Friday, April 27, 2012

"Mommy, do I look pretty?"

This morning, Lucy came to me and asked, "Mommy, do I look pretty?"

As I combed my hair and finished getting dressed, I looked down at her. Along with her cute purple outfit she had on bright pink and turquoise toe socks (much too big, they were a zany gift from Nanny). Her hair was still in yesterday's pigtails, fuzzy from sleep, but she had accessorized with a turquoise headband (or crown as the girls call them) and had clipped in a little purple bow. The effect was rather outlandish.

But that's not what I saw. I saw fun socks that coordinated perfectly with her fun-loving personality. I noticed that the headband matched the socks and the bow matched the outfit, though none of it really went together. I saw a desire to be beautiful. Mostly I saw her face—hopeful, expectant—full of a longing for affirmation.

"I think you look gorgeous," I replied. I meant it. And as she skipped away, I could see she felt it.

Someday she'll learn how to brush and braid her own hair. She'll know how to put together an outfit from socks and hair accessories to purse and shoes. But I hope she'll always come to me expectantly with that same question: "Mommy, do I look pretty?" And I hope when she leaves she'll always feel as lovely as I know she will look.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The week I didn't get everything done

I didn't get everything done this week. There were usually crumbs under the table. I did the breakfast dishes while the kids ate lunch. There was laundry piled everywhere—the clean piles scrupulously separated from the dirty ones. When I "made my bed" it was only pulling the covers to the top and leaving the lumps.

But that's not what I will remember from this week.

I will remember Stephen "helping" at my feet while I made peanut butter cookies, layering new dirty dishes right on top of the old ones like so many rock layers in the Grand Canyon.

Making peanut butter cookies used up the last little bit of peanuts I was wanting to clean out of the pantry, so it was useful. And it made everyone happy.

I will remember their faces when I said that yes, they could have another cookie.

I will remember introducing the children to Zorro (Tyrone Power style) while I finally folded the mountain of clean laundry that had gathered over the week.

Eating a crumbly snack outside.

I will remember snuggling with Esther after she woke up too early from one of her naps. In about 60 seconds flat, both of us were sleeping. I will remember the 15 minutes of stillness I shared with Stephen laying together on the couch, him sucking his two fingers, me rubbing his back.

So proud of himself!

I will remember the day I made Indian food for dinner: a vegetable curry with rice and a tomato chutney to go along side. I served it with tea with milk, to cut the spiciness. It was fun buying new spices, trying a new recipe, and exploring such unfamiliar culinary territory. But it only took one bite before each of the kids discovered it was too spicy for them! They guzzled the tea to quench the fire in their mouths and cried and whined despite my best attempts at putting a positive spin on it. "Enjoy the spiciness!" I said cheerfully. "Doesn't it make you feel warm inside? Aren't you glad you don't live in India? They eat stuff like this all the time! Sometimes it's fun to try something new!" I will remember that I should've:
  • cut the spices in half.
  • had a back up meal plan in case this one didn't work out.
  • made much less—there was a whole meal's worth left over! 
  • given the kids something different to sooth their mouths with—all that tea went right through. I think the toddler left puddles on all three floors of the house over the course of the evening!
Even though the whole thing was pretty much a flop, it was kind of fun for dinner to be such an adventure. Plus, the leftovers will be welcomed at the church potluck among those who have stronger tongues than my family!

I may not have succeeded in getting all the housework done, but this week I successfully lived.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Choose Life, Choose Hope

"Aw, aren't they precious! Don't blink or they'll be grown up and gone before you know it!"

This is a fairly common comment for mommies like me, surrounded by a herd of little cuties, to hear from well-meaning older ladies. And sometimes mommies like me—in the midst of these spoon feeding, diaper changing, boo-boo kissing, squabble soothing days—frantically close our eyes, only to open them and find that there is no end of them in sight.

Raising children is hard.

I have a husband with a solid job that he loves. I have parents who adore my kids (and are patient with them, even when they aren't picture perfect). I have parents-in-law who feel the same way and all four of these people support my husband and me and encourage us in this difficult, but godly work. I wanted to be a mom my whole life.

And raising children is still hard. So I can't image the turmoil going through the mind of a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, especially if she's heard her whole life that she needs to get out there and have a career and discover herself and it's just a bunch of tissue anyway.

There's a lot of baloney that gets thrown around by the pro-choice people who try to excuse the killing of babies for the sake of convenience (or reputation, or fear). It has been said that they are the ones who really care about women and Society at large. ("You can't expect her to give up her dreams and raise a child!" "Our over-burdened welfare system and over-populated planet can't sustain that many more people!") They accuse pro-lifers of dogmatism and insensitivity. And while it is important to remember and strive towards protection of the (thousands of) lives that are being murdered every day, I do think that the debate could use some kindness and compassion towards the women who are faced with the choice. In fact it should be saturated with it.

Abortion - Exodus BooksThis article says it beautifully. Women facing an unplanned pregnancy don't need guilt. Most of them know it's a baby, and despite the propaganda that says otherwise, most of them will feel responsible for an abortion even long years afterwards. No, what these women need is hope and encouragement. Keeping the life inside them will be hard. Pregnancy is not all that fun and labor and delivery sure isn't either. Caring for the child—from the early days of teaching him or her how to eat and sleep all the way through the older ages of learning how to be responsible—is not easy, even in the best of circumstances. Adoption is a heart-rending process not to be taken lightly. But these women do not have to undertake this journey alone. What they need to hear from pro-lifers is that no matter how stressful their situation, no matter how scared or hurt they are, Jesus has been through worse. He knows what they are going through. He understands. And He cares. In Him is forgiveness, comfort, and strength.

The Portland Pregnancy Resource Centers strive to bring this message to the women who come to them for counsel and assistance. On May 19th, hundreds of people will gather at the Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland to make a stand for life. We do a two mile walk through the streets to be a witness to the city of the worth of defenseless, unborn life. Many of these people are working right now to raise funds to keep doors open for women in search of hope. If you haven't yet given towards this cause, please consider doing so now. You can click this link to be taken to my fundraising page or you can email me your pledge directly.

Thank you for joining me in spreading the love of Jesus to those who need it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seven Years Later

We decided not to have our wedding video taped so all we had was an audio recording of it. We've listened to it a few times, but this year Eli had the idea to edit it, cutting out the pauses and the congregational song, and polish it up. And then I thought, "Why not add pictures, too?" So here you have it: a picture slideshow celebrating seven years of marriage. The sermon that Pastor Chris Wilson gave is just as relevant and edifying as it was when we first heard it and we still laugh along with everyone else at the same points. It's always good to be reminded of the promises we made "before God and these witnesses." Thanks to the grace of God we really are as happy as we look in all the pictures! Marriage is hard work, but it's good work.