Friday Fotos

Are you all not completely blown away by my stellar titles this week? Pure genius.

A few photos fotos for you this Friday morning. These were all taken by our friend Sarah who, along with her friend Kristiana, spent the week loving on our family. Awesome? I think so.

Check out those tiny little muscles. My four year old is ripped.

Sweet girls

We have watched this sweet girl grow up and love her so much.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Swirling life in a cup of tea

When I made this decision, I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  Staying at home with your children full time is hard.  It’s a different kind of hard when you choose to not only be their mother, but also their full time educator.  I knew it would be hard going into this.

And I was right.

Evenings are my refuge and my respite.  They are the brief moments when all the world stills and my tea cup sings (or…you know…sometimes it’s a wine glass singin’).  Evenings are for the dishwasher humming and the stars twinkling and the melodic breathing of settled youth.  I only wish the evening lasted a little longer.

I’ve tried to make evening last too long, lately.  I’ve tried stretching it past the point of grace and peace and into fatigue.  When the tea cup cools and the dishwasher quiets and my brain forgets how to weave words into paragraphs, the evening has long since passed.

This is not wise.

Because, you see, mornings come all too quickly.  They are loud and bright and full of boisterous energy.  There once was a time when I was a morning person.  I adored the quiet sounds of the day breaking – the applause of heaven as sunlight streaked the darkened sky – the grass that stood tall beneath the drops of dew delicately placed on her blades – the birds that chirped good morning as the heat pushed the cool night air away with the moon.

I loved this time of day.

I still do.  I just can’t seem to get up early enough to meet it.  This is because I’m too busy flirting with night.  And because I spawned three who love the morning more than I and who make it their life’s mission to get up before the sun each. and every. day.

So I continue to befriend the night sky – my tea and I snuggled up inside the quiet.  And it’s here that I am trying to find the time to do…everything.

Everything, unfortunately, except the most important thing.  The thing that really does need to have its place in the morning, when my mind is most fresh and most willing to hear.  There are pictures to hang and walls to paint, books to write and boxes to move, clothes to fold and floors to mop, and all the while three little voices yelling, “Mom!”

There’s a story that my mom tells about my grandmother when she was a young mother living on the mission field with four little ones to care for and more work to do than could possibly be done.  When the moment came that she had finally reached her breaking point, she would turn to her demanding little brood and wag her finger.  “My name isn’t ‘Mom’ anymore,” she’d say.  “My name is ‘Horse’s Butt’ and you’re not aloud to say that so you can’t call me.”  And off she’d go, her silenced bunch contemplating the weight of her words.

That is the best. line. ever. Am I right?

I totally get it now. And don’t think I haven’t been tempted to bust that gem out a time or two these last few weeks.

Sometimes all the work needs to wait.

I have a friend who knows me well.  She’s one of the Ribbons. And she was knit with me in a special way long ago when we were both newly married and full of love and wonder at God and life.  Her mind, like mine, teams with creative energy.  Her heart overflows with endless desires.  Her children need her fully and her husband craves her attention, as do mine.  She knows the pull and the strain of wanting, wishing, trying…to do it all.

And failing.

We are on opposite coasts and yet she still manages to speak Truth and encouragement to me on a regular basis.  Through texts, emails and phone calls she reminds me that there is One who craves me above all others.  And that One deserves my attention first.

Her text to me today spoke grace completely:

“Take courage today and do the work God has laid before you…What does God desire from you in your heart and in your actions today?  Just a thought.”

Swirling hot tea steams before me and my Bible lays open, the magic of the Word waiting for me to dive in.  Tonight, I will.  Tomorrow, I will try again.  I’m thankful for friends from coast to coast who love me enough to keep pushing me forward to better things.

I’m thankful for the Ribbons and for the Ribbon Maker who keeps weaving my life into something grand.  I’m thankful for tea and the stillness in which to savor it.

Grant me the ears to hear.


Sveta and Uly

We met eight years ago. Both of us young, married and in love with the world. She was my translator and for one month she acted as my guide. I was on a grand adventure. I was touring the country of Ukraine, interviewing veterans of the great war, World War II. I was five months pregnant and became ill almost the second I set foot in the country. And she made sure that I was well taken care of as we traveled.

We took trains and taxi’s, my pregnant belly bouncing all over the pitted roads, me hanging on for dear life becuase the taxi driver’s seat belts were broken.

“He wants you to trust him,” she said. I heard the sympathy in her voice. She knew I was uncomfortable. Over the course of our adventure, Sveta and I bonded. My mom was with us and the three of us became fast friends – family. Separated by an ocean, but filled with trust and love for one another.

Sveta and her husband, Vova, were fairly newlywed and were devastatingly cute. They were, and still are, madly in love and it just made me smile to see them together. They were mushy and gushy, but not in an uncomfortable way. They just made you happy.

One of the stops on our trip was to Sveta’s hometown of Dunaivtsi. We spent two days with her family, her Mom and Dad fussing over me and making sure I was well fed and taken care of. I ate her Mom’s green borscht and it was, quite possibly, the most wonderful meal I’ve ever eaten. Ever.

Sveta and I laughed a lot on that trip. Her sense of humor was so keen and her English so sharp that she was easily able to keep up with my random wit. We visited fortresses and classrooms. We spent time in colleges and she stood by my side as a group of veteran soldiers poured out their hearts, and their memories, to me in vivid detail.

Sveta became more than a friend. She became a sister.

And for eight years, Sveta and I have remained the dearest of friends. We’ve rejoiced in children born and mourned pregnancies lost. Her first born, Ulyana (Ulya) and Landon are just days apart. I’ve watche dSveta, through her blog, as she’s grown into such a wonderful, beautiful, lovely mother. She is expecting her second child now and I’m just so proud of her and excited for her.

But tomorrow Sveta and Vova need your prayers. Ulya was born with specific health challenges that have brought them to a point of needing surgical intervention. The surgery is tomorrow and it’s dangerous and meticulous and difficult. No parent ever wants to see their child suffer pain or discomfort. It’s stressful and frightening.

Would you please pray for Sveta, Vova and Ulya tonight and tomorrow?

Pray for peace as Sveta and Vova wait. They are currently in Kiev, where the surgery will take place and they will remain there as Ulya recovers. Pray for Sveta in particular as she is dealing with major stress while pregnant. Pray for her safety and for the safety of her unborn child.

Please pray for the doctors as they work on Ulya, a sweet little girl with a vibrant personality. Pray that they have wisdom and special skill.  Pray for protection over her little body.  Pray for Ulyana’s bones, that they would be strong and that her body would be able to withstand the procedure.  Pray that this surgery would only enhance her life.

Sveta and Vova have been on my heart for some time now as they prepared for this day. They have been concerned and frightened, as any parents would be. It just felt right to share this prayer need with you all and I’m thankful because I know that you all will lift them up.

Svetochka, I love you and I, along with many others, will be praying for you, Vova and Ulyana tomorrow!

Thank you, everyone, for supporting a sister in need! I appreciate it more than I know how to express.

Grey’s Anatomy and FRIENDS and Glee, Oh MY!

After talking with several people and thinking through the question I asked yesterday, I thought it would be fun to expand a bit on the topic of protecting our kids from the images thrown at them from popular culture.  (That’s right, I said FUN.)

This train of thought started with Tuesday night’s episode of Glee, which was a little over the top.  It was Madonna night so I should have been prepared, but I was still taken aback as I watched “high schoolers” dance and sing about losing their virginity. 

Now again, I will say that I do appreciate the ultimate message portrayed (even if it was watered down) that girls should take control of their bodies and not succomb to pressure, but the way the message was sent made me terribly uncomfortable and had me questioning whether or not I would want my kids watching such a show were they old enough to do so.

I tend to be a little conservative when it comes to what my kids watch and listen to.  Sloan and I have already had conversations about this as there are several  movies that he wants to watch that I simply won’t let him watch.  The main reason is because I want him to learn what it means to guard his heart and his mind.

Remember the Twister fiasco?  That was one instance in which I let my guard down and for several nights we dealt with the consequences.  So he and I have talked about the fact that God doesn’t want us to be scared or worried or anxious and if we watch movies that make us feel that way, then we are not doing a good job of guarding our minds.

And I plan to continue to vigilantly guard the hearts and minds of my children as they grow older.  Just as my parents did for me.  When everyone I knew was watching Beverly Hills 90210, I was left in the dark.  I didn’t know who the Walsh’s were or why Kelly and Donna were fighting.  Because my parents were protecting my heart and mind from the bombardment of messages that did not line up with the way they were raising me.  And you know what?  I was no worse for the wear for missing that show.

(I did ultimately see many of the re-runs when I was in college and studying in Ukraine.  Everyday when I got home from school, my brain was fried from speaking russian all day, and 90210 came on just as I got home.  The translation was on enough of a delay that I could hear the English and for an hour didn’t have to try and translate in my head.  So I got well acquainted with the show then and truly realized that I hadn’t miss much.)

It is a similar story with the show FRIENDS.  While I don’t ever remember a specific time that my parents told me I could not watch that show (I believe it started airing my junior year of high school), I also don’t remember ever once seeing it until my later college years.  There just wasn’t an emphasis on television in my home and while I watched it a little, there were certain shows that I simply knew they wouldn’t approve of, so I avoided them. 

FRIENDS ultimately became one of my favorite TV shows, but I began watching it when I was older and better able to filter the messages through a more developed worldview and stronger sense of who I was and what I believed.

So, back to Glee.  I don’t know that, after Tuesday’s episode alone, I would forever forbid my kids from watching the show.  For the most part, while the show clearly holds rather loose values, I think it’s a fun, campy hour of television that does not take itself too seriously and, yeah – I think it would open the doors for a lot of conversations.

Now a show like Grey’s Anatomy, on the other hand, is hands down, no way, dont-even-think-about-asking if you can watch this show.  I’ve even forbidden myself from watching that show anymore, it got so ridiculous.  It went from once upon a time being about the characters and witty, quippy dialogue to some kind of political message wrapped up in preachy dialogue and completely inappropriate scenes that do not deserve to be on public television.

I realize that I may be more sensitive to this subject than others are.  While I doubt we will ever swear off TV altogether (although I have no problem with that if the content of shows continue to spiral down the path they’re on now), but I take my job as mom very seriously.  And, in the long run, I don’t think my kids will suffer irreperable damage if they aren’t able to watch the one show that all of their friends are watching.  It won’t send them into counseling.

Oh no…there are plenty of other crazy mom neuroses that I can pull into play to make sure they end up laying on a counselor’s couch someday.  Like, for instance, this insane notion I have that they should play outside instead of watch TV or play computer games all day long.  Sloan literally moments ago stomped out of my room grumbling that I never let him do anything fun. “You always make me play outside and read books and stuff.  That’s boring.”

I’m so mean…