Monday, October 31, 2011

The Obligatory Halloween Pics

We had a pretty mellow Halloween. We did our usual trek of trick or treating around the school campus and ended up with quite a loot. I'm going to have to hide all of that candy from myself or I'll be in trouble!! Candy...sweets...they're my one weakness.

The neighborhood came out in droves. It was such fun to see all of the littles dressed up so adorably. Oh how I love Halloween!!

I didn't think Steve and I would dress up this year. But somehow, I was able to squeeze myself into one of my old prom dresses (don't worry, one of them wasn't even close to buttoning) and so we went as the late 90's prom date.

Here are some cuties on their way to school this morning. These two, and another of their pals, have been friends since birth.

I had to get a picture with my little girl. I just love her so much.

And of course, the little girl with her

This little soldier just loves his baby sister....well, most of the time. I love seeing how tight they are.

I hope you all had a fabulous Halloween and stuffed yourselves full of candy. For one night of the year it's just plain okay!

After the trick or treating, we went home and let the kids eat candy while watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Life is good. God just smothers us in blessing doesn't He? Halloween is a night to remember how God has conquered the grave. So celebrate His victory and eat another Reese's. The Devil just plain has NO chance.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cross Country Wrap-up

As you all know, I had the very great opportunity to help a bit with Monte Vista's cross country team this season. Although I only got to get out there once a week, it was a TON of fun. Getting to know the students a bit more was really a blessing to me and I look forward to getting to know them even more as time goes on.

On Friday there was a little party commemorating the season and I was able to show up with the kids for a little bit. We watched The Office episode where they run the 5K for Rabies. Seriously, so, so funny. The running jokes in that episode are just classic. We also enjoyed some food and got to say good-bye to the season.

I love running and I love connecting with high school girls. So it was really special for me to marry those two passions. I'm thankful to my mom and hubby for giving that gift to me.

Today they ran their finals. I'm so proud of those kids!! Go Mustangs!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

This Psalm has always spoken to me. I can name numerous times at different points in my life that it has meant different things to me and spoken various truths to my heart. Right now, it's back at it filling my heart with strength, truth and beauty. This morning, around the breakfast table, the boys and I were talking about this passage because we were discussing how all of us sin yet God grants mercy amidst our mistakes...that is if we confess our sins and repent.

This isn't always our discussion, but for some reason, this morning, our conversation went there and this Psalm came to mind for I had been reading it again lately and drinking in its goodness. This Psalm beautifully illustrates our faith and how God saves us. It reminds me how far I've fallen and how far God has reached to save me, to revive my soul from death. As a busy mom, I don't always have time to really study anymore, at least not for any length of time. So instead, I just sit in a passage and let it wash over me. Throughout the day I can gulp it down, feeding on its nourishment as I go along. Psalm 103 is that for me again right now.

Just wanted to share it. It's just too good not to pass on.

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame,
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its places knows it no more.

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

San Luis Obispo-Need I Say More?

Nearly 500 people attended the 19th Annual AGO Pismo Football Tournament this year.

We spent another amazing weekend in San Luis Obispo soaking in family, friends, football and food! Ha! We made all of our usual stops. Our kids even know them now...Bali's frozen yogurt for some serve yourself fro yo, Mondeo's for amazing wraps, Splash Cafe for clam chowder and the Cal Poly store for some much needed paraphernalia (Meris...shhhh don't tell anyone how much paraphernalia we already have).

The newest addition.

The Kappa Alumni football team swept the tournament and all of us "old" alumni (for we are old now) got a ton of hangout time (! We missed you TREMENDOUSLY!).

Two old cronies/best pals, getting the rules for the umpteenth time. Ryan always does such a good job.

We also got to visit and stay with our San Luis Obispo family, The Weeks. They always shower us with care, great conversation and plenty of food to eat. Not only that but they blessed us with babysitting too on Saturday night so that we could hit the end of the alumni party after our kids went to bed. We ended the weekend with a family photo shoot at Avila Valley Barn, done by an old pal from Camp Hammer, who is a phenomenal photographer. Meeting her three little ones afterward was such a delight.

It is such a joy to see all of our kids playing together!!

Gotta have some strategy to beat those young'ins...looked like it worked.

All in all, the kids were troopers, slept great and had a blast themselves. Traveling is getting a bit easier. Besides Elliana throwing Joshua's asthma inhalers in the trash (and subsequently them getting left in SLO) there weren't any snafus to think of. And those medicines were found and will be here sometime in the next week or so. Gotta love those little hands.

One of the best parts of the trip is always explaining to the kids why San Luis Obispo is so important to us. Besides it being the home to Cal Poly, the best university in the world (Ha!), it's where we dated and spent our first three years married. Isaac loves to announce that he was born there saying, "There's my hospital!!" as we drive past good ole' French Hospital on our way to the Weeks. That does encapsulate a lot of what is special about SLO, him making us parents there...however, really it's so special because it's where we began. It's the first few chapters of our history. As we drove them all past the AGO House where Steve lived for a few years during college, Steve pointed out the sandwich place next door where he used to go buy sandwiches. And then I said, "Yeah and that curb is where Daddy loved to kiss Mommy goodnight." They all just died laughing. That cute little Americana town always be home. Even though we don't live there anymore, a lot of memories line those streets-a lot of very special, wonderful times.

Now it's back to reality. I'm just doing laundry and getting caught back up.

But I'm glad for weekends like this last one as busy as it was. We got to have Daddy with us all weekend and we got to be in one of the most beautiful towns in America with a bunch of people we love.

These guys will be friends forever.

My you guys. There were definitely a bunch missing BUT, it was still wonderful to catch up with the ones who were there.

Totally worth all of the effort to get there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well, we've been busy. We've been to the eye doctor. Child number two, Caleb, is also extremely farsighted and will be outfitted in his very own glasses here soon. I'm super thankful that all is well with him and that he just needs glasses. His eye crossing came on quite suddenly (about six weeks ago) and at a much older age than Josh so , there was some concern that it could be a neurological problem. But for now, his eye exam was consistent with strabismus (eye crossing due to extreme farsightedness) and so, besides a new set of glasses, he is no worse for the wear. I'm doing better with him getting glasses than I first did with Joshy. I've seen how much having glasses has helped Joshua so I'm just thankful, especially since Caleb is just starting school.

Joshua had his moment to shine this week too as he made his debut at the ENT today. We saw the nicest doctor ever, who told me very confidently that there is no reason to remove tonsils unless they are an extreme hazard. He said, "They can even be quite large and not cause a problem." This statement came after I told him that Joshua cannot eat carrots, apples, and some meats and that our pediatrican had checked him out and wanted him to be evaluated. At three years old, he should be able to get those foods down. He chews them up forever and then finally ends up spitting them out. He also snores a lot when he sleeps but so do a lot of kids. However, when he had Joshy open his mouth, he exclaimed, "Wow! Those are some of the biggest tonsils I've seen. We call those a 4+!" All right! Considering this man's age, that was quite a statement. He then proceeded to tell me that between his massive tonsils and bulging adenoids, every time Josh tries to swallow it's like a cork stops up his throat or like two huge marshmellows. No wonder the kid is the messiest eater ever. He literally shoves food back into his mouth as he eats and must drink while eating in order to get his food down. I just always thought he was really messy.

So he'll be having a tonsillectomy sometime in the near future. Having this done will probably help his asthma as well. Every little bit helps.

The husband has been studying like a madman. He's doing really well in his class but is just gone a lot. I'm pretty used to it now but I do miss him like crazy.

But this weekend, we get him all to our selves...kinda. We have to share him with football but...that's okay. Because it's the annual AGO Pismo Tournament so, we get to go back to the promised land, eat amazing food, see tons of people we love and be all together for the weekend.

Speaking of which, I've gotta go. I've got tons to do.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Beauty of the Infinite

When a woman marries, she becomes a new person. Her identity becomes swallowed up by her husband's and this is a good thing. This is the way it is supposed to be. She doesn't forget who she was, she just brings it with her and then with the addition of her husband's personality, becomes an entirely new creature. Even when embraced and celebrated, this process can be difficult at times because a woman has to learn to be this new person. And that takes time.

And it takes God.

"Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin." Proverbs 30: 18-19

It's also a mystery the way God weaves her into the fabric of her husband's soul. No one can be quite sure how it is done. Yet that weaving together produces a beauty that no other relationship could. It's one of difficulty at times and one of excitement too. Yet nevertheless, it is a stitching together and God Himself, laces His own person through, in and out, to create bonds that cannot be broken.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm,but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

So a woman takes on her husband's identity in name and she becomes as much who he is as she can. Over time, as her respect for him grows, so does her pride as she learns to identify who he is and what God has made him to do.

For every man has strengths and God has gifted them all with something to do, able work for them to provide for their families. It is these talents that a woman learns to love and respect over time. She may not always understand them but she must learn not to compete with them for his affection, but to revere them and glory in them. For they are God-given.

When Steve and I met, I learned quickly that he loved math-passionately. I also learned over time that he not only loved it but that he was unusually gifted in it. He saw things that most people don't see and the more I began to look through his eyes, the more I learned that he really saw the world in logical patterns, numbers and shapes. And these patterns just came out at him blinking like a lit up summer night.

Yet I am a literary girl. I love language. I love words. And I love books. So, even though I had never hated math, I had also never come to see the same beauty that he sees as he calculates and brings his proofs down to completion. Nor have I understood the feeling of euphoria he feels when he conquers a problem he has wrestled with for over eight hours. These things were not a part of my world before and I didn't know how to relate or how to be proud. It was a mystery to me and one that I could only cheer for at a distance and pray for as he fought.

Steve often tells me that he wishes he had someone to talk to about what he is learning. It can be lonely. It's like reading an amazing novel and having no one to discuss the ideas with. Or like eating a fantastic dinner with no one to share it with. Or drinking an amazing wine all by yourself. It's lonely. As a result, as God has knit us closer over these last nearly ten years, what I have learned is not linear algebra or numerical analysis, for those are things I will never learn, but instead, I've simply learned to listen.

As he explains, he tells me what he's doing and how it works. And as he speaks, I can see, even though I don't understand, why it is so beautiful to him. Did you know there is more than one infinity? Mind blowing I know. Did you know what a google is? It's a really big number. I mean a really, really big number. I believe it has a hundred zeroes (not totally sure if I'm remembering correctly though). That's where Google comes from. A google plex is even bigger. Just ask Caleb. It's his favorite adjective. Everything is "goo goo plex big" and so forth.

I've started to pay attention to all of the scraps of paper lying around, riddled with math speak, letters, numbers and symbols and have come to love those lines as if they were my own. Why? Because those numbers, those symbols represent the very heart of the man I love and are the key to who he is. How can I not respect, revere and love those scribblings? How can I not embrace the beauty and care written down in his quest for understanding? If I love him then I love his work and passions, and marvel in them with him as much as I can.

Every man's passions point him back to his Creator. For mine, every equation, every unknown, every variable, reminds him of how God created the world so intricately and amazingly. He sees the Beauty of the Infinite in these details and it causes him to worship.

Some of the best advice I ever got in my early years of marriage had to do with respect for what Steve loved. Don't ever be afraid of loving and revering your husband's talents. Marvel in them. Do your best to understand them. They won't be the same as your neighbor's husband but who cares? If you love him, you'll love what he does and what makes him tick. You'll love what excites him even if it doesn't make sense to you. Cultivate that respect and watch it grow over time.

As you do so, God will give you glimpses of who he is (your husband) and who He is. And your souls will be knit further together. And as you are woven, you will see the Beauty of the Infinite.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Yesterday we left pretty quickly after church because the 49er game was already in progress. It was a huge game too and so Steve really wanted to watch it. Heck, I wanted to watch it. We don't have any channels so, if he wants to watch a game, we have to get a bit creative. Sometimes he watches it online but since it was such an important game, Steve wanted to go watch it at our local pizza parlor. It was a total splurge and tons of fun. They have an arcade and so the kids just ran around pretending to play the games until lunch arrived. After that, they each got a couple of quarters to play. Once the fourth quarter hit, Elliana was done and ready for a nap so I headed home with the kids to put everyone to bed. Steve stayed for the end of the game and then headed over to Starbucks to study until dinnertime.

As I arrived home, I was pretty tired but was in mode to get everyone down so I could rest a bit. I pulled into the driveway and noticed our porch stacked high with these items. Whaaat? Strawberries? Trail Mix bars? Bananas, apples, canned corn, spaghetti sauce? Goodness personified. Such kindness and generosity laden in those boxes.

I quickly glanced around but found no note and no one in sight. Someone had just wanted to bless us.

The boys were excited. It's not everyday that they find all sorts of yummy stuff piled up on our doorstep. And do you want to know what the best part was? It was getting to share with them about how God cares for us all the time. It was so was right in front of them. I explained how God wanted to bless us so He laid it on somebody's heart to give us all that loot. They got it. It was a great lesson for all of them.

It was a great reminder to me.

I have no idea who did it but, when these sorts of things happen, it always reminds me how much God provides for us. And it's humbling. Especially for people like us who really have so much (both of our parents always are doing stuff like this for us too).

So much.

Pretty thankful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Grad School Diet

Or...AKA "How to Conquer the Dreaded Dried Bean"

As a mom and manager of our home, I am always looking for ways to save money. I think all of us are. The urge to save a few, comes with the territory, I'm convinced. However, as our family has plunged further into the abyss of the Masters in Math, my skills have moved from quite helpful to expedient and necessary. And this is all fine because, really, it's like a game. How much money can we cut out of the food budget, while still feeding everyone well?

In the quest for winning the game, I've come to a few conclusions. One is that I need to shop more at Costco, not less. Some of you may not agree with me and might think Costco can be more expensive. On some things yes. But those things I get at Trader Joe's which leaves Safeway to be the place I pick up little things here and there, and my beloved ice cream.

The second thing I've realized is that we need to eat even less meat. I'm not a huge meat eater anyway, so this hasn't been difficult for me. The husband has had to adjust a little bit but, has come along pretty nicely. That saves a decent amount. I've done a bit of fish when I can (frozen from Trader's is pretty reasonable) and I pick up meat whenever possible.

And lastly, this is a no-brainer, but I have really, really made sure we eat as many leftovers as possible. I tried to do this before but wasn't super strict about it. Now, I'm becoming more consistent. This has taken some getting used to. But all of us are coming around. Lunches are not immune either...I want all of our food eaten! And then I've stuck to things I already do, like making most things from scratch. Hear me now...that's not a dig on anyone who doesn't like to cook/bake like that. I just happen to enjoy it so it works for me. Plus, it saves me quite a bit of money too so it's a win, win.

But back to the meat. Since we aren't eating quite as much meat, I've started to dabble in the world of beans. Beans are cheap...dirt cheap. You know the saying, "We'll be eating rice and beans...." Well people, that's what we've been doing. And it's not as bad as it sounds.

Now first of all, I need to make a disclaimer right now. We live in America. We have the luxury of having different food every night. Heck, we even have food to eat every night so we are in no way starving!! However, in order to put the husband through grad school and send two of our boys to private school (because we want them to receive a Christian education and feel it's the best option for us), we've had to make some changes, to accommodate our dwindling food budget.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, onto beans. Besides being the musical fruit, they are quite tasty and incredibly versatile. They can go in just about anything and kids love them. The only problem I've had with beans is that in order to really save bunches on them, you have to buy them dried, not canned and believe me, that is quite a roadblock. At least for me it is. Remembering to soak them is the worst and can derail me before I even start! But anyhoo...

I can hear what you're all thinking right at this moment, as I start talking about dried beans. "What?" You say. "Dried? People only cooked with dried beans in the 'olden days.'" Yes, I know. I'm with you. I'd much rather crack open a can of beans at dinnertime because it's convenient but, if you do it that way, you don't save much, if anything at all. However, buying a pound of dried beans (or even many pounds) is dirt cheap and yields many, many cups of beans. These beans can be frozen and used for all sorts of things. For our family of six, we need lots of beans.

When I decided to start incorporating more beans into our diet, what we lovingly call, The Grad School Diet, I realized that I had to get over my fear about preparing beans from scratch. Why did I feel I couldn't do it? Was it because many previous batches of mine ended up crunchy? Or was it laziness in reference to having to soak the beans the night before? I don't really know. But what I did know, was that I had to get over it and quick.

So, I pulled out my trusty America's Test Kitchen cookbook that NEVER fails me and got to work. The first crucial step is soaking. If you try and do the quick soak, they almost always cook unevenly. At least that is my experience. So, I decided to try a batch when I didn't even need them so there wasn't that pressure. I set the beans to soak the night before and simply simmered them on the stove top the next morning. I hardly looked at them and only stirred here and there between play dough, tinker toys and reading time. When the allotted time was up, I checked them and they were plump, rich and creamy? What? Did I really do it? Maybe it was beginner's luck. We ate beans that night for dinner and I froze the rest.

Then I tried a few different batches with a couple of different kinds of beans and they all worked. I sat amazed. Maybe all this time I was afraid of nothing. Or maybe, I just actually followed the directions (which included soaking the night before). Who knows for sure? Either way, coupled with some rice, stirred into soup, laden thick with chili or mashed for burritos, this beans thing was easy on my pocketbook and filled our bellies.

Here's a quick dinner idea: slap some rice together, along with a bit of cheese, sour cream, salsa (with our plethora of tomatoes we've had homemade-yummy) accompanied by the HUGE bag of chips from Costco that sells for $3.99 (it's the bag that never ends), and you've got yourself a meal. I can feed our family of six well, for a few bucks if that.

Just another great addition to our grad school diet.

Beans, Beans and More Beans

1. Soak beans in plenty of water for at least eight hours (just do it the night before or first thing in the morning)

2. Drain and put in a large stock pot. Then refill with water. Bring the beans and 1 tbsp. salt to boil. Then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until beans are tender. Follow the cooking directions for each type of bean listed. All recipes are for one pound of beans.

Black Beans- 4 qts. water, 1 1/2 - 2 hours
Cannellini Beans- 4 qts water, 1 - 1 1/4 hours
Great Northern Beans- 4 qts water, 1 - 1 1/4 hours
Pinto Beans- 4 qts water, 1 - 1 1/4 hours
Chickpeas- 4 qts water, 1 - 1 1/4 hours
Navy Beans- 4 qts water, 1 - 1 1/4 hours
Red Kidney Beans- 4 qts water, 1 - 1 1/4 hours
Black-Eyed Peas- 4 qts water, 1 - 1 1/4 hours


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

For My Mom

Today is my mom's 60th Birthday. I never really appreciated my mom enough until I was a mom myself. Too many lost years. My mom is the most giving, caring, generous, fun person. She's always giving me a couple of bucks, buying me a Coke, getting snacks for the kids or driving out to see us. She encourages me to do what is right and helps me to see the good in life.

I'm so thankful for my mom.

Mom, your grandchildren love you!! God has blessed you these past sixty years.

Happy 60th!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Because My Brain Isn't Functioning

I've been seeing the world in little snippets. Steve has been home two nights out of the last eight and so, as a result, I think I am becoming a bit brain-dead. Ha!! We're just mid-semester for A & M which means loooong, hard assignments and Steve had to attend a conference for work last week, so it's been busy. I also, for some reason, had the good fortune to visit our pediatrician's office three times for a total of five appointments (three were well-child checks). It's a good thing I like the guy! So I've also been running around like a crazy chicken. However, the really good news is that we got out with some of our bests this weekend for a little dinner. So incredibly yummy and recharging. And of course, I do not have a single picture of the event. Boo! Oh well.

But I don't think that I could write a cohesive post about really anything right now. The brain is mush. However, there are some things that have been swirling around in my mind as a result of some things I've been reading. I picked up Les Miserables after watching the movie this weekend. I read it in high school...700+ pages or so. I actually probably didn't really read it all in its entirety but rather skimmed some parts. It was still on my bookshelf so I decided to crack it open again since the story is one of the best ones I've ever heard. And I've had a lot of free time to myself in the evenings. Les Mis is such an amazing story of redemption and how the law, by itself, is a dead end-literally death. Incredible.

The Bishop, who ends up saving ValJean from re-imprisonment, even after ValJean had robbed him of his only earthly possessions that had any value-his silver and candlesticks, has some very choice things to say about life. These quotes totally spoke to my heart.

"We must never fear robbers or murderers. They are dangers from outside, small dangers. It is ourselves we have to fear. Prejudice is the real robber, and vice the real murderer. Why should we be troubled by a threat to our person or our pocket? What we have to beware of is the threat to our souls." Monseigneur Bienvenu, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, pg. 42

Ummm...I'm always troubled by a threat to my person and my pocket. And I rarely have a look at the vice in my own heart which is far greater than any damage a real robber could do to me.

" 'Do not forget, do not ever forget, that you have promised me to use the money to make yourself an honest man.' ValJean, who did not recall having made any promise, was silent. The bishop had spoken the words slowly and deliberately. He concluded with a solemn emphasis: 'Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to what is evil but to what is good. I have bought your soul to save it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.' "
Monseigneur Bienvenu, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, pg. 111

I have nothing to say about this quote/scene. The beauty of this exchange is such a poignant reminder of God's lavish grace. I can't say much more than that.

These little snippets have been getting my brain, my heart and soul pointed in the right direction amidst the hustle and bustle of the last week or so. It's not been bad...just heavy...lots to carry. In my mind, that's what good literature, a good story, does. It speaks to the heart in such a dramatic and universal way and helps to peck away at the busyness of life to unearth what is really important. There's always hope and redemption. God's mercy is ever-present and ready for me to reach out and grab onto long after my brain is gone. And I have nothing to fear. God's will forever triumphs over all...good, evil, the wayward, the sinner, the pious and saved...even my trivial, little load here.

It always feels good to know, that He does triumph over all. Over all.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Better Than Botox

Every woman wants to be beautiful. I don't care who they are or what they look like. There is an innate sense in the heart of every single woman that simply wants to take someone's breath away. It's how we're we were made.

When Steve and I had only been dating a few weeks, I distinctly remember a conversation we had where this whole scenario played out. I knew he liked me and wanted to date me. I knew that he thought I was smart, funny, and whatever else he thought at the time. But there was one thing lacking that hadn't been addressed. In all of our "Define the Relationship" talks, he hadn't ever told me that I was beautiful. And I had to know. Was I beautiful to him? Because if he just thought that I was a fun person to be with, that simply wasn't enough for me. I needed to know if I was beautiful to him. Who cares about anyone else. I needed to know what he thought.

So I finally got the courage to ask him. The look on his face was just priceless. He looked at me incredulously like it was a ridiculous question and responded, "Of course I do. Don't you already know that?" Um, no. That is just not something that can be assumed. It's important to every girl's heart. It's like saying "I love you." Women never tire from hearing they're beautiful. Nor do they tire of being told that they're loved. These truths are universal.

Now in my husband's defense, he is a male. And he is also a math nerd. So to him, the thought of bringing up the topic of beauty really never crossed his mind. He's a simple and logical guy. To him, he had already told me that he liked me so he thought I would glean from that the simple truth that he thought I was pretty. A (I like you) + B (I want to seriously date you) must = C (I think you are attractive)!!! He quickly learned that the two were not synonymous and that my feminine ways didn't add up like an equation. At least not the ones he was used to.

So deep inside every woman's heart is the desire to be someone. And it's not something that is satisfied once. It's a desire that continues to well up in a woman's heart as time goes on. It is an insatiable hole. One that can only be fully satisfied in Christ Himself. Yet, it is also a desire that does get fulfilled on many levels in a marriage relationship. God designed it that way.

However, as the years press on, a woman's whole body and look changes. The bearing of many children bring changes. The fatigue of the little years bring changes. Aging and wear on the body itself bring many changes. And as time goes on, the mantra being played over and over again, like a beating drum, is that beauty is only for the young. You have your one time of glory, when you're young and beautiful, and after that, be happy with your sagging body and tired eyes. Because that is your destiny.

But this is what I have been thinking about. I think we have it wrong. I think that some of the most beautiful women I know are not young. They are in the process of raising children or already have done so. The wear and tear on their body is evident as it is for everyone. But the beauty they have from years of selflessness and sanctification, give them a glow that no youth ever could.

They are stunning and they are not young. They are moms. Wives. Grandmas. Friends. And they are breathtaking.

They truly are beautiful.

While the world chases after wrinkle creams and botox treatments, these truly beautiful women have put in years of work with their families, neighbors and co-workers, laboring for others. Others. And instead of it taking away from their beauty, it has only added to it.

One of our favorite movies is Family Man. There is a scene, where Jack (Nicholas Cage) is in the middle of a glimpse into what life would've been like if he would have chosen love over his career and married his college sweetheart. In the glimpse, he is married to her. While out for their anniversary, he suddenly stares at his wife and says, "Wow. You are beautiful. In college you were pretty, but over the years, you have really grown into a beautiful woman." (para-phrased...not exact quote)

That's what I'm talking about. I'm not really sure how it works. I know it is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive even. But I see this idea all around me. I'm surrounded by beauty from the most unlikely candidates. Yet maybe our culture is just so distorted by what is beautiful anyway. We've lived for so long with fake, computer brushed images, that we have forgotten what real beauty is.

For whatever reason, I'm learning to see that beauty isn't simply for the young. Physical beauty may seem to be more perfect in youth. But time, faith and sacrifice intertwine in a woman's life to produce a beauty that lasts...indefinitely.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Joshua has a best friend. His name is Doe. We're not really sure why. It just is his name. He has loved this stuffed elephant since he was a wee one. So much so that he recognizes any other stuffed animals that try and pretend to be his Doe. After recognizing how much Josh was attached to this silly little elephant, my mom went out and bought a replacement as a back-up. It was the exact same stuffed animal except not quite as loved on. He knew. He just knew it. The first time we gave it to him (he was just a year old people) he launched it out of his bed while yelling, "NO! My Doe!"


I'll never forget that. If I ever need a good chuckle, I just remember Joshy chucking that stuffed animal out of his bed with all the gusto he could muster. The kid has a mind of his own and is quite capable in expressing it.

Over the years he started calling the replacement Doe, the "Other Doe". That Doe is not ever welcome in his bed (which is where Doe resides now). Ever. It's an imposter to him.

So he loves his Doe.

We're not sure where the name came from. All we can guess is that it was what came out of his mouth, in reference to his best friend, after he turned one, when he was learning to talk. We didn't name it for him. He did that all on his own. But it stuck. And over time, it even picked up a loving nick-name...Doey. So for the last year or so, that's what he calls it. Doey.

When it came time for Joshua to decide what cake he wanted for his birthday, he didn't skip a beat. He wanted a Doey Cake. Oh brother. How was I going to pull that off? I started looking for elephant cake pans and was just ready to order one, when an adorable little cake pan mysteriously showed up on my front porch.

After some investigating, I discovered that my brother's girlfriend had ordered it for him. I was so surprised and excited. But would it pass the test or just be another imposter? I knew I was in the clear when Joshua exclaimed, "Doey" upon first glance of the new cake pan.

Phew. That was close.

Now all I had to do was make it and frost it and get it to the party on time.

Of course, I wish I could've changed things a bit to make the ears more pronounced, etc...but I think it still turned out okay. It was a lot of fun (and stress while frosting it too but none of that matters now).

He loved it. And before I cut it, I made sure to have him say "good-bye" to it so that he wouldn't be sad when it was all gobbled up. Surprisingly, he was okay with it.

Probably because, in his heart of hearts, he knew...I've got my real Doey at home.

I'm not sure when he'll leave that Doey behind for good. But I've got a feeling, it could be quite some time. As for me, I think I'll miss him when he's finally laid to rest. He's played quite a role in our family over these last three years.

Believe me, that little elephant is infamous.

Just like his owner.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Because It's So Good

I read this article last week and wanted to link to it then, but just never got around to it. I was reminded of it yet again today. The longer I am a parent (which still hasn't been very long) the more I want to end up "middle of the road". Not because I want to be wishy washy but because I want both grace and law to make up the foundation. If I'm all law, there is not love. If I'm all grace, there is not love either. Which is exactly what Rachael talks about. It's not easy to keep things balanced, but it's certainly worth shooting for.

Check it out. It's definitely worth a read.