Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Letter from Daddy (Part 2)

First, the comfortable, easy and safe road is not always the right one. To choose a path based on what feels best is to serve oneself – which is not how we are designed to live. If you serve only your needs, you’ll never grow, you’ll never experience God’s best for you, and you’ll miss out on many of life’s most precious rewards. This is as true for an individual as it is for a family. The rain is sweetest when you are parched. Being with those you love is more delightful when you’ve missed them dearly. 

Another twist on the same truth is to see the difference between peace and safety. This German guy I’ll teach you a lot about said this: “There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture. It can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means to give oneself altogether to the law of God, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience, laying the destiny….in the hand of the Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes.” 

The second thing is this: I am not your ultimate Provider. It is true that I am a primary conduit of provision for you, for now. It is a magnificent and humbling privilege to be entrusted with your life. But I do not have within me all that you need. Though I will want to, I will not always be there when you need me. I will not always say or do the right things. But your heavenly Father will never fail you. He is your True Source and He is always enough. As long as you abide in Him, you will lack nothing. In fact, all that I have comes from Him, and so everything I give to you, I give from what He has given to me. (The same is true, as it turns out, between your mom and me.)

 This doesn’t absolve me of the responsibility to care for you, to be with you, and to teach you the ropes – and I pledge my life to do this with all that I am. But as we embark on this year on opposite sides of the world, I do so with the certainty that God will provide all that you need, and more. I even pray that out of our sacrifice, we will be blessed in ways that we cannot now imagine. 

You are such a precious gift. I cherish you and adore you and am so thankful for you. I hope you will understand, one day, all that I am saying. I ask you to forgive me where I fall short, and for the costly time we are apart. I pray a Father’s blessing over you. I pray your days, especially over this next year, are filled with the greatest joys and that you have all that you need. I pray that your body grows and develops as it should, that you are healthy and safe from all harm.  I know that you will do a great job taking care of mommy.

Don’t stop laughing and smiling, and bringing joy to everyone you meet. 

I love you more than you can now know.  I miss you and can’t wait to see you soon. 

Your Daddy

A Letter from Daddy

Dear Daughter,

I like the idea of being the first boy to write you a letter. That’s cool. I beat all them other suckers to the punch. (That aint all I’ll beat them suckers to either, if need be.) I have so much to say to you; so much on my mind and in my heart that I want you to know. About me, about life, God, relationships, your mom, your history and future. About boys and hunting and camping and guns (your mom can teach you about the girly stuff). About what’s right and wrong and good and fun and bad. But, we’ve got lots of time for all of that. 

Or do we? 

I pray we do. I dream of taking you on dates, just me and you. I can see us now, cruising down the open road on my Harley, or doing just about whatever you want to be doing – as long as we are together. I look forward to talking with you about the things in life that matter most, whether you are five for 15 or 25. I hope and deeply long for these rich days ahead, but I also know what I don’t know: what tomorrow holds. 

No one knows what tomorrow or this week or this month or year has in store. Life is full of surprises, unexpected twists and turns, challenges and hardships, mountains and valleys. I thought I would only get to be with you for one month after you were born. But these nearly six months of your smiles and laughs and not-so-smelly (yet) diapers have been just marvelous.  You are so incredible, more so than your mom and I could have ever dreamed. So chill, so fun to be with, full of smiles and cute noises and love for everyone.

You see, our expectation for tomorrow or next week is based on our very limited and incomplete perspective. Most people aren’t that aware of this fact most of the time. We like to plan things out, to know (and decide) what’s next. Not knowing (or not controlling) the future makes most folks uneasy. But actually, we have no idea what is next whether we think we do or not, and we can learn the beauty in this Arrangement. We are Designed to trust the Maker of Days to arrange for life. He is good, and trustworthy, and kind. Together, I hope you and I can learn to truly abide and have full Joy in the each of our days: never presuming for tomorrow, but always in expectant hope for His goodness. 

With your half-birthday just two weeks away, I am about to leave you and your mom for a little while. Gulp. A year to be exact, minus three glorious three-week vacations. Though I don’t think you’ll remember missing me, I know you will. I know I will miss you. Oh boy do I know.  It hurts to leave.  Even now, I already have a tinge of regret for the precious days of your first year that will pass without me.  Your first words, first steps and so much more. You are growing so much day-to-day, week-to-week.

Why? Why does your daddy have to leave? Why can’t someone else go? Why can’t we have a normal life in an average town and just be together? These are good questions, and ones that I ask in some of the more frequent wavering moments I’ve had lately. Some days, I don’t want to be who I am. I don’t want to leave. I just want to be with you and your mom. Sure, this journey is full of adventure and travel and challenge and gratification, but it comes with a heavy dose of hardship and heartache, mainly from missing you and your mom. 

The answers to these "why" questions pull me in two directions. On one side, I long to be a faithful dad and husband. I must provide for you physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am supposed to teach you many things, and raise you to love people and God. On the other side, it seems, the path in front of me is taking me away from you, and from my ability to do these things. There’s important work to be done, and someone has to do it. This world you are growing up in is a mess, and I have the opportunity, in some small way, to help make it a better place. To do this, requires sacrifice not just for me, but for our family. This position between the two ends is not a comfortable or easy place to be.    

It boils down to two things that I hope one day you’ll understand. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Wait of the World

That day we were waiting for finally came. 

We had our last date. We had our last kiss. We whispered I Love Yous through tears. We waved goodbye as he slowly walked away.

Then he turned around. Maybe he changed his mind after all!

Oh, he just forgot his jacket. Okay then, another last hug and kiss. 

Deep breath. He's gone. 

Another day three months from now takes its place in the "waiting for" slot. 
(There is always something there.)

One of my requirements requests for John before he left was to write a guest post. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for that! 
(<-------You can subscribe via email on the left over there or "follow" or add me to your reader.  I don't always post the links on Twitter and Facebook, so these are the ways to never miss a post.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

I don't want to blog. I want to sleep. I want to hug my husband. Heck, I'd take talking to him right now!

But, I opened the new post window, so I should write something.

I guess the thing is that I write sometimes to keep my family updated on my life. And now I'm sitting down to meals with them and playing with the kids and it's all just here and now, not something I have to think about too much.

But I don't want the days to pass in a lazy haze and writing helps tie me down, helps me remember.

Do you ever wrestle with in-the-moment living and capturing the moments so you can re-live them?

Ayla's not worried about it. Just loving having new mouths to put her fingers in!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Embracing Grandma, Pho, ice-cream and a really cute nephew!

Well, I was going to link up with someone for Embrace the Camera, since it's Thursday and I got some cute photos, but nobody seems to be hosting it.

Oh well, here are the photos anyway!

{Clockwise from the top left: Ayla with her Grandma C; Grandma C and Jaden experiencing Pho and Pad Thai for the first time (check out that Texas sized bowl! I actually saw someone eating it by themselves!); Ayla staring down my yummy ice cream (center); Ayla and her cousin Jaden; me and my bug; and finally, me and the two cutest bugs in Texas}

I think we have entered the phase of not being able to take a picture of Ayla without her fingers in her mouth. She's still pretty cute, though!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Every Day Ayla - Month Five

I want two versions of my baby. One would be that tiny, snuggly, brand new Ayla, and one would be whatever age she is currently. I love every stage so far and she just keeps getting better, but sometimes I wish I could just hold the little her just a little bit longer. (sigh)

In her fifth month of life, Ayla perfected rolling from belly to back. I've actually got it on video a few times, too! This whole rolling thing affected her sleep, as she would roll from belly to back, wake up and start playing. So, I started swaddling her again, just until she can get back to her belly. She's working very hard at it, but is happy enough to get her feet in her mouth.

And there is always something in her mouth. Her hands, her feet, her burp cloth, my hair. Whatever, really, she's not picky.

There's also usually something coming out of her mouth. I call her Ayla Drool. (Instead of Ayla Jewel, get it?)

She's losing her hair, but I find most of it in the rolls of her neck. It'll be interesting to see what it will look like when it grows back in. Maybe she'll get a little bit of my curl after all.

She's shown much more interest in what I'm eating and drinking, but I'm going to wait until she can sit up before starting her on solids. For now, she is still a great eater, although she has started to chomp when she's done. I hope I can break her of that habit before she gets teeth!

It took her a while, but she finally has mastered her neck control and her new favorite trick is to stand up and put her arms straight out. I just love it!

She does have feet. For that matter, she also has a neck!

She just loves people. When we enter a room, the first person she makes eye contact with usually gets the best smile, but she'll give out more to others after she studies them a bit first. She especially loves big kids. I need to do a whole separate post of her with the 3-5-year-old set of girls who she loves.

I'm excited about our trip to see our family next week. She has doubled in weight since the last time most of them saw her when she was 5 weeks old! And also doubled in chins and cuteness!

See for yourself:
In the first picture here, she's wearing the bonnet I wore as a baby!
(For review, here are the other Every Day posts: 1 and 2,  3 and 4)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Plange of Chans

I've started putting air quotes around the word "plan" when I think it or say it and real quotes when I write it. It's just that kind of word.

Remember the "plan" I laid out in that blog back in December about Mocha's Big Move? (If not, go ahead and click over there to read it. We'll wait.) Like today's title indicates, almost everything about our reality six months later is different.

Mocha has been happily assimilated into a new life with John's sister's family in Texas. She did have a big move, just not the one we expected.
My nephew Jaden reading Mocha a dinosaur book (her favorite kind).
John finally left this week. But he also didn't go where and when we expected. 

We've been waiting on paperwork for his trip since early March. We are still waiting, but in the meantime, he got the opportunity to go to a neighboring country and help out there for a little while. It looks like he'll be there about a month, but by now we know better than to count too much on any "plan!"

We have been so grateful for this extra time for Ayla to bond with her daddy. He was always smitten with her, but now he's gotten to know his little girl a little more and see her grow into the cheerful, chubby baby she is.
She thinks she picked a good daddy!
We do still expect for him to do his one year assignment at some point, we just don't know when.  I hesitate to say too much in advance now, because as you have seen, it doesn't hold much weight.

Speaking of weight, Ayla and I are packing our bags for a trip of our own next week. We're going to spend about three weeks with our families in Texas and Oklahoma, which is really going to make this time without John fly by. 

My "plan" is to keep blogging while I'm gone, but if it gets a little quiet(er) around here, please don't worry. We're doing well, probably just getting spoiled by grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles, or busy playing with cousins or friends. Or just relaxing, watching whatever my mom has on her DVR. 

Do you have any fun plans this summer?

Monday, June 6, 2011

One of those days!

Nope. Not one of those days. One of those days!

Today has been so great, I knew it was a blog post waiting to happen.

Let's begin with Ayla sleeping in. She usually wakes up between 4 and 5 for a dream feed, but today it was closer to 6. Then, usually she wakes up for the day at 8 or 8:30, but today she slept until 10! More sleep=happy mama!

Then, I had to take our car to the dealership to see what was making this weird noise. Even John noticed it and he approved of me taking it in. Normally, we hate the dealership. It doesn't matter if we have an appointment or not, the service will take forever and they always find several hundred dollars worth of additional problems.

Today, I went in without an appointment. When I explained the problem, the nice, young gentleman behind the counter suggested we go for a ride so he could hear it. Of course, just like when you go to the doctor for that mysterious pain that then vanishes when he or she checks, there was no noise as we drove it around.

In what has to be a chances-of-winning-the-lottery type of event, he said there was nothing wrong with the car and no service was needed. Let me be clear. I took my car to the dealership, got immediate help, and not only spent no money, but was also told I didn't need to spend any money for anything!

Riding that high, I took Ayla on a little shopping trip over to Old Navy to spend the Groupon I bought last week ($10 for $20). I found a few cute dresses for her and a baby shower gift on clearance, and found that I fit into a Medium (Happy dance! It has been a long time since M graced my tags! And I don't even care if Old Navy's mediums are really XL and that the item was a pair of stretchy leggings.)

It got better when I got to the register. Did you know that Old Navy gives a 10% military discount on Mondays? I do now! In order to get that discount on my non-Groupon-discounted items, she had to do an additional transaction, so I apologized to the lady behind me. She was totally nice about it and said she'd do the same thing for a bigger discount.

Can I just say that I love having a cute, smiley baby? She opens doors for conversations about things I love. The cashier and I had a great chat about breastfeeding and names and being mommies.

Then, (I know, it just keeps going!) we had to go through Old Town to get home, during which we have a 50/50 chance of stopping at every red light (every block!), but today it was green the whole way.

By now it was time to feed Ayla, so she was letting me know she was hungry. Her communication was getting more and more intense, and by the time we got to Jiffy Lube for an oil change, she had added tears to the mix. The tech who came out to the car talked and played with her while I got the stroller out and another tech came over and started playing, too. They said they were both dads and they knew how it was. They took very good care of us.

While they were working on the car, we walked over to Panera for a yummy lunch. Friendly cashier, complimented Ayla, blah blah blah. I sat down to nurse her while I ate and realized I had left the diaper bag with the nursing cover in the car. I went for it anyway, since I really didn't have a choice! Thankfully, I was able to get a booth and Ayla helped me be discreet instead of her usual "let's play and be noisy while we eat so everyone will know what we are doing!"

And then when I went back to the cashier to buy some bread to take home, I realized I had earned a free pastry with my Panera points, so I got a "free" dessert on top of everything else!

Now, my day is not over yet, but it just keeps being awesome. Even while I was typing this, my friend who lives far away in Montana called and I got to hear about her beautiful baby boy (who just happens to have the same names as my oldest brother, so I have a special affinity for him). Then, I went to get the mail and met a nice new neighbor who is a grandma far away from her grandbabies, and you know what that means!

Let me close by saying this. I'm sorry if you had a bad day or a case of "the Mondays." It's probably because all the good stuff was happening to me. I hope it will be your turn tomorrow!

How was your day?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

{Embracing} Another AJ's AJ

Today is Thursday (I think), so I'm linking up with Emily over at The Anderson Crew for 
"Embrace the Camera."

So, here's the picture:

and here's the story:

This is not my daughter, though she is also an AJ and her mom is an AJ. (And she is very edibly cute!) 

We met her mom and dad about a year and a half ago at the church we used to attend. The very day we met them, we invited them to go camping with us. That night. Crazy people that they were, they showed up. And brought Alaskan salmon. That they caught.

Needless to say, we bonded real quickly! 

Though we changed churches a few months later, we kept our friendship going. We had something very close to our hearts in common. We AJs were both older than our husbands by a few years. (that's not it, though!) 

We were on the same seemingly endless journey of desiring for a baby. 

Well, you know the end of the story already, but the middle is where the prayers and tears and frustration and heartbreak-filled e-mails were. So, it was and is with much rejoicing that we celebrate this little beauty.

I want for our Ayla Jewel to always know her story, how precious and wanted she is. And part of her story is that we waited. And waited. And it wasn't easy, because waiting for good things rarely is. But we were not alone, as she will never be. So we cry with others in their seasons of "not" and we rejoice when their lights turn green.

And that is why, today, I'm embracing another AJ's AJ.

How about you? Want to join the Embracing party?
Here are the rules:
1.  take a picture with you and your kids/spouse/family member/friend/whatever.
2.  blog about that picture and include a link to our blog, or grab our button.
3.  link your blog post up on mr. linky below.
4.  visit the other embracers...give each other lots of compliments about how good we look with our greasy hair andsweatpants velour jogging suits on.  cause yah, we need a little boost when it's been days since our last shower.
5.  have fun!

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