Monday, September 28, 2015

JUST DO IT

Last year I studied Moses and the Pentateuch in Bible Study Fellowship, so I didn't start reading through the Bible in January like I usually do.
Summer was approaching with no particular study plans.
With encouragement from my mother, I decided to read through the Bible in 90 days for the first time.

What?! 90 days!? The entire Bible? During the busyness of summer?

What if I told you that it's doable in 30 minutes a day?
And it will absolutely change the way you view the Bible as a whole?

I loved it!
Reading the Bible in one sweep lets you see the grand plan and cohesiveness of the Bible in a whole new light. Don't plan to stop and study (at least, not too much, I couldn't help myself sometimes)--but just read it like you would a novel, straight through, appreciating the flow of the story.

30 minutes a day.
The same time commitment to watch a show on Netflix. Or Hulu.
Or a good Facebook scroll (work that finger).
Or a stroll around Instagramz world.

Just think about it:
God's Word. Scripture. The Holy Book. The Bible. There is no more worthy goal or determination than to give your time and effort to read. this. book.

So what do I say to you? JUST DO IT already.
Here's a plan for you.
Start on October 1 and you'll be done by the New Year (with 4 grace days built in).


I hesitate to make such sweeping claims, but dare I say that when you're finished: the Bible won't seem so intimidating (I can read it in only 90 days!) and God will be so much grander in your eyes (look at what He has done! this story is amazing!) and it will be clear that Jesus is absolutely the main thread of history and what is to come (from Genesis to Revelation.....it's all about Jesus....and you'll see this better when you read it all together in one sweep).
It's well worth the commitment.
JUST DO IT. :-)

(And let me know if you do! I will be your cheerleading section, and we can talk about how amazing it is after you're done.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

D-MAN // the first 2 months

- - - - - - - - - -

Wednesday, July 1, 2015.
Bryce's 31st birthday. I was in Virginia for my Gram's funeral--at my grandparents' house, in their bedroom, going through Gram's clothes with my mom and sister. A missed phone call. It was a DCS (Department of Children Services) caseworker and she tried Bryce next. He texted me: they have a 2.5-month-old girl, in the hospital, will possibly need picked up tomorrow. This is what we were waiting for--he told her we'll do it. We quickly found out that it was actually a baby boy (of course it was) and we would find out in the morning if/when he was being released.

Thursday, July 2, 2015.
I arrived home from Virginia at 4pm.
Less than two hours later we headed to Riley Children's Hospital downtown.
We didn't think they were ready to release him, but we didn't want him to be alone all evening with no visitors. As soon as we walked into the room, the nurse came by to say that she would notify the doctor we were there and get his discharge papers ready. Well, okay then. I guess we're taking a baby home tonight. Good thing we stuck the car seat in the van just in case.

He was sitting in a little swing in the doorway of his hospital room. Finally asleep--the nurses said he wanted attention and company all day. Just in a diaper and wrapped in a blanket. Swinging. Chubby cheeks and curly hair. The boys wanted to say hi but we kept them away so he would sleep longer. Eventually Bryce and I both got a turn to hold him and I fed him a bottle. So tiny!


 It took a couple of hours for the doctor to come and all of the paperwork to be finalized. But then we were on our way home! Home with a tiny baby boy. Who came with nothing but big brown (almost black) eyes and chubby thighs.

He settled so well into life with us. We kept him in our room for a few nights but he was so noisy that he soon moved to the extra crib in our guest room. The first few days involved lots of snuggling and cuddles--he was very alert, seemed well cared for, and pretty strong for a little guy (always liked to hold his head up). Pretty quickly we started to move toward a schedule rhythm, and within three weeks he slept through the night with no feedings!


Our boy is getting big, fast!
July 1 - 13.62 lbs
July 29 - 14 lbs 15 oz  (50th percentile)
Sept 1 - 16 lbs 10 oz  (70th percentile)

We started out at 4-5oz per feeding. It took a while to find a formula that agreed with his digestive system--we didn't know what D had been eating previously, so I tried 4-5 kinds of formula to find what worked best for him. He was a pretty good little eater. But his favorite part of the day was watching Justus and Silas, especially Justus. His eyes would follow and engage with them--he loved it. We found out he has two sisters almost their exact ages, so it makes sense that he immediately connected with them. He also seemed very comfortable with me right from the beginning, but it took a little longer to warm up to Bryce (not many men present in his short life, if any at all).



D-man is handsome and oh-so-sweet most of the time, but it hasn't all been easy. Long nights at the beginning. Constipation issues. Visits with bio mom that mess him up emotionally. "Screaming sessions" in the late afternoon (seems to happen most often at dinner time when Bryce is working, of course)--these involve lots of prayer, snuggles, singing songs of Jesus over him, tears (from baby & foster mom) and giving even more face-to-face interaction time.

At exactly 4 months old, D started a big growth spurt--drinking 8 oz at every feeding, sleeping more at night, extra cranky. He started out on a 4 naps per day schedule, but because of the screaming sessions and also working around the schedules of two older children, we've settled into a 2 nap + maybe a short one pattern and it seems to be working well. He loves to jump and started using the exersaucer before 4 months. Loves to have very intentional interaction and attention--kisses, snuggles, singing, and tickles. Likes to be carried in the Baby Bejorn, facing out so he can see everything. Enjoys sitting in the bumbo wherever we are. Started rolling over on August 24. Likes to suck his right thumb when he gets sleepy.


We're very much in danger of falling quite deeply in love with our precious little D-man.

Monday, September 21, 2015

NO LONGER HOSTILE

- - - - - - - - - -

Last fall, I was struggling a little bit with feeling separate from and at odds with my husband. (He had no idea this was occurring . . . just a struggle within myself and for no particular reason that I could determine.) As I tried to work through it, a passage from Ephesians jumped out to me and really encouraged me. I wrote the verses on a small card to put by the sink and meditated on it for a couple of weeks.

. . . without hope and without God in the world. 
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away 
have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 
For He Himself is our peace, 
who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, 
the dividing wall of hostility . . . (Ephesians 2:12-14)

This passage was originally written to Jews and Gentiles, and describes how God reconciled in Jesus the people of the covenant with those outside the covenant. But I began to see how God reconciles all sorts of people who are at odds: husband and wife, brother and sister, relationships with in-laws, relationships in the church, etc.

Without Christ, all people are naturally (humanly, sinfully) divided, hostile, and disconnected.
Without God, we are "without hope" and "far away." Even if we can't put our finger on the reason, sometimes there is a "barrier" and a "wall of hostility." Especially with our spouses.

But thanks be to God! His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of two, making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. (Ephesians 2:15-16)


We can't conjure up peace, oneness or a sense of connectedness. But "HE HIMSELF is our PEACE"! He becomes the peace between us. We are "brought near [to each other] through the blood of Christ" and He makes "the two one." No amount of therapy or sheer determination or trying to feel love again can replace the value of the Gospel in relationships: through the blood of Christ . . . through the cross. This is what reconciles us to God and to each other.

What a sigh of relief this was for me! I wasn't feeling peace between my husband and I, but as I prayed and clung to Jesus as our Peace, the hostility faded away and a sweet oneness was reborn.

Friday, September 18, 2015

sept '15 // JD 3 yrs // SF 21 mo

Silas // 21 months

This little man is a bit of a goofball + stinker. Sometimes he'll do something stinker-ish with a complete deadpan look and a twinkle in his eye. That's when Bryce and I say to each other: he just might be a handful. An adorable handful. He chatters all the time, some of which is understandable. Everything is said in a sing-song manner and sometimes his laugh sounds like, "he-he-he-he." He'll yell, " 'nack! 'nack!" while standing in front of the fridge or pantry. (A few times he's gotten impatient and just started pulling food out.)  He says "No" for every answer, usually when it should be "yes," and he calls all round fruits "blueberries." It goes without saying that he loves to copy whatever his brother says or does, too.

It's been a fun summer with Silas. He runs everywhere. Loves to swing. Loves to push the mower around the backyard. Adventuresome and a bit of a dare devil at the park. Plays very intently with cars or trains when he's inside. He'll find a favorite toy(s) and then play with the same ones for 2-3 days straight--including sound effects. I love it when Silas tries to carry 3-7 cars at a time and has to tuck a couple under his arm. He loves to look through books, especially our big farm book, where every animal is a "moo."  Silas still takes two naps a day. They're shorter now but he likes his sleep. Likes the blue crochet blanket when he sleeps and sucks his thumb whenever the blanket is in sight.




Justus // 3 years

Shy and a bit stand-offish in public (it takes him awhile to warm up)--Justus talks constantly at home, with hundreds of questions a day. His favorite question: "What are we going to do [right now/today/later/tonight/tomorrow]?" Or "Why [fill in the blank]?" (to which we very often respond: that's not a why question). JD is very helpful around the house: taking his dishes to the sink after we eat, feeding the dog, cleaning up toys, running to get things for me. His current favorite song at bedtime is "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" (Michael Card).... but it changes every couple of weeks. He loves riding his new bike and going to the park and just recently learned how to swim "by himself" with floaties.

Sometimes the things JD remembers and the connections he makes just amaze me. We were driving around last week and he started saying that we were near my parents' church--but we were an hour away from it. Finally, I realized that he saw a water tower--there is a water tower beside my parents' church and therefore he thought we must be by their church! Justus remembers directions and locations really well--it's pretty amazing. Everything that happened before today is "last night." He's slowly learning numbers and letters--I think there's probably more retained in that brain than we realize. His favorite silly/made-up word is "Tu-ca-pie" and it's used randomly in all sorts of situations.

Cousins on the Eberly side.
Fun conversations with Justus:

While talking about stars when we were driving at night:
Can we get the stars, Daddy, and hold them in our hand?

How does the moon move, Daddy?
Gravitational pull.
What pull?

When we were driving into a cloud in the mountains:
Why are you driving into the sky, Daddy?

When he was trying to learn how to whistle:
I don't have a whistle in my mouth, Daddy.

When we were driving to a party for Bryce's friend, David:
Will Goliath be there?


Monday, September 7, 2015

POWERFUL IN BATTLE

- - - - - - - - - -

A bit of encouragement for my mom friends by way of Hebrews 11 & 12.

Let's be honest.
Sometimes being a Mom feels like this:

. . . who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

.....conquered kingdoms and mountains of laundry....administered justice at the dinner table.....quenched the fury of the flames of sibling squabbles.....escaped the edge of the sword that is bedtime....powerful in battle for honesty and kindness.....routed a few neighborhood armies.....


In all this, we cling to faith and promises and strength, remembering Jesus.

Consider Jesus, who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Motherhood is a high calling, a demanding vocation. And God doesn't waste it!
Moms are constantly in a season of serious training for righteousness and peace.

God disciplines {trains!} us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. No discipline {training} seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

So we make sure to take a moment here and there to meet with Jesus. (And make one more cup of coffee!)

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

 
And we pursue the hearts of our children--so that they may some day find the grace of God. This is our highest aim and joy!

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God.
  
Whether you're in the midst of "administering justice" 24/7 or if you feel like you just barely "escaped the edge of the sword" today, remember that our "weakness [can be] turned to strength." And all the mothers said, Amen! (Let it be so!)