Goodness

Around this time last year we were just beginning to come to grasps with a couple of “soft markers” that were noted in our baby’s then recent ultrasound. We knew something might be “wrong” but were told not to worry, so we didn’t… too terribly much. Besides, “those types of things only happen to other people”. We wouldn’t find out the official diagnosis until after Christmas, something I was so thankful for. I remember thinking that at least we got to enjoy one last Christmas since I assumed we would “never be happy again”.

Fast forward (at what seems like warp speed) to the next Christmas season 2012. Despite the overt contamination of evil in the outside world, there is still goodness and there is still joy – much of it effervescing from a beautiful little baby that lives here in our house!

The time has gone by SO fast. I know it will continue to do so with each tick of the second-hand… unless the Mayans are right (by the sound of the wind out there, I’m starting to scratch my head!)

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I love my brudder! And my brudder loves me!

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I love my chewy fingers!

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I love my baffs!

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I love my silly family that sticks random things on my head!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

For some reason I was prompted to get up and go to the window with my camera (phone). I wasn’t looking for a rainbow, but there it was!! It wasn’t even raining where I was.

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Minutes later I got a text from my Mom. We’d seen the same rainbow which was obviously a little closer to her (9 miles away). Had to share!!

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I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
(Genesis 9:13 NIV)

Catching Up

Tuesday
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Beautiful end to a beautiful day!
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Wednesday

Nora’s nasal cannula was due for a change. I love her sweet naked little cheekies without her “accessories” and had to get tons of pictures and video!! She has been the sweetest, happiest baby since she’s gotten over her germs!! I’m absolutely loving her contagious joy and must share:

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I could just sit there and sniff her all day long. If only this blog were “scratch and sniff” you’d totally understand!

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Today was the first day of Christmas vacation / winter break for the big kids. It’s going to be a challenging next couple of weeks! We are planning to see the Awaited show at our church one night this week, which they are really, really looking forward to! I highly recommend seeing it if you’re in the Greater Cincinnati area. It’s of course free of charge and a top notch performance. It’s not hokey at all. Go to Crossroads website for more information. If there are no (free!) tickets left go anyway. You will not be turned away! You can also download free Christmas music from the show on their website if you are so inclined. Unbelievably talented musicians at this church!

Other than that I need to get creative and extra caffeinated over these next few days to keep kids occupied or Santa might just skip our house this year with all the teasing and bickering going on!

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:7, 8 NIV)

Part II

I had to share this from my Streams in the Desert devotional today:

The gospel and the gift of God are structured so wonderfully that the very enemies and forces that are marshaled to fight against us actually help pave our way to the very gates of heaven and into the presence of God. Those forces can be used in the same way an eagle uses the fierce winds of a storm to soar to the sky. At first he sits perfectly still, high on a cliff, watching the sky as it fills with darkness and as the lightning strikes all around him. Yet he never moves until he feels the burst of the storm, and then with a screech he dives toward the winds, using them to carry him ever higher.

This is also what God desires of each of His children. He wants us to be “more than conquerors,” turning storm clouds into chariots of victory. It is obvious when an army becomes “more than conquerors,” for it drives its enemies from the battlefield and confiscates their food and supplies. This is exactly what this Scripture passage means. There are spoils to be taken!

Dear believer, after experiencing the terrible valley of suffering, did you depart with the spoils? When you were struck with an injury and you thought you had lost everything, did you trust in God to the point that you came out richer than you were before? Being “more than [a] conqueror” means taking the spoils from the enemy and appropriating them for yourself. What your enemy had planned to use for your defeat, you can confiscate for your own use.

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I hope that encourages you as it does me!

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 NIV)

EIGHT MONTHS OLD!

Hi, everyone! I’m eight months old today! I thought long and hard about how to celebrate!

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After much deliberation, I decided to treat myself to a baff and a new hairdo!

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How do I look?

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I think it makes me look kind of TOUGH!!!

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Oh, blahhh! It’s not like it’s permanent!

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See? I rinsed it out, had some milks…

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… and then I scheduled in a therapeutic rest session with pine aromatherapy.

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I felt so happy and well rested when I woke up!

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I’ve decided I kinda like being a baby!

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These people make me laugh with kissies and raspberries on my cheeks. They are sooooo funny!

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It got me thinking… I wonder what I’m going to do for my NINE MONTH birthday.

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Hmmmm…

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Prayers are with families and community of Newtown, Connecticut.

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:5 NIV)

Searching for Peace and Goodness

Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!
Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
(Psalms 34:14-22 NLT)

I hope you find as much comfort in those words as I do. It’s been a bleak couple of past days. There is such a focus on the evil and trash in this world through the media. It’s easy to generalize about the world as a whole, perceiving that it is all evil, thereby giving up on it, or even worse, assuming this is all just normal. Let’s not fall prey to that mentality. Search for peace, in a time when you might really have to look hard for it.

This evening I was given a beautiful reminder that there IS indeed still goodness out there. Today was the first day of the bone marrow drive to find a match for Sharon Gerdes who is battling Myelodysplastic Syndrome. They were told that 250 people would be a good turn out. Would you like to know how many people showed up today? How about 728. Seven. Hundred. And. Twenty-eight. 728!!! How crazy cool is that? It was also mentioned to me that a couple who follows this blog drove all the way here from Indianapolis to get registered. I’m not sure who you are, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for restoring my hope today. Also to those of you who are too far out of town to make the drive who ordered kits online. You are awesome! Thank you for going above and beyond past what anyone would expect. And of course a huge thank you to ALL of you who went out there today. I wish I could give you all a great big hug!! This world needs these random and intentional acts of love and kindness to thwart the steady demoralization of our world. You are definitely working to maintain the peace and goodness. Thank you! {Just as a side note, the bone marrow drive is going on again tomorrow from 8 am – 1 pm at St. Agnes Church in Ft. Wright, KY.}

And now for some more smiles, here’s this sweeeet stinkin’ baby:

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Love and blessings!

Depravity

I really don’t even know what to say. Since I turned on the TV around 1 o’clock this afternoon I’ve felt like my insides have been torn out and dragged across concrete. I have no answers, no explanations. I am numb beneath the deep sorrow that has blanketed the entire country. The “most wonderful time of the year” has turned into an unthinkable, senseless tragedy that has left a gash of searing pain where there should be hope and joy. I can’t even begin to imagine what these families are going through.

There are all sorts of speculations as to how and why someone would unleash such a heinous act of depravity on innocent people, most of them young children. Everything from a mental illness to violent video games is being suggested. Whatever the cause, be it biological or environmental, it was authored and manifested by pure evil.

I sat there in my living room this afternoon “ugly crying” asking, “WHY??!!!” But whatever is eventually concluded about this disturbed individual will never bring peace or closure. Only God can do that. Despite Satan’s disgusting attempt to destroy “the season to be jolly” God CAN and WILL make beauty from this. Already people, myself included, are acknowledging the appreciation and love they have for their families. Kids are being hugged a little tighter and cuddled a little longer. Bed time shenanigans are suddenly trivial and inconsequential.

Evil exists. It is very real and very serious. Satan is not merely a silly Saturday Night Live satyr to be casually laughed at or an imaginary characterization of my bad thoughts that sits on my bedside. It is a dangerous dark force that will creep in on the tiniest foothold if I’m not careful.
Be on guard and recognize it for what it is.

Nora was my beacon of joy today in this dark world. She was so good and so happy.

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Never so happy to see this sight this afternoon:
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A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT)

So Much Better

Hearing that sweet baby’s squeals makes my heart sprout wings, nearly taking off out of my chest!

Nora has done so much better today! No more pukes and very minimal boogie extractions.

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Good morning!

A regularly scheduled baff was in order just to start things off right!

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After we’d been in for about an hour I decided to lay Nora down on my chest to work on her neck muscles / head control. She’s actually getting really good at holding her head up for extended periods of time! After a couple of minutes she gently put her little head down on my chest, her sweet eyes just wandering around the room. It was a sweet moment that I was expecting to be over in a matter of seconds. I smiled down at her, pouring warm water over her exposed little back and hiney. Her eyes grew heavier and heavier and the next thing I knew, she was sound asleep on me!! She’s never fallen asleep on me in the tub!! After I successfully dismissed Satan’s attempts of persuading me that maybe something is wrong (??!!!) I was able to bask in this euphoric occasion. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks. I continued to pour warm water over her until about an hour later when the water started to get cold.

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This was one of those sweet, precious things that I will remember forever! Sadly, we had to get out, but nap time resumed once we got back downstairs.

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I was able to get out for a little bit this afternoon since my Mom was coming over to get her Nornor-fix. Cute pictures from Nana:

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Nora is adept in communicating to us what she wants. She puts in orders for milkies, she lets us know when she’s happy about things, and she also lets us know when she NEEEEEEDS a baff, even if she’s already had 2 that day! She tends to be a little dramatic and knows when to really pour it on. We think she’ll probably be an actress someday so we’re gonna go on ahead and register her with Actorwebs.com.

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😉

I’m so so so thankful for a good day. It even ended beautifully.

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Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! (2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT)