Photo by Sarah Stucky Photography

Monday, January 31, 2011

A picture of Hope

 When Matthew was first born, he was immediately taken to the NICU so they could administer the best care that they could and figure out what was going on with him.  His breathing was getting better and he would get a staph infection, etc.  Those days were so hard on us because of all the uncertainty.  We would get excited about improvement and then be disappointed to hear of something else.   

He was at Arcadia Methodist for 3 weeks, and because he was in the NICU we were not able to stay with him.  So we went as often as we could to spend time with Matthew.  On the trek in to the hospital there were several trees planted next to the sidewalk.  They looked like dead branches because the leaves had all fallen, and it wasn't its season to bloom.  I could probably tell you every detail about that short walk into the hospital because sometimes it felt like we were moving in slow motion.  

I remember one day in particular that I arrived and just sat in the car weeping.  I was so weary.  The news wasn't too good yet.  They didn't know what was going on.  I couldn't feed Matthew because they didn't know why he wasn't eating well.  The only comfort we found was in the Word of God. 

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  Psalm 42:1

I walked towards the hospital... each step heavy, as I prayed and asked the Lord for healing for our boy.  Then I happened to spy this tree: 

All of the trees were still looking dead.  Except for this one.  There was one tiny little patch of gorgeous purple flowers on a dead branch.  I tried to get a close up with my little camera:  

It stopped me in my tracks and I was moved to tears.  In nature, God showed me a little reminder of his kindness.  It reminded me of a passage from Isaiah 43: 18-19;  "Forget the former things, do not dwell in the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

It was a visual reminder that in the middle of despair there still was hope.  That as it says in Job 11:18,  
"You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety."  The Lord is our hope, our strength, our shield.  (Psalm 33:20)  We don't ever need to feel despair because He is with us!

The most awesome thing is that my "Hope tree" started blooming all over the city.  I believe it is a Jacaranda tree, and the entire tree and ground around it erupt with color.  It was like our little bit of hope overflowed and we would see it everywhere!  Such joy in God's love for us.

Here we are, almost two years after that time.

Right after he was born.

And now.. playing Uno with the family :)

God is so good.  No matter what trial we endure. Our Lord cares so much about us.  It is in him we can place our trust.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kid update. January

William:  Lost a second tooth.. and swallowed it during dinner.  He's on a school 'team' for Basketball, and has been enjoying that.  He more than doubled his reading goal at school and earned an ice cream party, a ton of free pizza coupons, a book coupon, and coupons to spend at the student store.  Boy THRIVES on competition :) (and his teacher is great... so thankful)
Getting his award at the ice cream party

Joshua:  Has progressed his reading to chapter books, and his writing and everything is improving.  He writes about dinosaurs on most days, so I am challenging him to write about different things! It's cute how even though he can read well, his spelling is still a bit phonetic.  His teacher is so good, though, and I really am grateful how he is being challenged and is learning.  He is learning how to shoot, pass and dribble at basketball, and is doing well :)  I haven't taken pictures at basketball yet.  I spend my entire time chasing Matthew and trying to keep him entertained so he doesn't run in the middle of their practice!

Kathryn:  Accepted Jesus into her heart! It was so sweet.  We were just sitting here at home, playing and doing normal things.  She started talking to me about God and heaven and Jesus.  Then she asked me how you ask Jesus into your heart.  I was overwhelmed by the privilege to share in that special moment with my precious daughter.  We prayed together and it was so great.  She understands and chose for herself! I have been able to lead our three oldest in their prayers, and I will treasure these times in my heart. always!
God's little Princess! :) 

Matthew:  He will be 2 in April, but has hit the Terrible, Terrific twos already.  How can such a little guy be so good at yelling no? And is anything safe from his reach? I'll tell you it's hard not to laugh sometimes, but we are trying hard to be consistent and give him one minute time outs at a time when he needs it. 
His health has been really good, and we are so thankful for that.
If I can be absolutely honest, though, it is hard sometimes.  There are a lot of foods he can't eat, or he'll "go" a lot and get an awful rash.  It makes us sad that he wakes up at night because it hurts.  He tells us when he has to go so we've started putting him on the potty.  Who knows how long it will take for him, so we try to make it as positive as possible and just as he wants.   He is such a blessing though, and we'll do what it takes to make sure he's doing well and is comfortable, and just pray that his life will be fine.. his own normal. 

What floors me is that he had an organ removed, and he's fine. Seriously? God has blessed him with healing, obviously not as I asked for (complete healing and restoration of the cells needed for the large intestine to work).  But healing nonetheless. How many of us need healing? Restoration? Strength? I think that sometimes healing doesn't happen as we expect it to.  But that doesn't mean that God didn't answer our prayer.  Even when it hurts, God is still there and gives us all we need to get through it. 
Oh how He loves us!

Right now it seems like there are SO MANY people in my life that need healing and strength.  God can take these burdens... he's big enough to handle it, and to administer care for our needs. 

What have we been up to?

Ha! What have we been up to?

January 2011 has proved to be a very busy month.  We started the year out with moving out Matthew's crib!  Yes... this was a very difficult transition (for me... not him so much. He loves it!)  And it's really sweet because if he wakes up, he doesn't even make any noise.  He just quietly gets out of his bed and comes into our room.  He'll pat Daddy's face and then come over to my side and crawl in and wiggle.  It's cute :) 
We did this for two reasons.  First, He knew how to "PLOP" out of his crib.  Thankfully, Kathryn's bed was next to the crib so he would land there.  But there is that chance that he would miss.  And that wouldn't be pretty.  We figure that once they can get out on their own, it's time to do something else.  
Second, our wonderful neighbors were replacing their beds, and asked if we wanted their loft bed.  We gladly accepted it :) 
With all 4 kids in one room, it is amazing the space it cleared up.  

We went from bunk/crib/bed to two 'bunks'.  

This freed up some floor space, and allowed the play kitchen to be out instead of in the closet!

We put the mattress directly on the floor, and Matthew can "safely" escape his sleeping place :) Also, notice the little animals shoved in the space.  How I LOVE how kids decorate!
Kathryn likes her new sleeping place too. (They play musical beds... rotating the three bunks.)

Matthew's new sleeping place (and OH MAN, I need to clean that gate! ha ha, wow) 

Anyway, it's been great to get everything set up for them.  Toys are organized into bins and in the closet (where the play kitchen was before).  I think the key to living in a small space is to organize, simplify, and use bunks!
I have also been organizing by going through toys and closets to purge and keep only what we use.  The way we handle the 4 kids' toys is with a couple of bins and a regular rotation.  That way they just have a few toys in the time that they can play with.  The rest are in bins in storage.  It is so fantastic because when I pull out some other toys and put away these ones its like Christmas all over again because everything is like new to them :)  There are a few things that stay out all the time because they are favorites.  Those are the play kitchen, the stuffed animals, and the boys Lego sets because they are played with ALL of the time.  

So, what else? 
Well we are back to our daily routine... boys to school, picking them up from school.  Wes to work, and class one night a week.  The boys are in separate basketball 'classes', which has been fun for them as they are learning how to play.  Kathryn is taking Ballet again and is so excited because she has a friend taking a class with her.   I have been attending a Wed. night Bible Study, and we are going through Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed, and it has been FANTASTIC.  It is so amazing how God meets us and teaches us just what we need.  

Super blessed and thankful this new year. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Look back and look ahead!

Happy New Year! I can hardly believe that it is already 2011!

The major things of the year:

 We were in escrow to get a house, but it fell through after 5 months, and so we decided to stay where we are (in a small house behind my parents home), and are so thankful to be so close to my parents, my brother and his family, and our niece.  We are going to wait a bit before looking again.

But, Wes did get a new car instead:) It's a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder... and fun!

Wes continues to provide for us, working at Cal Baptist and taking a class at a time to get his degree and credential to teach Science.  I am so grateful to be at home and take care of our precious kids.


William is our smart and sweet 7 year old.  His highlights for the year include:  school, taking gymnastics, reading Magic Tree house and Narnia, being selected as a student leader, playing and having fun!

Joshua's highlights for the year were turning 5, starting kindergarten, learning to read, taking tumbling, having fun playing with dinosaurs, Lego, games.  He was selected to be the Student of the Week in one of the first weeks of school and he is doing so great in his class!

Kathryn will be 4 in February. She is super sweet and helps so much with everything, from bringing things for Matthew to helping me bake and cook.  She started a ballet class  too and loved it so much.  She also never fails to entertain us with her words: from telling Dad to stop playing with his food, or telling me that "cleaning up is dumb" to telling her older brother who was trying to apologize to her that "I don't listen to a whiny pants."  She is very sassy and very girl-y, loving to dress up and play with "girl things".  

And this is Matthew.  Or as he calls himself, "Matt Matt".
This has been a really big year for him.  He turned 1,  had a major surgery,  a subsequent hospital stay, and we have seen first hand how God has touched Matthew; how God has healed him, taken care of him, blessed him.  Matthew also has learned to walk, talk, climb, sing, and really do everything. He's a little miracle :)

(All pictures were taken by my Sister in law, and I love them :)  )

And now it is 2011.  As I reflect on this next year,  I could list a ton of "resolutions".
However, I feel like I would rather just focus on Christ. The message is so simple, yet so life changing:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life:"  John 3:16

That is why we celebrate Christmas, because God loved us and sent his son.

This new year, we need to let others know that good news!
And we need to recognize God's deep love for us.  Something hit me the other day,

I am God's favorite me.

There is no other me in the world.. I am his favorite me.  That means a lot to me.  It makes me stand up taller, be happier, want to show my love back to Him.

This is my simple "resolution".  To see God's great love for me, and for everyone around me.  Enough to die for us so we can live.  Because of His love, we can love others enough to share with them too.

Happy New Year.  Lets share HIS love!


All of my Grandparents are from Norway and we love to keep some of the Norwegian traditions alive in our family.  This is most apparent during Christmas time. We celebrate on Christmas Eve. I'm going to describe our night. 

This was our tiny Christmas tree!!  It's "living" so we can plant it afterward and watch it grow.

We had a progressive dinner, starting at our house.  We served lefse (looks like tortillas made out of potatoes), julekake (a Christmas bread), zucchini bread, crackers and cheese, veggies and dips, fruit and salad.  Then we gave our gifts to the family. 

 Then we went next door to my brother's house for the main dinner:

We had Norwegian meatballs served with Mashed potatoes.  Karen and Tim made their Traditional meal too of ham and Kumla (a Norwegian potato dumpling), and we also had Lutefisk (fish...and an acquired taste necessary to enjoy it.. Ha ha, I don't really like it). 

We opened presents at this house too!

Then we went over to my parents' house for dessert. 

We always have a special pudding called "Spanish Cream" served with warmed berry sauce.  We had plate of cookies and fudges and bars. (This picture doesn't even show everything). We had eggnog and cider to drink.  Some of the goodies we make are traditional Norwegian treats particularly Krumkake and Berlinekranzer.  We opened gifts here too! 
Then we read the Christmas story and sang some carols together. 

We excitedly went to bed that night, and the kids woke up the next morning to open their gifts from us.

Then we packed up and went to have Christmas with Wes' family (they are my family too! ) 

We had a fantastic meal together of roast, potatoes, the traditional Pineapple casserole, salads, jellos, and all the fixings.  We had Grandma's fantastic carrot cake for dessert, along with other goodies.  We opened gifts again!! Our kids were having the best time ever. (ha ha !:) )

What a great time, as we celebrated Jesus' birth and shared love with our families.  I hope your Christmases were wonderful too!