Sunday, February 28, 2010

The significance of prayer and seeking the Lord

We have a pretty full day today. After breakfast we headed out to go get groceries. We usually do that Saturday but going out to dinner took up that time. Julian is always so good in the store. He doesn't get bored with all the colorful packaging to look at and is pretty good about not monkeying around with the things in the cart.

Returned home and read 1 Samuel 30. David returns to the Israelites and finds their region has been destroyed and the wives and children taken captive. They weeped over this and his men were bitter. There was even talk of stoning David (looking for a scapegoat) so David had reason to get upset but instead he finds strength in the Lord his God. David then sought the Lord and was told to go and fight. David and his men won back all that had been taken and David wanted it split between those who stayed behind and those who went to battle. To the men that objected he declared by a statute that this was what should be done with what the Lord gave them. Beth reflects on how David's men turned their backs on David and how she thinks God will sometimes "leave us alone" without support to teach us how to find strength in him alone. I can definitely relate to that.

We got Julian's potty today. It's a talking Elmo potty (which we hope we don't regret getting). We don't think he'll be using it that soon, but wanted him to get used to it being around since he started the first stage of telling us when he has a dirty diaper. We got it out and Julian got to "play" with it for a bit. His big introduction to the potty.

We had some adult time with friends Jim and Becky while our kids had a play date. The living room was a romper room and the kids enjoyed themselves while we had a good time catching up. Julian did really well today with sharing his toys and I really didn't see much possessiveness which was great.

We picked Julian up after church today and his cheeks were bright red. They said he had so much fun and was "talking" a lot and dancing for them. I asked him to show me how he danced and he starts bobbing his head back and forth and wiggling his body. It was so cute. When we got in the car he started jamming to the music waving his head back and forth from his car seat. He was really keyed up.

At church we're continuing to read the book of Luke and looking at how Jesus was defined; not by the common man but coming from the perspective of those close to him. The focus today was on prayer. We see in Luke one of Jesus' disciples asking him to teach them how to pray. Jesus then shares what has become known as the Lord's prayer. We reflected on "hallowed be thy name", a call to seek the Lord starting with reverence and awe. A recognition of God as God. Seeking forgiveness also is to be a huge part of prayer. Praying in this way anew tonight brought such a sense of connectedness with the Lord. I am thankful for this teaching reminder.

Tonight was bath night and I always give Julian some play time before doing the actual bathing. It's amazing that he still fits in the whale tub that he's been using for the past 6+ months. He went through a stage of being afraid of the bath but now he's back to enjoying it again which is a blessing. Now it's time for a little relaxing and winding down after the weekend.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Julian gives a hug

These last couple days the mornings have been more video-oriented than book-oriented. Julian picked up the Bob the Builder video and brought it to me saying "watch the builder?" so we turned that on for a little bit and then some Elmo when the DVD was skipping a lot.

I'm continuing to read A Heart Like His by Beth Moore. Today I was in 1 Samuel 28 where Saul sinks even lower. You can't even compare his heart and David's. They are just too far apart. Here the Philistines are going to attack and Saul is terrified. He consults the Lord but the Lord did not answer him. Beth Moore points to Isaiah 59:2 "Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." This points to the reason God is silent when Saul at long last turned to him. He turned to God out of terror, not out of a heart that is sorry for all he has done. Beth shares that one prayer God will surely hear is one of sincere repentance. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He then seeks the witch of Endor, a medium, to contact Samuel. He does this knowing it was not part of Moses' law. He goes there in disguise, knowing it is against God. Samuel confirms that his kingdom would be torn from him by God and he and his sons will be with Samuel as of the next day. Saul was crushed.

We spent some time at the library today. We met a nice couple Jane and Brian and their son Ben. Their son was taller than Julian and he was only 15 months old (but big for his age). Julian is so tiny though. He was Mr. Social and met a boy and his sister offering to share his crackers. I've never seen him do this before, he went up to the boy and started giving him a hug. The boy ended up hugging him back it was so cute. He continues to like the Richard Scarry book and a couple of pictures he pointed out were cute; he said "hopper" for grasshopper and "paste" for toothpaste.

We decided to take one of our babysitters, Dave, out to dinner tonight. We knew it would be busy but somehow managed a 45-minute wait. Julian turned into a little pill at the table and one of his goals was to pull and grab everything that was within reach. It was quite a challenge. I did manage to eat and Julian did well with the crayons, book and other diversions from the diaper bag, but this wasn't a night to hang out as it didn't last long.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fitting in some mom-to-mom time

It's been a while since we watched Elmo so this morning Julian watched a short video. Then we went downstairs to the "art studio" (which is our cluttered basement where I have a makeshift art area) and did some finger painting and coloring. I got out some stickers and he started learning how to stick those on a piece of paper.

Today I was going through 1 Samuel 26 and 27 where Saul is not giving up and continues to go after David. I am struck by how far from the Lord Saul lets himself stray. This is a man whom God anointed as king over all the Israelites, who was given the Holy Spirit and yet he has thrown away his opportunity to live a life of faith. Again David has an opportunity to kill Saul, but holds back his men saying the Lord forbids him to harm the king. Saul finds out he was spared and confesses his wrongdoing saying he will not do it again. I took some time today to go back in my journal and look over the areas that the Lord has been working on in my life. It was good to do this and ask myself honestly if I've seen growth. To that I would say that there hasn't been a lot of change so far, but some. I also saw a common theme to these areas and that is they seem to be connected to the idea of surrender. That to me means recognizing something that is not of God and surrendering it to him in confession, prayer. Places in my life where I need to surrender? Fill in the blank (pride, anger, overeating issues, being overly harsh with Julian). It was good to revisit this and pray again for renewal. I am keeping Romans 12:1 in mind here since it is very fitting. 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

We had a play date with my friend Eileen and her son Jackson today which included having lunch together at the mall. It was so nice to have some mom-to-mom adult conversation time. After lunch we went to the play area and let the kids have some fun. Then we took a stroll around the mall so we had more time to talk. When we got home I took Julian out for a nice walk in his little car. Being in the sun and fresh air was nice but that wind was a little too cold.

Wow I can't believe I'm on here doing the last leg of my blog before 8:30pm! I have talked with Lanty about finding some "take care of Julian time" that works best and we decided he'd do the nightly routine on Fridays. So I have a little extra time to myself tonight! And I only heard a little bit of fuss up there from Julian so it must be going well. Uh-oh, Julian's crying out for mommy now so I better go upstairs. I just spent a few minutes reviewing the day with Julian and sang a blessing over him then tucked him in for the night. I left and he started wailing which he almost never does, but I did the five minute rule and he was quiet in two. The house is quiet, it's time to go relax.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lots of good play time today

Today our Titus group met at Blackhawk for play group. Lanty prayed that I'd be able to have spiritual conversations and I was really blessed by that prayer being answered. I got into a couple of really good conversations where we shared about the Lord in our lives and it was encouraging. Julian and I both had a really nice time. I'm starting to see a little possessiveness coming out with toys he wants from others or toys someone else wants from him.

In my time with the Lord today I was reading 1 Samuel 25. In this chapter we meet lovely Abigail and her mean-spirited husband Nabal. It was Nabal who wronged David when he refused to give him provisions for the months of protection David and his men had offered him. Abigail came to seek forgiveness and make amends and you see how humbly she approached David showing such deep respect for him as she seeks to stop him from taking revenge by killing her husband and his men. David's immediate response was to praise God as he realizes without the Lord sending this woman he would have killed all those men. My prayer is that God would keep me from doing wrong to get back at someone knowing their wrongdoing will be brought on their own head, as David learns here.

We had more play time after lunch today. I found a blog by a creative mother coming up with ways to play with her toddlers I borrowed one of her games and rounded up all of Julian's balls, put them in a bucket and headed up the stairs to let them bounce their way down one after another. One of them got stuck so I pushed it and it rolled all the way down the railing and Julian loved that so we spent the next 15 minutes with Julian handing me the balls and me putting it on the railing to let it roll down. We also had fun starting at the bottom of the stairs and throwing the balls up. This definitely required supervision when we were at the tops of the stairs. After a quick trip to Walgreen's we headed outside to play in the snow on this nice sunny day. I made a snow angel for Julian and later was making a snowman. I turned around and saw Julian wriggling on his back so I thought he had fallen over and couldn't get up. It turns out as I listened he was saying "angel, angel" and wriggling his body back and forth. He was making his first snow angel! It was so sweet.

Julian was doing a lot of cute things tonight after dinner. One of them was taking daddy's guitar and trying to hold onto it and play it while on the floor. He also took the cord attached to a keyboard we let him play with and was using it as a pretend fire truck hose. While I was putting him to bed and praying I was so thankful for what a wonderful day we had together.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Julian the greeter

After breakfast yesterday we watched a little video. Julian kept saying what sounded like "chain, chain" but then I figured out he meant "train". He wanted to watch the Thomas the Train DVD we got from the library. It was a nice change from watching mostly Elmo.

My study of David continued with 1 Samuel 24. Saul comes into a cave (to relieve himself of all things) and didn't know David and his men were in the same cave. David came up behind him so close that he could have gotten his revenge and killed him but instead cuts off a piece of his robe. Yet even though to me this seemed a small thing, he felt convicted that he was wrong that he should not raise his hand against God's anointed king. Beth Moore talked about how the Holy Spirit uses our conscience to bring about conviction. How we need to yield to the spirit or often we will fight admitting our wrong and continue in the behavior that distances us from the Lord. When we listen to the Holy Spirit, says Beth, God will bring blessing for our obedience. David obeyed (by not acting out his revenge) out of respect for God, not out of respect for Saul.

We took a trip to Target in the afternoon. We went through the frozen section and Julian says "Cookie Monster" and it turns out there were frozen dinners with Elmo and Cookie Monster (yea for marketing) so of course I got him an Elmo meal. We were checking out and Julian would say "hi" to the cashier and when he said hi back Julian would say it again. The lady behind us chimes in saying that she remembers Julian from before, the one who was saying hi to everyone. I told her that Culver's is wanting him to come work as a greeter. (Cute joke of one of their employees who Julian kept saying hi to.) After shopping Julian did a bit of "coloring" before taking his nap. He wanted his hat so I put it on him while he colored.

Last night I must have been a little out of it because I kept spacing things out. We went to our small group from church that gets together and I forgot a bag I literally had in my hand before walking out and must have set it down. Then I almost left Julian up with our babysitter but it hit me that I needed to put him down for the night since we were leaving at his bedtime (big space out). Then I left some food out overnight too. Just was a little off I guess.

This morning we went to our MOPS group. On the way I was teaching Julian to say "mops". Leaving him in the nursery didn't go well. He cried and cried which was odd since he normally cries a little but calms down pretty quickly. The caretakers were great with it though so I went ahead and joined our group. He ended up calming down. We're reading a book called "Groovy Girls" which is a bible study written by a local missionary. Originally it was written for high school/college age women but one of the ladies in our group brought the idea and we went from there since there is so much that applies generally. Later on the way home Julian had fun saying "mops, mops".

Julian continues in his love of books. He even reads a book while I'm changing his diaper! That must be a cute picture. Julian continues to be a step ahead of me with his words. It took me a couple times but I figured out what he was asking for was a book titled Splash Sounds but it was really hard to make out.

Julian was having a rough time tonight. The littlest thing would set him off crying like having to wait for his chicken fries to cool down before eating. That caused a big fuss. Later we went to the YMCA and dropped him off in the nursery and he was just fine. No crying like the big scene we had in the morning. I don't get it! Maybe he doesn't like the MOPS group. On our way out a worker whom I hadn't seen in months saw Julian and was so exited to see him walking and talking, saying hi and bye to her. Every time we saw her before she'd try to get Julian to wave to her when he was just learning waving.

I'm looking forward to our playgroup tomorrow at Blackhawk. Julian and I both usually have a good time there. Will write more tomorrow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Julian our little climber

Julian is 21 months old today. In our morning time today he was watching Elmo and I had to run upstairs for a minute. When I came back down I didn't see him so I was concerned until I noticed he was sitting in the chair! This means he had to get up there by himself which he hadn't done before. I remembered Lanty had been teaching him how to do this yesterday. Then he was practicing getting up and down for a bit.

Today I was reading 1Samuel 23. The Philistines were attacking so David went to God to ask if he and his men should go fight and God told him yes. His men are scared and do not want to go so David goes back and asks God again if they should attack. God again says yes so David and his men went and fought. David continues to go to God to seek direction. Beth Moore noted how he wasn't doubting God but was doubting his understanding. Instead of forcing his men to attack, he went back to God to make sure he wasn't leading his men into trouble. Later we see again the blessing of his friendship with Jonathan as Jonathan comes to encourage him and "him help find strength in the Lord". What an important relationship to have.

Julian and I had some time at the library today and it was neat to see him trying to share with a little boy. Later when I picked him up after our workout at the YMCA he looked adorable wearing a little fireman's hat. The worker told me he kept saying "fire" over and over so she found the hat for him to wear. It was so hard getting him to part with it though so that brought some tears.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Julian I can't get enough of your cuteness

So it was Elmo Lost His Blanket book this morning, as getting up and reading a book is becoming routine now. This is a flap book and surprisingly now he is really good about not tearing them. Another sign that he's getting older! Sometimes he asks my help to lift them but then I realize that where he is pointing there is no flap.

Today was a day that I continued to be impressed and even stunned by what Julian is saying and what he has learned. I remember a few of them. After breakfast he was pointing to my shirt designs and this is the shirt which has circles on it and every other circle has a sparkly stone. I didn't realize that my little routine I do was sinking in. So he pointed to the circle that didn't have a sparkly and he says "no sparkly" which was a little hard to make out, but then he points to a circle with a sparkle and says "sparkly". He did this a couple times and I was stunned that he could differentiate between the two little designs like that. I've said that to him many times but had no idea he was picking it up. Later in the afternoon, I went to our garage freezer which is down a couple steps so Julian was standing above me and as I turned toward him he began a little mini lecture in Julian speak replete with pointing gestures, then changing his stance, then putting his hands together and apart. I was crying I was laughing so hard. Lanty was around so he got to witness it too. After we got groceries he saw me holding the graham crackers and again it was a little hard to make out but he actually said "graham cracker?", his way of telling me he wants one. I was impressed that he knows the difference between the animal crackers I give him regularly and the graham crackers which he gets less frequest. He could just ask for cracker but he is starting to combine words now. Later when we were getting coats on he says "churchy?" which is how I say church and yet I hadn't told him we were going to church. So again more signs of him growing and developing but seemed like a lot to me for one day.

Today I was reading 1Samuel 22. David continues to be pursued by Saul. Saul finds out that the priest Ahimelech helped out David by giving him a sword and supplies and he is so furious that not only does he have Ahimelech killed, but all 80+ sons too (only 1 escaped) and these men were beloved priests of the Lord. Such a vile thing that Saul had done. Again it speaks of how hardened his heart had become in his anger and jealousy of David. Even his own guards disobeyed his command to kill the priests, he had to get another (Doeg) to do it. Beth Moore notes David's response to this horror. He takes a stand for God and reminds himself that God is not responsible for destruction. That God repays evil and placed his hope solely in God.

Lanty and I had some time to ourselves today to catch up. We have realized that it has been hard to keep our marriage relationship a priority so we are making time every week to debrief and check in. Our goal is to be accountability partners for each other. Sharing what some of our challenges or struggles have been personally or with each other and then checking in with one another to see how that has been going. We also want time to confess and pray for our marriage and parenting of Julian. We have realized that if we don't have this open line of communication things can build up and then we end up dealing with resentment or bitterness. This was a good time to unload a little bit and then pray about it.

Tonight was bath time for Julian and I don't think I have ever seen him do this. He actually laid down on the changing pad so I could get him ready for his bath! He loves bath time and playing with his bath toys; his seahorse, walrus, hippo, Nemo fish and also coloring on the walls with his washable crayons. Tonight was the first night he'd draw a little circle/scribble and point to it and say "fire truck" to which I, of course, say what a nice fire truck!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We like our books and a taste of Africa

This morning turned out to be a little book reading fest for Julian. He brought one book after another for me to read to him for the better part of one hour. He couldn't get enough of reading. Then he picked up the CD of bible songs and says "Jesus, Jesus" over and over so we played that for a while and we even got him dancing a bit.

I am continuing in my book on (King) David by Beth Moore (A Heart Like His). Today the reading was in Psalm 142 when David was hiding from Saul in a cave. It says he cried out to the Lord, he poured out his complaint to him, "before him I tell my trouble". What came to mind was another passage, 1Peter 5:7 that says "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." David was pouring his heart out to the Lord in a time of deep despair. Again I see how David, whenever he is overwhelmed or anxious, prays. He brings his troubles to the Lord. While I was in my depression sometimes that was all I could do; pray and bring my troubles to the Lord even when day to day things didn't change. I think Beth Moore is right on track when she says that God honors us when go to him and tell him exactly how we feel. God always responds to our cry for help, even if we're not seeing it.

We had some time at the library today to refresh our stash of books. Julian had a great time entertaining himself with puzzles, blocks, "reading" a few books and playing with a little train set while daddy sat by him reading and I was off browsing.

I wasn't prepared for what happened later in the afternoon. I was getting ready for a friend to come over for dinner. This is someone we met at church from Nigeria who wanted to cook us a meal in our home. I was straightening up the area where Julian plays, the kitchen, etc. when I decided to put on some music. I have a stereo "juke box" that holds a lot of CDs so I wasn't sure what would come on when I hit play. It was like getting the wind knocked out of me when my "Sing over Me" Christian lullaby CD came on with the song "How great is our God". Immediately I am in a flashback listening to this CD just after having my C-section when Julian was born when it brought such serenity. Then my mind flashed to Portage WI where I lived with my in-laws for a time who helped care for Julian when I was deep in postpartum depression and this CD was one of the only things that brought any sense of peace. Then I flashed to times when the depression dragged on and I would try in vain to connect with God through this CD yet I could not shake the feelings of bleakness and meaninglessness of life that I was shrouded in. I just sat there in the living room this afternoon and let the tears stream down my face as I was awash once again with the realization of the depths of the pit that the Lord pulled me out of - the darkness he set me free from. The tears were a bit sad, but also being so moved by this.

I had to come back to the task at hand and finished my cleaning and then I got Julian up from his afternoon nap. He has been practicing putting his socks on every time he wakes up from a nap now. He sits in the crib and stretches out his legs. I am just delighted as I watch him stretch the sock over his little toes. He usually catches his big toe in the sock and lets go so the sock hangs on his foot. Then he looks up at me with his wide grin. He's so happy to be doing it even just a little bit and I am alongside him just beaming.

So our friend Efosa came over with all the fixings for cooking a Nigerian meal of fried rice. Our kitchen was filled with the wonderful smell of exotic spices while he cooked. He had us hang out and relax while he was busy in the kitchen. The meal was wonderful and we were impressed that Julian loved it too. We weren't sure if he'd even eat it since it was plenty spicy. He did do a bit of rubbing his mouth and I would say "spicy, spicy" letting him know where that feeling was coming from. The conversation was good too as Efosa wanted to hear the story of how Lanty and I met and we got to know more about him, his three siblings and his somewhat new relationship. Julian was starting to have meltdowns a little bit after Efosa left so we knew it was time to call it a night. I think that's my cue too for calling it a day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Julian's starting to test the boundaries

On Wednesday it was not a surprise, Julian was really hungry in the morning. He wolfed down a whole waffle with peanut butter and then wanted some mini pancakes. No doubt it was because he was so difficult at dinner last night and didn't eat a full meal. That's happening a little more often of late.

We went to Pal Zone our play group and had a mixed time. Part fun but also part challenge. It started when he got upset that other kids were coming up on the slide that he was on. He got really possessive of the slide, which he has never done before and I literally had to move him aside since he was whining at the kids and not letting anyone go by him. He did well sitting in circle time and putting his own name tag up on the board although cried and was upset when I didn't let him bring Elmo into the non-play room. Problems started up again during our art project time when it seemed any direction I was giving him he'd try to do the opposite of what I said. Really challenging.

He had a good nap when we got home and ate well at lunch. Then he wanted to watch some Elmo for a bit.

My quiet time today started with 1Samuel 19 where Saul is wanting to kill David. I reflected on the chapter for a bit and it struck me how he failed to come to the Lord and acknowledge his rage and jealousy so he stayed in that state of mind.

We went to the YMCA to work out and when we picked up Julian the childcare gals said they read to him just about every fire truck book that they have. I told her he is all about fire trucks right now. He also likes saying no a lot but not how most kids use no. He playfully uses no when he really means yes like he'll be having fun playing with some cars and they'll ask him if he likes cars and he'll say a quick no! with a sly smile. He does that a lot.

We've been seeing some changes in Julian's behavior which could be a hint that the terrible two's are starting early. He was always good about us putting on his coat and hat and now we have to chase him around the living room before we go somewhere to get those on. He's really squirmy trying to resist it. Dinnertime is also where we see a lot of this coming out; he'll be eating fine and then all of a sudden seem mad and won't let the spoon get near him or he'll start tossing food onto the floor. We have started to have some battles here which may be a hint of what is to come.

Thursday Julian woke up again wanting to read a book as soon as he was out of the crib. He kept saying "book eye, book eye" and we figured out he was talking about "The Eye Book" by Dr. Suess that we read for the first time the night before. He's started to put together these little two-word sentences. A couple others are "Elmo watch" when he wants me to put in the Elmo video or "Daddy see" when Daddy leaves and he wants to go see him off at the door.

We went to my Titus group in the morning. It has been on my heart to connect with other women in our group and as I dropped Julian off in the nursery I saw a woman I met the week before at our play group. She was smiling so I smiled at her and started to say hi when she walked right past me saying "hey Michelle" and had been smiling at someone else! I hate when that happens! I felt humbled by it and was let down too. The activity today was doing a service project putting together backpacks of books for children in crisis situations. We had some social time later and I noticed the one person I do know was already in conversation with someone. I ended up standing in between groups of women who were all talking with one another while I was just standing there. It felt so awkward. I wish I had more courage to just go up to people and start a conversation but I'm better once the initial contact has been made and the ice is broken. That's more comfortable for me. This is definitely an area I need to grow. I continue to desire to develop friendships with other moms but I know that takes time.

Later when I had some time alone with the Lord I was reflecting on a theme I'm seeing with the groups I'm in. I really want to connect with people but I continue to feel let down when the connections aren't happening. I see that I've been taking it personally and end up feeling insignificant. The Lord was reminding me that my significance is found in him, and my mind went back to Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." It dawned on me I had just read that in the morning! I love when God uses things like that to speak to me. I see how I need to be patient and trust him for he has plans for me in pursuing these friendships.

I was reading 1 Samuel 20 where David is being pursued by Saul and is running for his life. Jonathan says "whatever you want me to do, I'll do for you." You really see his devotion and complete commitment to their relationship. Later when Jonathan had given David an official warning David bowed down and kissed the ground - the two wept together. Beth Moore shared how this is an example of those once in a lifetime friendships. The spirit of God cemented their friendship. I think I had a friendship like this before. I met a friend through our old church Sunrise and we met every couple weeks for about 3 years. She was someone I learned to trust and the longer we met the more we were able to confide in one another. Sharing our hardships with each other and revealing our struggles and then praying for one another - doing this on a regular basis was really powerful. Beth Moore said "If God is not an active part of your friendships, you are missing out on one of life's most important treasures." I would have to agree!

Our babysitter/friend Karen came over to hang out with us. We played some music and were showing Julian how to make a drum by banging on a plastic container with a wooden spoon. So he takes it and puts it on the floor and begins "stirring" with the wooden spoon. We were trying to tell him again how to bang on it like a drum but then he went and got his little Tigger and started "stirring" and then he put the spoon up to Tigger's mouth - he was "feeding" him! It was so adorable. Then he kept stirring and would take the spoon to go "feed" the cat too.

Julian is quite a talker. Lately he will go on for minutes at a time talking in gibberish. He did this at breakfast today and I notice it throughout the day. He loves to "read" a book aloud or just stand there and talk and if you listen you'll hear something like "blah blah blah fire truck", "blah blah blah Elmo", "blah blah animal crackers." It cracks me up! Lanty says he's taking after his mother....

We had a really nice walk today. It was very sunny and I had the sense of anticipation of spring. It's starting to feel closer. We're thinking about taking a weekend trip to La Crosse to visit friends so that will help break up some of the monotony of the winter.

Well, for the 2nd night in a row I didn't have to cook! Last night we just had big salads since we were going to the YMCA right after. Tonight we were treated to dinner at Perkins by our friend Brad who we know through our old church Sunrise. Lanty got to see first hand what I've been going through with Julian of late, his mini tantrums that have been cropping up. It happened at least 3 times when Julian didn't get something he wanted or someone else had something he thought he should have. One time he was so loud with his "protest" that I turned his highchair around to give him a little time out! He quieted down a bit but it didn't stop them altogether. Once he was done eating he spent most of the time coloring. He seems to really like it. I also brought a couple of his little books and used that to redirect him a couple times when he got upset. I'm praying for wisdom and patience and that I'll take time in how I respond to Julian since I'm new to this and learning and want to handle it in a godly way.

Finally, today Friday was a nice relaxing day. We had nothing scheduled, no play groups or library class. I tried a new game with Julian in the morning called hard or soft where you start with a big pile of things and you sort them by those two categories. I don't think he was really getting it but I'll keep playing it since I think it's a good learning game and it's something different.

After lunch we took a little field trip to Half Price Books. I wanted to get Julian his first real bible. I found a story bible for toddlers and up that looks fitting for his age. It'll be fun to start sharing these stories with Julian. We also found a few books that were $1 to $2 so now he has his first Clifford book and another Elmo one.

Julian likes to run to the door when he hears the garage and says "daddy", knowing his Daddy is home. They play peek a boo at the door and then any pennies Lanty has from the day he lets Julian put in our penny jar. The jar is getting quite full! We had a nice dinner together and then Julian was saying something I knew I heard before but couldn't quite make out. I realized he was saying crayons so I let him draw for a while before going to bed. Daddy read him a couple books, I read him one and then we tucked him in for the night. I'm going to tuck myself in too pretty soon. I've been staying up too long lately and need to get some catch up sleep.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Holding onto precious moments

This blog entry will mesh the highlights of the past several days. On Saturday when I got Julian up, the first thing he wanted to do was read his book. He's been bringing a book up to bed with him now and so this morning we read The Poky Little Puppy. This is one of his current favorites. He also likes Richard Scarry's "Best Word Book Ever". Then we went downstairs for our Saturday morning pancakes and of course he has to get a few tastes of the batter and a couple chocolate chips.

Something I'll add here that I've forgotten about is another little milestone. He's started to say "diaper, diaper" when he has a messy diaper. Someone told me this is the first step towards starting potty training! It's great too for us to know right when he needs to be changed. It was a reminder to me of how he is growing and developing so fast. I have to hold onto his precious moments and savor them!

Later in the day we went to the Verona library again. He played with the trains and then saw a wall hanging with Clifford and he kept saying "Clifford, Clifford?" so I found him a Clifford book. He was so content sitting in the chair just "reading" to himself which gave me time to browse for more books for him.

This was unusual, today he didn't want his afternoon nap. Normally when I say it's nap time or time to go night night he heads for the stairs but today he just wanted his book and was a little fussy. He did finally go down. While he napped I did my menu planning for the upcoming week. This takes a good chunk of time but it has really worked out well for us to have all our meals for the week planned out in advance.

My quiet time today was 1 Samuel 14 where we meet Jonathan, Saul's son. He shows great faith in God in going with his armor bearer to look for a sign that God will fight for them and God did. They had a great victory that day. Jonathan's faith is encouraging. He stepped out trusting that God would assist them in what they were up to. I also took some time to read a card I got from a friend who referred to Psalm 103. I looked it up and took some time to read it and take it in. One of the lines is "Praise the Lord and forget not all his benefits." I took that verse and just started listing the benefits the Lord has blessed me with in my life. It was good to sit and take some time to think about that. There really are so many ways he has blessed us. Healed of depression, enjoying Julian, able to be a stay at home mom. Those are just a few. This was a good psalm to read and just let the words penetrate.

Sunday (Valentines Day) was really just another day for us! We get each other cards but other than that we don't do anything special. We're a little boring I think! I didn't think of it this year in time, but next year I'll do something special for Julian, my little valentine. On this morning Julian wanted me to read his Richard Scarry word book when he woke up.

I was reading 1Samuel 17 today. This is the famous story of David and Goliath. I wasn't sure if I'd get anything new out of it but I did. I saw David having more confidence in God's word than in the opinion's of others. This one stands out to me since I often fall into the pattern of putting too much value in other's opinions or what other people think. David knew God had brought him victory in the past defeating a lion and a bear while he was caring for the sheep so he trusted that God would bring him victory over Goliath. Saul even offered David heavy armor but since he wasn't used to it he refused it. It also struck me that David had an intense anger that this Philistine had been allowed to defy God for the past 40 days and no one had done anything about it. David's heart burned and he used simple things (sling shot & smooth rock) and faith in God and Goliath was defeated in an instant. I admire his passion here.

It was really nice outside so Julian and I went for a walk around the neighborhood in his little car. It was so nice and refreshing to get out in the fresh air and the warm sun was shining so bright. I can't wait until it gets a little warmer and we can take more walks like this.

Later in church we met up with a couple who are from France and they lead our small group which meets Tuesday nights. We're studying Luke and this week the focus was on Jesus reaching out to the poor, the marginal or outcasts of society. The challenge to us was to see if we're doing that in our own life and if not to see how we can. After church we ate at McDonald's. Their 10 & 12 year old girls were very taken with Julian and he didn't mind the attention a bit. They enjoyed entertaining and watching him which allowed the grown ups to have some catch up and planning time for our small group.

Monday was a lazy day. We watched Elmo and the firehouse in the morning. In my time alone reading Samuel, the study spent time looking at the love of Jonathan (Saul's son) for David. He was selfless in this love, not a love that expects something in return. I saw into my heart here how with Lanty I'll often have the good intention of doing something loving, but then if it's not acknowledged I will sometimes get upset. So there I'm expecting something in return. I see that I do this with other people in my life too, not just Lanty. It's a challenge to just love like that, without expectation.

I had a fun time of coloring with Julian in the afternoon. We also watched Veggie Tales "God Made You Special" and something about it touched my heart. I think sometimes I just need to be reminded of that!

Later we went to the YMCA where they know us well and when we picked him up one of the ladies said Julian was really talkative today. Someone said "Wow, he's just a baby, he's not supposed to talk that much!" We're hearing that more often lately, that Julian talks a lot. We did some more practice with Julian walking/following us but today he was all about checking things out and going slow so we had to pick him up a couple times to keep him going.

Something cute was while getting ready for bed he kept pulling off his socks so he could try to put them on. I would encourage him and then he would get the sock over his big toe and look up at me with this wide grin like "there". He'd keep doing that and just practiced and practiced. Then he also tried to do a little bit of helping get his pajama pants on too. This is new.

Finally to Tuesday. At Toddler Time at the library the big thing today was when the librarian brought out a parachute. We had a great time lifting it up and down, bouncing balls on it, then holding it up so the kids could stand underneath it. Julian had fun.

I didn't have fun checking out at the counter. The woman was pretty cold and I won't get into it but we went back and forth about a fine on a damaged book that I was already aware of. Well I wasn't able to just let it go and I was stewing over it and on the way to the car a curse word squeaked out and of course who says what I just said but Julian. Yikes! My bad. My heart was so hard in my anger and it wasn't until later when I got home that I was able to turn it over to the Lord and ask forgiveness for that.

We went to "our" library in the afternoon (we've been library hopping!) and hung out for a little bit. This library is the one closest to us, right in our neighborhood but it has the least amount of "kid stuff". I found some fun movies for Julian and had a few things on hold to get.

Later in the day I was touched by something my friend told me. She'd been struggling the week before and asked for prayer so Lanty and I were praying for her. She said it was amazing how she was having these negative thoughts and kept repeating them over and over and felt stuck and was really down, then after those two days Lanty and I were praying she felt it lift, it just went away. She said for her it was really a testimony of the power of prayer, and of reaching out to others when we need help. That was good counsel.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Active times and quiet times

I thank the Lord that he continues to give me direction in writing my blog. This has been a great place to chronicle not only the rich times spent with our son, but also sharing what the Lord has been doing in my life. It is great to be able to look back and see the different things being learned.

February has been moving so fast it's hard to believe Valentine's Day is tomorrow. Half of February has passed!

On Thursday, Julian and I spent the morning with our Titus mom's playgroup at our church. It's nice that after several months I'm moving beyond just acquaintance with a couple of the women there. One of these ladies is Eileen. She has an 11 month old son named Jackson. Jackson has beautiful blue eyes and for an 11 month old is pretty big. He outweighs Julian by about 5 pounds! Yet Julian is on the small side as far as the charts go. But they're getting to know one another as Eileen and I get to know one another more. We hung out and kept our eyes on our boys and watched them have fun. I notice Julian is getting a little more aggressive when it comes to sharing of the little small cars people bring. When he wants a turn he stands in front of their car or puts his hand on the steering wheel, something that makes the child at least a little upset. Sometimes he has to keep waiting but other times the mom's step in and let him have a turn. He's pretty good about playing with other kids it's just the cars right now that he gets uptight about.

As far as milestones go, when we have the chance we're starting to let Julian walk on his own and follow us instead of carrying him. Partly it's a help to us since he's getting so heavy to carry all over the place. He tends to wander a bit, sometimes lagging behind and sometimes going ahead. But it's been good to start this slowly and continue to let him learn the art of "staying" with mom and/or dad.

We had fun making "mug cake" together. (see Tracey's Kitchen blog for the recipe.) This is basically a small little cake that you make in a large mug using 3 minutes in the microwave. Julian was trying to eat it using a large wooden spoon so I traded him with a fork. He seemed to have more fun trying to feed me than eating himself so he'd get some on the fork for me, I'd eat it, then I'd get some on the fork for him and he'd eat it. It was yummy especially with a bit of whip cream on it.

Later we went out and played in the snow again. We only stayed out for about 1/2 hour or so. I can't wait until Julian likes sledding as we have a great little hill just outside our door. But so far it just scares him so we hang out and play in the snow and watch the cars go by. Things he likes to do.

When Julian got up from his nap I had the stereo on and he and I got into a little dancing together. He started the dancing going around in a little circle and I was imitating him but being a little goofy and he was laughing at me and I was laughing at him. This went on for a few minutes until we got tired. One of those sweet moments to cherish.

Then I asked Julian "painting?" and he ran for the basement stairs since we have all his art supplies in the basement. He ended up doing 2 wonderful finger paintings. I would ask him what color he'd want and he'd choose one and then we'd do another color and go on this way until the picture was full. I had daddy come down to see his beautiful artwork and we ooh'd and awe'd and then hung them up on the wall. I'm glad we've been doing these different activities to help with that "cabin fever" feeling.

I don't have as much to share for Friday. But one of the main highlights was my time alone with God. This time I studied from the book by Beth Moore called A Heart Like His which is about David. Most of the study comes from the books of Samuel and today we were in 1 Samuel 13. She wanted to share some of the background of David's life leading up to him being king and this section focused on Saul. Saul ends up being the disgraced king who is removed from his post because of his inability to follow the Lord. In this situation, Samuel had told Saul to wait 7 days for Samuel's return and they would then offer up a sacrifice for an impending battle. On the 7th day when Samuel hadn't arrived yet Saul went ahead and offered the sacrifice himself instead of waiting. He said later it was because the people were pressuring him to get it done. This was Saul's first "test" and he failed it. Just this little slip and the kingdom was no longer his. Samuel declared "your kingdom will not endure". So I asked myself, how many times do I have a situation that I'm waiting on, maybe it's something I've prayed about and prayed about and haven't really heard from the Lord and yet instead of continuing to wait I just move ahead and do what I think is best in my eyes, I put my stamp of OK on it when in fact I'm not really sure if that's what God is wanting. In general I know I'm not good at waiting. Yet it's in the waiting that sometimes God is wanting to teach me and train me that I end up missing out. There's another lesson to be pulled from this where Saul said part of his reason was he listened to others. This is another trap I can fall into is looking for others approval and OK instead of looking to the Lord and doing something even if others may not approve. If God is leading me in something, I don't want to shrink back and not do it because I was worried what others would think.

I have our old Sunrise Church songbook and took some time to sing and worship the Lord. Then I had a prayer on my heart that I asked the Lord. It was a prayer that the Lord would help me to flee temptation when it comes into my life. I know some of my main triggers (for having willpower in what I'm eating) or things that trigger anger or impatience and I believe God's word that he will help us out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. So my prayer is that I would flee instead of "flirt"!

Later in the afternoon Julian and I went to a new library for us, one in Verona. It was huge and had lots of things for kids (a castle, a fake grocery area, a train set, puzzles) and Julian and I moved from section to section playing in the various areas. He loved playing with the cash register in the grocery area and he also liked the trains. After that we went down the road for some ice cream before his afternoon nap.

Later in the evening we had our friends Mike and Cassie over for dinner and catching up. We had Indian curry chicken which Julian did surprisingly well with and had a really nice time sharing about what we've been doing in our lives.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fun times and a few not so fun

On Tuesday we went to the library for Toddler Time again. This was our second time. It had snowed so I put Julian in his boots and immediately he thought we were going to play outside. He went to the back door saying "snow, snow" and it was so hard to tell him we weren't going outside but were going to the library. Bless his heart, he got so sad and upset it was hard to get him to stop crying. We enjoyed our time there and I notice Julian is intently watching but not yet responding when she'll ask the kids to clap or wiggle their feet but he did like playing with the rhythm sticks this time. He also liked getting the stamp at the end. He was the first in line to get his penguin stamp.

Later in the day we did get some time to play outside. I like to shovel a path through our backyard since Julian loves to go walking. Julian said "shovel? shovel?" I was really surprised because I never heard him say that and didn't know he knew that word. So I'd give him the shovel but he'd try to use it on his own without me helping and it was just too heavy! Once we made it to the end of our path he was ready to go visit the cars. He says "cars? cars?" so I take him up the hill so we can watch the cars go by. He just loves it. Then we go to the condo driveway and just walk around and play in the snow until it's too cold or it's time for his nap.

Julian had a real meltdown at dinner that was really hard on me. He got upset because he couldn't bring his book to the table and he wouldn't stop crying. He was short a nap so that had finally caught up with him. My patience was worn so thin that I had to let daddy take over and I went upstairs to get a little peace and quiet and collect myself. He calmed down and ate and was fine after that. It was hard to believe he had been so upset just a bit ago. I've had plenty of battles with my patience but it is especially hard for me when Julian is crying. There's something about that that gets deep under my skin. So I continue to bring it to the Lord and cry out to him for help in having endurance and maintaining a cool head. There have been times I've just prayed out loud while it's happening and it's amazing how the Lord has answered with bringing the situation under control. He is so good.

Today in my time alone with the Lord I continued my study of Ruth. It was a good reminder of how the Lord uses broken, scarred people - even after we've fallen or blown it again and again but when we confess and seek him he uses us for his great plans and purposes.

At the end of the night I was just about to start the getting Julian ready for bed process. He starts asking something I couldn't understand but then I made out he was saying "painting, painting". He wanted to do finger painting and yet that was another word I never heard him say before so it took me by surprise. So we'll have to do some finger painting soon!

On to Wednesday ....
The morning started with Julian being difficult with eating again. He started off doing really well eating his oatmeal and yogurt but then all of a sudden he just wouldn't take another bite and something set him off and he was crying again. It didn't take me long to get him out of his chair and let him play and calm down.

I don't know if this was a carryover from breakfast but Lanty and I always pray before he leaves for work and during our prayer time I just felt this heaviness. I had negative feelings like I am no good and I'm unworthy. It was hard to shake.

Later during Julian's nap I was able to spend some time with the Lord. I saw how I was beating myself up a bit and was able to lay that aside and see who I am in God's eyes is his beloved. That I am worthy and complete in Christ. I took some time to write and was listing all the areas that the Lord has been working in my life lately (things I've written in past blogs) and it was amazing to see all he is doing. It was humbling. One of the questions in Ruth was looking at where do I find my significance. I got really honest with myself and confessed that I am often looking for significance in others opinions of me (my husband, other moms), also in my role as primary caretaker for Julian. This was a good reminder of how my significance doesn't come from those external things, it comes from my identity in Christ, who I am in Christ.

After lunch something really cute happened with Julian. I was sitting at the table and he was bringing me his little people and other toys and I'd play with them and he'd take them back to play like I was playing. Then he brought over his stuffed Tigger and I got the idea for Julian and I to feed him, telling Julian that he might be hungry. So we got out a plastic bowl and spoon and Julian was "feeding" Tigger. I came back after a bit and it was so cute, Julian had all his stuffed animals around him now and was feeding all of them! He must have figured all his animals would be hungry, not just Tigger. Maybe he'll be an animal lover like his mommy someday.

After putting Julian down for his afternoon nap I was about to start mopping when I heard the song Still by Watermark. What a beautiful song. I had to do just that and just sat down to listen to it and let the words penetrate my heart. It's interesting that it's so easy to be busy and run around doing things yet it is so hard to just sit and be still before our God. One of the lines says "I'm so quick to move, instead of listening to you." So true. I need to slow down and be still more.

Last part of the day to share was putting Julian to bed. Our routine starts when I tell Julian it's time for night night. Usually he heads for the stairs but this time he had to bring a book. He's been doing that lately, bringing a certain book up to bed. Daddy got to read the story to him and then Julian took the book and dragged it underneath his crib and was "reading" it out loud from under the bed. He is such a special blessing, I love these cute little things he does.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Looking for the special in the ordinary

Today was fun. J and I were invited on a play date with a mom I met at our church's Titus group. Eileen and I decided to meet at the mall to have lunch together and then to let the boys loose in the play area. We had a nice long lunch and a good time of getting to know each other better. I loved how J did his own getting to know Jackson by turning to him a few times and clapping to see if he clapped back and when he did he'd laugh. So cute. After lunch we went to the play area but were stopped when we found out the play area was closed off for construction! We couldn't really think of any other place to go since Eileen's son Jackson isn't big enough for McDonald's play land and there aren't a lot of options so we just hung out a bit more on one of the mall benches. After chatting some more it was time to change someone's diaper and head home.

We stopped at the library to pick up some books and videos I put on hold. J just loves the library. He likes tinkering on the computers in the children's area, playing with legos, pulling out books for mommy to read to him and pulling neat looking videos off the shelf (that mommy has to put back). The only bad thing about the library is when it's time to go! He gets really upset and usually gets to tears because he just doesn't want to go. But that time inevitably comes and he survives! Today we got a few Elmo videos and a video on fire trucks. The best though is the video combining two of J's favorites - Elmo and fire trucks - in a video where Elmo gets to visit the firehouse.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was pretty slow and relaxing. I always enjoy watching L and J play and J would bring his books to daddy to read. That is precious when Julian sits on his lap and they read books together. He really enjoyed the firehouse Elmo video too.

Saturday always starts with chocolate chip pancakes. J gets excited and starts chanting "pancakes? pancakes?" and I can't make them quick enough. He gets chocolate all over his hands and face. Then he lifts up his hands and says "uh-oh" like telling mommy, uh-oh my hands are so dirty. He also loves it when I give him a taste of the batter while I'm in between pancakes. He's becoming quite good at begging as he will also say "chok-lit" over and over until I give him a chocolate chip or two. He's definitely got momma's sweet tooth.

After breakfast J again had Elmo on his mind. Now he's saying to me "Elmo watch?" letting me know he wants to watch some Elmo. So I put in the video and he'd watch a little and then run over to me on the couch, then watch a little more, then run over to me on the couch. This was new. It must've been all that chok-lit.

Later in the day we went to visit friends who live somewhat close. Since they have nice sidewalks good for walking we brought J's little push-car so we could take a walk there. Our friends ended up not being home but we got out our little car and then remembered we have other friends that live nearby who we hadn't seen in a couple years. They ended up being home and Lisa just melted when she saw us with J. I will never forget how Lisa reached out to me during my postpartum depression time. She went with me to my first therapist appointment which I was really nervous about and later gave me the most relaxing foot massage. I think it was the first time I could actually relax a bit since my break down after J's birth. That must have been within 6 months of J being born.

At their place, J was shy at first but it only took him about 5 minutes to warm up. I think the rice crackers Lisa was giving him helped. That's another one of his favorite things - crackers. We then decided to introduce J to their giant but very friendly German Shepherd and he did so well. The dog was so excited she lunged/kissed me a couple times and J got this really scared/I'm not sure about this look on his face. We think he didn't like how the dog lunged at me and he wasn't sure how he felt about that. It was a nice time of catching up.

That night was our date night. We were able to get L's old roommate to come and basically house sit since J would be in bed. We did our usual, going out to Hubbard Diner for dessert and conversation. We agree we need more date night ideas so we're not always doing the same thing. We are missing some of our in-depth conversations. We don't take the time to really catch up like that on a daily basis. I'm missing that depth of connectedness that would come when we'd keep up with each other like that. We haven't done this for a while but we're going to go through another book together. This one is called Boundaries in Marriage which we got as a wedding present 7-1/2 years ago and never read. I think it will be good. Some of the chapters deal with conflict and conflict resolution which is an area that I find challenging. I really want to have a Christ-like response with handling conflict but that's an area I often lose it. The book also gets into healthy ways to relate to one another and some that are unhealthy. Another area I'm surrendering to the Lord is my sensitivity, that I'm often quick to be defensive or get hurt easily even when it's just someone joking with me. I do this a lot with L. We talked about an area L could grow and that is in the area of giving affirmation. So we have a focus and it will be good to go through this book together and work on maintaining a deeper connection.

Sunday was a pretty ordinary day for me. Since L had plans to watch the super bowl at a friend's house we went to the early service at Blackhawk. We started a new series called Redefined. For the next three months we'll be looking at how Jesus redefined everything when he came. How things were very much turned inside out and upside down. Unfortunately I found it very hard to focus, I was so tired. I remember how the sermon started and ended but I lost a lot in between.

While L was gone watching the super bowl, J and I got to have fun together. I had the game on and he just loved watching football. He gets mixed up and calls it "baskey-ball" and he was running around and around the living room in circles and stopping to peak at the game, then running around again. We also went grocery shopping and when we got home he was my little helper again taking things out and bringing them to me. He gets so excited when he can help.

Finally, to today. In my time alone with the Lord I felt another theme being reinforced. I got a book called A Heart Like His which looks at the life and faith of David. Today's focus was on strength and tenderness. This reminded me of something I read in a book Chuck Swindoll wrote for becoming a Godly parent. What stood out to me there was his talk about discipline being gentle yet firm. I took some time to just think about this and really search my heart. I prayed and was asking the Lord that I would grow in those attributes. I find it's too easy to discipline while angry and all gentleness is forgotten, but I really see the importance of that element, gentleness (tenderness) a quality of Christ and a fruit of the spirit. Being firm is important but to go hand in hand with gentleness is powerful and honoring to the Lord. I need to learn how to do this and my prayer is the Lord would teach me situation to situation.

Julian did a lot of "Elmo watch" today and he also loves a Richard Scary library book on words. He takes it up to his nap with him and loves pointing to the pictures and saying what it is like owl, cheese, cow, pancakes, house. It's so fun to see him continuing to learn.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Catching up on the latest...

Wow I haven't had a new posting for February yet.....time got away from me. I'm putting together the highlights from the past several days to share.

On Sunday we finished a sermon series on the Holy Spirit that was powerful and encouraging. It was a four part series and this last part was one that I could very much relate to. It was titled "pain filled prayer" looking at Romans 8:18-27. I will share verse 26 since that captures how the Holy Spirit is at work. 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. How powerful! When I'm in those times I feel like I can't pray or am so far from God I can't connect, the Holy Spirit in my knows exactly what to pray for me and intercedes on my behalf! That is powerful.

Our speaker focused on the work of the Holy Spirit when you are suffering or in pain. He shared that during times of suffering there may come a point where God seems absent or we feel furthest away from him and it's at those times he said, that the Holy Spirit is doing his greatest work in you. This took me back to the days of my depression, when I was in that place of separation. I felt so far from God, I couldn't "find" him anymore or even hear his voice. I had no idea at the time, since this was the first time I had experienced any type of depression or suffering on this level, I had no idea this was when the Lord was doing his greatest work in me. The time I finally got better happened after I went into the hospital a 2nd time and then was living with my son at my sister's home for a month. My meds had been changed which I think was a big help and I began working through the things that brought me tons of anxiety until the anxiety started going away. That part (the anxiety going away) I credit to the Lord's hand since it came about so quickly and I was able to return home to Wisconsin and only got better once I was home. So I'm grateful for this sermon and how it reminds me of all the work the Lord did even when I couldn't feel his presence. I praise him for never leaving me like his promise in Deuteronomy 31:6...For the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Thank you Lord.

The highlight for me on Monday was during a time I was making (or trying to make) homemade bread. The bread turned out to be a flop since it never did rise (the yeast was probably a year old but I didn't realize until after). The neat thing was while working on the bread Julian wanted to be in the kitchen with me. I continue to introduce things in the kitchen to him like talking about what I'm doing and what I'm making, letting him hold the spoon with me as I stir, so I tried to think of something fun for him. I ended up getting out a big soup pot and putting a little water in it and then I let him hold the spoon as we sprinkled some flour into the pot. I called it "flour soup" and gave him a wire whisk and showed him how to stir. He went from standing over the pot and stirring to getting intensely involved, sitting on the floor with the pot between his legs just stirring and stirring. Apparently he was having too much fun because I starting seeing a little puddle on the floor and caught him sticking his hands down into the pot, then I noticed his clothes both top and pants were soaked! He was wet through to his onesie and yet he loved every minute of it.

On Tuesday we started a new class, Toddler Time at the library. They sing songs, do rhymes and finger play for 20 minutes in a small group. I was a little nervous since Julian tends to wander a bit when we aren't carrying him around so I didn't know what he'd be like but he was great. He did really well sitting on his little carpet square and was very intent on watching everyone. He didn't join in with the clapping or wiggling of his feet, and things but I think that was more because he was entranced watching everyone else. Afterward we had fun hanging out at the library where he was drawing with crayons, going in and out of a little crawl space building and I was picking out books for him. He just loves books. When we're hanging out at home he will pick out and bring book after book and say "sit?", "read?" and he can be read to for hours. What I love most is watching him stand with a book open on the couch and he's "reading" it to himself! I have to get that on video so he can watch himself someday.

Later that night we had our small group meeting (a group of people from our church) yet only 1 person could come so she came to our house and we had a good time of sharing about what God's been doing in our lives, sharing areas that we need prayer and places we were reading in the Bible and what we're learning about.

On Wednesday we went to our play group called "Pal Zone" which meets at a local church. I'm starting to get to know a few of the moms there. It's been intense for me since there is some refereeing I end up doing as the kids interact with one another and some crying or squabbling comes up. That's helping to stretch me in patience and discerning when I need to step in and help. A neat part of the group time is doing a craft after story time and since the story was about a bear they had a bear mask that each of the children were given to color and put on a stick. At times Julian's attention span isn't quite long enough to focus on the craft the entire time but today he was focused. He had such intensity about him as he was coloring that our leader "Birch" was commenting on it. We came home with a nice scribbly brown & red mask. I really see how he's learning and growing from watching him in circle time. Today was the first time he went to the front of the room when they called his name and he picked up his name tag and put it on the board by himself. I was so proud of him. In the past he's gone up there but not really known what to do so I directed him. It's so neat to see him get things on his own.

Another fun thing was our field trip to the pet store. I got him (yet another) fish today. This is after going through TWELVE of them already. I was talked into getting the tropical fish but this time got the 27 cent goldfish and I think he's going to be around a while. He's actually very pretty, gold/orange with a black stripe down is back with a black tail. We named him George. So we have a goldfish and a shrimp (algae eater) as the shrimp was the only thing to survive all those rounds of fish.

Today we had our Titus group which is our mom's group at our church. The pastor's wife was speaking today about safeguarding our marriage. This was really good information which was practical and down to earth ways to take steps of keeping your marriage relationship a priority.

Finally, I again see another theme that the Lord is bringing out through my life. I think I said before I always pay attention when I see or hear the same verse or subject in different ways like it's God's way of speaking to me that something is important. Lately this theme is about prayer. A little story about that is that I've wanted to do something where I'm serving in ministry, sharing my gifts/talents to help others yet it's been hard to think of something to do that won't cost money like having to hire a babysitter to do it. Then I remembered a place I volunteered before and that's Carenet Pregnancy Center. They help women in crisis pregnancies as their main ministry but also help women who have gone through an abortion and are struggling about it afterward. I began to pray if this was where the Lord wanted me to be serving as I remembered they had prayer volunteers who were sent information weekly on how to pray for the various ministries. It was neat to see God's hand in this as I emailed my friend who is the director and she said this has been a burden on her heart for a while, to gather a team to pray for Whole Heart which is there post-abortion ministry. I remember thinking how easy it would be to think praying on a weekly basis isn't really "doing" much for sharing gifts or serving. But deep in my heart I felt the Lord saying and showing me how important the ministry of prayer is. How he is deeply moved by prayer. Then there were two different places that I saw prayer as the focus. One was on a newsletter I am getting, they were actually offering a free CD entitled "Life-Changing Prayer" and another place was a Christian woman speaker's website (Nancy Leigh DeMoss) about the importance of prayer. I see the room for growth I have since my prayer life has dwindled of late and now the last couple days I've had times of rich prayer where I give myself open time just to let the Lord lead and my mind goes to many different people, family, friends, situations and it's been very fulfilling. So again I thank the Lord for his continuing work in my life and what he reveals to me.