.  I can't believe that I have a four year old baby.  He regularly melts me with his, "you are the best mom ever" and it's always accompanied with a big hug. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

deep breath.

I have purposed to begin.  With that beginning again, I'm plagued with all the catching up that I feel like I have to do.  I want to preserve a sort of time line of our journey here and so I'm going to oh-so-slowly attempt to fill in the gaps and take a deep breath and dust off the memories and share them here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

enjoying the snow

What's a person to do when that's all there is... snow.  I want to have these snow play pictures in our blog books for the record.  Soon enough we will be living FAR away from anything snowy.  (I'll post our "where, when, why, how philippines" soon!)  And these snowy memories will be all we are left with.  In my opinion that is fine, but my kids are truly Minnesotan and they LOVE the stuff.