Archive | November, 2015

Evansville Trip, Fall 2015

28 Nov

My oldest brother, Jeremy, and sister-in-law, Jen, live down in Evansville, Indiana. My (and Travis’) last visit to their house had been when my nephew Jensen was a couple months old — he’ll be 4 in January. So we were due for a visit.

Timing-wise, it worked out best for me and the girls to go while Travis was going to be elk hunting in Colorado during October — which obviously meant he wouldn’t be joining us this time. I had a hard time deciding whether we should fly or drive. Flying sounded challenging because I’d be on my own with two kids. Never mind Emma’s craziness or Annabelle’s dependence — the sheer logistics of getting all our crap into the airport by myself were mind-boggling.

But the thought of driving 13+ hours with Emma was equally intimidating. And I had a $100 credit for Southwest, and tickets were very reasonable. So in the end, I decided to fly. We would fly from Minneapolis/St. Paul to St. Louis, where my parents would pick us up and drive us the last 3 hours.

After much thinking and strategizing, I pared our stuff down to a manageable amount: I had our jogging stroller with Annabelle’s carseat (and Annabelle), a single giant rolling duffel bag with all of our stuff, and one larger carry-on bag that contained toys/markers/iPad/snacks for entertaining the kids during the flight, as well as my small purse that contained only the essentials. For Emma’s carseat (that we would need once we got to STL), we ended up buying Annabelle’s convertible carseat early and shipping it to my parents’ house, so they brought that with them in their car (they drove the whole way).

Thursday morning, the girls and I left the house right on time. My plan was to park at an off-site airport lot so that the shuttle would pick me up at my car and drop me off right at the door. Well, right as we were driving through St. Cloud (after we had been on the road about an hour with 1.5 hours more to go), Emma puked up the copious amounts of applesauce she had just ingested. I pulled over at a gas station (soooo happy we were right by one!) and spent about 30 minutes wiping off her carseat, changing her clothes, and rinsing the dirty ones.

I didn’t feel like we had enough time for the off-site parking anymore so I decided to just park at the airport. It would mean more walking but less time waiting. We made it to the airport without further incident and got our stuff unloaded how I had planned. As we were walking through the parking garage trying to find the entrance/elevator, Emma got freaked out by all the loud noises so I pulled over and ended up putting Annabelle in the Ergobaby, Emma in the stroller and carrying the carseat in the same hand I was using to push the stroller (the other one was pulling our duffel). It was tricky to say the least.

Luckily, getting our bags checked and going through security were both a breeze. We had plenty of time so while we waited for boarding to begin, we played at the kids play area they have in MSP Terminal 2.
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The flight went well. Emma got a window seat and I sat in the middle with Annabelle. Emma started getting a little impatient on the jet way before we took off because she had to be sitting down and buckled in but I turned an iPad movie on and that solved that. It was tricky nursing Annabelle on the plane because the seats are so cramped and she really dislikes the nursing cover but we made do.

When we got to St. Louis, my mom met us at baggage claim to help with all our stuff. We got everything and everyone loaded up and hit the road after a quick lunch at Culver’s. Both girls napped almost the whole way to Evansville.

That night, we got settled in at J&J’s house, ate dinner and hung out. It was really warm that day — probably mid-70s — so our bedroom upstairs was hot that first night. Thankfully it cooled down for the rest of our trip and then it was very pleasant. Emma alternated between sleeping on the air mattress with me and in Jensen’s toddler bed.

The next day (Friday), we checked out the Evansville Fall Festival (what we Midwesterners call a fair). Emma went on the several rides, including the carousel, swings and train (Jensen was not interested one bit!).
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Jeremy and I went on a crazy ride called Freak Out. It didn’t look that bad from the ground but holy cow, it was crazy. I’m not a fan of roller-coasters so my mom was surprised that I was actually willing to go… she was right. I screamed so loud that my throat hurt the next day.
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We also tried a bunch of different foods at the Festival, including a deep-fried Monte Cristo, kraut balls, Creamsicle float, and deep-fried pickles. My stomach and esophagus hated me later.
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Saturday, we stopped by Ruby Moon winery on our way to Cates Farm in Henderson, KY. The winery had some of the best wine I’ve ever had. My favorite was a white called Stellar White. I definitely need to get some more sometime.

Cates Farm had a little of everything. They had a pumpkin patch, sandbox full of corn kernels, rubber ducky racing, slides, bouncy house, hay rides and a corn maze. We spent our first hour or 2 doing all the kid activities. Emma LOVED this big slide they had, which was just a 50-foot-long black, plastic culvert pipe. We went down it 5-6 times. She also loved the duck racing because it involved water.
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She did not love the bouncy house though. She wanted to jump in it but the two times she tried, she got scared by the bigger kids and had a meltdown so I had to go in and get her out.

The only bad moment of the day was when we couldn’t find Emma for about 10 minutes. We looked everywhere we had been in the kid area… she wasn’t anywhere. It felt very surreal. We started asking employees and other patrons if they had seen her; no one had. FINALLY, we found her. Apparently, she had wandered into the corn maze alone. A wonderful lady had seen her in there and heard me calling for her, and brought her back out. Thank the Lord!

After we walked through the minion-shaped corn maze (watching Emma like a hawk), went on a hay ride, and picked out our pumpkins, we called it a day.
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On Sunday, we went to J&J’s church and then just spent the afternoon at their house. Jensen and Emma painted their pumpkins and spent the rest of their time doing what they had been doing the whole trip: chasing each other around, wrestling, screaming, jumping off couch cushions, playing with toys. They had a great time together.
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Monday, we packed up, ate a quick breakfast and hit the road. When we got to St. Louis, we ate lunch at a hole-in-the-wall BBQ place called Mark & Wanda’s. It had great service, great prices and great food. We’ll definitely remember that place for the next time!

The flight home went well. My mom helped me get our stuff into the airport and stood with me in the security line until I got to the TSA person. We had just enough time after getting through security to buy Emma some candy (she chose Swedish Fish), change diapers and go to the bathroom, get our stroller tagged for gate-checking, and fill up my water bottle. Then it was time to board!

When we got on the plane, I was worried that I was going to have to ask someone to move because only middle seats where left. But there were two rows on one side in the back that had a middle and aisle seat open so we sat in the very last row. Again, both girls did well and it was definitely easier to nurse Annabelle sitting in an aisle seat and not the middle.

It took us over an hour to leave the airport after we landed. First, I thought I should try to nurse Annabelle a little more so she didn’t get hungry on the way home. So we stopped at the kids play area for a bit and met another little girl named Annabelle.

Then we made our way down to baggage claim but we had taken so long, they had already moved our bags back to their offices. We walked over there, found our bag and Annabelle’s carseat, and then Emma had to poop. So we stood around for 10 minutes waiting for her and then changing her diaper.

We were finally on our way to the car except then we took the wrong elevator, so we went up, got out, got back in, went down, walked to the correct elevator, got back in, went up and got out. All that while pushing a stroller, pulling a duffel and wrangling a toddler. Ugh.

Emma then discovered moving sidewalks, which she thought were pretty fun. So we rode it a couple more times than necessary (that part of the airport was dead) just for fun.

Then came the fun of finding the car. In the midst of the chaos of getting to and into the airport, I forgot to take specific note of where I parked. I knew the general area but we had to walk around a bit before finding the car. Emma was walking and wearing her backpack leash, and she kept whining “Emma’s car. Emma’s car.” I was relieved when we finally got loaded up!

Both girls slept the whole way home and it didn’t mess with their bedtimes too much either. So all in all, it was a very successful, enjoyable (albeit exhausting) trip!

I Used to Think God Wanted My Service #OutofSortsBook

17 Nov

Based on a recommendation from my friend Cathy, I started reading Sarah Bessey’s blog a little less than a year ago. She was pregnant with her fourth baby and I was pregnant with my second. Our due dates were a few months apart, but just being pregnant at the same time made me feel a bond with her. That’s what started me reading her blog, but I kept reading because Sarah’s blog is inspiring, well-written and thought-provoking.

I’m horrible at commenting – partly because I’m lazy, partly because I read while I’m nursing and let’s be honest, typing on a phone is a PITA. But I’m breaking the silence for a synchroblog in honor of Sarah’s second book (just out a few weeks ago) called Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith. (I haven’t read it yet, but it’s definitely on my to-read-soon list because it sounds right up my alley.) She has asked her blog readers to tell “our stories of transformation, of the ways we’ve changed and evolved and grown, the ways we’ve changed our minds or our hearts in response to the unchanging Christ.”

Here’s my story.

I used to think God wanted my service and now I know He just wants me.

I became a Christian the summer after my sophomore year of college. I went from living the typical party lifestyle to spending all my free time with other Christians involved with a campus ministry. I soaked up Truth like a sponge, learning things like the five points of Calvinism (TULIP), segues for cold evangelism and how God’s steadfast love was better than life.

Then I got married and moved to Colorado from Minnesota, and everything I had taken at face value about following Christ no longer made sense. I still believed that I needed a Savior, that Christ had died for me, and that I was going to heaven to spend eternity with Him. But I didn’t understand what practical impact those truths had on my current life.

Marriage was incredibly hard. Instead of the love I wanted to have for my husband, I felt anger and bitterness. I acted toward him in a way that made me hate myself and wonder what had happened to me. Instead of marriage being a sanctification tool, it just kept bringing out more and more sin. I knew that the Holy Spirit could help me change, but how did I tap into that power? How did I stop reacting out of my own power and instead react out of His?

Meanwhile, I was convicted through a handful of books and sermons that I needed to be living radically for Christ, that my life needed to be noticeably different. The only problem was, I didn’t know what that looked like specifically. I tried volunteering, serving at church, hosting get-togethers and dinners, sharing the gospel with neighbors and friends, fasting from shopping. No matter what or how much I did, I was consumed with guilt. Because I thought I should be doing more.

I was driving from Wheat Ridge to Boulder along the foothills covered in sagebrush when I finally realized that I had been so focused on my own contribution to God’s kingdom that I had taken my eyes off of Him. Instead of defining my life by what Christ had done for me, I had been defining it by what I was doing for Him and undertaken the responsibility of making my life eternally worthwhile, something only God and His glory could do.

I had been running after duties and activities to prove my heart was right, to show that I was living out my faith. But I had left out the idea of God wanting me to know Him and enjoy Him, to find joy and pleasure in life, and to become more like Christ on the inside through spending time with Him. He wanted my heart, my surrender, my devotion, my yielding, my rest. Living a selfless life would grow out of a deep, intimate relationship with the Father, not from some divine ability to be the Incredible Christian Superwoman.

At first sight it seems heroic to fling our lives away in the service of God and of our fellows. We feel it is bound to mean more to Him than our experience of Him. Service seems so unselfish, whereas concentrating on our walk with God seems selfish and self-centered. But it is the very reverse. The things that God is most concerned about are our coldness of heart towards Himself and our proud, unbroken natures. (from We Would See Jesus by Roy and Revel Hession, emphasis added)

It has been over five years since that day. In that time, I have birthed two babies, gone from working full-time to being a stay-at-home mom, and moved back to my home state. This truth has been re-proven hundreds of times, in every circumstance. When I focus on my relationship with God as an end in itself, instead of simply a means to growth in the Christian life, I not only get the joy of focusing on God, but the very things I desire to be done within me are accomplished by the Spirit. I get the joy; He gets the glory.

And now when I hear sermons on evangelism, missions, prayer, or service, instead of feeling like a failure for not doing more or being better, I take whatever emotions I have to God in prayer, saying, “God, I agree that this thing is good and I’m thankful for those who do it well. I admit that I’m not where I’d like to be in regards to this. I want to grow but I am incapable of changing on my own without a burden of legalistic guilt. So I ask You to do it for me and in me. Help me see what this looks like in my life. Give me eyes to see You at work and a heart of obedience that follows where You’re leading. I trust that You will accomplish Your purpose for me. Thank You for the relationship that I have with You through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Amen.”

I used to think God wanted my service…

But now I know He just wants me.

Annabelle Lyn: 7 Months

2 Nov

Little Miss Annabelle was 7 months (30.5 weeks) back on October 27.

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Annabelle is still wearing 6-9 month clothes and size 3 diapers. I only used cloth diapers for about 3 weeks before getting frustrated that they kept soaking through her clothes. Maybe I’ll try again but for now, we’re doing 100% disposable.
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In the past month, Annabelle:

* Got her first two teeth — the ones in the bottom middle
* Started sitting up on her own, still with lots of supervision because she tips over a lot
* Went on her first (and second) airplane rides with mommy and big sis to visit her cousins in Evansville, Indiana (post coming soon)
* Hit her head for the first time 😦
* Got her first cold with a runny nose and cough 😦
* Started eating solid foods 1-2 times a day (new foods she tried this month were oatmeal cereal, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, apple blueberry and grape banana plum purees, and banana Baby Mum Mums — she’s liked everything but I did mix some of the veggies with applesauce)
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Annabelle likes:

* Jumping in her jumperoo
* Sitting up and playing with toys
* Eating and nursing
* Watching big sister’s antics (she laughs at her often, which makes my mommy heart swoon)
* Taking baths
* Playing peekaboo
* Grabbing everything she can get her hands on (we call her Grabby McGrabberton)
* Playing with my hair and face while nursing
* Sucking on everything, including her toes (it seems like it took her longer to develop this habit than Emma but she’s definitely there now!)
* Smiling and sticking her tongue out
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Annabelle does not like:

* Getting her sleep sack put on when she’s hungry and/or tired
* Sleeping in her crib (she’s still in her swing folks)
* Going to sleep sometimes (I think might be a result of teething and/or being sick)
* Getting her face/nose/hands wiped
* Sleeping through the night (she almost always wakes up once now to nurse, sometimes twice — ugh)
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Annabelle is a favorite at the church nursery and MOPS because she is so easygoing and smiley. Such a little sweetheart. We love her to pieces!

My favorite moment this past month was when Emma was playing in Annabelle’s crib and Annabelle was playing in her swing (also in her room). I ran to the kitchen to jot something down but could still hear them. Emma said “Baby look” and then did something that made Annabelle totally crack up. It was the first time they had bonded without me present and it was so sweet!
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