Friday, July 31, 2009

Our new deck!

I wanted to share some photos of our new deck that Dominic built for us! It is a thing of beauty and something that he worked very hard on. Each of those spindles alone took several hours to cut and place on the railing. It looks so good now that it is finished and I am excited to have a place where people can gather and feel safe! I wish that I had taken pictures of the old deck - but trust me when I say it was unsafe and quite spongy. Many of the boards on the old deck were just plain rotted through so this project was a long time coming!

The first picture - with Gabriel being a goof - is our back stairway that leads out to our garages.

The second picture gives you an idea of how big this deck is. It is wonderfully big. A little larger than the old one and without the wrap around bench like the old one had it feels that much bigger. Dominic has already started the process of making us some small benches that we can have to sit on but can move or put away during the winter. He is becoming quite the carpenter!

The last picture is the front stairway. Since that picture was taken he also mounted our new mailbox so with that the project is complete! And what a project it was. There were many hours of cutting, measuring and working with power tools to get this done and I am so grateful for all of his hard work. Isaac and my dad helped also, but Dominic really did a majority of the work here and we have something beautiful to enjoy now for years to come!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Please Pray for Stellan!!!

Please be in prayer right now for this sweet boy. His name is Stellan and his mommy has an amazing blog. He was born with a heart condition called SVT and right now he is fighting for his life. I encourage you to head to her site and read all about this precious little boy. "MckMama" is a strong Christian and believes that God's plan will be worked out in all of this. But as a mother, and especially a new mom again, I can't imagine the place that she is in right now watching her son fight for life.

Stellan is being airlifted to Boston today. Please pray for a safe flight. Pray for the doctors that will be making serious decisions about Stellan's medical care and please pray for MckMama, for her strength as I know she is exhausted. Pray for the rest of her family also as they try to determine what is best for the whole family right now as she journeys with Stellan to Boston.

We don't always understand why these things have to happen but we have to trust that regardless of the outcome - God will be see in the process. But for right now I pray for a miracle healing.

Last week at home

I can't believe it has gone this fast. 10 weeks down and 1 left until I have to go back to work. I really am feeling so sad about this. I don't really remember how it was with the other 2 boys. Our daycare provider told me that she remembers me having a hard time with Gabriel if that is the case I know that this too shall pass.

But I can't help but wish for something different. I am grateful that I have such a good job to go back to. And I have wonderful co-workers that are caring and support me. That is a blessing in itself these days!

But when you have spent hours and hours with a beautiful new baby for 10 weeks, the thought of leaving him with someone else for 9 hours each day is difficult for me. Elijah will be going to the same daycare that Isaac and Gabriel went to as kids. We trust Kari and her staff and know that they will do a good job. And there are a few retired ladies from the community that come in each week just to rock babies. Really who could ask for a better environment right?

But....there's always that but right?! :) I guess this time with Elijah has been less stressful than I remember with the other boys. He has his really fussy times at night, but I think I am less stressed as a whole and so those things don't bother me like they might have before. I have been more aware of how precious the time is with him this time around I think.

I also have enjoyed getting up in the morning, not having to rush to get ready, making pancakes for breakfast for the boys, getting laundry done, doing a workout (sometimes)...just being a mom. It has been fun and I have enjoyed every day.

Please pray that my heart will be prepared for next Monday. That Elijah will have a smooth transition with his new daycare and that I won't feel over guilty for leaving him each day. And pray that I am able to function as a working adult with the sleep that I am getting. Elijah has to get up to eat every 3 hours so I am up a couple of times throughout the night. I am fine while at home but I am not taxing my brain like I will at work! Overall I just ask that you pray for our family as we begin another new "normal" routine. I trust that God will be with us as we go.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pictures from this weekend

Elijah - grandpa takes such good pictures for us!

Dominic,Elijah and I, Jeff, Beth and Isabel and Mark and Mindi at Isabel's baptism. Isaac and Gabriel were outside at this point running off some energy and we didn't force them to come in for pictures.
Isabel's proud parents and sponsors!

Mark getting some smiles from Elijah!

Elijah and I with Great Grandpa and Grandma Johnson!
Elijah loves to stick out his tounge!

Elijah all smiles! We are getting more smiles every day and he giggles now too!

Elijah "making" a special present for mommy!

And I love the shirt that he has on today it says "Daddy is my Super Hero"! We had his 2 month appt yesterday and he weighed 15.2lbs and was 23.5in long. He is off the charts for his weight and 75% for his height! He is growing like a weed and did a good job getting his shots. You just have to love those big cheeks!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

It was my dad’s 65th birthday yesterday! I should have posted something earlier, but honestly we are celebrating with a special dinner this Saturday and so I was stuck on that day not considering what actual day was his birthday! I know dad – I’m out of the will! :)

Last night I was thinking about how I would describe my dad and was able to think about the many things that make my dad special. When I was younger my dad used to come in my room and sing the “Good Morning” song to me to wake me up. “Good Morning, Good Morning you’ve slept the whole night through, Good Morning Good Morning to you”. There came a time – when I was an ungrateful teenager - that this song was a tad annoying. But it is something I won’t ever forget about him and thinking back it is something that I appreciate about him.

Several of us girls from our block carpooled together to middle school and when it was my dad’s turn to drive it became “joke central” in the car. The girls loved it – they all thought my dad was hilarious and although I acted embarrassed at times it was nice having a dad that the other girls liked so much.

We took vacations as a family every summer and would go camping. We went all over on these trips and both my parents would make the car rides fun by playing tapes we rented from the library or playing the license plate game. And on vacation, according to my dad, “Anything goes”. Within reason of course, but that meant that if Mark wanted a hamburger and milkshake for breakfast, well he could have it. Dad and mom tried hard to make those trips memorable for us and I appreciate that so much now.

If you know my dad you know that he seems to know everyone! If I need something my dad probably knows someone who either has it, or can get it. He is the one that we go to if the car breaks down – can we trust this mechanic? He is the one we call if we or the kids are sick – should we go see a doctor? He is the one that will help with home improvement questions – how do you build a deck? If dad doesn’t have the answer he knows how to help us find it.

My dad has a heart for missions and for people in need and has made multiple trips to Africa, Haiti and other countries for medical mission trips. It is such a testament to God’s work in his life and it makes me so proud. Recently he is getting a program started in SD called “Kids Against Hunger”. He is still working out the details and when it all comes together I will post more about it, but his need to be the hands and feet of Jesus continue even today.

But the thing that I probably appreciate most about my dad now is the relationship that he is building with my kids. He and Isaac especially have such a neat relationship. Isaac loves to spend time with him and beat him at mini golf and car racing at Thunder Valley! They spend time camping and fishing and just have a good time together. Even Gabriel now gets some of grandpa’s teasing when he tries to steal his ice cream by distracting him with elephant sightings! I always enjoyed visiting my grandparents when I was younger and I am so glad that my kids are getting the same opportunities.

My dad is loving, compassionate, forgiving, trustworthy and an example to me in so many ways. I am so blessed to be his daughter and so excited that we are able to celebrate his birthday with him. I love you dad!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Teeth, Love Lump, Australia, Decks and more

All weekend Dominic, Isaac and my dad have been working on building us a new deck. It is a beauty and coming along nicely. I know they wish it was done already but they have the railing and steps to do and we can finally, safely enjoy some quality time outside on it! I am so excited to see it completed. Thanks dad for being willing to make this project possible and mom for letting dad be away from home for 2 days!

Today I decided that Gabriel and I needed a little "alone" time together so we arranged for grandma to watch Elijah so that we could come to Sioux Falls and find new shoes and a backpack for school. Right before we left I was helping Gabriel brush his teeth and he was complaining that his tooth hurt. I looked inside and noticed that not one but two teeth are wiggly and you can see one of the new teeth coming in behind. Needless to say Gabriel is so excited and can't wait to see what will happen with it!

As we drove to Sioux Falls Gabriel started doing this strange counting. He started at his feet by his ankles and counted up to the top of his head. He then exclaims "18 licorice whips long mom". What?? So I ask him to repeat himself and he says the same thing again. Not sure where this came from but he proceeds to count his legs and his arms. I am afraid to share that Gabriel is quite out of proportion because his right arm, from the wrist to the elbow is 13 licorice whips long and the left is 10. Compared to the entire 18 for his whole body he must have enormous arms!

Our little "love lump" as Grandpa Johnson calls Elijah has colic. Most nights he cries for up to 3 hours at a time. Usually it is a little over an hour but a few nights ago it was 3. I feel so bad for him when this is happening because you would really think he is in pain during that time. We struggle to try and console him and often the best I can do is sit with him in my lap singing "You are my sunshine" and rocking him. The carrier we have also works and I have him in it tonight. At least then I have use of my hands! But he will sleep for awhile and I can sit and once he starts fussing I have to walk around with him. The good news is that this period of the evening wears him out and he has been sleeping for up to 4 hours for the first part of the night. Please pray that we can all get on a good schedule before I have to return to work in 3 weeks - that is my biggest concern right now!

On Saturday we got some exciting information in the mail. Isaac has been selected to participate in the People to People ambassador program and has been invited to spend a portion of his summer in Australia next year! Can you believe that? Where were these trips when I was in school?! At this point we don't know much and have a parent meeting in late August to find out more details and how much this will cost. Isaac is REALLY excited and is hoping we can make it happen and we are so very proud of him that he is eligible for an opportunity like this one!

We are very excited about the upcoming week because my brother Mark and his wife Mindi are flying from CA for a visit! They are coming Wednesday and staying until Saturday and we are excited for them to meet Elijah. Also my grandparents are coming down for the weekend to see both babies for the first time too!

And finally I want to leave you with a little something that came to my mind a few nights ago. I was driving home from Sioux Falls one evening and for this huge stretch of road I noticed that there were thousands of lightening bugs in the ditches around the interstate. It was probably one of the most beautiful things I have seen because all of these little lights were flashing all around me and seemed to be lighting my way home. I started thinking about the lightening bug - if you have ever caught one and looked at it you will know that they aren't very "pretty" bugs. What bugs are - I know. But for something that produces such a beautiful, neon glow you would think it would be nicer to look at. But it isn't. And I thought isn't that a lot like I often perceive myself? I have always wanted to be more beautiful, never satisfied with how I looked and how often do we strive for this image of perfection that we see in all the celebrities? But what is really important in this life? Being one of the world's "Most Beautiful People" or being a light in a dark world? I would hope that like the lightening bug I am shining a light. That the light of God can be seen from me in a world that at times seems so dark. And that regardless of how I feel about my "outsides", I can find contentment in striving to be the best "light" that I can be to those around me. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine....."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Humbled and Honored

Last night at our family dinner, my sister Beth and her husband Jeff asked Dominic and I if we would be Isabel's godparents! We both feel very honored to be asked but even more so humbled when we heard the reason why. She said that she knew what kind of relationship we had with God and they knew that was important for Isabel and they wanted us to help and be that example for her too.

This could not have been said of us just a few years ago. The truth of that statement speaks volumes to the transforming work that God has done in our marriage and our lives. I really can't take any credit for what has occurred in my life, except maybe for being willing to follow Him and trust Him with my life.

I grew up in a Christian home, we went to church, were confirmed, went to church camp. From a young age I experienced God. When I was 10, maybe 12 my mom took me to these Christian Women's Club breakfasts. They were fun for me because I got to dress up in "fancy" clothes and we would go to the country club where we would get a fancy meal and then listen to a speaker. I don't remember specifics of any story but usually it was a woman sharing about things that had happened in her life and then how God had worked in her life to transform it. At the end of these messages, they would say a simple prayer and ask anyone to join them to invite God into their hearts.

I remember praying that first prayer at my first breakfast, and then again at each breakfast following. See at the time I expected to feel something, or become someone completely different and nothing really happened. So I wasn't sure that I did it right. So every time we would go I would pray again. I was pretty sure that I was saved each time, but then I would go home and maybe be naughty, or think something bad and I thought maybe that I lost "it". I just didn't understand God's redeeming GRACE in my life then.

A few years later I was given the opportunity to be a junior counselor at the bible camp I had attended for several summers. Once again I had that experience where I felt God a real part of my life and I came away from that on a real high for God.

But as was my way, life happened and I continued to try and do things on my own. Tried to manage things without God and if you can believe it, I struggled, a lot! I felt like I was a Christian, felt that I was saved, but I also had this conception of God that he was there for me only when I was perfect and when things were bad I couldn't count on him.

I wasn't able to recognize that he was ALWAYS there for me, it was I that had turned from him when things were tough. So for years, when Dominic and I struggled in our relationship I was angry at God. Why did He "let" this happen to me? Why wouldn't He just "do what I knew was best" and fix Dominic so we wouldn't have any more problems?

I was unable, unwilling to see how much pain I had contributed to our relationship. How much my actions affected our home and how much I had hurt my husband and my kids.

But then He grabbed a hold of Dominic's heart - yeah that's right Dominic got "it" first! :) Little by little I started to see a change in my husband. We started to pray together as a family and he was striving to become that spiritual leader that I had longed for in our family.

And still I was angry. I could see a difference in my husband but I still held on to my feelings of bitterness from the past. It was killing me and our family. And one day after we had prayed together, we finished and basically I cursed my husband under my breath for something, and Dominic looked at me and said:

"Why are you so angry? What have I done today to make you so mad?"

The answer was "Nothing". Dominic hadn't done anything wrong to me that morning. But I was filled with such an anger and a hatred of my life that I couldn't see straight. I knew at that moment that I needed help. And I began actively seeking to find that peace and serenity that God has to offer.

To be honest, it wasn't easy. Negative habits are hard to break and I had a lot of them. But through some wonderful people, a loving family and a husband who showed me grace over and over again, I began to develop a relationship with a Father who not only loves me for who I am - good and bad, but Who showed me through others Who He is.

And the work isn't finished yet. I am definitely a work in progress, and I am ok with that because I know that I can't live my life without Him. On my own I flop around like a fish out of water. But through Him I am given life sustaining water to breathe.

So to have my sister see God in me is humbling. It isn't at all about what I have done, but what He has done in me that is important here. He gets the glory - not I. I am allowed to reap the rewards, and one of those very special rewards is to be able to call my sweet niece Isabel Megan my godchild.

May I never forget what brought me to the feet of Jesus - my Savior, my God.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New pictures of Elijah

I couldn't figure out how to turn the top picture so it showed correctly but it was cute regardless so I wanted to post it anyways! He is growing, growing, growing! I can't wait to see how much he weighs on July 21st at his next doctor's appt!

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