Monday, July 27, 2009

Guess who's standing up?

Well, sort of. He hasn't been pulling up by himself, we've been helping him get up there. But he loves to stand up now and hold onto things. I think it makes him feel like he's more part of the action when Isaac and Caleb are playing. Here's a couple shots of him showing off his new moves:

Last Friday, we went to a spray park with a group of friends and after a couple hours he decided he had enough and took a little snooze. It was such a beautiful day I think he would slept the day away if I had just left him there.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

He's Done! He's Really Done!

Luke took his last final, for his last class, of his last semester of the MBA program last night. Woo-hoo! It was a wonderful thing to celebrate. He has worked hard for almost four years now, balancing a demanding job, school, family life and church. Last night as we were lying in bed he said, "Tomorrow I only have to go to work." A huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders!

We have been reflecting a lot this week on what a blessing our education is. While Luke's pursuit of his MBA was a bit of a trial, it was also a huge blessing. There are so many places in this world where education is a luxury and most people can't even read and write. Many people would love to have someone give them an opportunity to get an education, and it's something we shouldn't take for granted. Luke's company paid for every penny of his MBA and we should not complain about the work involved to get it. (However, that doesn't mean we can't praise God that he is finished!)

Not only did Luke's MBA teach him more about finance, but I also learned a lot about being a wife and mother. While he was in MBA classes, I was in a school of my own (usually learning from my own mistakes!). So here's my short list of lessons I learned through this busy season of life:

Stacie's Tips for Persevering while your Husband is in School:

-When you start to feel sorry for yourself, remind yourself of how much God has blessed you.

There were many evenings when I wished Luke could be home instead of at class, and it was easy to start the self-pity. But then I would immediately feel convicted of how my situation really wasn't that bad, and how much worse it could be. I would remind myself of the wives whose husband are off fighting in Iraq. I would think of women whose husbands had died, and they were left as single moms. How all these women would love for their husband to only be gone one night a week! All of a sudden, I felt ridiculous for complaining about my situation and thankful for what God had blessed me with.

-Instead of focusing on how hard you have it, put yourself in your husband's shoes.

I confess that I did not do this enough. I tended to get selfish, and think about how hard this was on me, instead of focusing more on how difficult it was for Luke. Not that his schooling didn't put an extra load on me, but it was selfish of me to only focus on me. I should have thought more about how I could help him out, prayed for him more, and encouraged him more. Learn from my mistakes and use this time to learn how to really serve and encourage your husband.

-Use this time to teach your children.

You've heard this a hundred times, but our kids learn more by what we do than by what we say. Remember this when you start to complain, or when bitterness starts to spring up in your heart because your husband isn't around as much as you'd like. Your children are watching you and learning from your attitudes and actions. When you start to fall into the sin of complaining, remind yourself and your children of how hard Daddy is working, how much we need to encourage him when he is home, and help them think of ways they can help him out. You'll be teaching them how to have a Christ-like attitude despite a difficult situation, and keeping yourself from sinning in the meantime.

-Remember that our trials aid in our sanctification.

Trials are never fun while we're in the midst of them, but when they are done we can see how God stretched our faith and drew us closer to Him through the trial. I didn't enjoy having Luke in school over the last few years, but now I am thankful for the experience. While he was in school I grew a lot in my faith, our marriage is even stronger than it was before, and I have learned to appreciate our time together in a way that I didn't before. I have grown in ways that I wouldn't have if I had never experienced this unique trial.

There's probably a lot more things I learned that I could write about, but for now I'll stick with those four. I don't write them as someone who did them perfectly, in fact I failed miserably at most of them. But I now have a special place in my heart for women who have very busy (or absent) husbands, and I hope God might use my experience to help someone in a similar situation.

To end this post, I'll share a picture from our little celebration last night. We didn't do much (He didn't want a huge party) but we had to do something. So Isaac and Caleb made banners, I made some of Luke's favorite food, and we invited my parents over to surprise him when he got home. (Luke's parents are planning on having a celebratory dinner with his side of the family another night.) Luke was surprised, we all had fun, and here's a picture to capture the memory of the long-awaited night:

Great job honey! We love you so much!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Birthday Cake Swap

I have a handful of blogs that I try to keep up with, and one of my favorites is Life as Mom. Jessica Fisher (or FishMama) and her family actually visited our church for a while when they lived in our neck of the woods, so I got to know her and her family a little bit while they were here. Her blog has lots of useful information and ideas for busy moms, and I have benefited a lot from her ideas and inspiration.

One of her fun weekly features is her Ultimate Recipe Swap on Thursdays. I have never participated before, but I couldn't resist this week's theme: Birthday Cakes. Those of you that know me, know that I love to decorate cakes. I'm nowhere near professional, but it is a fun hobby that has proven very useful since we have started our family. In order to participate in FishMama's recipe swap, I have to post my pics here and then link back to our blog. So here are some of my all-time favorite cake creations:

For Isaac and Caleb's 4th and 2nd birthdays we had to have a combined party because we were in the process of moving. They chose the CARS theme and each had a cake in their favorite character.

Caleb chose a motorcycle cake for his third birthday.

Isaac chose a snake cake for his 6th birthday.

Caleb wanted a Candyland cake for his 4th birthday.

None of my cakes are perfect, but they are fun to make and the boys love them. They can remember every birthday cake they have had, which makes all the effort worth it since it makes such fun memories for them. If you need inspiration for a birthday cake idea, head on over to Life as Mom to get ideas!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An amazing story

I just watched the following video and it brought tears to my eyes. Lightning Ahlers is a teenage boy who was adopted from Liberia two years ago. The video is a very powerful 10-minute testimony of his adoption story. It's definitely worth watching.

Lightning Ahlers - My Adoption Story from The Ahlers Family on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rain: The Great Work of God

The following is a short piece John Piper wrote titled, "Rain: The Great Work of God". We read it tonight during family devotions. You'll never look at rain the same way again!

Job 5:8-10

But as for me, I would seek God, And I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth, And sends water on the fields.

If you said to someone: "My God does great and unsearchable things; He does wonders without number," and they responded, "Really? Like what?" would you say, "Rain"?

When I read these verses recently I felt like I did when I heard the lyrics to a Sonny and Cher song in 1969: "I'd live for you. I'd die for you. I'd even climb the mountain high for you." Even? I would die for you. I would even climb a high mountain for you? The song was good for a joke. Or a good illustration of bad poetry. Not much else.

But Job is not joking. "God does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number." He gives rain on the earth." In Job's mind, rain really is one of the great, unsearchable wonders that God does. So when I read this a few weeks ago, I resolved not to treat it as meaningless pop musical lyrics. I decided to have a conversation with myself (= meditation).

Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come on the fields from another source. From where?

Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea, over several hundred miles and then be poured out from the sky onto the fields. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 27,878,400 cubic feet of water, which is 206,300,160 gallons, which is 1,650,501,280 pounds of water.

That's heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it's so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That's a nice word. What's it mean? It means that the water sort of stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What's that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That's small.

What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is salt water. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up a billion pounds of water from the sea and takes out the salt and then carries it for three hundred miles and then dumps it on the farm?

Well it doesn't dump it. If it dumped a billion pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the billion pounds water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.

How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh a billion pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that's the way to ask the question)? Well, it's called coalescence. What's that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger. And when they are big enough, they fall. Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up, if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.

I think, instead, I will just take Job's word for it. I still don't see why drops ever get to the ground, because if they start falling as soon as they are heavier than air, they would be too small not to evaporate on the way down, but if they wait to come down, what holds them up till they are big enough not to evaporate? Yes, I am sure there is a name for that too. But I am satisfied now that, by any name, this is a great and unsearchable thing that God has done. I think I should be thankful - lots more thankful than I am.

Grateful to God for the wonder of rain,

Pastor John

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's official!!!

As most of you know, yesterday was our Big Day. On July 1st, at about 12:00, Andrew officially became a member of our family! It was a very exciting and emotional moment, and one that we will always remember. It feels a little strange to no longer be in the process of more paperwork, social worker visits, and waiting. It's... all... DONE!

Andrew has been such a huge blessing to our family, and the whole adoption journey has been a life-changing experience. We have learned to trust God in ways we have never done before, and have experienced the blessing of learning to wait on the LORD. We are so thankful God led us to this adoption journey, and we are especially thankful for the journey leading us to Andrew!

To commemorate this special event in our lives, we made a video of Andrew's adoption story. We praise God for this little person and all that he has brought to our family!