four years old

My sweet baby Jujubee is now four years old.  It’s odd, because I’ve been thinking of her as four years old for quite some time now, so it doesn’t seem all that different for her to actually BE four years old.  She’s very happy to be four, however.  When she woke up this morning, I asked her if she felt different, and she said, “Yes!”  🙂

She’s really growing up.  I see so much more child behavior in her, as opposed to toddler behavior.  She asks good questions, using more complicated words, and you can tell she’s thinking her questions out.  She and Lyd are able to play on a more equal level than ever before, but they’re also able to fight on a more equal level, too.  However, they love each other more and more all of the time.  They’re still so happy to be sharing their bedroom together.  Tonight I heard them laughing together in their room after I’d put them to bed; there will be nights that I go in there and tell them to be quiet, but tonight I was happy to hear that they were happy together.

Jujubee is just our little sunshine.  She is still almost always happy and smiley, full of cheerfulness, hugs, and kisses.  And comfort.  Not too long ago, she saw me crying a bit.  She asked what was wrong, and I told her why I was sad.  She listened, came over and gave me a big hug and kiss, smiled up at me and said, “You have me!”

She is just my little joy in so many ways.  She is well-named.  🙂  She brings joy to all of us, as well as to her friends and teacher.  She still has quirks and she’s still a child (and many times she acts like it!), but she has such a good heart, such a love for other people, and she finds such delight in all aspects of life that she is an absolute pleasure to be with.

I have told her many times that she is a blessing to our family from God, as is her big sister.  Sometimes Jujubee will come up to me, wrap her arms around me and say, “I am your blessing from God.  And you’re never going to lose me.  You’re always going to take care of me.”  It’s heartwarming to hear her echo the things I say to her.  I have told her many times that she is a blessing to our family from God.  I reassure her that I’m never going to lose her (lose her in the sense of losing her in public or her getting lost – the girls know to stay close to me when we’re out in public so that they don’t get stolen).  And I have promised her many times to always take good care of her, including teaching her how to be a grown-up, which means I sometimes have to give her unpleasant consequences.  But, after some unpleasant consequence is over, we often talk about how this is part of how I care of her.  And, in her four-year old way, she understands that.

She is truly an amazing little girl.  I am incredibly blessed to have been given the chance to mother her these past four years.  I can’t wait to see how she continues to grow up – I know it’s going to continue to be wonderful!

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favorite books

I finally tackled the boxes of books that have been stacked up in a corner of our family room ever since we moved.  We don’t have space to unpack all of the books, and I’m not sure that I even want to unpack as many as we could.  But, there were certain books that I wanted to unpack.

I unpacked all of the children’s books.  I want my kids to have access to lots of good reading material.  Now that their books have all resurfaced, the girls are LOVING it!  Lyd can read better and better all the time, so she’s happy as a clam.  Jujubee loves to look at books, and will sit quietly with a book for half an hour on end, slowly turning the pages and looking at the pictures.  I’m glad my girls enjoy books so much!

As for me, I had to decide which of my books to bring out.  After deciding on certain non-fiction titles that I wanted easily accessible, I decided on what fiction I wanted to have out.  Here are a few of my choices of series:

  • the Little House on the Prairie series
  • the Anne of Green Gables series
  • the Betsy-Tacy series

I did NOT choose to get out my Harry Potter series.  I like them, but they’re big and bulky hardcovers, so I decided to keep them packed away.

In other books that I love, I brought out:

  • Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion
  • Jane Eyre – and my new book of Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Gone With the Wind
  • The Thorn Birds
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • Posession by A.S. Byatt
  • The Kite Runner (haven’t read it yet)
  • The Girls from Ames (haven’t read it yet)

I have LOTS of books, and I could easily bring out a lot more, but I chose to leave them packed away for now.  Why leave them packed away?  Well, various reasons.  Mainly because our new house is half the size of the old house, and I don’t want it to feel more filled with stuff than it already does.  It won’t hurt the books to live in the garage for a while, and when they do finally come out again, it will be like Christmas and birthdays all wrapped up into one.  And, if need me, I can always bring them out sometime in the future.

With that in mind, I labeled the boxes of books in the garage a little more specifically.  If, by the grace of God, I ever do get pregnant, the box with the pregnancy and childbirth books is clearly labeled.  If I do decide that I want to re-read the Harry Potter books (and they’re good books!), I know what box they’re in.  If I ever want to pull out my old Janette Oke books (I had a hard time deciding whether or not to unpack her Love Comes Softly series), I know where they are.

It was nice to find these old friends waiting for me in boxes.  I’m looking forward to having them readily available to me once again.

life is different

As you probably may have guessed, I’m just not feeling the urge to blog as much as I used to.  I’m sure the move has had a lot to do with it.  Having all the channels that Comcast’s basic package offers probably doesn’t help either (HGTV!!).  But, it’s very true that life is just so different here.

I’m getting to bed much earlier than I used to at our old house, because our new schedule is so different.  We all have to be up bright and early in the morning, because the girls – and usually JJ, too – have to be out the door earlier than we used to be.

Also, oddly, things are quieter here at night.  You’d think that because we live in a residential neighborhood surrounded by houses that it would be noisy, but it’s actually quieter here than it was in our old house.  I don’t know quite how to describe it.  It’s so … still here at night.  No wind blows against the windows, sometimes a dog barks in the distance (thankfully, no one right around us has a dog – Hallelujah!), and once in a while you hear a siren — but it’s just so quiet here at night.

You know what else is different here?  Strangely, I feel much more sure of myself now.  I feel more settled even though we still have many things yet to decide where they go.  But more than that, I feel more settled … emotionally.  It is SO nice to have that feeling of “Will JJ get a call or not?” gone.  We’re here now, and we’ll be here for a while.  I’m starting to get a feel for how things go at church.  And I feel more … experienced.

Older pastors have shared with my husband the fact that when a pastor takes a call to his second church, he comes to that new church with an intangible bonus — Experience.  JJ’s been told that parishioners regard you much differently when you have Experience.  But you know what?  As a pastor’s wife, I now have Experience, too.  I feel a lot more sure of myself.  I have a better feeling of what to say and how to say it.  I think I’m a good pastor’s wife.

(And I now know how to nicely ask that people call me “Emily,” and not “the pastor’s wife.”  It’s a good skill to have.  🙂 )

So, life is different here, but life goes on.  I will definitely keep blogging, but I’m starting to realize that it’s not going to be the same as it used to be.  Part of that is also that it probably won’t be as frequent.  We’ll see what happens.  Life is sure different here!

————

It also doesn’t help the blogging when you come down with the stomach flu.  Yuk!  I woke up with that magical experience early Monday morning.  Thankfully, it took a normal course and didn’t last beyond the typical 24 hours, and no one else in the family got it.  THAT is a big blessing!

selective reduction

Recently, there was an article in the New York Times called The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy.  It’s about the growing phenomenon of women who are pregnant with twins reducing their pregnancy down to just one baby.  I was made aware of this article on one of the blogs I frequently follow.  I usually don’t comment on the blogs of people I don’t know personally, but this time I felt compelled to respond.  Lots of women were posting and saying things like,”I wouldn’t make that choice, but I don’t want to judge anyone else who did.  I’m not in her situation.”  I responded:

When babies become a commodity, when life becomes defined by choice, then the parents have full choice over all aspects of their pre-born progenies’ lives.

The legalization of abortion did an odd thing to women’s minds in this country.  Now that we all have “choice,” along with that comes the concept of control.  From the time we start our periods, we are told that we can – and should – control our fertility.  We control it with birth control methods when we don’t want kids, and when our method fails, we can make the choice to have an abortion.

So, it makes logical sense that we also should also be able to choose when we have our children — except it doesn’t always work that way.  In order to regain control of our fertility, some women choose to use medical techniques, some of them quite invasive, to try to control when we have babies.  We didn’t want babies before, but we want them now, so we should have them now.  It should be under our control, right?

It’s all about that belief that we have control.  As long as our American society has given women “choice,” we have to give her choice in ALL fertility-related circumstances lest we be inconsistent.  And sometimes, that exercise of “choice” leads to some pretty unbelievable choices, choices that make many of us step back and privately say, “How could she have chosen to do THAT?”  We publicly say “We can’t judge,” because we know that in order to not judge our fellow women’s choice in one area, we have to not judge her choice in all areas.

But in reality, we all know what she has chosen to do.  And for those of us who would love to be in this woman’s shoes or who have been in that woman’s shoes (twins! two for the price of one! a double blessing!), her choice and the circumstances surrounding it just makes us sick.

To my surprise, I got a few women who posted their agreement with me, saying that I had said exactly what they were thinking.  Later the next day, the blog’s author, who is herself a twin, said that while the whole idea of reducing a twin pregnancy down to a single pregnancy made her feel weird, she was glad that the woman had the right to make that choice for herself.  I felt compelled to respond again:

It’s too bad the aborted twin never got a chance to grow up and make choices for him/herself.

I just read a story today about Abigail and Brittney Hensel, two conjoined twin girls who have grown up to be 19 years old.  They’re completely joined from the belly-button down, but yet they’ve grown up to become more or less healthy persons.  They seem to have a happy, fulfilling life.  They play sports, go to school, even drive a car, so I think it’s not a stretch to say that when their parents learned they were having conjoined twins (which they did during the pregnancy), they didn’t say, “Oh, there is something wrong with these kids and they’ll never have a normal life, so we’ll terminate.”  The twins know they’re different, but they’re still happy to be alive.  Given the choice, I have no doubt that they would choose to be alive.

Every mother of a special needs child I have ever talked to or read about has been happy that that child came into her life.  Every special needs grownup has always been happy to be alive.  I will never understand why people in America continually try to judge what quality of life is worth living.  It’s frightening, really.  This kind of choosing who lives and dies is reminiscent of what Nazis were doing in Germany during the Holocaust where they only wanted white Aryans to live.  Nazis famously killed Jews, but they also killed the crippled, mentally retarded, homosexuals, and “special needs” people.  How is aborting a child who might potentially have “special needs” any different?

As a society, how can we possibly allow this kind of behavior??  How is this relative morality good for our society?  To say, “I wouldn’t do it, but I won’t judge anyone else who does differently” does not make logical sense.  What if our laws were that way?  What if I didn’t have to stop for red lights and someone else did?  What if it were okay for me to steal but not you?  How could society possibly function?

It just doesn’t make logical sense to allow individuals to choose which other individuals, born or unborn, live and which ones die.  And it certainly makes no sense at all for the woman in the NY Times article to choose to reduce from twins down to a singleton.  Boy, do I have pity on that child who is still alive.  With a control-hungry mother like that, what kind of expectations will s/he be subjected to by that mother as s/he grows up?  And the guilt that child will experience as the “chosen one”!  Oh my goodness.  It’s all so disturbing.

I actually just did find out about Abigail and Brittney Hensel yesterday.  You can read more about them here.  I suspect their family is Lutheran, because somewhere I read that they attended Luther High School somewhere in Minnesota.  I don’t know what God was thinking when he allowed those two girls to live their lives conjoined, but that’s his thinking, not mine.

my little singer

Little Jujubee, (oh, I’m sorry, Big Girl Jujubee – she corrects me if I call her a “little girl”), has become quite the singer lately.  She loves to play with her Disney princesses, making up stories about school and daily life (she has no idea of what the real stories of these princesses are – to her they’re just girls with pretty dresses about whom she and Lyd like to make up stories) and singing them at the top of her lungs.

At. The. Top. Of. Her. Lungs.

Oh, my, does she sing!  It’s not always in tune, and I’m not always sure what meter she’s singing in, but my, does she sing!  For half an hour at time!  JJ and I have exchanged amused glances many times as she sings; one of these times we’re going to have to make a video of her antics.  Sometimes we can tell what melody she is using, and sometimes she creates a melody of her own.  Sometimes she does both, seamlessly morphing from one melody into another as she switches from singing a specific song into telling whatever story she is playing out with her dolls.

It’s all quite entertaining.

Did I mention she goes on for long stretches of time.  Yeah, I know, I already did, but it’s unbelievable!  She sings and sings.

[as I smile approvingly] It’s pretty neat.  I’m proud of my girl.  🙂

unsettled

I’m sorry that I haven’t felt as much like blogging as I thought I would when I re-started blogging a few weeks ago.  Life is just so … different now.  Not necessarily worse, but definitely different.  Our lives have an entirely new schedule to them, and I haven’t yet figured out for sure where blogging fits into that schedule.

On a positive note, this new schedule means I go to bed earlier, and it means I am getting more sleep, which is good.  I’m also going walking at least four days a week, and that’s a great help for me physically and emotionally.  Although, unfortunately, my anxiety has been creeping back in a bit lately.  Never too bad, but I’m always disappointed to see it return.  But, I’m trying to do the right things: sleep, exercise, and enough food, including snacks throughout the day to keep my blood sugar stable.  That helps.  I’ve got a few other ideas of things I can tweak, so we’ll see if those help at all.

Despite not blogging much, I’m not getting things done hardly at all in the house lately.  I’m not sure what’s to blame for that.  Although, part of the problem was that for some reason, I was SO tired last week.  (No, I’m not pregnant.  Sigh.)  I just couldn’t seem to pull it together enough to start a project and see it through.  But, hopefully this week will be better.

For those of you who don’t follow my husband’s blog regularly, I want to put in a plug for his sermon yesterday.  Our church did a Service of Remembrance for the ten year anniversary of 9-11, and he preached a wonderful sermon about the lessons that tragedies teach us.  He used as his text Luke 13:1-5, which reads:

1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Terrorism and towers falling happened in Jesus’ day, too, and his response to those events is a bit surprising, to say the least.  So, I would highly recommend that you read my dear pastor-hubby’s sermon on 9-11.

We’ll see what this week brings for our family.  I hope it leaves me feeling closer to being finally settled into our new lives here — and into our new house.  I like the house a little more every day, so that’s good.  I think I’ll like it a lot more once we finally figure out where to go with all of the boxes in the house and get our pictures up on the walls.  Right now, life still feels strangely unsettled.

blessings = crosses = blessings

Lately I’ve been pondering the idea of blessings also being crosses, and crosses also being blessings.  The topic came up in the Bible study for school parents this morning, with the story of Joseph.  His ability to understand the meaning of dreams was a blessing, but also a cross for him.  It ultimately blessed his life and the lives of thousands of other people, but it came at a cost to him.

The move to new home has also been a blessing and a cross.  Anyone who has ever moved with kids knows how difficult moving can be.  Add to that the loss of friends and the loss of familiar surroundings, and it’s easy to see that moving can be a cross.  Yet, there are lots of blessings at our new place, too.  The warmer climate is a blessing, our wonderful new backyard is a blessing, and new friends and new opportunities are also blessings.

It has occurred to me lately that sometimes, even relationships can be a blessing and a cross.  It’s not to hard to see that people who are blessings to us and bring joy to our lives can also be a cross to us and bring us sorrow.  The two opposites go together.

God makes it pretty clear in his word that his children can expect to experience both joy and sorrow while we live on this earth.  The act of living our life as a Christian will bring us both joy and sorrow.  The concept of the theology of the cross says that sorrow as a result of living our lives as a Christian is to be expected, and we can welcome our sorrows and trials and the crosses that we bear with joy, as a sign of God’s love for us.  The concept of finding joy in our sorrows and sufferings is not one we readily want to accept.  Yet, that is what God promises his children.

I’m not a big fan of Christian Contemporary Music, but right after we moved, I spent some time listening to the local Christian radio station.  During that time, I happened to hear a certain song on the radio twice in two days.  The song touched my just-moved-and-still-feeling-vulnerable heart, with its refrain of:

What if your blessings come through raindrops,
What if your healing comes through tears,
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?

I was deeply moved by the song, but I didn’t know what it was called or who wrote it.  Then earlier this week, I was reading one of the blogs I follow, and she linked to the YouTube video of that song!  I was delighted to find out more about the song, as well as listen to it again (and again, and again…)  The song is called “Blessings,” and it’s written and sung by Laura Story.  I have no idea who Laura Story is or what her background is, but I really like her song.  I don’t think she’d label her song as on the topic of the theology of the cross, but that’s exactly what it is.

Take a listen to it, and see what you think.