Trip to Disney 2017!!

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Precious memories I have from Disney…I love these photos and I love these kids.  I feel so grateful to have had this trip with them.  It was wonderful to see their tanks so full every day.  Each morning we talked about all the surprises God would have for them that day.  Each day we reflected on them.  I am always so grateful for pictures to capture the moments that God so sweetly gives us.  I want the kids to remember the good to carry them through the hard.  I love that Jesus started our trip out with his name written in the sky.  You are good, good, ohhh, yes you are good God.  Thankful to be filled up and experience this amazing trip with Lewis, Hannah, and Emma…and thankful to have a break when I got back.  Although I missed the kids greatly, I needed the break and time to get several important things accomplished!  One week was perfect. And so good to have them back.

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Resolve and Father’s Day.

beautiful sunset Savannah Rapids Pavilion early June 2017
God is trustworthy…in building a beautiful world, in bringing ultimate redemption of humankind…in a humble way, a babe born in a manger and ultimately a resounding way, Christ coming for us in the clouds. His love is redemptive.

I love this word!  Resolve and discipline is something my dad and my Father in Heaven have often told me are so important in life.  My dad was so very disciplined and had so much resolve.  I remember seeing his eyes squint and his furrow tighten before he would go on a long run or a long hike…sometimes one that would last for a day or two.  He also had such sacrificial love for our family.  He was quite unselfish and I remember looking into the deep, dark brown eyes of his, knowing he would never let me down.  He was true to his promises and he was always thinking about me.  I was a priority in his life.  I knew it deep into my soul.  I was fortunate to have a dad who was relentlessly interested in my life.  I was blessed to have a dad who was faithful to my mom openly and quietly.   I was blessed to have a dad who lived and breathed his family.  I was blessed to have a dad who spent an inordinate amount of time with his children.  My dad and I have so, so many memories together.  Some beautiful.  Some hard.  Some very hard.  But, thank God he cared enough to spend his life with me and to propel me out of the house at 18.  I’m thankful for those years.  As my dad said to me recently as he watched me parent my children…”it’s a marathon Dawn.”  It truly is!!  I thought, what better way to prepare for this marathon than to run one to strengthen my body and mind.Tonight, as I went for a long walk alongside Savannah Rapids Pavilion I had time to think and ponder my days right now.  I thought about the beautiful aspects of the Lord, my true husband right now.  My heart grew fond and I was able to let go of bitterness.  I hear God speaking to me.  I try to obey.  I wait and pray for the right one.  I am glad there is Scripture in the Bible that says to “lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will make your paths straight.”  Thank God we are not left up to our own ideas of what is right and what is wrong.  If I did what I felt or what I wanted right now in the flesh, I think I might end up in a pit.  But, for the grace of God holds me back from such foolish decisions.

Back to the subject of love though…I don’t think you can just stop loving someone who you have been with for so long.  However, I feel my heart forcibly moving on too.  I am resolved to let go and stop mourning the loss and to move on to great things God has in store for my future.

For me, my kids will always remain a huge priority for me, but I find myself really drawing closer to the One who is greater than anything on this earth.  And out of His love in return comes more love into my heart to love on my kids even more than I could on my own, and to find forgiveness and a release of bitterness toward the parts of my past that just hurt.

I look to Christ, He was taken advantage of, mistreated, betrayed..but, He willingly gave his life, he willingly forgave.  I ask God for the strength to do this as He calls me to, particularly when I know I am being taken advantage of.  I love the picture of willing, sacrificial love.  I think it touches God’s heart to see it.  I pray I have the strength to keep giving when I don’t receive anything in return.  It is hard.

Back to the subject of a husband…As I walked tonight, I thought…oddly enough in a sort of healing way, in heaven, we’ll have no husband.  There will only be the Lord and we’ll be together as saints reigning with God.  So, if that is the picture of heaven, a place of perfect bliss, it is then possible to cling only to the Lord here on earth.  I do want to say, I really believe that God has a man for me someday in His appointed time, and I sensed Him speaking very specifically to me about this mid-October 2016, two weeks after my husband suddenly left…but I feel called to wait for this man.

I want to share you some of my prayers of recent for the sake of honesty and transparency, a liberty I allow myself on my blog, but not so much in person anymore.  I’ll get to that in a second, but first a more light hearted note:

I have received such a myriad of advice from many well-meaning friends…some make me just chuckle.  God has brought the sweetest people in my life continually flowing.  I almost think that someday I will thank God for this period of my life, hard as it may be right now.  I see the depth of God’s love for me and I see Him pursuing me relentlessly.  I suppose if God is “love” than He truly knows how to love!!!  One of my friends of recent told me to ask God specifically for what I want in a man.  I could tell she wanted me to get really specific!  I said, “you mean like a Scottish accent, blue eyes, and so on?”  She gave her affirmation.  I told her with a loving chuckle, “really, don’t you think God knows the perfect man for me?”  I could tell Him what I want, but do I really know what I need? I think God knows what I want and what I need even more than I do, without me telling Him.  So, here is my prayer: I have asked God for one thing: a heart of PURE GOLD.  I want a man who loves the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.  I want a man who is a good father.  I am so glad I will get to see that right off the bat this time!  One good thing about dating with children in the home is that when the gentlemen is around the kids, he will be tested right off the bat in his skills with children.  So many women get married and they want to marry men who will make good fathers some day, but they simply do not know whether they will be or not.  This is one plus amongst many other “hard” aspects of dating with young children around.

Resolve.  I am resolving to let go of bitterness, with every step of my day, with every step of my walks, with every step I take to train for my marathon in the fall, with every second I spend pouring into these littles.  Today, I wondered as I spend so much precious time with them.  As I teach and repeat Scripture and hope and pray they turn out wonderfully despite all this….Is my work noticed by you God?  Will there be fruit from it?  God gave me a verse as I started to doubt….and grow numb after quite a few hours with them.

Deuteronomy 16:15:

“For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”

Yahoo!  I am resolved to choose to believe this.  My Emma grabbed this Scripture vitamin and handed it to me right before a huge meltdown.  Oh thank-you Lord, your word truly is living water that quenches my thirst.

I keep reminding myself that my work is so small, yet God’s work is so big.  I plant the seeds, the seeds are God’s Word and they will not return to Him void.  That’s a pretty wonderful promise.

Back to the other underlying struggles of my days right now:

I am resolved to leave into God’s hands the avenging.  How long O Lord will you wait to avenge what you know was so, so wrong?  The delay makes those who have wronged me actually feel like they did nothing wrong.  “See, the Lord does not act,” they think, they say.”  “See, the Lord is actually blessing me.”  All I can do is wait.  Trust.  Be Still. Rest.  Enjoy Life. And wait.  Perhaps I will have redemption only in God’s good plan waiting to be fulfilled in my life.  Perhaps God is just too good to punish us for what we deserve.  But, isn’t that what we all need?  Grace?  Mercy? Perhaps then, only those who are truly punished are those who abuse God’s grace or mock God.

God gave me the story of Pharaoh.  He reminded me today that He made Pharaoh’s heart hard.  I knew that from the words written clearly in the story the Bible, but I still think when I see hard hearts around me, that it’s the enemy’s work.  That struck me deep today.  “Wait, Dawn, this is the Lord’s work.”  But, why?  Moses was a man of great obedience and faith (after a bit of prodding).  He was brave to go before Pharaoh and proclaim God’s Word.  And yet, nothing.  Plague after plague came upon Egypt.  Disobedience on the part of Pharaoh…such tremendous pride and cruelty.  But.  The Lord told me today.  It was to DISPLAY MY POWER to those nations all around.  God had a plan for it.  I realized, on a little scale, when God delivers me, if I have been faithful, everyone around me will see God’s ultimate power displayed in my life.  I pray this may be true for me tonight.

True waiting as a Christian is waiting with a trusting, happy heart.  Many Christian has gone astray waiting a while, but then not being able to wait any longer, they give in and develop their own plan to make their dreams come true.  “Oh, Lord, give me strength to wait patiently with great anticipation of what you will do for me and my children.”  Amen.

I’m waiting for an amazing Father this Father’s Day 2017 for my children and also for one who will be just right for me.  I’m waiting to see my children see a man love his wife in their own home, the way I always dreamed love should be.  I am waiting for God’s plan for me to unfold in my life.  And while I wait, I must let God refine and prepare me…and be satisfied with His love only.  I think I can do this.  With resolve and a whole huge dose of help from God.  Good thing He’s strong enough!!

 

He is Risen Indeed.

THIS Easter, I think I feel a NEW depth of what Christ has done for me, in His incredible act of love on the cross.

The weather has been beautiful these past few weeks…really gorgeous weather…there is new life springing up all around us…such beautiful flowers…beautiful blossoms.  I am asking Him for NEW LIFE through Him this Easter…recognizing HIS love in dying for someone who did not love him, but who now bears His righteousness as His child because of this great act of love.  He brings beauty forth in New Life.

The kids and I did a simple lesson on Good Friday this year…I felt it really hit home for all of us this year.  We made a lego garden and prayed…fell asleep…and prayed…fell asleep…and prayed again.  Lewis commented that he would not have fallen asleep the 3rd time on Jesus.. ;).  We took a bear and a lion, to represent Christ’s arresters, and taped Jesus to the cross, and talked about how much He must have loved us…each…to die for us even while we were still sinners.  They were really moved by this.  Hannah laid down on the kitchen floor after I put the cross magnet back up on the fridge…and told me she was sad, so we all decided to lay down together and pray and thank Him for His love.  It was a sad moment on Good Friday, but I was careful to explain the joy of Sunday to come!!!

We spent the rest of the day picnicking yesterday and today, hiking at Weston State Park and eating at O’Malley’s Irish Pub Restaurant, one of our favorite places.  The sun was beautiful, shining down on our faces and we crossed paths with other believers celebrating the joy of Easter.

Really, I cannot fathom the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  This past week, Emma was sick and teething and very upset–she was unable to eat or sleep much throughout the week.  She alone was a handful for me to bear.  I am thankful for all the ways God provided for me.  I am thankful she ate for the first time again yesterday.  I am left at the end of the week feeling well acquainted with my own weakness.  To think He went to the cross, not just out of obedience, but out of JOY, and LOVE, and DESIRE for me to be saved…is more than I can fathom.  This is LOVE.

I long, more than anything else, for my family and I to love God and others the way that Christ has loved us.  Only by His grace can this dream come true.

Happy Easter 2014.  May His love guide you and enable you.

Happy New Year 2014!!!

I love New Year’s resolutions…really, I do…I know I have no power to carry through my own resolutions, but I know God does…and this year I sensed Him speaking one in particular to me.  I like that God is a planner…He makes a plan and then brings it to fruition.  He is so faithful…and so merciful to do His work in me.  I like to set goals and to receive my “mission”, and making New Year’s resolutions…that are pleasing to Him…and even more, led by Him, are most helpful to me.  I can also assess at the end of each year whether or not I was faithful to God to allow Him to do His work in me…or rather that I believed that He could.

As I look back on the last year, I see the resolutions we made last year that, by God’s grace, have come to pass.  He HAS grown us.  He HAS matured us.  He has helped us to let go of the old and embrace the new.  He HAS rooted us and grounded us in His love.  He has done great things for us, so many I cannot recount them all here.  I love the most that He continues to grow us.  This is what I long for more than anything.  To grow.  To walk more and more in unity with Him…in intimacy with Him…in His light.

Things He has spoken to us as a family recently, I long for the next year, for Him to bring to fruition:

!. To grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. To continue to be rooted and grounded in His love.

3. To walk worthy of the Calling He has given us.

4. To Be the Salt and Light of the World.

Things I long for Him to do in my heart:

1. To be strong emotionally…to be more resilient…to learn to abide…

2. To grow in each of my relationships.

3. To lose the rest of this baby weight 🙂  40 down, 15 to go…

Happy New Year 2014!!!  May the new year FILL you with HOPE and PROMISE in all the great and new things God will do in your hearts and lives this year.

Tinklepaugh Christmas 2013…

This Christmas was so special to us.  It was a precious time of rest from running hard last year—we moved, had a baby, and Brian attended ILE and was working towards his graduate degree on the side.  We sensed the Lord telling us to BE THE SALT AND LIGHT this Christmas.  As we celebrated Advent…really…for the first time…each week the Lord was so gracious to speak to us so specifically as to what His Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love represent….it was amazing, I have never experienced advent in this way before.  It was unforgettable for me.  For Joy week, we went to a “Joy Night” at the Schmidt’s house with our Sunday School class and they were all so full of His joy and singing praises from the bottom of their hearts to Him.  For Peace week, my sweet friend, Christine, demonstrated peace amidst so many hard things happening in her life at the time…it was a wonderful testimony to me.  For Hope week, as we prayed through the PWOC prayer vine, we saw the birth of babies…and the loss of babies…as well as other loved ones who passed away in the lives of beloved friends in PWOC…it was a deeper meaning of what Hope in Him really means….and for Love week, our whole family got really sick, and I learned about sacrificial love.  God’s love is generous, giving, sacrificial, unselfish, and redemptive.

I sensed the kids growing in their knowledge of who God is…each of them in their own way.  I am truly amazed at how God is growing them.  Lewis is so committed to Jesus and has a surprising depth of knowledge of who God is.  He really paid attention to what he learned about Jesus this Christmas…and He remembers it.  He also loves to teach what He learns, which is so beautiful to me.  Hannah is so perceptive and has a depth of love and devotion for the Lord.  She loves intimately.  As she experienced Christmas for the first time as a 3 year old…she fell in love with baby Jesus and all He has done for her.

We are all learning how to consistently walk in the Light.  We pray His light shines brighter and brighter in us as we learn to do this.

Here are some pictures of our family this Christmas:

Unforgettable Christmas 2013 memories of beautiful lights and snowball fights at Zais Park on post, Lewis' precious dictated Santa letter, Hannah's repeated request to stop and see sweet baby Jesus at a neighbor's nativity set, Lewis and Hannah's Christmas play, dressed up as an angel and star, and Emmy all ready for her very first Christmas.
Unforgettable Christmas 2013 memories of beautiful lights and snowball fights at Zais Park on post, Lewis’ precious dictated Santa letter, Hannah’s repeated request to stop and see sweet baby Jesus at a neighbor’s nativity set, Lewis and Hannah’s Christmas play, dressed up as an angel and star, and Emmy all ready for her very first Christmas.

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Thanksgiving 2013.

Wow, I have a LOT of writing to catch up on…and I am looking forward to spending time soon processing, capturing, and reminiscing over the memories we’ve made together as a family the past month.  Has it really been that long since I’ve written???

This month has been a bit calmer than last, but so much still seems to happen somehow with 3 now…I am thinking back to when Lewis used to nap 2-3 hours in the afternoon, and Hannah too…I just don’t have those days very much anymore when all 3 are napping…just not as much quiet time…and I simply don’t get the computer time with Brian in school…understandably so!  Soon, he will get a break, thank goodness, he works so incredibly hard….  And Lord willing, soon I will get a chance more to write.  My mind has had to process in the meantime as my hands haven’t been able to write.  But, there are lots of sticky notes hanging around that are begging to be put into words! 🙂

This Thanksgiving….

Psalm 92:

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
how profound your thoughts!
Senseless people do not know,
fools do not understand,
that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.

But you, Lord, are forever exalted.

For surely your enemies, Lord,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my horn[b] like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

This is the verse the Lord gave us this Thanksgiving…to proclaim His love in the morning and His faithfulness at night.  We had an opportunity to talk with one of our muslim guests about God’s faithfulness to the Pilgrims so many years ago…and to think about His faithfulness to us.

I want to capture here–this Thanksgiving.  It was beyond words really in so many ways….  It was:

~A time to worship together joyfully as a family…with all mouths praising the Lord…truly praising Him…

~A morning on Thanksgiving morning when the kids woke up with thankful spirits…a sweet gift from the Lord as it had been a bit of a grumbling week for them.

~A few days of learning to serve together as a family to prepare for our Thanksgiving dinner and guests.

~An opportunity for Brian and I to come to the Lord together to “receive our mission”…He gave us Psalm 92.

~An opportunity to be used as vessels and to witness God’s presence in our home for Thanksgiving dinner…to see glimpses of His purposes for each guest He brought…to see what His presence brings about in hearts…it was incredible…how hearts are convicted, how hearts confess….simply by His Spirit being there.  I sensed we have a lot to learn about how God wants to use us when people respond to God’s presence.  We are learning how to serve those in need while being aware of the depth of our need.  THIS is ministry.  We have so much to learn from Him.

~Seeing what a wonderful gift it is to have stability here to stay another year as we see so many leave who arrived with us…grateful for the ways God has enabled us to finish ILE and grad school the past year….humbled by the grace and gifts God has given us and also humbled by the demanding year that lay ahead of us.  I am sensing I will need to really press in to the Lord, strength-by-strength to get through this next year…

This Thanksgiving…He made us truly THANKFUL for all the GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE in our lives and the lives of others.

These are a few more things/lessons I am grateful for that the Lord has driven home for me the past few days:

I loved seeing Brian’s joy in serving the Lord.  I loved seeing his delight in worshipping together as a family.  I loved seeing a united team as a couple to serve.  I loved seeing God enable me to be less that He might be more…I loved learning to walk strength-by-strength through the past few days of cleaning, cooking, spending quality time with each kid, being an attentive wife and being a hostess…and joyfully serving while my husband ministered.

I am learning about how God gives powerful vision to people…and then asks them to surrender it….how life is a continual surrendering process.  And the depth of how much He desires us to lay our lives down.  This word surrender is meaning more to me each day.

I am learning how scary and ugly my sin really is…(and the picture of how ugly so much of me–inside and out–would be without God’s intervention) and how beautiful His body and His righteousness is…I have been truly scared of those moments when my terrible sin pops unexpectedly out…loathing those moments…and longing to do anything to avoid them…but the truth is that I live by grace and NOT perfection…and to presume to achieve perfection actually violates the 1st commandment…to be completely perfect is to be God…and by presuming or even longing for perfection we proclaim ourselves as God.  God wants us to be Holy as He is Holy.  He wants us to be perfect as He is perfect…in SERVING and LOVING others…He wants us to RUN HARD for the prize He has waiting for us (for His glory)…and He wants us to be obedient….BUT when we fail Him, we are to look to His throne of grace…

HE GIVES ME GRACE to do things right…HE GIVES ME THAT MUCH MORE GRACE when I do things wrong…either way I FIND HIS GRACE.

I think this lesson will help me embrace being a helpless sheep and learn to LIVE BY GRACE.

I am learning that He alone is enough and my husband is a blessing on top of that.  I am so thankful for my wonderful blessing!

I have learned a deep lesson in parenting.  I am learning that the Lord DELIGHTS in shepherding His sheep…and I am talking about High Maintenance Sheep!!!  I have not delighted lately in all the WORK my kids seem to be some days…the constant shepherding wears me out and I begin to think that my kids really are so much more high maintenance than others…but I was reminded by my mentor that the Lord DELIGHTS in shepherding us.  And I am high maintenance too and that is ok!  The point is not to be low maintenance but to turn to our most wonderful Shepherd…He is able to perfectly shepherd His sheep.

I have closure on the twin subject!!!  Yeah!!!!!  I wish I could type this in huge letters because I am SO thankful for this!!!!  Alas, this probably seems ridiculous to most of you, but I really have felt God talk to me about TWINS constantly for about 2 years now.  I have been so confused.  I have had numerous interactions with people who have twins…when the subject first came up a lady put her hand on me and told me I was to have twins (and my husband separately too)…and then one of my dear friends adopted twins right around that time…and then really the subject has been constant since then..I am always running into it and more people who have twins…..  Really, I feel quite silly because I have MISSED entirely what God was telling me.  Do you know that feeling, you know God is trying to tell you something important, but because of your own blinders you draw all the wrong conclusions?  Now that the blinders are off, I am able to see clearly…and I feel quite silly!!!  Now I see it plain and clear.  But, someone had to plainly tell me last night….can I tell you a bit of this silly story as I see it right now?

When Lewis was a toddler, we were in Korea, and we sensed he really, REALLY needed a playmate!  We had Hannah shortly thereafter and when she was born, she had the same birthmark as her brother and was so similar to him in so many ways…they do everything together and go through everything together…even though they are 21 months apart.  Hannah is quite advanced and Lewis is a little behind, so they are really on the same playing field oftentimes.  They experience the same emotions…often have to be separated to not spend too much time together, Lewis thinks of Hannah and wants to wake her up the first thing every morning…they really can’t get enough of each other.  The other night, a lady turned to me and said: Are they twins???  Then it hit me.  Honestly, I have been a little SICK of the subject.  I just am so tired of thinking about it.  I can’t picture us having twins after the 3 we already have.  And I am tired of running into twins or twin advice…not knowing how it is applicable to me.  NOW, I get it.  When she said it so plainly, Brian and I looked at each other and smiled.  Brian answered, “no, but they might as well be!”  Now we get it.  Yes, we have “twins” and now that I see them in this light, the information that I have been given on twins is so very helpful!!!  🙂  Quite silly huh?  But, it has driven me crazy!  And now I have closure 🙂  My little puppy trouble is actually TWIN trouble!!!

Very silly story, but I am so thankful to have this new revelation and to hopefully, learn more in parenting through it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  I pray we all can sense His LOVE over us each morning and remember His FAITHFULNESS to us each night.

A soft and beautiful heart-Lewis turns 4!!!

A sweet friendship blossomed

This heart is so precious to me…it is so soft and beautiful…so full of love.  God is transforming his heart and mine.  He is teaching me to love him more than anything (obedience, meeting a certain standard of behavior or schooling, etc)…and I feel so blessed to love him and to be loved by him, and especially, to get to witness the beautiful relationship this little boy has with his Saviour.  He asks me questions about God all the time…detailed questions I am usually totally incapable of answering…by God’s grace I guess some of them make sense!  He loves to help me, save me, protect me, and to be with me always.  When I go away from him to do something, he always follows.  He loves to open doors for me and everyone else.  He cooks with me, gardens with me, takes care of the house with me, does school with me, plays with me, and misses me terribly when I am not around.  He is so tender with me and loves me so deeply.  He tells me things are ok when I am sad or frustrated and dries my tears when I cry.  He is diligent, hard-working, brave, industrious, kind, and loves his family so much.  He is an incredible big brother.  He has been wanting more siblings the past year and asks us about this all the time….and also asks us every now and then to adopt another child who doesn’t have a mommy or daddy.  We tell him we are waiting for God’s timing. We are looking forward to that timing 🙂

After his birthday the other week…he sat with the presents people so graciously gave him.  We have never done presents before…except a few at his first birthday…so this was a new thing for him.  Brian and I prayed as to whether this was the right thing for his 4th birthday, and we saw that it was.  As he sat surrounded by them the next morning…his eyes filled with tears….and he kept saying, “Mommy, I can’t believe this, I can’t believe this.”  I explained to him that God loves him SO much and has chosen to pour out His love to him in this way on his 4th birthday…and all of it will be something for him by which to remember God’s love to him.  He said in response, “Mommy, I’m going to give Jesus a big hug when I get to heaven and I am going to try hard to be nicer and nicer everyday.”

The party itself was big…the largest one we’ve ever had.  We talked to him about being a gracious host and making sure his guests were enjoying themselves—he knew it wasn’t about him.  He loved sharing it with his best bud, Deacon.  They both turned 4 together on the same day.  They have come to really know and love each other.  Everything about the party was so blessed and precious.  The food was prayed over…the cake was incredible and made by a woman who loves the Lord and prayed over every aspect of that cake!  She is amazing to me.  Her love was poured out for our boys.  Decorations were donated by sweet friends.  The kids loved the bouncy castles, the obstacle course, the food, the cake and ice cream, the games, the candy…it seemed that everyone was having a good time celebrating together.  I absolutely loved planning the party together with my friend, Heather Hart.  She is an amazing homemaker, full of warmth, and Southern hospitality :-)…and a beautiful woman of God.  I loved learning from her creativity and enjoying planning all the details together.  This was a beautiful gift to us to have this party together with our sweet friends, the Hart Family.

Lewis was sort of shell-shocked when he got up the next morning.  He couldn’t believe everything that had happened the day before.  My sweet friend, Heather,  shared the decorations from the party with me and I was able to decorate his room with them…so the special day would last a little longer for him.  He stared at them dreamily and said he wished it was his birthday every day 😉  Tonight, a week later, he stared at one of the decorations hanging over his bed again, saying, “Mommy, what does that say?” (knowing full well it said Happy Birthday because I’ve told him quite a few times).  I smiled and started singing Happy Birthday again.  His eyes softenend, he gave me a strong hug (he gives the best hugs now…and doesn’t eat kisses anymore–yeah!) and he said, “I love you so much mommy.”  We didn’t get a whole lot of time together today, so we spent that time after sissy went to bed cuddling in his bed together as daddy was out in the field.  These are the moments where the most precious parts of our hearts are shared.  He talked about dying and going to heaven and whether we all are going to heaven.  I told him that we know Jesus and love Him and that we are all going to heaven.  He said, “but what if you don’t know Jesus, then what happens?”  I explained to him again what it meant to know Jesus and reassured his fears that we are going to heaven and will be there together.   He told me he had accepted Jesus in his heart, so he knew he was going to heaven to be with Jesus forever.  He has said this to us before…and it has been an answer to prayer…that God would reassure us of his moment of salvation.  Then….he asked about Hannah.  I didn’t go into the part about Jesus taking the littles with him to heaven if something happened…but instead felt prompted to talk to him about how we can teach Hannah about Jesus through our love and obedience…that she will see Jesus in us and long for Him too.  Lew quickly said, I’m going to love her so much and teach her about Jesus all the time.  Then, he broke out in prayer..unprompted…he prayed to God that Hannah would come to know Jesus as soon as possible, just like us.  It was the most beautiful prayer and my heart was so overwhelmed with emotion.   I cannot believe the child God has given me.  So passionate.  So tender.  So beautiful to me.  I cannot believe the work the Lord is doing so powerfully in his heart.

He is challenging for me to parent though!  Truly!  I cry out to Jesus often for help.  He requires much patience and tender-loving parenting.  I thought things might get a bit easier at the golden age of 4…ironically, right after his 4th birthday have been the hardest days ever…BUT, God is showing me tonight…his heart is still ok…he is growing leaps and bounds in his faith…he asks us important questions and understands way more than we could ever imagine about his faith…and has a huge heart for God.  He cares to be pleasing to Him….he knows what it is like to struggle…especially with self-will and emotion–to get overwhelmed to the point where he cannot think straight to obey…but this leads him to have a compassionate heart…a heart that is always so tender and forgiving for other people.  This is a boy that God is molding to be His disciple.  He is setting him apart for His glory.  And I get to be a part of that.  It is so hard, but so very worth every moment spent to LOVE, teach, pray, and discipline.  I’m so incredibly humbled and grateful.  This is my greatest treasure.

Happy 4th birthday my big pumpkin.  I see Jesus in you 🙂

Hannah banana is 2!

Sissy Hannah Boo is 2!

Doesn’t she look a bit like an angel in this photo?  As I stare at it tonight, I see the little princess God gave us with much Grace….all the prayers He so faithfully answered.  Hannah in particular, I prayed over during pregnancy.  Lewis came 7 weeks early, so I was really trusting and praying to the Lord for Hannah.  He promised me a term baby and I claimed that promise…every time I was tempted to doubt, He encouraged me to keep believing and keep serving until she came.  I did…and she came after the bible study and after the sweet baby shower the ladies planned for me…right after!

God provided help during my bed rest for her-on the spot help for a week straight, a wonderful Korean mom, who volunteered her time to live with us…and who didn’t speak any English 😉 .  Brian was in the field…and I was supposed to be on bed rest in the hospital…but there wasn’t any feasible option for Lewis, so I had to go home.  And home this amazing Korean woman came with me…the mom of a sweet young Korean medical assistant that helped us regulary in the hospital.  She volunteered her mom immediately…and her mom said yes!  I couldn’t believe it.  We had a blast spending time with each other…I tried so hard to be on best rest.  A friendship blossomed with them and we shall never forget them.  God provided so many faith builders during this time for me.  It was incredible.  God performed so many miracles for me and my friends.  I will never forget them.  They radically changed my faith…and I was to never be the same person again.  Hannah was God’s “favored grace” to us from the moment she came into our lives.

I did a pregnancy prayer journal during my pregnancy with her…God pushed me closer to Him in prayer.  I prayed over every part and aspect of her!  And that is what I remember when I look at her…I see in this picture, God’s beautiful handiwork in her.  I cannot believe what an amazing job He did!  Her beauty captures my heart every day…and her beautiful, sweet, and graceful spirit even more.

Hannah is so full of sweetness, joy, and life!  She hugs us often and likes to lean sweetly into our faces and speak so softly the things she wants us to hear.  We cannot help but stop whatever we are doing to listen to her angelic little voice.  She brings grace to our lives in so many ways.  She teaches all of us to be so gentle and loving.  She has been the most perfect playmate for Lewis.  They are like peas and carrots…and always have been.  There have been moments of intense sibling rivalry…but they cannot live without each other for long.  They are both really coming into their own now…and loving being around each other, sharing, and seeking to help and love each other even more deeply.  I think they are a match made in heaven.

Next to buddy, Daddy is a favorite too!  She loves daddy’s teddy bear hugs and loves to “see buddy” and “see daddy” first thing in the morning.  She, like Lewis, always likes us to all be together all the time.  She loves to softly hum and suck those two fingers at the same time.  She loves to dance when she hears music.  And tonight, when I asked what song she wanted me to sing…she said “Jesus.”  So, I sang a Christmas song.  These are the ones mommy knows the best 🙂

Hannah is running now!  And her foot is only slightly noticeably off.  I learned about God’s healing and provision during the time when Hannah was catching up developmentally and with her foot as well.  She still has 4 more teeth to come in, so I think she just might have been a late bloomer, but God never ceases to amaze me with how He teaches little ones things before they even come to know Him.  We are thankful for the continued provision with her foot.

This second year has been so much easier than the first colicky year.  I learned so much as a mommy of a colicky baby.  I am so thankful to know what Hannah wants now and how to help her and love her in more ways than before.  She is independent and very clever.  She still has lots of moments of fussiness, but I love her sweet, sensitive spirit.

I wanted to have a girl so much after buddy…I cannot imagine my life without her.  I am so thankful for my lovely little princess who never ceases to bring me joy, teach me, love me, and help me see how much He loves me.  I can never doubt that when I look into her beautiful baby blues.  He loves so deeply, so extravagantly.

Happy Birthday # 2 little princess.  We love you and are so thankful for you, our lovely gift of God’s grace.

Father’s Day!!!

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We were so blessed to have Brian home for the night for Father’s Day…even though he was in rotation…and we will have him home tomorrow for his birthday too!!!  After experiencing so many special days away from each other…we are truly happy to have those days together now…even if only for a little bit of the day 🙂

I wasn’t sure what time he could be home…because it is so busy for him in the field and there is often no reception out there for cell phones…but I made a gamble and had a nice meal prepared…and took these pictures 10 minutes before he came home!  Yay!  He made it for his celebration!  It was a good gamble this time.

To the most amazing Daddy and Husband…he was truly our hero for this last rotation…he comforted me when he came home, even though he was exhausted…he listened to me talk for a while…out of my loneliness (and he really pays attention 😉 ), he served me with all his might…even though he just had his toenail removed..and it was aching so badly…he was the spiritual leader of our family…providing Godly guidance and counsel when we struggled…and supportive and understanding in parenting struggles.  He made me feel special each and every night he came home and prepared me for tough days and nights in the field with his gentle warnings. He was so thankful for his special Korean Father’s day dinner and each and every dinner I give him (I don’t think he’s ever complained…no matter how bad the food I cook is!).  I am in awe of him.  He is leading me closer and closer to my Savior and I think he is the greatest man on this earth!  And I cannot even begin to count the ways that he is an awesome daddy too!  He makes our kids feel so special and loved and he is probably the most tolerant man I know.  And he actually wants to have more kiddies with me!  🙂

Happy Father’s Day to you Brian.  You are simply amazing.