Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday!

This weekend we had a joint birthday party for Caleb and Ethan (their birthdays are 12 days apart). We invited friends from church and the preschool children of Marcus's coworkers. My parents also drove from Searcy to help out with the party. I did an all-sport theme, since both boys are very into all kinds of balls. We originally planned to have it at a community park, but it was wet and rainy, so we moved it to the church at the last minute instead.

There were ten preschool children and thirteen adults at the party. We’ve done a birthday party for Caleb every year, but this was the first year that he (and the other kids) were old enough to play some games and have some activities at the party. We started out with me leading the kids in Duck, Duck, Goose and then Simon Says. Then Marcus led Follow the Leader and Musical Chairs. We didn’t play by the rules (nobody was eliminated from any of the games), but the kids all laughed a lot and had a lot of fun. At first Caleb didn’t want to play Follow the Leader, but he ended up following the last person out of the room and he was laughing with everyone else when the group marched back in. I held Ethan and "helped" him participate in the games. He loved watching the other kids run around and act silly.
Next, everyone headed to the church auditorium where we had cleared the chairs and set up a small basketball goal and two soccer goals. The kids played ball together for about 30 minutes while the adults visited. Then we headed back to the classroom to sing Happy Birthday, eat cake and snacks, and open presents.

I made two separate cakes, one for Caleb and one for Ethan, so we sang individually to each boy, and they both loved the attention. And unlike the past two years, Caleb quickly downed his slice of cake, and even asked for more! I guess his sugar tolerance has increased this year! And (amazingly) Ethan ate an entire adult-sized slice of chocolate cake by himself. Nanna was holding him and feeding him bites from his plate, and she looked down to see that the entire thing was gone!
After we had cake, Caleb passed out favor bags to each child and (with a little prompting) gave each one and hug and thanked him/her for coming to the party. Then he opened all of the presents (Ethan had no interest). It was a little challenging to get through the presents because Caleb (and the other kids) wanted to play with each new toy rather than open another present. During the presents, Marcus and a couple of other guys were back in the auditorium inflating a bouncy house.

The last 45 minutes of the party consisted of running around and jumping inside the inflatable bounce house. Everyone had a lot of fun with the games, the balls and the bouncing, and therefore the birthday party was a success!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I love, love, love living in a place that has seasons. During the five years of living in the fairly static climate of Florida, I had almost forgotten the stunning beauty of the changing landscape. Since we moved to Birmingham nine months ago, I've watched the summer flowers bloom, the leaves change colors and fall, snow blanket the leafless trees and ground, and now the leaves budding and spring flowers blooming. Marcus has asked me several times what I love so much about the changing seasons (since I rave about it all the time), and I think this is a big part of my reason: to me, watching all of nature move collectively in a certain direction is a powerful, poignant reminder that God is not only present, but actively directing the world around us.

Perhaps it is because of the seasons and the beauty of the land here, or perhaps it has more to do with the Spirit-filled church that has been the place of so much inspiriation, encouragment and conviction for Marcus and me, but this past nine months has been such a time of closeness with the Lord. I have learned to trust Him and love Him more than I ever imagined possible. He has freed my heart from so many weights. He still has so much more work to do, but the miracles he has done give me so much hope for the future.

At the age of 29, I look back and am aware of two other times of great peace and spiritual growth. One was as a young teen, and the other was my junior year in college. Both times preceeded major challenges/changes (to me those things are synonymous) in my life. I don't know if the Lord is using this current period of peace, joy and growth to prepare me for a significant change in the near future, but the glory of it is that I am only a little frightened by that thought...not terrified as I would have been nine months ago. When I was a teenager, I learned to trust God with my own life, whatever that meant and wherever he lead me. As a college student, I learned to trust him with my relationships, and with the love that I had for a certain young man who would become my husband. Now, God is teaching me the most difficult lesson so far: how to trust him with the lives of my children. Particularly their health, both physical and spiritual. I've known with my mind since that first positive pregnancy test that my children belong to the Lord and I am simply a tool in their lives as they live out their own story with Him. But I have often believed the lie that my own weaknesses and failures will exclusively define their relationship with God, and endured much guilt on that account. I have also believed the lie that it is solely my responsibility (and therefore possible) to protect them from harm. God is chiseling away at these lies and teaching me to daily turn Caleb and Ethan over to him. I have a feeling this lesson will take much longer than the other two, and I may still be struggling with it for many years to come. Even if that is so, every inch that I can move closer to Him is worth the struggle.

God has been so very very good to me and to my family, and I want to publically praise him for what he has done. He has provided for all of our needs: physical, emotional and spiritual, and he has given much more peace and joy than we deserve. I didn't realize it until yesterday, but apparently I've been singing the song "God Has Smiled On Me" to myself so frequently that Caleb has silently absorbed it. Yesterday, I was doing the dishes while Caleb and Ethan were having a snack at the kitchen bar and Caleb chimed in with me!