Chevron Background

Friday, February 14, 2014

More Than A Cute Date

My husband is a really cute date.  However, I haven't left the house since the baby was born except to take her to the doctor at 4 days and again at her 2 week check-up.  She is 4 weeks old today.  This means that I have not gone to get John anything for Valentine's Day (today), and we aren't going on a date.  Ooops.  In my defense, I am horrible at gift-giving anyways.  He would probably return whatever I got him, unless it was edible.  He has returned many of my gifts, and I'm OK with that.  We're pretty cheap, and I don't want him to keep something if it was a waste of money because he didn't like it.  I am working on giving better gifts.  It's just not one of my love languages (if you haven't read the Five Love Languages you need to, seriously).  I am all about some words of affirmation, physical touch, and throw in some acts of service when I just can't do them myself.  Basically, the only gifts I ever want are a decent card with a hand-written note inside, some sweet cuddles, and maybe do the dishes for me.  Gifts? Flowers? Meh.

In lieu of a proper gift or date, this post is what I am giving my husband today.  Right now he is off getting everything I put on a grocery list, while wrangling our 21 month old son who has been a "terrible two" since he was about 16 months old.  I fed the little baby and pumped and read my Bible, all in peace.  That was a great gift.  He gives me this gift of a quiet morning at least two or three times a week.  On my super tired days I just go back to bed.  Sleep is a gift too!

One of our first few dates together, circa Jan/Feb 2013
I remember our first Valentine's Day.  We had only been dating a few weeks.  He was still just a cute guy I was dating, not entirely sure of, but definitely attractive!  He brought me a stuffed elephant and we went to a basketball game at the school where he taught, and then out to eat somewhere.  It was the first time I would meet a lot of the people he worked with, and I was a little nervous about it, because he unashamedly told me, "Don't worry if a lot of people stare at you.  They're always trying to set me up on blind dates with people, so they're very interested in seeing you."  Ummmm, okay Mr. Popular.

I felt warm in my cheeks as he held my hand and led me through a crowd of people (it's not like a ton of people were there, it was just a really small gym).  I held my head high though, because even then, I kind of felt cooler just being with him.  I'm a bit of a closet nerd, and a super goofball, with a really chubby chick inside I try to keep quiet with cookies and yoga.  John was your typical popular small town jock who played football, basketball, and baseball in high school, and admits he was a jerk to the "not cool" kids.  He wishes he could go back and change this, but the past is the past.  He was the cool kid who played sports.  I was the geek who enjoyed writing research papers.  That first valentine's day, I knew it.  Being with him made me feel like the cute cheerleader.  I make it a priority to be my husband's loudest fan, and in return he still makes me feel a cute cheerleader.
One of our engagement pictures, September 2008
I knew John was more than a cute date the night he said, "If we're really going to be boyfriend and girlfriend, then we need to start reading the Bible and praying together."  We sat on the floor and shared some of our favorite passages in Scripture.  I knew he would be a good spiritual leader.  The way we can share our feelings and discuss what God is teaching us through our personal Bible study time today, is awesome.  I love hearing about what God is teaching John.  The way we can be totally honest and open about our own failures, but how we can build each other up in Christ, is amazing.  A few months ago I was struggling with sin, and I tried to hide it at first because I thought he'd be angry, but then I told John about it one day when the guilt was really overwhelming.  He hugged me, and was calm, patient, so kind, and full of mercy and forgiveness that I didn't even know he possessed.  He helped me.  He was my accountability.  He had no condemnation or judgement whatsoever.  I have never felt so loved.  That was the first time I could honestly say that I understood what it means in the Bible when Paul tells husbands to love their wives like Christ loves the church.  Sin is ugly.  Finding out my husband loved me enough to totally, completely, instantly forgive me, was beautiful.
Memphis, February 2011

I knew John was more than a cute date the day he said, "You know I want to adopt some day? If that's a problem we should stop dating."  I shook my head, "No, that's not a problem, I want to adopt, too."  I knew he would be good at loving the fatherless.  When we got our very first foster child, and he fell in love with her and bawled like a big baby six days later when we had to give her back, I found him more attractive than ever.

June, 2011

I knew John was more than a cute date when we met the kind family that would be raising her.  We found out they were good people who had been taking care of her since she was abandoned.  John shared the gospel with them and prayed for baby girl and that family in the parking lot of the juvenile court house.  I knew then for sure that he was meant to work in ministry, and I was proud to serve alongside him.

I knew John was more than a cute date the day I gave birth to Jonah and John spent the entire 24 hours of labor by my side, helping me, holding my hand, never doubting or discouraging me.  When the doctor said it was time to push you might have thought she had just said, "You won the lottery!"  John's face lit up, he grabbed my hand and said, "This is it babe! This is it!  He's coming! You can do it!"  He was so excited.  When Jonah was born he cried tears of proud, thankful joy.  I knew he would be a good father.  He helps so much at home.  I cannot even begin to imagine being a single parent.  When we had foster kids, John was great about helping to change diapers, feed them, prepare food, pick up food, let me leave the house to get a break, take them to daycare, take them to doctor's appointments.  He was a good father to kids who weren't his.  After learning about parenting through all of that, he is an even better father to our kids.  John has spent countless hours taking Jonah places just to hang out with him, to have fun, to get out of the house, to let me get some things done that are really hard to do with a little person around.  John holds Karis when I know she's not hungry, but I am exhausted from her crying.  We take turns late at night when she just needs to be rocked, jiggled, patted back to sleep.  John still changes diapers, even cloth diapers with what feels like twenty snaps (really, only 4 to 6 snaps ever), even when he has to dump the poo in the toilet and then put the diaper in the wet bag.  He is a spectacular father.

I knew John was more than a cute date the day we came home from church one day and he said, "I feel like God wants me to go back to seminary and be in ministry full time."  We prayed and fasted for a week, and a little church asked John to come and preach randomly. We felt it was one of several signs that God was calling him back to ministry.  We changed from the kind of people who worked for money, and stuff, and all the things the world says you need to be cool, to the kind of people who quit our jobs and moved to Memphis because that was what we felt like God wanted us to do.  God doesn't care about cool.  John is cooler now than he's ever been, because he finally gets that.
Southern Made Photography

I knew John was more than a cute date pretty early on.  I am so blessed to be able to live life together with a man who seeks to serve the Lord.  He's a great Valentine every day, and so it doesn't really matter that we don't give each other gifts and we aren't going out on a date tonight.  We will again, when the baby can take a bottle, and we can leave our kids with one of their nanas.  My husband is funny, smart, athletic, faithful and handsome, but it's his love for Jesus that keeps our marriage strong.
Valentine's Day last year, 2012
I thank God that John is so much more than just a cute date!

In DC on our trip in September, 2013

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Things I Love About this Life Season

There are plenty of things to complain about in life for everyone.  Instead, I try to focus on the things worth celebrating and remembering.   It helps me to be more positive when I focus on what I love, what makes me happy, and when I focus on Jesus.  This is a list of things I love about my life and family right now.

Jonah reaches up and puts his hand on my cheek while I rock and sing to him at nap/bedtimes. It makes my heart melt.

Karis smiles when Jonah touches her nose.
These go from top right, to left, to bottom right.  Jonah touches her nose, she smiles, then he smiles at her.

John sneaks back into bed after his early morning Bible study, and he makes it so much more warm and comfortable.

Jonah picks up a clear plastic lid, presses it to his face, calls it a plate "pate" and then keeps saying "I see you!" like he's looking through a window, nose squished and eyes big.

Karis grunts like a little pig and clears her throat like a grouchy teacher while she sleeps.
Southern Made Photography

I cry out to God for leaving us jobless so long and that same night a pastor from Tennessee calls and sets up an interview with John.  The next day my Bible study is when Moses cried out to God for Pharoah adding to the Hebrew workload.  His words sounded similar to mine.  God's answer to Moses boiled down to: I will save you.  Trust me because I AM that I AM.

Jonah stands up in the bathtub and says "Peeeeeee!" then pees, sticks his hand in the stream and says "Hot."  He does this regardless of our protests.  We empty the tub and give him clean bathwater if he hasn't been in long.  This is the "time to get out" moment if he's already been soaped up.

My mom comes over and brings one of my favorite meals.  She makes half of it here so it's hot, and then she holds babies so I can eat while it's still hot.  Then she washes the dishes.

I can pump 5 to 8 ounces of milk per day, and feed Karis every 2-3 hours.  I feel like Dolly Parton or a dairy cow, but I am thankful to have so much more milk this time.  I will continue drinking the lactation tea, eating oatmeal and avocados, and praying it lasts.

If I mention anything about nursing, my father in law immediately relates it to his cows.  For example, he commented on how much I ate one night and I said, "Nursing makes me really hungry."  He nodded and said, "I've got one cow almost dead, her calf eats so much.  The rest are doing fine, but that one is just turning to skin and bones no matter how much I feed her."  Yes, I do love being compared to a cow, lol!
Photo credit
Being able to button a pair of jeans again is nice.  Sure, my three week postpartum belly provides an unsightly muffin top, but just being able to fasten the pants feels like quite the accomplishment after so many months of elastic stretch-belly pants.  It's not like I have to wear them anywhere - I just wanted to see if I could button them.  Score.

I ask God why it's so very hard to wait for our family to serve together, and that night a pastor from Florida calls about a position.  The next day my Bible study includes Psalm 27:14, and I realize that waiting requires courage and bravery, and more waiting, and that's OK.
Photo credit

Jonah does not like to say "I love you" at a normal volume when you say it to him.  He will either scream it at the top of his lungs or whisper it.  He will also growl it.

Karis does not like to sleep at normal times, but when she stops scream crying and finally starts to fall asleep and then smiles off and on for about five minutes straight, it makes it all worth it.

John's mom comes over and brings food and hair bows.  She holds the baby so I can give Jonah a bath.

Because we don't have a job or clue where we're going, it makes dreaming very open-ended.  Dreaming about Tennessee hills one day, Florida beaches the next, or staying in Huntsville and having the continued luxury of being able to easily ship our kids off to their grandparents, and maybe a big kitchen...I look out the window and smile at all the possibilities.
Jonah with my dad, aka "Papa Ketch"

Jonah has figured out how to use our iPhones even when the screen is locked.  He knows how to swipe the little camera image up and this results in a variety of Jonah photography:
Pictures of things he dropped when he realized he could swipe my phone without being caught.

I deleted 19 pictures like this of his leg.

Occasionally he flips the camera and then we have partial-face selfies.

Some particularly restless nights when Karis just does. not. stop. crying, result in John taking Jonah out in the morning so I get to go back to sleep as long as she is asleep, in order to catch up on what I missed from nursing/rocking/standing/bouncing/swaying the night before.  Or if it's the weekend - John taking Jonah to Nana's!
Southern Made Photography
When she finally falls asleep though, she is beautiful.
We have found that the three hour long "Labor Playlist" I had John put together for me (but I was saving for the hospital - when I thought it would get really tough, so I didn't use during labor, because, well, we didn't make it to the hospital) actually helps Karis to sleep!  I love hearing so many of my favorite worship songs over and over.  I have spent many nights rocking her and singing along.

I ask God to please show himself to be faithful and He says, "You asked for a husband who would pray with you and read the Bible.  You got John.  You asked for a teaching job and you were offered two.  You survived a really awful car wreck without a single broken bone, and woke up to say that you wanted to be a mother.  A year later you were pregnant.  You got Jonah.  Two years later you had a baby in a car, in a gas station parking lot without a single complication.  You got Karis.  When have I ever not been faithful to you?" He is so faithful even when we are faithless.
Photo credit
*However, even if I was still single, or paralyzed from the waist down, or had two miscarriages and no babies - God would still be faithful and good.  I don't know why He has chosen to bless me so very much, but I am thankful every single day.
Photo credit

Jonah says "weed-a-book?" or simply "weed-book?" and then climbs up in my lap with a book.  I read and point to pictures and ask him to find things on the page. He likes to pretend to eat pictures of food and smell flowers.  He is at the developmental stage where he understands about 4 times as much as he can actually say, and he is trying to repeat almost everything he hears.  I am greatly enjoying his speech acquisition.  He cannot make the 'K/ck' sound, instead it is a 'T', so my mom is Katie Nana - or 'Tatie Nana,' and he says OK as OTay.  His combines are 'tumbine,' and he likes to point out the corn head - 'torn het.'

Karis likes to be held and cuddled, (I did pray for a child who liked to be cuddled and held, since Jonah didn't/doesn't much), so I put her in the Moby or a pouch wrap frequently and wear her around the house.
I am fast learning about "Babywearing."  Jonah wanted to be in the picture, too. :) 

John goes to Hardees some mornings when we're out of most breakfast foods.  He takes Jonah, and this usually gives me time to pump. He brings back hot food and I eat it shamelessly.

Jonah takes goldfish all over the house and tries to feed them to a variety of his stuffed animals.  Elmo is the only one who comes close to ingesting them though, as Jonah manually mashes them into his mouth.  He also tries to feed them to Karis.

Karis has that unique and exclusive-to-newborns baby smell. I wish I could just breathe in that sweet smell forever. When wearing her gets heavy, I put my head down and get a big whiff of her hair, and it seems like she doesn't weigh as much.

John hugs me when I crawl back in bed from nursing the baby two or three times a night.

Jonah loves to make a tent "tet" by getting under a large blanket with anyone else.  When John arranges it just right, enabling Jonah to stand up, his hair gets static and looks like this:

It's Winter, but soon will be Spring. It actually snowed in Alabama today.  It reminded me of my childhood and many fond memories in South Dakota.  Jonah has a raging snotty-nosed-watery-eyes cold so we decided not to introduce him to the snow today.  We all enjoyed watching it from inside the warm and cozy house.  There is nothing quite like snuggling up with the people you love the most!