Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thankfulness...


Here are a few pictures I took yesterday of the kids and Sonny. We are loving the great weather!


I am reading this wonderful book about wifehood called "The Fruit of Her Hands" by Nancy Wilson and my reading today was so encouraging. Almost everything Mrs. Wilson says I have been taught already but it is so refreshing to be reminded about the great call of being a wife and the biggest encourager of your husband. I was just so encouraged today to remember the great things about my husband. I have often told the girls in our student ministry and other engaged girls that it is easy for satan to tempt wives to focus on the negative things in our husbands. I believe that it is so easy to do this because it can start so small and seemingly insignificant (like a woman getting irritated that her husband forgets to take out the trash) and then it will escalate to where she gets annoyed at every little thing he does. I have heard wives talk about their husbands in such negative ways that it seems like these women are in a constant state of agitation by the men that are supposed to be their best friends. I really do not think that one day these women just started to feel completely annoyed. I think it started small and escalated to where these women cannot see anything good in the men they once adored. If you remember a scene from and old movie called Dante's Peak (with Pierce Brosnan). It is a movie about this active volcano and how the locals refuse to leave because they do not think it will really erupt. The main character has this dialogue where he says that if you put a frog in boiling water it will immediately jump out but if you put a frog in lukewarm water and slowly heat it up, it will stay in the water until it dies. I think this has happened with so many wives. One irritation... then another.... then another- until they do not even realize that they have killed the respect that they are supposed to have for their husbands. My hope is that we woman can realize what a wonderful gift wifehood is and see that God has called us to see the good in our husbands and be their continual encouragement. Yes, they are sinners (just as we are), but we are called to honor them and continually build them up. The more we do this, the more we will enjoy being married. I truly believe that. If we will spend our energy focusing on the good instead of the bad in our husbands- we will find marriage more and more wonderful. I am so much more in love with my husband now than I was when we got married. I believe that this has a lot to do with Sonny and I working to love one another more than we love ourselves and on us always trying to focus on the good in one another (and this only happened by God's grace... in the beginning we fought a lot because we were both very good at loving ourselves and pointing out the faults in the other). I feel like my thoughts are a little scattered tonight but I just wanted to share this reminder that I was given today. I am so thankful for Sonny and I love being his bride. It is my joy and honor.

"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband but she who causes shames is like rottenness in his bones." Proverbs 12:4

Friday, February 18, 2011

Daddy's boy...



I cannot believe how much I have wanted to write down lately! I guess this might mean that I am getting the hang of being a mother of two (by God's grace!!) I just had to share what Asher did tonight. The poor little guy has been fighting a cold for the past week but is still relatively healthy (a little fussy but that's okay). He has been hoarse though and his little voice is just so cute! Well, tonight while we were winding down for bed and watching Baby Einstein, Asher started asking where daddy was. I told him that Daddy had gone "bye-bye" and that he went to work to teach the bible. Asher repeated as much of my information as he could (because he loves to repeat everything) and then I asked him if he wanted to pray for daddy. He did not say yes or no but he bowed his head and started mumbling something so softly and sweet. All I could make out was "daddy" and "bible" and I still was not certain that he was praying. Then he looked up at me with a smile. I said, "if you are all done praying you can say 'amen.'" With joy he said "amen" and continued playing with his cars and watching Baby Einstein. I thought I would start crying! What a blessing he is to us. And to make it even better... about 10 minutes later when he was playing by himself, I heard him mumbling softly again... "daddy...bye-bye...bible...amen..." I cannot express my joy as a mom right now...

Lessons from Zoee and others...

Me with little Zoee. She is wearing a bib as usual which goes along with part 2 of what the Lord has been teaching me =)
I feel like there are days in my life where I do not feel like I learn a whole lot of great lessons from the Lord- I am just usually trying to love and disciple my kids with the strength that only the He can give me- but then there are some days where I wish I had a recorder with me so I could write down all the lessons/growth areas that I feel like the Lord is showing me. This past Wednesday was one of those days... Here are two things that I want to remember...

1. Never leave a time of worship early (unless God has made it very clear that you should). I had taken both of my kiddos to our Life worship service on Wednesday night. Usually Ash will go visit the Thompson family and he has a blast but I could tell he was fighting a cold so I thought it best that he stay with me and not chance getting their kids sick. Well, it was a little crazy having two babies at a worship service and I was about to leave early and one of my great friends was used by God to stop me =) (I love when God does that). Kaitlyn was holding Zoee for me and I was about to take her and load her in the carseat when Kaitlyn said, "are you sure you don't want to worship? I've got her and she's asleep... Ash is asleep too..." I felt like the Lord was saying through her... "Hey, the kids are fine. Spend time with Me. Love Me. Let Me tell you that I love you and am here for you in this tougher season." Thankfully, I stayed. It was great. Sonny had a great worship set for us... it was such a sweet time for me and Jesus... I left feeling broken, refreshed and loved all at once. I am going to always try to stay until the end of great worship services... even if the kids are a little nuts!

2. This lesson might only make sense to me but that's fine. Having a daughter with reflux has really been challenging as I have said many times. I felt like Wednesday God revealed some sin in my life regarding my kids. It is often easy for parents to "live through their kids" or find their identity in their kids. I feel like I might have been struggling with that. As a mom, I love when people tell me how great Ash is. Part of that might be okay but I think I was getting prideful and the Lord needed to kill that in me. I cannot find my identity in the kids. Having a spit up baby has been used by God to show me that pride. No one (besides the wonderful Burke family and a few others) wants to hold a baby who is going to drench them in spit-up! I feel like God wanted to make sure that I wasn't using Zoee to boost my ego. I NEVER want my daughter to feel like I am using her to feel better about myself. I want to find all of my identity in Christ and out of an overflow of my love for the Lord I want to love Zoee. I hope this makes sense. I just feel like its easy for us to get prideful when people think that we, our spouses, or our kids are great (at least it is for me)., I am thankful that the Lord showed me this and I really want to the Lord to continue humbling me... even if it means more spit-up from my little sweet baby girl! =)

The zoo family pics...


I was going to upload more pics from the zoo but I just heard little Zoee start to wake up so I will add more later... Here is my favorite family one though. I just love Asher's expression!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dear Zoee...



Dear Zoee,
I cannot believe that you and Asher are sleeping long enough for me to write to both of you in one sitting!! Okay, you are about 3 1/2 months old. You still have a very extreme personality- you are either VERY upset with a cry that is damaging my ears or VERY joyful with a huge, huge smile and a heart-warming belly laugh! You still spit up and that is somewhat discouraging because it makes me do TONS of laundry and no one ever gets to see your cute outfits. Even still, we love you so much. Here are some things going on in your life...
~ You don't like to sit still
~ You love the outside
~ You like your brother's kisses
~ You love to eat and get upset when the bottle is finished
~ You are a good sleeper
~ You LOVE bathtime. Asher is very good at helping wash your toes =)

You do not do a whole lot right now but you are growing fast and your smile is precious! You are a joy, Zoee and we look forward to seeing your little personality come to life as you grow.

Love,
Mommy

Dear Asher...




Dear Asher,
I have to write fast because these days it is hard to tell if you and Zoee will sleep for thirty minutes or three hours!! I just had to write to tell you some new things going on in your little 20 month old life. You are so, so wonderful. I know many parents say that about their kids but we really do think that about you. Daddy and I were talking last night about you because you had done something so sweet and Daddy said (I am paraphrasing) "He (Asher) was definitely a tough baby and put us through so much but he is such a joy now..." We talk about that so much, Asher. Here is some things we want you to know about this season in your life.
~ You are a joy.
~ You love to please Mommy and Daddy.
~ You are SO obedient (you have your struggles every once in a while but not often and you crumble emotionally when you get into trouble).
~ You LOVE Zoee- you kiss her probably 5 times a day.
~ You love to "help" Mommy around the house. You "help" load and take out the trash. You "help" me sweep the kitchen and vacuum. You "help" me with laundry (you love jumping in the pile of clean clothes and slobbering all over them).
~ You love to bring Daddy "breakfast in bed." You are an early riser sometimes and when you get up before Daddy you will bring him part of your breakfast. We still find crumbs in our bed from days before.
~ You have a little bit of OCD like Mommy and Papa. You cannot stand when things are out of place. This makes you very good at "clean up" because you make sure every block is in its place.
~ You love animals, cars, trucks, trash, colors, dancing (especially Michael Jackson)
~ You have wonderful friends. You love Aeva, Brooks & Ian from Mother's Day Out, CJ and Noami from church, and ALL of our friends. You think guys are cooler than girls and you love sharing your toys with any people that we have over.

We went to the zoo today with you for the first time and we had a blast. You loved all of the animals but you loved the petting zoo the best! You were not scared at all! Zoee did great at the zoo too, though she did not really care so much for the animals- she just liked being held =).

Here are a few of your favorite words (besides Dada and Momma):
1. "t-r-a-s-h" followed by "tiki-tiki" (stinky-stinky)
2. "Yo-yo" (Zoee)
3. "car-ki-ki" (car carrier)
4. "big truck"
5. "bull-doe-doe" (bulldozer)
6. "tractor"
7. "odo" (yogurt)
8. turtle
9. roaster
10. monkey
11. "he-ca-ca" (helicopter)
12. "mama's caa-caa" (mommy's coffee)
13. "hot choc-cate" (hot chocolate)
... and much more!! You LOVE to talk!

Asher, we really do LOVE this season with you. The other day you knocked a flower arrangement over in Zoee's room and I did not have time to clean it up. I went back in her room a few minutes later and found you trying to clean it up after I had gotten on to you for making that mess. It was so precious to see that you were trying to help clean up that mess. It melts my heart to see how kind you are and how you love to be a good son to Daddy and me. You make us smile every day and we cannot give you enough kisses. We are so thankful for you.

Love,
Mommy

Monday, February 14, 2011

Zo-zo Joy!

video

Here is little Zoee before another outfit change due to spit up... She is really a joyful girl most of the time. We are still praying that she will stop spitting up! We sure love her!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A reminder for me not to complain...



Life can be tough sometimes for a mom of two small children... or so I thought. Lately, our life in the Howard household has been a little more hectic than "normal" and I started to get "fussy" about that. Yes, fussy is the nicest way to describe my attitude lately. My poor husband and children. I feel like I have been in survival mode the last few weeks just trying to keep up with all the laundry from a little girl with reflux and a toddler who likes to literally "eat on the run." When I look back on every day, I can see that so much of my time is spent cleaning... either the house or clothes or the kids! I have been throwing pitty-parties for myself and have had a few meltdowns in the past couple of days but in the midst of all that, the Lord is still trying to teach and grow me. Here are the two things that I feel like he showed me when I gave in to whining...

1. Thank the Lord for washing machines! My dear friend and mentor, Mrs. Burke, was kindly listening to me vent about how tough it has been with Zoee and her continual spit-up. She told me that she would still be praying for me and the kids but in the midst of our conversation she mentioned to me that her mom did not have a washing machine when she had little ones. I know this should not have been a surprise since washing machines are relatively new but it made me think. Can you imagine doing laundry on one of those wash-boards. Can you imagine doing that outdoors when it is freezing... or snowing...? Can you imagine doing that constantly with a child who spits up as much as mine do? Wow... how humbling. When Zoee spits up all I have to do is take off the outfit, wipe her off, put on another outfit, then throw the yucky one into a great big machine that does all of the work for me. I never have to step outside to brave the weather and I do not have to spend hours getting out every stain from the outfits. I am so thankful for my washing machine (and my dryer too).

2. Praise the Lord that we live in America today. I know a lot of us get upset with our government at times and the injustice that we feel is being brought against us. While all of that is so true, it could be so much worse. I am reading through Esther and something caught my eye this morning...

Esther 2:17
"The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set a royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti."

Most of the time when we read through Esther, we focus on her... and rightly so. But today the Lord made me think of the "other women" that the king did not choose. From what I have read and been taught- once the kings slept with you, you were committed to his harem for the rest of your life and were never allowed to marry or have your own family. Even if the king happened to choose you again, you were probably not allowed to have children (I'm thinking that only the queen would have been allowed to carry his children to full term). Can you imagine? You are a young girl with your whole life ahead of you... then you get taken from your home and "groomed" for the king for at least a year (each women went through a year's worth of bodily preparation for the king... Esther 2:12), then you would sleep with him for one night... then you would be taken to a home for other girls like you and you would live there, away from all of your family, for the rest of your life. You would never marry your dream man... you would never have your own children... you might never see your mom and dad and siblings ever again (if the kings said no... the answer was no). This is so humbling to someone whose biggest problem is that their daughter can't show off her cute outfits because she is always wearing a bib. I am so thankful for the Lord showing me this and I honestly hope that I will soberly remember this lesson when I am tempted to complain.

I hope that today we can all live out Psalm 100:4-5 today:
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations."

~Casi