Thursday, January 29, 2009

Boys Are Cool!

Yesterday, after dropping Ella Grace off at school, Katie fell asleep in the car. This gave Annabelle a chance to let her voice be heard. Here's what she said:

Annabelle: Mom, boys are cool!

Me: (Thinking, oh man, we're in trouble with this one!) Uh-huh!

Annabelle: Yep, mom, boys are cool--when they have their clothes on!

Me: Yes! Yes! Very cool--with their clothes on! (Now thinking, I have no idea what trouble we're in for!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

What's the Word?

For the past two Saturdays Eric and I have sat through 14 hours of training required each year of foster parents.

Several of you have asked, "How was it?"

A hard question to answer. We went through a myriad of every emotion imaginable. Our hearts were broken and rejoiced. Our eyes were opened while at times we wanted to squeeze them tightly closed. We laughed, cried, reflected, wondered, listened, related, laughed and cried a little more.

There is really no word that captures all that we experienced in those 14 hours.

A few weeks ago in church, we sang "Blessed be the Name of the Lord." We were first introduced to this song several years ago during a difficult time in our lives. We found comfort in the fact, that even in the storm, we could choose to bless the Lord. One verse in the song repeats: "You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your Name." As we sang these words for the hundreth time a few days ago, I was struck with the reality of what I was singing. This is a time in our family where He will give and take away over and over again. We will be given a child to love and then, in all probability, that child will be taken away from us.

The joy will come in loving that child as if she'll remain in our family forever--with the knowledge that most likely she won't.

The pain will also come in that kind of love.

The question we're most often asked: Why? Why would you choose this at this time in your lives?

Our answer to the "why" question has been that we're following the leading of the Holy Spirit--which is true. The problem with answering that question is that, at times, we're the ones asking it.

"Untold numbers of professing Christians waste their lives trying to escape the cost of love. They do not see that it is always worth it. There is more of God's glory to be seen and savored through suffering than through self-serving escape. Paul puts it like this: 'Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of the glory beyond all comparision' (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). 'Momentary' refers to a lifetime in comparison with eternity. 'Slight' refers to suffering and death compared to the weight of everlasting joy in the presence of God. This is what we gain if we hold fast to Christ. This is what we waste if we don't." (John Piper, "Don't Waste Your Life, p. 73).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ella Grace was telling me about school the other day:

EG: We had to draw a picture of our favorite season. Mine was winter!

Me: (A bit surprised, but trying not to be discouraging) Oh!

EG: Do you want to know why?

Me: Yep!

EG: 'Cause we get to go visit Grandma and Papa!

Ella Grace with her sisters and cousins on our last trip to Michigan!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Much to Come

In our "Christmas letter" one of my final statements was: "there is much to come in our lives over the next year." I knew that statement to be true when I wrote it based on life with three girls. I also knew it to be true based on a decision that Eric and I made shortly before Christmas this past year. Below you'll find the text of an e-mail that we sent to our small group at church and some of our family members; it outlines much of the detail explaining our decision and how we arrived where we are today.

Over the next several weeks and months I'm sure I'll write more. I have the need for an outlet and, in an effort both to fill that need and to record what I think will be a significant time in our family history, you're bound to hear more. Please be sensitive to the fact that, because of their ages, we haven't discussed this with the girls.

For the past several weeks, Eric and I have been struck with the seemingly crazy things God asks his people to do. There are hundreds of examples in both the old and new testament. Several have been highlighted in our recent study of the book of Mark: the calling of the twelve, the dinner at Levi's table, the healing of the man with the withered hand. The Lord has used Charlie and Brian's teaching over the past few weeks to confirm something that we believe--crazy, though it may seem--he is calling our family to do.

Let me start at the beginning. Eric and I had the opportunity several weeks ago to enjoy a "date" (thanks, Liss & Rick). We chose Chili's and as we ate our chips and salsa, Eric laughed as he shared what God had laid on his heart. He laughed because he knew it sounded crazy. But, as he shared, I began to cry; because, as crazy as it sounded, God had also laid the same thing on my heart! We took this as confirmation that this was probably a "God thing" and agreed to pray and learn what we could...about what, you ask? We've been praying about adding another child to our family.

Our initial response to the Holy Spirit's prompt was to pursue international adoption. We researched costs, financial aid, organizations, stories, etc. We requested information from several sources--and, get this, got nothing in the mail. This was a frustrating time for us as we wondered if our conversation at Chili's was "just the salsa!" Though we have a tender heart toward international adoption, we don't feel like this is the direction God has for us at this time.

Over the past week we've been in touch with staff from Miracle Hill Children's Home and are in the beginning stages of becoming licensed foster parents. Understand, this seems completely crazy to us as we struggle with a stomach bug in our family, already busy schedules, three little girls, a small business, a Ph.D., etc. Our heart's desire is to "stretch out our withered hand" in surrender to God's will for our family. So, as Brian suggested, we are conveying our "need for surrender" to our dearest friends. We covet your prayers and accountability as we pursue this adventure. We love you all and are thankful for your part in our story.

Love, Eric and Mary Beth

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The View From our Upstairs Window

They are building a house on the lot next door to ours. Work begins around 7 each morning and is fairly quiet all morning. Once I put the girls down for a nap--the noise begins. Do you think it'd be inappropriate for me to ask them to suspend use of the nail gun between the hours of 1-4 PM?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Extended Bathtime

One thing my girls love is to play in the bathtub--what kid doesn't? Water is one plaything that has endless possibilities! Most nights during the week, we are pressed by the clock to get through three baths in time for bed! So, occasionally we enjoy an extended bath time during the morning--today was one such day! Because I know my readers are always looking for a time consuming way to keep their kids out of their hair for a few cotton pickin' minutes fun, educational way for their children to spend their time, I thought I'd share some insight (and some cute bath photos)!

Let me first start with my favorite benefit: I get an extended shower and time to leisurely get ready for the day. Our master bath, like many, has a garden tub and a stand up shower; the girls get the tub and mom gets the shower. Today I spent 30 minutes in the shower and 30 minutes getting ready--almost like a spa day--okay,yes, you're right--that's a bit of a stretch! But, the girls were in the bathtub during that entire hour and never once asked to get out.

What did I do to keep them busy? So glad you asked! Most moms out there know that this list should not be introduced all at one time--spacing these time occupiers carefully planned educational materials will make bath time last longer:

~Mom's kitchen toys: the girls like playing with measuring cups, spoons, whisks, plastic bowls, cups, ladles, colanders, etc. from the kitchen. They also bring along a few pieces of plastic food from their play kitchen to "cook" with.

~Spray bottles: these can be found at the $ store--just label them, or like ours, they will be overtaken by bug spray, weed killer, and other various garage-worthy hazards.

~A dripping faucet: I don't know the appeal of this one; I just know that a little water running from the faucet is a lot of fun to my 2 and 4 year old.

~Ice cubes: When we were in Michigan the girls played with real snow while bathing. Since real snow is rare here, we improved with ice cubes.

~Shaving cream: my mom used to do this one! Squirt a little on the wall of the tub and let them paint with their fingers. Obviously, they need to be old enough to know that it will burn their eyes and shouldn't go in their mouths. Mine usually paint for a few minutes and then "clean" the tub.
The end result is a fairly clean (at least clean smelling, thanks to the shaving cream) bathtub; a fairly well put together momma; and squeaky clean, but wrinkled kiddos!

Don't be fooled. Despite your best efforts, the question to follow this well spent hour, will surely be: What can we do now? My answer? TV time!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday First, Friends, and Fun

Well, first things first--our Friday first is--Pink Eye! We've never experienced it in our house and the lucky little winner is Annabelle! She's being very brave for her eye drops and doesn't really seemed to be bothered by the icky eye! -----------------------------------------------------
Ella Grace brought home a Friday friend from school today:
Willy (the letter this week is "Ww")!

I have a pet named Willy
Who lives at home with me.
I keep him in this special cup
So all my friends can see.

Where, oh, where is Willy?
Oh, where can Willy be?
Come out now, little Willy,
So all my friends can see.

He is a little timid.
I must be very firm.
Come out now little Willy!
Come out, my Willy Worm!

by Jean Warren

And our Friday fun? Well, tonight is a girl's night--and girlie it promises to be! Eric is on his way to our church's Men's Retreat, so we are in pjs ready for pizza, movies (Tinkerbell!), and popcorn!!

Hope your weekend is full of firsts, friends, and lots of fun!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


So, I'm not one to make resolutions at the start of a new year. The last resolution I made and actually kept was in college. I resolved not to drink carbonated beverages (to clarify for those around the country: pop, soda, or coke =) for a year. I did it, and it changed my life. Just kidding. It really made no lasting impression on me whatsoever.

That brings us to 2009! I'm making a resolution--don't laugh--it's not very ambitious (those who know I am a former English teacher will wince!)! My goal is to read one book each month of this year. I know, I know, 12 books. Not an impressive do have to consider that I am raising 3 small children, running our home, managing my husband's schedule (wink, sweetie), playing around with a small business, proofreading Eric's dissertation (another wink, sweetie), and on and on...

I have a bookshelf full of books that I've been meaning to get to. My aim is to post a "review" of sorts near the end of each month. Not that any of you really care, but it will keep me accountable.

My January book? Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

By the way of other things I'd like to do this year:
~hear the Holy Spirit (and then obey)
~save a little more money
~lose the last of my baby weight
~which means cooking healthier
~and exercising more
~enjoy a little more this stage of the girl's lives

So...onto the subject of losing weight. Eric brought home a copy of the Weight Watcher's Points yesterday. We counted the number of points we ate yesterday and I've tried to be more conscious about what I'm eating (and drinking) today. I am going to draw the line, though. A few minutes ago, I found myself counting out how many rice cakes I could eat. RICE CAKES! It's not like I was downing a handful of Doritoes (oh, that sounds so good) or French Fries (Mmmmm!)...they were rice cakes...So, I'm making this rule: Rice cakes are 0 points! Really, they can't cost me points--they have the consistency of styrofoam and the taste of cardboard--Really? Points? Not on my plan!