Sunday, September 7, 2014

Judson is 3!

Judson,
    You are a delightful and kind young man.  You have totally won my heart with your scrunched nose smile and sideways glance.  You giggle and squeal more than you do anything else.  When daddy and I talk about you we talk about what a fun personality you have.  You are a great mix of super sweet and super fun.
   As you have turned 3, you still like sleeping in your crib and your sleep with your quilt that MiMi made you and 2 other blankets, your ball pillow, zebra, donkey and your 'wawa' koala.  When you wake up in the mornings (around 7) you yell "Mama...Daddy..." in a sing-song kind of way.  You usually complain about how bright it is the moment we step out of your room and lay your head on my shoulder as we walk downstairs.  You then say "eat eat and oovie"...so we get you a bowl of cereal and set up 'Paw Patrol' or 'Peter Rabbit' as you adjust to the day.  About 15 minutes later you exclaim with a very excited voice "PLAY!" and try to urge your sisters upstairs to the play room.  Usually they go, but when they don't you say 'awww' and then go back to the movie.  You are learning to sit still during family worship times and you LOVE to sing.  You sing during worship, throughout the day, and when you lay down for 'a rest' and at night.  You also love to pray.  You initiate prayer at almost every meal and you are happy to repeat prayers after one of us (and you always give a strong 'AMEN' at the end :).
    Right now, you love to hide.  Usually that means you will get in a ball on the couch or the chair in your room and cover your eyes.  I pretend I don't see you and say "where did Judson go?" and then you giggle until I 'find' you.  You also love to dance, spin and fall down.  You can hit a ball with a bat when we throw it to you and you are excellent at shooting hoops.  You can play catch with daddy for a long time without getting bored. You love to cut with scissors, although you have recently enjoyed cutting the covers of the color books (Jada and Kiva really don't like it when you do it)...but it is definitely more fun to you.  You would play chase all day if we would let you and you use our downstairs as a circular track to run through.  Koko and Kiva are your favorite people to play chase with.  When you laugh it's contagious and you pat your leg, like your calling a dog to come, when you want someone to come play with you.  You also love swatting flies :) and you are already the one the girls will find to pick up dead bugs.  You take care of them in that way.
   When I tell you that I love you, you say 'no daddy,' then the conversation usually goes something like this :
Mommy: "mommy AND daddy love you"
Judson: "and MiMi and PaPa and KoKo and Aunt Ashley and Grammy and Aunt Aubrey and Un Will and baby Lily..."
    There are different variations of people on the list, but those names are the most common.  You know you're loved for sure.  You got tubes in your ears last year and since then you've been talking more, but you are still not talking as clearly as you could be.  We are working on it.  Right now you have fun names for things like water is 'ya-ya' and you will randomly say 'E-I-E-I-O."  Whenever you fall or there is a loud noise you often proclaim without anyone asking "I'm OK!" and when other people are eating something you don't prefer (like salmon or asparagus) you say "ooh gross."  It's funny.  When you burp you quickly say 'scooz me' and then laugh.  We like to say that you are all boy.
    This past year you became a big brother.  It was a very easy transition for you.  You love to help and you laugh at all of the funny things that Kason does.  You are secure in your role in our family and help with Kason's paci, diapers, or burp cloths.  You are also a big helper in the kitchen...we cannot make granola, salad, juice or sandwiches without you running to the kitchen saying "I help, up up." Once we lift you onto the counter, you are immediately stirring or juicing or pouring in ingredients.  I love this about you!
    Judson, some things that stand out to me about you is that you are truly one of the sweetest young men that I have ever met.  You are tender, compassionate, quick to obey, snuggly, and caring.   Last night as I was rocking you before bed-time I was able to tell you some of the things that I love about you...you listened intently and then at the end you said 'oh mommy' and gave me a sweet hug.  I really believe you are set apart as a worshipper.  The way you sing and play your cajon is unique and I am so excited to help you walk into that more.  Judson, you are an absolute joy and treasure to me. I bless you, my son, to continue to have a heart like David.  Set apart and deeply in love with the Lord.  I bless you to step into your God given design to lead and protect your sisters.  I bless you to understand in a pure way God's great love for you.  I bless you to be brave and courageous and willing to stand up for what is right.  I bless you to continue to extravagantly love and be loved without anything hindering you.  I love you, I am proud of you and I am honored to be your mommy and always will be.






Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I don't want to forget...Jada's heart

Today we came home from running errands.  Kason fell asleep in the car but woke up the moment we came inside.  I needed to get Judson and Kiva to bed for naps so Jada tried to give Kason his paci in his car seat and rock him...but he was so upset and was not easily pacified.  After I put Judson down, I got Kason out of his car seat, swaddled him and gave him to Jada in the middle of my bed (while I finished putting Kiva down).  I encouraged Jada that Kason will most likely cry because he may be getting hungry but I will hurry as best I can.  She was happy to hold her very upset little brother.

As I was climbing the stairs to get to Kiva, I began hearing Jada sing "I lift my eyes up, unto the heavens, where does my help come from..."  Precious....

When I returned from putting Kiva down, Kason was perfectly peaceful and asleep in Jada's arms while tears were streaming down her face as she said "I don't know what I would do without him."  And then she said she sang to him and he began to rest and then she was praying for him to love God with his whole heart.  "That he would be a wonderful man of God and that when he has kids, he would teach them about God."

Tears in this mom's eyes for sure.  Thank you, Jada.  You invest yourself well.  Luke 6:38  "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  May it be over your life, precious Jada!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thankful for seasons...

It's been a really really long time since I've posted...since then we have moved, all 3 kiddos have turned a year older and our little Kason is only 8 weeks away from making his appearance into this world.

So...these are my thoughts and what this season has been:

I'm learning more about my own weaknesses.  I just can't do it all.  I am so grateful for the community of people that God has so lovingly placed in our lives.  Family, church community, families and friends in our city, faithful friends placed all over the map...all of these people have so deeply added to me as a girl.  Yes, as a wife, mom, leader, learner...but mainly just for me.  Steph.  Simply me with no titles or jobs...just the spirit within me.

Anyway...here are some bullets about what I have been doing and learning over these past months:

  • I'm planning a community wide women's conference!  Crazy.  The Lord gave me a specific and clear direction last January 2013.  Since then, it's been taking shape with a team of outstanding women leaders from all over BCS.  It is exciting and a very precious thing to steward.  I am excited and steadily grateful for the wise women around me.
  • Our church is a small group of people that are very large in the Spirit.  They love God extravagantly and love me deeply.  I love running alongside and bringing God's kingdom to earth with these people.  
  • I am homeschooling...and loving it.  And I am not sure I am good at it yet, but I see our children learning and laughing and loving eachother well in the midst of our school times.  So, I trust Jesus with the outcome and am grateful to have the honor to be their teacher (and ask for mercy and wisdom often!)
  • I'm learning more about personal daily communion.  God has healed my body through it and strengthened me in the gospel.
  • I hunger and thirst for more of the Spirit of God...and I love the people that God has brought into my life that keep me seeing more of God in powerful ways.  There is just no end to knowing the fullness of God...it's such a full and fun life of faith we get to live!
  • I'm learning that there is no sense in being afraid of anything.  Fear is a spirit that I want nothing to do with.  It's empowering to be free from fear and fully convinced of the love of God.  I have made a daily practice of taking in and receiving the Holy Spirit that has given me power, love and a sound mind.  I am so grateful.  Simply confessing my offenses, my lack of faith and my weaknesses as they come up releases so much freedom from fear. 
  • Our kids are cool.  I'm convinced that Jada could be a 'Disney' character.  She is often found in the clouds dreaming about all things wonderful and lovely.  She is beautiful both inside and out and she easily believes the best about everyone.  I'm pretty sure if the scene in Cinderella with the birds and animals singing and helping Cinderella could ever actually happen, it would happen to Jada and she would just giggle and enjoy it!  Her voice is angelic as she sings and she is a precious example of humility, grace and the joy of being a daughter.  She is 7.  
  • Kiva is beautifully strong in stature and in spirit.  She is brilliant and bold and has a sense of humor that breaks through any sort of mundane life.  I am convinced she will change this world and lead many towards Jesus...utterly convinced.  She will place her feet only where she is convinced they should go, and because of that conviction, many will follow in her footsteps.  As of now, we are praying that she continues to learn humility and wisdom in a beautifully submitted heart to Jesus.  She is 4.  
  • Judson is fully dude and fully content to be my baby.  He snuggles with his head on my shoulder better than any of our kids have done.  He finds cozy nooks over my big pregnant belly and insists that I sing and whisper all sorts of secrets to him in between songs.  He laughs hard and obeys quickly.  He is a servant and watches everything with a very acute eye.  I believe he is a storehouse of deep thoughts and will love out of the deep reservoirs that are in him.  He is 2
There it is...surely I will publish this and remember 20 more things that I have been learning and experiencing.  But this is summary enough.  I love this life that God has given me and I treasure this season in ways that are inexpressible through written language.  As Kason moves around in my belly, I take a deep breath of gratitude and say goodnight.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

competitive...

Hello there blog world...it's been a while!  I kind of feel like yesterday was spring break or even Christmas.  Nope...almost July.  Time flies.  I've had a few thoughts lately and thought that tonight might be a good night to work through them with writing.

Most people in my daily life wouldn't call me a competitive person.  Not even close.  But I have known that is not totally true.  Here's a great example of me as a competitor.  I take you back to 1987 little Steph...I've been dancing at that point since I could walk, literally...and in this year as a 9 year old little 4th grader, I was introduced to dance competitions.  That's right...as I was proudly performing a crazy-awesome-show-stopping performance to none other than Michael Jackson's "Bad," I realized there were other girls my age that had better dance skills than I did.  Thus began an internal voice in me that said something like, "If that's possible, I want it."  After that moment I was kind of a crazy person.  I would devour the competition VHS tapes of 18 year old soloist winners and learn every move they made.  I even studied the way they held their mouths, their fingers, and the moments when they would take a deep breath.  Fast forward a couple years and I became one of the winners...the competitors...and then by 16 I was also choreographing competitively.  I could make the story longer with more boring details, but the literal week that I was set free to begin following Jesus in 1998, I had just won the collegiate national title (that was a big deal people...big).  Interesting timing, I should say, considering the scripture in Phillipians that says:
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him..."

Funny how the very thing I obtained I was able to surrender just a few short days later and literally count it as a LOSS for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus.  Oh what I would have exchanged for all of those days of rehearsals to be spent loving and serving Jesus instead.  The mercy of Christ always wins though and He really does work all things together for good.  

So, fast-forward to Passion 1999...It was the first time I heard John Piper preach and it turned my world upside down.  It was the simple and deeply profound truth that I was created to glorify God.  And how do I go about doing that?  Beholding Him: seeing Jesus, Savoring our King, Enjoying the Presence of the Holy Spirit...then everything else would be added.  It was a jolt that was similar to that 1987 dance competition.  I suddenly saw that the new high mark, the new thing to live for was to know Christ and love Him deeply.  So instead of VHS tapes, I read the scriptures, listened to worship music and every sermon that I could get my hands on, I devoured bible dictionaries, commentaries, took an old testament and new testament class at a community college, served the poor, evangelized, led youth group weekends, retreats, summer camps, mission trips, attended every prayer meeting I knew of, went to all sorts of different churches and meetings...and the list could keep going.

The thing I love about this list is that it is absolutely still going.  It's a craving...I feel a little like a crazy person just wanting more.  Similar to the way I used to look at those soloist, I find myself craving to see and be around victorious christian people.  People that walk and talk and teach and sing and prophesy and heal and have dreams and visions and that walk in extreme faith and that suffer well ...they each have a unique nearness to Christ.  It's kind of a competitive thing.   It's that phrase that is still alive in me that is saying "if that's possible, I want it."  If there is more of Jesus to know, I want to know Him!  If there is more life in God than I am living, I want to live it!

It goes into all of those areas that I am living in... if I see a wife serving her husband in a way that I don't, I think something like "ooh, I want that." and it drives me onto being a better wife (praise the Lord and sometimes I don't act on those things quickly...just for the record.)  You get the idea.  If I see mom's doing fun creative things with their kids,  I'm on it...I want to do it too.  If I read about men and women that lived crazy lives of faith my response is "ooh, I want in on that too!"  When I meet old folks that have this inner joy and radiate the love of Jesus I pray "please Lord, I want to be way more in love with you when I'm 90 than ever before."  And the Lord will never say to me...nope.  He is always agreeing with a resounding "YES!"

But I've recognized that my filter for what I compete in has becoming tighter and tighter over the years.  Like I am straining out the things that are not really for me to crave and I am standing in a place of encourager to the ones that are totally winning in those areas.  For example...I have no desire to know Greek.  I highly value it, love learning from those that know it, but I have less than zero desire to learn that language.  Or over the years the seasons of the spiritual check-lists of how often I do whatever it is that seems to make God the happiest...like a certain way to study my bible or the 'right' pastors to listen to or the 'right' way to pray.The places that I used to feel like I should be good at or give myself to, you know the things that would make me feel guilt or shame or fear...praise the Lord those things are falling off as I more clearly see and understand my own identity in Christ.

I think I'm rambling now...anyway...

So...why as a 35 year old mother of 3 am I spending time thinking and writing about being competitive?  

It's a simple word...VISION.  The things that we have vision for, we are CREATED, FORMED, MADE, PURPOSED to see them through.  Let me say it in a different way: When we see, from God's perspective, what our lives are about there is nothing on the earth or any spiritual force that can keep us from seeing Him come to fruition in our lives and on the earth.   

The more I have seen Jesus over the years, the more I've beheld Him, the more I've leaned into the strong arms of the One Who made me, the more I've been forgiven, the more I've rested in His presence, the more I've laughed at the days ahead.

            ..it is then that I understand that I am at the very very very beginning of tasting and seeing Him.  There is so so so much more to this Wonderful King, this Matchless Lover, this Intimate Counselor, this Fierce Judge, this Relentless Pursuer...than I ever dared to imagine.  

Here I am, 2013, and I am thankfully in a place where I want to be fierce in the way I go after God's heart.  My craving is stronger than ever and I just want to be a girl that keeps saying YES to Jesus.  He has proven Himself over and over and over again.  His ways are forever BEST...what He says is always right...and I will really really really behold Him on His throne with zillions of other saints and strange looking creatures and my eyes will really really see the jewels and colors surrounding Him and I will really see the proof of the nails and I will be among the voices saying "WORTHY ARE YOU, JESUS!"  But in the meantime...I get to surrender to Jesus and not give into my flesh, I get to humble myself over and over again in my marriage because I am selfish, I get to be patient with my children because I always want things to be easy and go my way, I get to believe the best about people that are not easy to love, I get to dream with God and see those dreams come to life on the earth because I'm alive...and He wants to be glorified in the little details and in the big dreams.  

So, fear is not a driving force at all...it's freedom.  Free to run my race and run it to win it.  I pray that you do the same...run hard and compete.  Let the ones that have gone before us spur us on to more and more and more of knowing Jesus.  







Monday, November 26, 2012

Kiv...

There are countless moments that I want to etch in my brain forever.  Lately, Kiva has been the author of many of those moments.  From her using the words "actually" and "no me like (fill in the blank)..."  and "do it tike that..."  She is just so precious.  Today is a day that we will probably recount many years from now.  It's something that Jada hasn't done before...so this is new. 

Kiva cut her own hair. 

This type of thing happens a lot with girls...but Jada is just such a safe rule follower that it just hasn't been on our scene.  Today Kiva had sticky stuff in her hair.  Kiva is independent and loves to do things by herself.  She loves it.  So...little did I know, Kiva wasn't playing with her baby dolls in the other room like I assumed...she was taking care of her sticky hair all by herself. 

The cut wasn't drastic.  In fact, she came back in the room and I didn't even notice.  But when I went into my bathroom to get ready for the day...there her long beautiful curly blonde locks lay in the trash can. 
Me: "Kiv, come here please.  What is that? (pointing to her hair)"
Kiv: "I don't know"
Me:  "Kiv, that's your hair.  How did it get there?"
Kiv: "I don't know" (with slightly more shoulder shrugs)
Me: "Kiv, your lying.  You need to tell me what really happened."
Kiv: "I don't know" (looking everywhere but at me)

This went on and on with spankings in between.  I kept reminding her that she wasn't getting spanked for cutting her hair, but because she was lying and not telling mommy what really happened.  FINALLY, she broke and told the truth.  I embraced her and she cried.  I told her how glad I was that she finally told me the truth.  I told her that she sinned against God and that after she talks to him about it that she needs to apologize to me.  She did...and it was one of the most precious moments as a mommy yet.  We were near and there was a genuineness to her hug afterwards that I wanted to breathe in. 

Meanwhile...to brag a little on Jada...she totally took care of Judson.  Played with him.  Carried him outside to play, blew bubbles, colored with him and was sensitive to Kiva's privacy in the moment.  Really, it was precious.  I got to talk with Jada about how proud I was of her. 

So, today...well, it was crazy and chaotic in many ways, but I think I'll remember it (at least I hope so...hence the blog!)

I dearly love these kids.  What a gift motherhood is.  What moments I daily have with these souls that hunger for truth and love learning what life is about.  Oh how I NEED the Lord and daily depend on Him to help me show them the Way.  A gift indeed. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

the sweetest little man I've ever known

As I write this...one year ago in this moment, I wasn't even in labor yet with you...and when we wake up in the morning, you will officially be ONE! 

Judson, you have stolen my heart.  Your smile is sincere and your eyes tell your story of contentment and joy.  You are a snuggle-bug and you absolutely love being a baby...being held, kissed, and carried along.  Your favorite place is somehow touching me (whether in my lap, next to me, in the bjorn, or on my hip.)  Your laugh is loud and you squeel with delight in anticipation of kisses and tickles. 

I love your curls and I love the way you hug me back.  I love your eyes when you first wake up and I love the way you hunch over as if you were saying, "hold me!'   I love that when I sing, you dance (while sitting of course)...You just can't help yourself. 

Already, I have learned more about the Father heart of God because of your life.  I have experienced restoration in new ways, I have held my hands open afresh, and I have been reminded to bow low, to be still and to worship...all through this year of your life on earth.  The sweetest place for me is holding you in the brown glider in your room; The Lord has made a habit of restoring me and giving me fresh peace in this place, all while you eat and drift off to sleep. 

I say often "I've never known a sweeter baby boy..." and "You are the nicest little man I have ever met." Judson, Happy Birthday.  My precious son, I love you and I am so thankful to be your mom.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What you really want to see...

Photos...that's more fun than words most of the time :)
Our little man is turning 1 in a couple weeks!  Can you believe how precious and big he is getting! 






We went to Galveston with some of our favorite friends, The Menn's! 
 







Tuesday, July 17, 2012

this is me...

This is one of those blog posts that I have been thinking about for a while and am just sitting down to write.  It stems from a deep contentment in this season of life and is stirred up by a strange "everyone tries to look awesome on the internet" frustration.  As I read other people's blogs (strangers and friends) I often wonder about some of these things that I am about to write, and so I thought I would share. 
    Just a note: Before you read on, you need to hear that I totally believe the Lord leads people into different places and seasons of life.  I do not think that I am "right" or "more right" than the next person in any of these details.  This is simply a confession of sorts to say, "this is me" with no pretense, just honest to goodness, me...so here goes...

So I will start with some random facts and give some details later:
  • I live in a 1700 square foot house- 3 bedrooms 2 baths 
  • I drive a 2004 car
  • I have two big dogs
  • I don't work out and don't really like to. 
  • There are some amazing Godly girls (about 10 years younger than me) that are such treasures to my life, words don't even describe.  I learn from them, grow with them, am served by them, and try to point them to Jesus over and over.  They are family to us.  They are steadily in our home at least a few times a week.
  • I like coffee
  • I highlight my hair
  • I plan on homeschooling all of our kids
  • I have tattoos and my nose is pierced
  • I eat at chic-fil-a often
  • I love to read christian-non fiction books...a lot
  • I am a part of a little house church.  Brian leads it with the other men in the group.  We do "life" together in a unique way and have experienced Jesus in real ways.  We share meals, know each-other's garage codes, really know eachother's "junk", love eachother anyway,etc.  
  • I like healthy food and chocolate
  • My mom is one of my all time favorite people
  • I am a part of a ministry that is called Jesus Said Love.  I interact with girls that are in this city's "sex industry" and get to tell them how precious they are to the Lord.  I love it.
  • I absolutely love being married to Brian
  • I like shopping at Target and TJ Maxx
  • I love my children like crazy...I really think they are the sweetest, funniest, entertaining people ever.  
  • My body has changed since children and I am really ok with that.
  • I don't like movies and the only TV I really watch is Biggest Loser
  • I get pedicures regularly
  • I have lots of vision for dance
  • I am totally awkward in front of a camera
  • I wake up slowly
  • I love people...I love people's stories
  • I have been following Jesus since 1998.  He is my best friend, redeemer, father and counselor.  The more I get to know Him, the more I love Him.
  • I really want to live with a generational view and I think about this a few times a day.
  • I feel spoiled most of the time
  • Every day I have at least one thought like "Woo hoo- I love this life!"  And every day I take a deep breath and think "I am exhausted!"

**We live in a 1700 square foot house- 3 bedrooms 2 baths.  It is simple and peaceful.  We bought it as a foreclosure.  We used to have a pool and then about 3 years ago filled it in.  Now our two big dogs (that used to be inside dogs, but love their outside domain) totally mess up our backyard daily and they wag their tails happily every single time we open the back door. 
    Our home has a history of the Lord's interactions with us and with our friends and family.  I can look at my living room and remember visual pictures of when the Lord physically healed people that we love, or when marriages were mended, or when girl's were set free from addictions and depression, or where Brian and I were prayed for, or where hands were lifted in surrender during tragedy and suffering, or where confession has erupted, or where genuine worship has broken out, or where dance parties have been enjoyed, or game nights have taken place, or babies were rocked, or where prayer meetings have gone on and on for trafficked and abused girls, or where tents and tea parties have been set up...I am in tears recalling the Lord's nearness throughout the past 7 years in this house. It is not anything fancy. Most of our furniture has been handed down from my mom and Mike.  
    One of the most fun things about our home is where it is located.  We have friends/family/community surrounding us.  Literally.  Some friends bought the house next door to us a couple of years ago,  two other families bought the house across the street and the house '180 steps away' last month.  Our backyard has a gate that opens up to our backyard neighbor's house who are now close friends with.  Seriosuly, we LOVE it. 

I absolutely love being married to Brian.  He inspires me.  He challenges me.  He loves me in ways that I have never known a person could love.  He leads me in many ways, but he is clearly a servant leader.  Jesus was a servant leader too.  I like Brian a lot.  He is fun, gentle, commanding, honest, humble, competitive and an incredibly great father.  I couldn't imagine being married to a more perfect man for me.  Seriously.  He is clearly not perfect and he would be the first person to tell you that, but that's another thing I love about him.  He isn't puffed up trying to prove himself to anyone.  He is just Brian.  He loves me so well.  He loves our children so well.  He loves our church so well.  He loves the young girls in our lives that are aunts to our children.  He deeply cares and desires Jesus above all things.  Really. Oh, and I think he is a hottie too :)

That's all for now.  How's that for processing this season of life out lout in a blog?! 





a few more...

Three more that are too good to forget:
  • Raspberries to Kiva are "Raz Babies"
  • Sesame sticks are "Sesame Street Sticks"
  • As we potty train her two really funny quotes "my poo poo goes swimming" and after a screaming scare from Jada trying to help Kiva get on the potty Kiva said "me fell in the potty"