Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's So Quiet, I Can Actually Hear Myself Think

The sun is dipping behind the trees, and the house is unusually quiet tonight. The little ones are off enjoying an ice-cream date night with their precious adopted grandparents, Teev and Bibby (which is Jackanese for Steve and Libby).

So I wanted to take a minute and share with you something that hit me while I was reading for our Small Group Bible Study tomorrow night. If you're like me, you've read, or at least heard, the stories of Creation and the Fall of Man in Genesis no less than 450 times. So when I saw that we were studying Genesis 3 this week, I sat down to read with a hint of "been there, done that" in my attitude. But God, as He always does, showed me something new that I had never known before--something that I needed to hear in this place of uncertainty that we sometimes find ourselves.

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
(Genesis 3:1-6)

That was an account of Satan's very first attack on mankind. But what struck me when I studied it this time was the tactic Satan used to try and separate man from the God who loved him, the God who created him. Now I'm no warrior, but it seems logical to me that if you're trying to win a battle--if you're aiming to take command over another army--that you would charge in with your guns blazing. Rarely have I heard of troops making small-talk with the opposition in an effort to turn their affections away from their leader and toward those whom they battle.

But there were no blazing guns in Genesis 3. Rather, Satan chose to use something far more subtle (and I believe far more sinister) to cause Eve to disobey God, and therefore, separate herself from Him.


Read that passage again. Not a single time does Satan tell Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Not once does he pull a power-play on her and make her feel as if she has no choice. Instead, he simply plants in her a seed of doubt (Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden?"), he waters it with a lie (...when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God...), and then he sits back and watches her sin grow.

What a powerful weapon! And unfortunately, I see it used time and time again. In all honesty, I've struggled with this very thing countless times (although until God showed me this passage in a new light, I didn't recognize it for what it was). I'm ashamed to say that we spent years not acting on what God was calling us to do. But it wasn't because we were shaking our fists in His face and shouting "No way!"...it was because we doubted God's plans. The conversations went something like this:

"God, I know you've set our hearts toward adopting, but do you know how much adoption costs these days?"

Or "Lord, we know you're calling us into full-time ministry, but we don't know how we would pay the bills while paying for Seminary as well. And what about time? Josh works a regular full-time job, you know?"

While God hasn't always answered those specific questions in the way we asked them, He has provided for our every need. And He reminds us that "those plans" aren't arbitrary or meaningless. They're His plans, and His way is perfect and His word is flawless (Psalm 18:30).

We've found particular comfort in the words of Luke 12:24-34:
"Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

This passage speaks more of superficial things like clothing, food, and drink, but I don't think the promises of this Scripture are limited in that way. The truth is that there are many great blessings found in trusting God with our lives and being obedient to His commands.

Lord, thank you for the patience you show us everyday. Please forgive us for the times that we have doubted you or doubted the perfection of your plans for our lives. Please give us confidence to move forward boldly on the path you have set before us, and continue to provide for us along the way. We love you, Lord. Amen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We Were All Psyched to See the Waterfall

What's wrong with me, people? It's late Tuesday night, and I haven't posted a single shot from last weekend's DaddyDay! Aagghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

So here's the story...

First of all, we had no problem deciding what to do when we got up that morning. I mean, is there really a question when the weather is sunny and...


Obviously we wanted to spend as much time outdoors as possible, so we decided to go hiking for the morning. When Josh and I were in college at Samford, we used to drive to Oak Mountain State Park all the time. But during the past three years in this house, we haven't been there a single time (despite the fact that our neighborhood sits right across the street from the back entrance to the park). Having never been there before, the kids weren't quite sure what they were in for, but all we had to say was waterfall, and they were 100% on board with the plan.

And besides we knew the falls would be gorgeous that day because of all the rain we had had the week before.

So into the car we went, across the street we drove, and up to the entrance of the Pevine Falls trail we headed.

Every few minutes, we reminded the kids about how much they were going to love the waterfall they were going to see at the end of our hike. So they shushed us at each blow of the winds, convinced that the rustling they were hearing in the trees was the first sound of the water going over the edge of the cliff.

Josh and I noticed pretty quickly that the route back to the falls was different than it used to be back in our college days. (And why wouldn't it be? That was ten years ago.) But we were really enjoying the changes. There were cute little wooden bridges...

...and lots of big rocks to climb on.

Whenever somebody started to get tired, we just chanted another round of "waterfall! waterfall! waterfall!" to keep the troops moving. But eventually, the path became less like "a fun day out with our three little ones" and more like "my legs are dying, and I'm worried one of the kids is going to collapse over the edge". Not to mention that the path seemed like it was never going to end.

Finally, as a couple commented on the little hikers we had in tow, Josh replied with a smile, "I think we might have bitten off more than we can chew!" Little did we know how true that was!! Because when we reached the end of the Cheater's Hiking Trail, we found ourselves staring over the edge of what seemed like a mile-high dropoff...apparently "just around the cliff" from the waterfall.

That's right, folks, we could hear the waterfall, but we couldn't see so much as a drip.

And considering neither of us was in the mood to put our entire family's life in harm's way by rappelling off the side of a cliff, we turned around, headed back the way we came, and tried to pump the kids back up by chanting "the creek! the creek! the creek!"

Isabel took full advantage of the water/dirt combination and got her little backside absolutely filthy.

By the time we were walking back to the car to leave, Jack had officially checked out...

But we rallied around him (rather, pushed him from behind), and he found one last spurt of energy to catch up with the pack.

He was met with lots of cheers...

...and he seemed quite proud of his hiking skills!

After nice, cold drinks for the little ones, it was time to head home.

Sadly, after the tremendous crash-and-burn of the waterfall plan, driving through this water over the road (from all the rain, go figure) was the kids' favorite part of the day.

But judging by Isabel's face on the way home, I don't think they really held it against us.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thank You, Lord!

Details to come. Right now I'm off to celebrate with my precious husband!!

I Hope This Counts!

The theme this week on I &hearts Faces has gone south. Instead of sharing fun face shots, this week is all about feet! I've got lots of sweet tootsie shots from newborn sessions, and I've got plenty of pictures of a little one peeking around Mom and Dad's legs, but none of those was exactly what I was going for this time.

As soon as I saw the theme, I thought of this shot I took a few weeks ago as the bride and the bridal party were getting dressed for the wedding. I adore the contrast that this shot represents...the contrast in size, the contrast in color, but mostly the contrast in life stages. The little ring bearer was just learning to use his feet to take his first steps...and the gorgeous bride was about to walk toward the altar to begin a new life with her husband. LOVE IT!

You can see lots of creative photos for this week's theme by clicking on the button below to visit I &hearts Faces.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Man, That Lady Can Move!

My dad was coming in town for a coin show yesterday, so on his way, he dropped my mom off to spend the day with us. She came in with her traditional gift of "mufkins" (that's Jackanese for "muffins") for the kids, and then she spent the next 8 hours playing with the little ones who were so crazy-happy to see her (I got to visit with her a bit in between as well!)

My parents each have their unique and very defined roles when it comes to the grandkids. My dad is the chaser/swinger/tosser, and my mom is the cuddler/hugger/kisser. And she was acting her part very well yesterday, but as you can see from these photos, things quickly took a turn in a drastically different direction...

It started with a hug, but when she threw in a few giggles and tickles, things started to go crazy. And in no time flat, she was in an all-out sprint chasing the little ones around the house!

I don't know how long this went on...I just know that by the time it was over, my abs were hurting from laughing so hard. The thing is, just when I thought they were wrapping it up, Mom would do something like this...

...and the game would start all over again! It was a total riot seeing her explode out of the next room to surprise whichever little Lewis was trying to find her. Finally, they decided it was time to stop for a little break...

...and in no time, Crazy Sprinting Lady had changed back into the Nanny we all know and love. And cuddles, hugs, and kisses were had by all.

Kitten Heaven

Dear 7H,
I just wanted to write you to let you know what a fantastic time I'm having at the Lewis' house. They're the most amazing kitten-sitters ever!!! They play fun games with me, they feed me right on time everyday, and they even let me lay on my back in their laps so they can rub my tummy while I sleep.
I've missed you while you've been gone, but I've had plenty to do around here to keep me entertained. Yesterday, I found a little piece of pink construction paper on the floor, and I played with it for ages. I flipped it up in the air, I rolled around with it on the floor, and I even snuck up and pounced on it a few times. What fun!! But the most fun came this morning when I got up. I found this huge balloon floating around in the kitchen, and I've been playing with the string on it all day long. We should really get one of those!
Abby and Jack are super-sweet to me. Isabel is, too, but I'm still a little nervous she's going to pick me up by my head. She's a crazy one, you know!
I hope you're having fun in Charlotte, and I can't wait to see you when you get home.
I love you,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Greatest Body Part That Ever Was

There's one picture that didn't make it into yesterday's post about Josh, Abby, and the bike, so I wanted to make sure I included it today. As I mentioned, God is with us always, and He never lets us fall. And thankfully God never tires of leading us and holding us up. Unlike Josh...

After the 2 miles he ran all over the park while simultaneously leaning over sideways to hold Abby's bike up, Josh was ready for a break.

So it was back to the creek for all. For our first dip in the water last week, Izzy had to man the stroller while I got some practice in with my new camera lens. But lest you think she missed out on the fun once again, here are some pictures of her soaking her tiny feet in the creek...

But none of this is really what today's post is about. For those of you who know Jack, you know that one of his trademarks is "running with his elbows up". Don't know what in this world that means? Let me explain...

For some reason, when Jack first started learning to run, instead of running with his elbows down more to his sides, he ran with them behind him and up. Up high. Like kind of behind his ears. Josh totally embraced this goofy trait, and he started telling Jack to "run with his elbows up" because it would make him faster. Daddy spoke, and Jack listened. So up the elbows continue to go.

Well this morning, Jack and I were downstairs getting the playroom cleaned up after the tornado known as a "playdate" tore through when he came running in my direction screaming something at the top of his lungs. I thought something was wrong, so as I frantically looked him up and down for some sort of injury, I begged, "Slow down, buddy. What's wrong? What are you saying?"

He took a deep breath, held up one of his little toy men, and exclaimed, "ELBOWS!"

Lo and behold, he had discovered that the tiny man had elbows just like he did, and he was off-his-rocker excited! Ever since then, the toy has been referred to as "Elbow Boy". And he would prefer that Isabel not touch him.

So here's to you, Elbow Boy. And remember, always keep your elbows up!

(Thankfully Elbow Boy keeps his pants on at all times.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Freedom That Comes With Trusting

This weekend's DaddyDay was a big day for all of us. And it all started with a bike.

Abby's been asking when she could learn to ride her bike without the training wheels. So when we got up Saturday morning with nothing on the docket, we decided the day had come. After DaddyDay cinnamon rolls, we each donned our park gear and headed to Heardmont for the morning. The first order of business was a power-walk around the trails (accompanied by Abigail and her training wheels), but once we had gotten in a little workout, Josh busted out the wrench (or screwdriver...or hammer...or something like that) to remove her balance-helpers.

I'm not sure what she expected it to be like, but I think she was a bit taken aback at how much different it was to ride without something she could see to catch her on either side if she started to fall. Those wheels may have been tiny, but they gave her great assurance.

The first 20 minutes or so was spent with Josh jogging along beside her, holding her steady with every spin of the tires. She kept saying she thought she was going to fall...and he kept reassuring her she wasn't.

"I've got you, baby. I promise I'm not going to let you fall."

But just as she would start to get the hang of it, she would psych herself out, quit pedaling, and then lose her balance. Of course, as he promised, Josh was right there to catch her each and every time.

After a while of this, Josh stopped her, looked her in the eyes, and said, "Abby, I've got you. You have to trust me. I love you so much, and I'm not going to let you fall."

It took some time, but eventually she believed him. And you know what? She was actually able to do what we had gone out there to accomplish!

Later that night, when we settled the little ones down to bed, and it was just Josh and me in the quiet of our living room, Josh shared with me how neat the experience of earlier that day was for him. On one level, he loved being able to spend that time with Abby and help her begin to learn something new--something that was important to her.

But on another level, God taught him something that day that we both needed to know and be reminded of. As you've probably read, we've got a lot going on in our family right now. We're in the middle of completing an international adoption, and Josh has recently applied to go to seminary. Although we're incredibly excited about both of these ventures, we'd be lying if we said we don't feel a little off balance at times.

We've had our spiritual training wheels on for a while now. We've been content to take the kiddie ride and use the things we can see as our assurance. We can see a regular paycheck. We're comforted by a good savings account. And we're quite at ease with a nice life in suburban Birmingham. But God wants more from us. He wants more for us.

We want to follow God's leading, but we're anxious.

We want to bring glory to His name, but we're feeling inadequate.

We want to go wherever He sends us. But at times we're uncertain.

Yet just as Josh said that day to Abby, God is reminding us of this: I've got you. You have to trust me. I love you so much, and I'm not going to let you fall.

And so we can go forth boldly with joy to accomplish the purpose that's been set out for us knowing that Someone with the power to hold us up is right there beside us every step of the way.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Forgot Little Jack!!

When I was writing the No Comprende post yesterday, I knew there was a Jack story to be told--I just couldn't remember it. I kept thinking that if I wrote long enough about Abby, the funny Jackism would come to me.

But clearly, my plan didn't work. I ended up typing an insanely long post with nary a Jack story to be found.

But no fear, Jack shared his little misunderstanding of the English language again this morning. I squealed with delight and ran to the computer to slip it in here before my overworked, under-rested brain lost it yet again. So here goes...

Between shipping print orders and adoption paperwork, we've had to be at the post office several times recently. Now going to the post office, in my world, falls somewhere along the lines of having a molar dug out of my mouth with a flathead screwdriver.

OK, that was nothing more than ridiculous drama...but it's true that a visit to the post office is tough for us. I'm usually wearing Isabel in the Ergo, holding Jack's hand on one side, holding Abby's hand on the other side, and carrying a box between my knees as I waddle towards the door (also not entirely true...but trust me, it's not always pretty).

So anyway, the post office staff must realize that standing in line for 20 minutes is no more fun for kids than it is for adults, because they've done a couple of things to try to make a visit to the post office a bit more enjoyable for them. We stood in line until it was our turn, and then Mommy Duck and the Ducklings all made our way to the counter. I chatted for a bit with the sweet man who was helping us, and when he was done shipping our package, he asked the kids if they would like a stamp on their hands.

Sure!! I had just seen him stamp "Priority Mail" all over our package, so we were gung ho to get a stamp like that, too. Everybody put their tiny hands up on the counter, he pulled out the stamp, and pushed it firmly onto the pudginess that waited there. He pulled the stamp away, and voila...

"SPOILED" was written in bright red ink across each of their hands.

Okie-dokie then..........

We told the man thank you, walked out to the car, and I promptly busted out the wet wipes as the kids got into their seats. Before I scrubbed their little hands clean, I explained that "spoiled" means that we think we deserve everything we have...and more. I told them that we should always be thankful for the things we have and reminded them of how important it is to give to others rather than hoarding for ourselves. Before I found myself in the land of Toddler Preaching, I stopped and gave them an explanation I knew everybody could get...

"It's just sassy, guys."

We cleaned the red ink off as best we could, finished up our errands, and headed home for lunch and naps. As I was putting Jack in his crib that afternoon, he squirmed away as I tried to pick him up. He normally leaps into his bed for naptime, so I asked...

"Buddy, what's wrong? Why don't you want to get in your crib?"

He said, "Need new sheep me." (Which translates into "I need a new sheet.")

"What's wrong with your sheet?" I asked.

"I not like it. My sheep is sassy!"

Friday, July 10, 2009

No Comprende

Don't you think it's such a fun time when little ones first start to get a grasp on language? They finally realize that verbal communication is a two-way street and that they can share thoughts with us rather than just listening to our endless monologue.

I particularly love the mix-ups that come when language is first developing. Here's a great example. When Abby was little, she used to love to put on chapstick. But instead of asking for "chapstick", she would repeatedly say "stuffstick, please". She also squealed with delight anytime she saw a "motorbicycle" driving down the road.

Even though her vocabulary has developed greatly since those days, Abby still has the occasional case of right word/wrong pronunciation. She would like nothing more than to be a catographer like Mommy when she grows up. And she loved reading in her Bible about the Philisteams with Daddy the other night.

But my personal favorite has to be the story of the wax.

Not long ago, Josh and I began noticing that Abby didn't seem to be hearing everything we were saying. She wasn't always answering questions, and she asked "What?!?" no less than 3,000 times in the course of a week. After about the 2,000th time of repeating what he had said, Josh asked "Abby, do you have a lot of wax in your ear?" And she responded that she thought she did.

Out of fear of pushing the sound-proof barrier any farther into her ear with a Q-tip, I just poured a little peroxide in there to clean her ear out. I'll give no details...but it worked.

Not long after that, the "whats?!?" reared their ugly head again, and I asked Abby if she was having trouble hearing us.

She replied, "Yes, Mommy, and I think I know what's wrong."

"What is it, baby?", I asked.

"I think I've got a whack in my ear."

A whack?!? It took me about two seconds to realize that in her mind--the same little mind that was working to get a tight hold on the English language with all of its rules on grammar and syntax--she believed that a "whack" was simply the singular form of "whacks" (or wax to the rest of us).

Josh and I have laughed until our sides hurt at that one. And anytime one of the little ones misses something we say (or chooses not to hear us), we know there must be a whack down in there.

You would think that the mix-ups would subside as Abby's vocabulary has flourished, but instead, the confusion has just gotten more complex. She knows a lot of words, and she fully understands the meaning of 99% of them. But every once in a while, she pops a word in her sentence that she's heard and thinks she understands, but it usually makes for an adorable expression of innocent confusion.

On picking out her snack to eat yesterday: "This is going to be politely yummy!"

And when encouraging Isabel in her part of emptying the dishwasher (yes, all three little ones help me empty the dishwasher everyday), she said: "Good job, Izzy! You're such a great artist!"

I know there are more...but I lost the running list I had going for them. Sad.

On a happier note, the kids and I headed down the street to Heardmont Park a couple of days ago for a Mommy Workout/Kid Playtime. I took the double stroller for the little two and the bike for Abby, and we covered every square inch of that place in about 30 minutes.

There are a few big bridges that go over the creeks running through the park, and Abby and I each felt some serious leg-burning as she pedaled and I pushed 60 pounds of child up and over the wooden walkways.

The little two had it made in the shade...

...but Abby and I were sweaty messes in no time. So after we had made a couple of laps, we stopped at one particular part of the creek that I've been wanting to grab some photos at. I looked in the basket underneath the stroller, and you'll never guess what I found there...

My camera! Well, I'll be...

Now before you scold me for spending most of the Creek Time with my camera in hand, I have a very good excuse. I've been saving my pennies for this new lens, and I was finally able to get it last week. And because one lens is nothing like the next, I needed to get some practice in before my session this weekend.

So there, all you bloggy readers! :-)

Besides, once I told the kids they could kick their gear off and hop in the creek, they couldn't have cared less if I was there or home asleep in my bed. It was like telling them they had free reign in the pantry for a solid hour (which would be the ultimate in gifts as far as the Lewis kids are concerned)!

Izzy did have to take one for the team, and she was confined to her stroller for the first little bit. I, of course, know which I would choose, but I really didn't want to get forced into rescuing my camera or my daughter from the water!! She made the best of it, though, and she carried out what she's taken on as her personal mission by waving to every single person who passed (by the way, this is the same child who wouldn't be held by anyone...including her own father...until she was 10 months old).

I won't post every picture I took (after all, I've only got so much space on this free blog of mine), but I will post a few of my favorites. The kids spent ages searching for "seashells at the beach":

And they spent the rest of the time exploring up and down the creek to see what else they could find.

I don't know what it is about this photo, but this is my favorite from the whole day.

I think she was trying to tell me something from way down there, but I couldn't hear her. Must have had a whack in my ear.