Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Celebrating Life

During this Lenten season, as we focus on the cross and all that Jesus' death purchased on our behalf, I find myself wanting to focus on His life as well.


The person who lived before he died.  The man who had morning breathe and hung out with questionable people.

Is it just me, or do we have a way of pushing Jesus aside...so busy focusing on his death that we forget about His life.

His life may not be the climax of the story, but it's still significant.  Right?

Can I admit that I never know what to do with Jesus?

Can I admit that it's hard for me to imagine Him here...on this earth...but specifically in this house...with kids and soccer practice and school and dinner to cook, bills to pay, and clothes to wash?

Can I admit that this disconnect frustrates me?  That I wonder if trying to shove Jesus into my life to see how He'd live it may be backwards but the converse...me living like Jesus seems...


I don't know...

It's just...

It's easy for me to sing songs about Jesus and talk about Christian topics and even say that I want to follow Him.

It's far harder to actually encounter Him in the Bible...to read His words about loving the poor, the outcast, the orphan, and our enemies.  It's almost impossible to read His earnest warnings about loving this earth and the treasures it contains without walking away stunned and a little uneasy.

How can Jesus' death bring me comfort, but His life make me completely uncomfortable?

It's difficult to think of Jesus as an actual person.  Someone who lived on this earth.  Ate food.  Took showers. Picked a dandelion and blew it.

When I think of that Jesus...the Jesus of the Bible...the person...not the idea, I wonder if I'd feel comfortable around Him.  I'm guilty of only thinking of Jesus as a sacrifice or some other theological label. Rarely do I think of him as a real person who lived a real life...a life that I have a hard time understanding.

This Lenten season I want to do something crazy and invite Jesus' life to be a part of what we're celebrating.

My hope is that Easter Sunday could be less about celebrating a grand inheritance from a relative I hardly knew and more about remembering the life and death of a dear, beloved friend.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Boys and Compliments

How many miniature males do I have to parent before I learn my lesson about boys and compliments?

Anson.  Age 3.  Sees me in my brand new, cream-colored, thinly crocheted sweater that was oh-so popular in the year 2002.  I had waited months to buy one of these bad boys.  Anson takes one look at me.  His eyes light up.  He rushes over to where I'm standing, grabs the edges of my sweater and says, "Mommy.  You look so beautiful."  It was the first time I had ever heard such lovely words from my first born son.  No one prepared me for how my heart would melt...how I would suddenly feel like I had missed my calling as a supermodel (if you ignore the baby snot that was probably on my shoulder and in parts of my hair).  No one told me that hearing such sweet, heartfelt praise from a son could immediately make a mother's entire life.   My head was rather big, and I was feeling so incredibly beautiful that I almost didn't hear Anson say, "Mom!  You look just like Spider Man with that shirt."  Wah-wah.  Record scratch.  He spent the rest of the day aiming his Spider Man hand at my torso, pretending to shoot out a web.  I spent the rest of the day trying to ignore him.

Hayden.  Age 4.  Tall, leather black boots have surfaced in the fashion world. I got some for my birthday.  I put those high-heeled suckers on and walked into the living room feeling like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.  Hayden looks my way, starts jumping up and down on the couch and chanting..."You are so cool, mom.  You are so cool!"  I was equally marveling at my four year old's obvious fashion sense and feeling like a rock star.  Why didn't I run?  Run like mad?  Hayden stopped jumping and said, "You look cool...like a Power Ranger.  Can I wear your boots?  Please?"  He went and immediately put on a costume.  So we could "match."

Hudson.  Age 3.5.  Last night I'm sporting my skinny jeans and tall, semi-furry brown boots.  I'm a little hot and sweaty from stuffing my pants legs tightly into my boots.  They have to be just right, ya know.  If we're tucking our pants into our boots again, can I just say that I vote that stirrup pants come back in style?  I'll run the campaign, make the posters, pass out the buttons if I must. I really will.  I mean it.  Hudson runs around the corner, enters my room, stops dead in his tracks, and proceeds to stare me up and down.  I have no idea what to expect.  His wheels are turning.  "Mom.  I like it. I like you boots."

Aw.  Nice.  He's being nice!  I'm just about to swoop him up and thank him for his sweet compliment when I hear...

"You look like Hiccup!"

Aaron tried to save the day (while laughing).  
"Don't you think mom looks like Astrid?"

Hudson thought it over.  "No.  She look like Hiccup."

Note to self:  When your son says something nice, take those words and your high-heeled boots and run out of the room.  Run for your life.  Run fast before they tell you that you look like a prepubescence Viking boy.

Don't say I never warned you.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekends are for Remembering

{{Originally Posted February 2007}}
I walked into the dining room to find

cute little boy


coloring book

three year old fisted hand turning Ninja Turtles green

As I passed by the precious person I heard him say in his so tiny voice...

more to the turtles than to me

"I tee-teed in a boot."

I looked past the paper turtles to the open door behind my child

And saw

a boot that had indeed been peed in and upon

I walked, dumbfounded, back to the child whose chubby fingers held the green and said,

"Did you tee-tee in that boot?"

He did not look up.

He did not stop.

He was drawing lines on the turtle ninja's head and said...


I called for Aaron.

Aaron came.

Ashton colored.

I said, "Will you tell your Daddy what you did?"

I think Aaron was expecting to hear something related to arts and crafts.


Ashton kept working


Creating away in his race car underwear.

White, pudgy baby legs sticking out begging to be squeezed.

Studying Raphael Ashton answered his dad...

"I tee-teed in a boot."

Mother laughing.

Father wondering if he should discipline this child.

Ashton transforming turtles from gray to green.

Kids have a way of turning a gray world green.

That's life with boys.

Life with boots.

Life with tee tee and the various "What in the world were you thinking?" places to put it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Tidbits

Don't you love screen door weather?  

I'm pretty sure the last time I sat down was a week ago.  I guess that's why they call it moving.  You never stop moving.

Even if it's only for a few months, we finally feel settled.  The neighbor's phone numbers are stuck on the refrigerator with superhero magnets.  The boys have christened the backyard with their pee and shelters.

Hudson has fallen in love.  

With boots.  

He has gone from adorable GAP model to...well...I don't know what you'd call this look, but he's rockin' it.

Two of our kids are truckin' along with their new gluten free diets.  I'm feeling less overwhelmed thanks to some helpful tips from friends.  Confession:  I had to look up the word, "gluten."  Animal?  Vegetable?  Mineral?  I had no idea.  

The two gluten-frees lived on bacon and grapes for several days.  I'm feeling more adventurous and cooking real foods for them now.  Kristen Howerton wrote about going gluten free and how it helped one of her kids.  I was intrigued.  I've also been reading this interesting book, Healing the New Childhood Epidemics:  Autism, ADHD, Ashtma, and Allergies.  Two of our kids suffer from two of those "disorders."  We are encouraged by the improvements we've seen and it's only been one full week.

In an attempt to branch out in the gluten-free/whole foods arena, we ate roasted beets for the first time in our whole lives last night.  Shockingly, they were delicious.  The boys got a kick out of the fact that the beets made it look like their chicken was gushing blood.  I got woozy. The beets also caused a medical scare in our house this morning.

Here's the text I sent Aaron after a mild panic attack and some detective work of the grossest kind:

Me:  OMG.  Beets turn your poo blood red. The boys are freaking.  And their pee is orange.

Aaron:  I saw that this morning myself.  I was worried I was peeing blood, but looked it up and figured out it was the beets.

For Aaron to look a medical condition up on the internet means one thing:  He was worried.  Something about Aaron thinking he was dying at work makes me laugh hysterically.  Go ahead.  Pass The Wife of the Year Award.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Moving On Down the Road

We said good-bye to the farm this weekend and moved into a cute as a button rent house about 45 minutes away.  It's an old, yellow house with a big front porch and a tire swing.  We'll only be here temporarily while we continue to look for a house to buy.  Aaron is still pursuing full-time employment but has found a great part-time job and is doing some freelance projects.  The move brought us closer to where Aaron is working, to our church, to all our friends...

As if moving isn't the most awful activity ever invented, I also decided to start two of our kids on a gluten free/dairy free diet at the exact same time we were packing and hauling our belongings up and down the road.  I jumped into this new diet without really having half a clue how to feed our kids.  Normally during a move, we eat enough fast food to make our pants nice and tight.  Fast food is a "no-go" on the glutenless eating plan.  Instead, when I was right in the middle of unpacking or packing I'd have to run to the store and buy whole foods...and then cook them.  Why simply "move" when you can do "extreme moving?"  What is wrong with me?  I hate myself some days.  The moving/new diet has successfully made Aaron and I despise one another.  We've mentally flipped each other off all weekend.  We're putting the kids in bed early tonight and going back to liking each other again, dad-gum-it.

Strange fact:  We are living on the same street, two doors down from one of the houses we owned in this town. I can walk to two of our friend's houses.  This house where we're living has held many missionary families.  We feel loved and ready to take a deep breath and jump into life again.  And also a tad bit nervous.

Really strange fact:  Internet was installed at our house faster than we could even move in.  I've never seen such customer service.  They were practically waiting on the edge of their seats to turn our internet on in our house.  The last time we had internet installed was when we moved to Haiti. It took us one month and 6 trips to the internet place to finally get service.  When the internet man left yesterday, Aaron's phone rang.  It was the internet service provider wanting to make sure everything was installed correctly and that we were happy.  Weird.  We were thoroughly freaked out.

Before we left the farm, we found this cute disturbing sign down in Famville Farms, the city formerly known as Roxaboxen.

1.  No littering or composting inside of Main Street. 6B

2.  No Stealing. 9B

3.  No trespassing without asking.  3B

4.  No peeing in the open.  10B

5.  No sitting on the table.  3B

6.  No pooting or burping in other people's territory.  8B

7.  No hurting out of anger.  6B

8.  No one can hurt Runner.  3B  (Runner is a baby bird they were trying to rescue)

9.  Ask before taking something. 4B

10.  No digging in Main Street.  4B

11.  No screaming.  4B

12.  No arguing with the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, Police, of Sheriff.  5B

13.  No knocking down the Law Board.  5B

14.  Horsemen can go anywhere and any speed limit.

15.  Cars can't go out of the street or road.

16.  No breaking houses out of anger.  7B

17.  No laughing at prisoners.  2B

18.  No calling mean names.  2B

19.  No spitting.  3B

20.  No cussing.  10B

21.  No stoning.  9B

Wondering what the numbers and the "B" business is all about?  We wondered the same thing.  Come to find out, if a Famville Farm resident breaks the rules, they go directly to jail.  In jail you lie in the grass on your back with bricks on your stomach.  The "B stands for bricks.  Let's say you knock over the Law board.  Uh-oh.  You get five bricks on your belly.  Lord of the Flies, anyone?

I love that stoning someone gets less bricks than cussing.  What tha?

We also found out that they have been "purifying" their own water.  Then drinking it.  Note to self:  This explains all the diarrhea lately.  

This is our first night back in our old town.

As we drove away from the farm I held our tray of tiny seedlings in my lap.  I couldn't help but look at each one of the tiny plants and think of new life.

Theirs and ours.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Get Your Love On

White chocolate popcorn from Make and Takes.
Did you know you can order fair trade white chocolate from Sweet Earth Chocolates?

Eight cousins living across the driveway from each other 
means we always have access to an instant party.

Pie from Royer's.  Whoa.  Mama.
This place makes me proud to be a Texan.

I never know what to make of the Valentine's madness.  One one hand, taking a day to intentionally love the people around us is probably a good exercise.  On the other hand, Jesus seems to be saying that loving the people around me...my family...my friends...my children...that's easy.  Loving people I like hardly calls for a celebration.  But loving my enemies?  Loving those who are difficult to love?  Loving the ones who rarely or never love back?  Loving those that have hurt us or wronged us?  No need to break out the streamers and the party hats, cause I haven't figured that kind of love out yet.

But I want to, don't you?

Love your enemies.  Do good to them.  Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.  Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.  Luke 6:35

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lenten Season

"It’s not at all important whether we name this particular 40 days Lent. It’s not important whether we think in terms of a church calendar. There aren’t certain specified activities that must be done. Whatever we do or don’t do and whether or not we give a name to the season, at the end of 40 days, it will be Easter, the most important day of the year for a Christian. Will it sneak up on us, or will we have prepared our hearts?" -- Noel Piper

Traditionally Lent is a season of sober, realistic reflection on our own lives and our need for a Savior. It is a time for turning away from anything that has kept us from God and for turning or returning to him. It is a time to pray that God renew our love for him and our dependence on him. -- Noel Piper

Until a few years ago, our family had never really thought much about Advent or Lent.  We're Baptist-ish.  To be honest, those things sounded a little cookey to us.  We can be ridiculous that way.  We took a deep breath and decided to give the Advent thing a "go," taking the weeks prior to Christmas to intentionally study the Christmas story and meditate on the beauty of what we would ultimately be celebrating on December 25.  The result?  It was a wonderful experience.  One we have since repeated for several years.  Our Christmas season was drastically altered from previous Decembers.  The joy real.  The worship heart-felt.  Our love for Jesus grew.  Our children were truly touched and were beginning to understand the depth and majesty of Jesus coming to earth.  The story of the living God was coming alive for each of us.

We decided to give the "Lent" thing a whirl too.  We were the first to admit that like Christmas, Easter would sort of land on us.  We'd walk into church, our hearts unprepared, and then try and take in the complexities and rich beauty of the cross and the resurrection during one church service.  Impossible.  We left kind of numb.  Perhaps a tad-bit moved.  But mostly overwhelmed and feeling a little let down.  Just as celebrating Advent completely changed Christmas for us, taking the weeks prior to Easter to really savor the story of Jesus' death and resurrection has been a time of much-needed growth.  The gospel.  God's great love for this world.  Our sin.  Redemption.  Salvation.  God's Kingdom that is breaking forth.  This undeserved gift.  What the resurrection means in our everyday life.  Focusing on these ideas for 40 days straight has always brought about a lot of new thoughts and new life.

art by hayden

This year we are using Chris Seay's A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor during the season of Lent.  This will be a 40 day focus on the life of Jesus, the crucifixion, the resurrection, but ultimately how those realities make a difference in our lives and a difference in this world.

"The ultimate purpose of Jesus is not only individual salvation and pardon for sins but also the renewal of this world, the end of disease, poverty, injustice, violence, suffering, and death."  
-- Tim Keller in Prodigal God

We're going to spend 40 days asking God to bring the truths of the resurrection alive in our family, and asking Him what it means to serve the Jesus that the Bible describes.

"In Matthew 25, Jesus describes Judgment Day.  Many will stand there and call him, "Lord," but Jesus says, stunningly, that if they had not been serving the hungry, the refugee, the sick, and the prisoner, then they hadn't been serving him."  
-- Tim Keller in Prodigal God

The Jesus of the Bible makes me nervous at times.  His teachings make me uncomfortable.  I don't understand all of them, and will never pretend to, but Aaron and I are at this place where we can't pretend them away either.  We can't pretend away this fact:  a lot of what we have called "serving God" in our past was in reality serving ourselves.  We excelled at claiming to serve Jesus while not really caring about the things Jesus cares about.  We know that's our tendency every single day.  We're ready to ask Him what it looks like to sup with the sinner...to pull up an extra chair...to invite the outcast in.  We want to be found on the journey of trying to understand Jesus and His life better.

Lent starts February 22.

"Why on earth would God Himself embrace a season of fasting?  It might be because He knows some deep truths about the world and about humanity.  God's decision again and again to give up His power - from when He came to earth in the form of a crying baby, to when He fasted in the desert, to when He allowed people to torture and execute Him - teaches us something very important: the world will not be changed when we ascent to power.  God's kingdom will not be furthered because an evangelical Christian resides in the White House or the highest court in the land.  God changes the world through humility and service.  It is a subversive tactic, yet highly effective.

To be strong Christians, we must embrace weakness.  It is when we accept our humanity, when we are humbled by our fallibility, when we live vulnerably, that God is strong within us.  Jesus was lowly, humble, even despised. He did not seek comfort.  He did not even have a place to lay His head.  He had every opportunity to pursue power yet didn't.  The world's systems and its currency did not hold value for Jesus.  He  had a vision of a different sort of kingdom."  -- Seay, from A Place at the Table


We put Hudson to bed.  We pile up on the couch with our older boys.  We dive into a short study.  We discuss.  We pray.  Sometimes the boys are great.  Sometimes we want to strangle them all.  Sometimes it feels like something holy has happened.  More often it feels like we're trying to teach ancient, beautiful truths to giggly, bouncy balls.  We finish up and Aaron and I ask each other, "Why do we do this again?  Remind me?"

Every year our goal is to do one devotional with the boys every week night.  We shoot for every weekday only because we know we're lame and some days we'll forget, or it won't work out, or right after dinner I'll look at a child and suddenly despise the length of their hair and vow to remedy the situation immediately.  Life is like that here.  We don't stress out if we miss days.  If anything, during Lent we simply confess that we're unfaithful.  We're sinful.  We're incredibly imperfect and inconsistent.  We need a Savior.  Isn't that the very thing we so desperately need to be reminded of during this season?

Aaron and I are thinking through what to "give up" for Lent.  What will help us to focus? What will remind us to pray...to think?  Specifically this year, what will turn our hearts toward the poor, and help us prayerfully and intentionally look for opportunities to be near the broken?  Ultimately this is about our hearts and not about what we "give up."  We are asking God for divine rescue.


Reliving the Passion.  This one is best for grown ups or older kids.

Lenten Lights by the Pipers.  This is a free resource.  It can be used once a week or every day during the week before Easter.  This one contains deep spiritual truths, but is written in a simple way.  It has worked well for a range of ages in our house.

Why do Lent:  Why a Failing Lent Actually Succeeds post by Ann VosKamp with more lent resources.  Ann VosKamp has a Lenten study, and it's wonderful for families.  I don't know if the link has been released this year.

Family Devotions for Lent.  This one is pretty simple.  A scripture, a prayer, and something tangible to "do."

50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die by John Piper.  The pdf of the book is FREE.  We have used this book before, but Aaron would read each day's reading and then paraphrase for our kids.  I liked reading it on my own that year.

Thoughts on Lent by The Village Church (you'll have to "pick your campus."  Just pick a random one...then the article opens up.)

Lenten study from The Village Church.  This is a free study that contains five devotionals for each week of Lent.  The Sunday reading is short, and the four other passages to use during the week are simply scripture passages to read and meditate upon.

Sign up for a daily devotional during the Lenten season from Tim Keller's church, Redeemer Presbyterian.
This is our first year to sign up for these daily devotions.  Tim Keller is the author of books like Generous Justice and Prodigal God.  Both books have encouraged and convicted us deeply.  We're excited to learn from him during the season of Lent.  His heart for gospel-motivated justice inspires us.

List of Easter books for kids from Noel Piper

Playdough Mountain to make with kids on Good Friday

A Place at the Table:  40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor.  This is the study we're using this year.  It contains daily readings and short videos for each day (you can find those here.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend Wonder

REPOST from February 12, 2007.   That's why we have blogs, right?  To look back and laugh...and loathe the self-righteous, prideful people we were.  Judging by what happened this afternoon, I have a blog so I can look at old pictures of my babies and read all the cute things they said and did and then morph into an inconsolable freak-weirdo for a few hours .


I keep expecting frogs and locusts to swarm us at any moment.

The plague has visited our house this month.

It started three weeks ago with Ashton saying his mouth hurt.

He had strep throat.

Then Anson came down with the flu.

Now Hayden has it.

Did you know the flu lasts about 12 years?

This is why most people get a flu shot, I’m sure.

We didn’t get flu shots because we’ve never had the flu.

We will get two every year from now on.

Good thing we learned this lesson with flu shots instead of fire insurance.

Aaron doesn’t have the flu, but he broke his back and has a fountain of mucus coming out of every hole in his face.

He sneezed in my Laynes box the other day.

I saw the snot hit my chicken finger.

I closed the box and put it away.

If you were lucky and got to hang out in our infirmary this month you'd hear things like...

“Keep your snot to yourself.”

“Blow your nose, hearing you breathe is making me gag.”

“Don’t wipe your snot on your brother.”

“Cover your cough, oh my gosh, cover your cough.”

“Get away. Get away!”

“I’m about to shove the vacuum cleaner attachment up your nose and turn it on.”

I’ve been at home for three weeks.

Today when Hayden woke up with a high fever, I thought I was going to run away and join the soupus.

Instead of doing that, I am thinking I should make a mental list of some things that make life worth living, even when people seem to be dropping like flies around me.

Sure, I have snot all over my shoulders, but what does that matter when there is cream cheese?

The world really is a better place because of this white rectangle.

And who cares that Aaron wasn’t the only person to sneeze on my food. Anson also sneezed right into my lunch. But who gives a flip when that lunch was Strawberry salad.

I still ate it with Anson’s sneeze in it. It’s that good.

Bag spinach
Strawberries cut in slices
Feta Cheese
Brianna’s Home Style Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing

Mix and eat.

If you close your eyes, you can pretend all the snot monkeys in your house have magically disappeared and you are sitting at a restaurant with your hair brushed and wearing real pants.

Even though I’m having to hold my kids down to get them to drink liquids…so much so that when they go tee-tee twice a day, the smell makes me practically pass out…I can forget about the funk and be thankful that for an early Valentines Day present, my husband bought me….drum roll…

An infrared high tech laser thermometer.
Nothing says "love" like a laser.
I feel like a spy mother.

No more falling asleep while I take my children’s temperatures in the middle of the night.

No more adding a degree.

No more sticking a freezing cold metal thing under their tiny arm that wants to be left alone.

All I do is rub this thing on their forehead and in a second I know if I have to sit on them to get their medicine down their throat. I love this thing!

I’ve taken the temperature of everything in our house today. My stove. My laundry. My hair.

And who cares if my kids only cough when they can do it right in my face. That’s all meaningless when I remember that I have an electric blanket.

Imagine a picture here, cause I messed up...and no way am I doing this all over again.
My in-laws got me an electric blanket for Christmas. God love ‘em. It’s the best gift ever. The older I get, the colder I get. Before bedtime, I turn my side of the bed on and it heats it up like an inferno. Then I get in and thaw out. I get under my covers and rub my arms and legs all around snow-angel style and chant, “I love this. I love this. I love this.”

Then, Aaron gets in the bed. He isn’t a fan of my electric blanket, even though it has dual controls, so his side never has to be activated. Apparently, the older Aaron gets, the more dramatic he gets. Every night, he gets in bed and within a few minutes says something like this…and he says it very loudly…just like Napoleon Dynamite…

“I hate that thing. It feels like hell’s flames are hitting my legs.”

Then he throws the covers off and complains that my blanket burnt off all his leg hairs or something. This does not phase me. I love my blanket and he can’t make me stop. I wake up drenched with sweat in the middle of the night, but by golly, I still love it.

I feel so sorry for all our sick babies.

The flu is crappy, but not much else in life is.

Friday, February 10, 2012


4 boys. 1 hill.  1 giant barrel.
We all know what's about to transpire.

Apparently the barrel they were riding in had some dead fish in it at some point and "smelled like the dump."
Yet they still shoved their bodies into it.  Again.  And Again.
Such dear little boys.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Late Bloomers

I've never managed to get a firm grasp on where the line is between being selfish about wanting time for "me" and acknowledging the obvious truth that I'm a mother of four kids who require a lot of work and attention.

I love my life, would not want it any other way, and yet I can also admit that motherhood is hard.  Kids don't raise themselves.  When I close my eyes and dream and hope for my children...thinking about the people I want them to become one day, I know that nothing short of hard work and a butt-load of grace and prayer will be needed for the task at hand.  Parenting is difficult.  It takes a lot of time.  More time than I ever feel like I have.  Even on the days when I'm "all in," it stills seems like an awful lot fell through the cracks.  I know loving and shaping our kids will take an awful lot of effort, but I also know that there's this part of me that desires space to grow and flourish in areas outside of being a mommy.  I recognize those two ideas seem to play tug-of-war with each other, yet I still don't always know how to balance that tug.

This week in school our kids had to do a 5 minute presentation about an American artist in front of their class.  Hayden picked his grandmother, Judy Hendrick (Aaron's mom).  She may not be a famous American artist, but she is mighty famous to her grandkids.

I loved this house.

As Hayden was eagerly telling his class about his grandmother and showing off her artwork, I was surprised how emotional I felt.  I blinked back some tears thinking about how thankful I am for Judy's life and her role she plays in our children's lives.  Hayden was beaming with pride as he shared his grandmother with his class.  As a woman and a mother, I was also inspired by her story too.

Aaron fishing with Anson

Aaron's mom did not start pursuing art until 2001.  As a matter of fact, what drove her to her first art class was not a deep-down desire to learn to be an artist.  She signed up for her first art class simply because her friend was teaching the class, and Judy wanted to support and encourage her.

Aaron and Ashton

Judy has drawn or painted pictures of each of our children.  She has captured some of the sweetest moments in her art.  I have zero artistic ability, but art stirs up deep feelings inside of me.  It's been a pleasure to watch Judy's talent blossom over the years.  Her love for art has also inspired our children.  Art is a medium they use daily to express themselves.  It is an inseparable part of their personality, and we owe Judy for awakening that passion in our sons.

I stood in the back of the room watching Hayden excitedly share his grandmother's art and her stories.  I don't know about you, but there are times when I forget that life is made up of a series of seasons.  Some last a long time. Some don't.  I am consistently duped into thinking that the season I am currently in is the only one that ever has been and ever will be.  Four kids.  Educating them.  Helping one of our children through some difficult issues.  Dinner.  Laundry.  Errands.  Marriage. Investing in relationships around me.  Life.  Each of these elements combined make for busy days where I sometimes feel lost and tired in all the needs that surround me.  I feel like I'm helping everyone else grow, aiming for quality time, wanting so much for them, dreaming great big dreams for their lives, and yet I rarely have time to check-in on myself.

Judy's kids were completely grown when she started drawing and painting, and yet art is so much a part of who she is today, I can't imagine her and not immediately think of it.

I listened to Hayden telling the story of his grandmother and let the beauty of all of it wash over me.  Judy's story is inspiring to me as a woman, but there was something extra special about hearing this message come out of my own son's mouth.  One day that precious boy standing in front of his class will grow up.  How is it possible to not want to rush that, to want to pour my love and attention into who he is becoming, and yet be comforted at the same time by the thought that there are endless possibilities for what lies on the horizon when the season of intimately caring for our children has ended.

Judy painted these bug canvases and music themed canvases for our boy's rooms.

I'm not sure I'll ever really "get" how to consistently make time for myself while I'm in the trenches with four young kids.  I may never figure out what a "healthy balance" looks like. But a calming thought wrapped me up tight and cozy yesterday as I thought about Judy's life:  One day there will be more time.  And when there is, who knows what hidden talents, passions, or hobbies might make their debut.

You know a picture is incredibly life-like when you want to climb in it and kiss your baby.

What if under all this mommyhood is a one-day MD or movie director?  What if there's a violinist just dying to break out?  What if a white Tina Turner is hidin' all up in here?  What if an artist is patiently waiting her turn, watching my babies turn into big boys before she introduces herself to me?  Maybe one day when I'm not too busy matching 22,000 socks, I'll discover what seeds are planted inside of me that are quietly waiting for their season to bloom.

Maybe you will too, my friend.