"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Friday, December 31, 2010

A Goodbye Survey for 2010

What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?

I moved two hours away from my family! So many people here in St. Maries, when I say we came from Spokane, dismiss it with an, "Oh, that's not far." But I had never lived more than 30 minutes or so from my family before, and I reserve the right to consider two hours pretty far. It has been as hard as I expected it to be, but also easier than I expected in some ways because St. Maries is pretty amazing.

Also, I learned how to blow my nose. I am not kidding.

Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't make any last year. I was tired of failing. This year my resolution is to not let the fear of failure keep me from making the attempt.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Making it a second straight year without having another baby! ;-) Celebrating 5 years of marriage to the most wonderful man. Successfully completing my third round of potty training.

Hardest and best of all, becoming more vulnerable. God stripped away a lot of defenses and walls this year.

What was your biggets failure?

Can we go with mis-spelling "biggest" in the sentence above, and leave it at that?? ;-) Otherwise, we'll be here all night!

Did you suffer illness or injury?

THE TOE. Having the nail ripped off my big toe sounds sort of funny, but it was actually one of the most horrifying injuries I have ever had! My nail is barely starting to grow back, and it has been over six months.

What did you get really excited about?

I like my friend Laura's answer to this: "What didn't I get excited about??" I embrace joy and excitement whenever I can! This year held so much excitement, from moving our family to little St. Maries, Idaho, to milestones with my girlies such as preschool and dance classes and potty training, to trips to the Oregon coast, to finally getting back on stage in the spring and summer.

I am seriously excited this year about God yanking me out of my comfort zone and proving that He still wants me.

Where did most of your money go?

I'm thinking diapers...but 2011 will be different! ;-)

What song will always remind you of 2010?

"Anyway" ~ Martina McBride

Compared to this time last year, are you:

happier or sadder? ~ I'm not sure. I am more joyful.

thinner or fatter? ~ Well, I prefer not to say "fatter"...but I'm not thinner!

richer or poorer? ~ Richer in ways that make me more joyful. :-)

What do you wish you'd done more of this year?

Loving people, and appreciating each moment as I lived it.

What do you wish you'd done less of?

I wish I hadn't wasted so many of those moments in fruitless worrying!

What was the best book you read?

This one occurred mere weeks ago, when my new friend Becky loaned me her copy of Francine Rivers' "Redeeming Love". Have you read it? Read it!

In second place is "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge, which I am reading more slowly than I have ever read a book in my entire life. Try it and you'll see why. It is amazing -- and hard to read.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My sweet husband took me to the Davenport in Spokane! And I turned 26...which (please do not scoff at me!) was actually not pleasant for me. It is a strange feeling to know that my early twenties are behind me, I am squarely in the middle of my mid-twenties, and I can now see 30 on the horizon. I really don't know how this happened!

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

I wouldn't....

What kept you sane?

If I am, in fact, still sane, it is because of love. The ever deepening love of my husband and soulmate, the mostly delightful love of my beautiful girls, the reassuring love of my precious family, the encouraging love of my dearest friends...and mostly, the never failing, always consistent, life-giving love of my heavenly father.

Who did you miss?

My grandma; she has been gone for a year and a half, but sometimes it still hurts as hard as when I first got that phone call.

I miss everyone we left in Spokane! We've been able to go back a lot and I'm so grateful for that, but I miss the easy, spur of the moment visits without hours of driving. Mum and Holly, please move to St. Maries...

Who was the best new person you met?

Um, I moved to St. Maries! I have met literally dozens of absolutely amazing new people! I have been overwhelmed by the flood of welcoming, friendly, fascinating people who have come into our lives here. Some are already becoming good friends, and I am so blessed to have met them all.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

It's not like I finished learning much of anything in 2010. I am slowly learning to recognize and cherish the individual moments in life -- the times when, if I am paying attention, I can hear God saying "I love you" right to me. I am learning that in the stressful, busy, never ending race to make everything perfect, I miss the moments of breathing in contentment and understanding and peace. I am learning that a moment of laughter with my daughters will outweigh everything else I can accomplish in a day. I am learning that God would rather have me searching in confusion and crying in frustration than remaining pleasantly passive, and that He will not leave me alone.

May you all be blessed and directed by the love of God in 2011! Thank you so much for following along as I've enjoyed my first year writing this blog! :-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This is a small fraction of the amazing mess that we made last night with this glittery, clingy red tinsel that my darling, wonderful, thoughtful mother in law brought to the girls. Incidentally, she is henceforth forbidden to enter our home until she promises never to bring any more gifts that keep on giving in such a messy fashion! ;-)
Christmas this year is a blessedly relaxing time for our little family, very welcome and wonderful after the busy-ness of this month. Yesterday Lamont's family came down to be with us and we enjoyed Christmas with them, and Boxing Day we'll head up to my family's place and celebrate with them...in between we get Christmas Eve and Christmas day to spend quietly by ourselves, and we are soaking it in. I'm excited to get to sing tonight at the candlelight service at church!

As I write this, my man and my girls are involved in some kind of very noisy game complete with shrieking, giggling, and giant smiles all around. I am incredibly blessed, and can say from my heart that my most treasured gifts this Christmas season are the ones tumbling and laughing around the livingroom right now. I am so grateful that God's love and grace have brought me to this beautiful day!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On chaos and compromise...and snow angels

Have you made a snow angel yet this winter? I have! The girls have been trying to get me to do it since the snow first arrived, and a couple of nights ago I gave in -- that's right, I willingly destroyed my hair in the name of delighting my girls. It was kind of fun, but I forgot how awkward it is trying to stand up after making a snow angel without messing it up! The girls have it easy because I lift them up out of the snow so they don't have to stand up in the middle of their angels. :-)

We have so much going on this December that I don't feel like I can do it much justice in just a blog post here and there...between the three birthdays, our 5th anniversary, Lamont's six concerts with Midnight Cry plus the radio appearance, so many drives to Spokane, sports, music, and bible study activities at church, Christmas prep and celebration with both our families, etc., it has been a wee bit overwhelming. My mum asked me yesterday, "Are you going to sleep sometime soon?"

Yes. I will sleep more -- and also blog more! Soon. In one last important piece of news, I feel I should inform you all that my marriage is in serious trouble. Here is the issue: not only does Lamont eat multiple flavors/colors of jellybeans all at once with not a care to dividing them, but I have learned this month that he doesn't even glance at the design on the chocolate inside the advent calendar before he eats it!! *stunned silence* I know...I know. I understand the stunned horror that has gripped you upon reading that sentence; I have been feeling it all month. Tell me, friends and family, what can I do in this hopeless situation?

Friday, December 10, 2010

...and I thought I loved you then!

"I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you. You had me mesmerized...I hadn't told you yet, but I thought I loved you then...Now you're my whole life, now you're my whole world. I just can't believe the way I feel about you...like a river meets the sea, stronger than it's ever been. We've come so far since that day, and I thought I loved you then!"

"With a little bit of live, little bit of learn, little bit of watching a few more candles burn, and finding out what life was. With a little bit of fuss, little bit of fight, little bit of kiss and makin' up all night, and one day waking up...in a real love."

"When I hear you stop and laugh out loud, when you're falling fast asleep, when you're in the middle of the crowd, when you're lying close to me, when I hear you softly say my name, when you're high and when you're low, when you don't need me to explain, 'cause you already know...when you smile that way, I know every night and day...that's when I love you, when I need you, when I care about you! That's when I know without a doubt that I can't live without you. Every day I find another reason, every season we go through...every little thing you do, that's when I love you."

Thank you for a beautiful first five years, my love! "This much I know is true...God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you."

Yes, it really is another birthday blog!

Two years ago today, we welcomed into our family our beautiful third daughter...on our third anniversary! It was a crazy time in our lives, especially since Bethany arrived 4 weeks early, and only a week after Hannah had turned one. There was very little sleep happening that December, but many worries and questions: "Can we do this?" "How do we take care of three tiny girls, ages 2 and under?" "Will we lose our sanity?" "Will they be happy?" "Can we really do this?"

In the middle of all that sleep-deprived uncertainty, Lamont and I fell in love with Bethany Rain Miles. This sparkling red-haired beauty took our hearts by storm. Somehow it has always seemed like she has given us more than she has taken...how is it possible for a baby to do that?
Happy birthday, my darling Bethany!

(Photo courtesy of Holly Clouse Photography)

"Precious girl, in our lives, making every moment bright...your mummy and daddy love you, you fill us with delight! Precious girl, so special too, God has got a plan for you...and we can see it clearly, as you shine His light. Do you realize when you shine everyone sees you? The lives you touch...you're worth so much, and that is just how God made you! Precious girl, can you see you're a precious part of our family? This one thing I promise, God's plan for you is true. You are worth so much and it's just by being you!"
~~(Veggie Tales "It's a Meaningful Life!")

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Greetings from Play-Doh Land...

Today was just begging for a creative activity of some kind. The girls have been antsy lately...the snow is hard and crunchy and not fun for playing, and last week was crazy with a bunch of traveling back and forth to Spokane, so the girls and I were overdue for some super fun playtime together. So out came the plastic tablecloth and the play-doh!
My parents gave the girls a *ton* of new play-doh and play-doh gadgets for their birthdays. They were so thrilled when I got it all out for them this morning...there may have been quite a lot of squealing and running around in circles going on here for a few minutes!
Bethany only tried eating it twice; she wrinkled up her face each time and seemed extremely disappointed that this lovely, colorful stuff didn't taste nearly as good as it looked. She was very serious about her playtime -- every picture I took of her she had this serious, focused look!
Hannah kept me busy helping her make these twisted ropes using the gizmo Bethany is holding in the above picture. She used every color she could find and wore the ropes as necklaces and bracelets. She told me, "I am a beautiful lady!"
Now I know that this picture of Ashley will make my mum cringe, because when I was a little girl we weren't allowed to get the colors all mixed up like this. ;-) Ashley spent over an hour perfecting this beautiful tower to her satisfaction!

The way it was going to work in my head was that I would get the girls all set up with their play-doh and then would be able to get all my chores done around them while they played happily. The way it worked in reality was that I eventually pulled up a chair because I got tired of standing while I played right along with them! We were at it for 1 1/2 hours. :-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Birthday Interview with Hannah!

Are you happy that today is your birthday?
Yep. I'm thinking about me having my yummy cake!

How old are you now?
Three! That's pretty old. I'm growing into a big lady, but my legs are still little right now.

What makes birthdays fun?
Because if somebody turns 3, and they're really big, then they get a birthday cake!

Who else is in your family?
Us! I mostly love everybody. But I don't love mean mouses. But mean mouses are not in our family.

What do you like to do to have fun?
Play with my family and eat my birthday cake and have dinner! Yes yes yes yes yes! And I like to stomp. And doing puzzles, and coloring pictures with colored pencils for school.

What yummy foods do you like to eat?
Salad...spaghetti...macaroni...candy...and I think cake!

Do you think you are old enough to learn how to drive yet?
No...well...I'm big so I CAN drive!

What do your sisters like to do?
Play play play, and they like to eat cake!

What does Daddy like to do?
He likes to work. He likes to play "Hannah Banana", and tickle me and chase me. And to play music, and he likes driving.

What does Mummy like to do?
Play with us! Read books. Push buttons on computers. Some coloring and flashcards with me. And to cuddle.

What do you think about all the snow we have right now?
It's fun to play in it! I like to build snowmen and I like the pretty Christmas lights in the snow. It is cold and it makes me shiver and I wear a big coat!

Did you like answering all these questions?
Well Mummy, it's ok if you want to ask me questions. But I don't know everything, but I'm growing to be a big lady and then I will know more things!