March 11, 2014

Perspective: Lessons from a One-Year-Old

This winter has been rough. Very rough. We moved the first day of winter, and soon after it snowed so much that all five of us were trapped in the house for days. One of my goals for this year is to get out of the house with Evan at least once a week. By January 4th, when the biggest snow hit, that goal seemed like a joke. I see some numbers in the forecast beginning with a six, so there's hope this winter will end, but there's also more snow expected this week.

What makes this winter easier is that Evan is fascinated by the snow. He smiles at the snow, talks to it, shows it to his stuffed beaver. Even stuck inside watching it from his window, it's fun to him. As much as I'd like to just up and move to California, I am glad my kids will get to experience all four seasons living in Indiana. He'll get to play in the snow and the rain and the crunchy leaves.

Perspective. It's all about perspective.

As another illustration of this, I really do not like house centipedes. While I generally love all creatures great and small, including snakes and possums, I draw the line with the house centipede. I'm convinced they're the result of The Fall because these creepy demon bugs could not have existed in Eden. I think I've made my point.

So imagine my reaction when I came out into the living room and saw Nenya and Evan both watching a house centipede dashing across the floor, Nenya trying to snap at it. I did what any sensible person would do and grabbed a tissue and obliterated it. And how did Evan react? He was distraught. He started sobbing and threw himself on the floor, a very rare occurrence for him. While he's obviously too young to understand the concepts of life and death, he was having fun watching the centipede run across the floor with Nenya chasing after it. I had taken his entertainment away.

Now that was a good dose of perspective. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to kill the next one I see, but what a shock to realize my son could actually find such a creepy bug fun.

While I'm teaching Evan about the world, he's also teaching me.

March 7, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: Selective Memory (Leviticus 26-27 & Numbers 1-13)

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I'm posting every week or two about what I read the previous week. 

It's been a few years since I last read Leviticus and Numbers, but as I remembered it, Numbers was much better than Leviticus. However, the only thing I could remember about Numbers was the Aaronic bessing found in Numbers 6:24-26:

"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace." 

And really, while that's nice and beautiful, the rest of what I've read in Numbers so far is not nearly as poetic. It's not as seemingly strange as Leviticus, just kind of dry for the most part. It is called Numbers, after all. The book starts out with the first census of Israel. 

In chapter 5, we find directions for dealing with allegedly unfaithful wives. Basically, a priest gives a woman a drink of water, and if she did not in fact lie with another man, she will be free from the curse. If she is guilty, however, "her belly will swell, her thigh will rot, and the woman will become a curse among her people" (Numbers 5:27). Yikes. Something about that description is just a little disturbing to me. Yet, I had forgotten all about this part of Numbers that comes almost immediately before the Aaronic blessing.

This is why I'm doing this. I want to read the entire Bible this year because I can't claim I believe the Bible is the complete, inerrant Word of God if I don't even know all that's in the Bible.

March 4, 2014

On Language and Learning

I love watching Evan learn and figure out his world. It's one of the best parts of being a mom. When I think about all there is to learn, especially in a language as strange as English, it seems remarkable that any of us ever learn it all.

For example, how will he learn that a baby chicken is a chick and that chickens say cluck and chicks say peep and a male chicken is a rooster and says cock-a-doodle-do?

Or that a baby goose is a gosling and a baby moose is a calf. Two geese and two moose.

And all the letters and numbers and colors we use to describe things.

A square is both a rectangle and a rhombus, but a rhombus is not a rectangle.

A platypus is a mammal that has a bill and lays eggs.

Walk, walked. Ask, asked. Write, wrote. Eat, ate. Sit, sat. Go, went.

They're putting their books over there.

You love someone with all your heart, but the organ known as a heart really is not the source of love and looks nothing like the shape we know as a heart.

Our two dogs look different from each other and different from his stuffed dogs, but they're all still dogs, who say bark, woof, and arf.

But we do learn. Well, at least most of us learn most of this. And so will he. It's just remarkable, and I love that I will get to watch it happen.

February 28, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: And Then It All Goes Downhill (Exodus 29-40 & Leviticus 1-25)

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I'm posting every week or two about what I read the previous week. 

I don't know about you, but I struggle with this part of the Bible, especially Leviticus. Reading about how burning bull organs are a pleasing aroma to the's just a little difficult to get through. I'll admit I skimmed a lot of it.

I remember my freshman year of college, my roommate was doing a paper comparing and contrasting the Hebrew God of the Old Testament and the Christian God of the New Testament. I thought, but they're the same God! And then I took the same class the following semester, reading Biblical texts from an atheistic viewpoint, including some of Leviticus. While my faith was still strong at the end of the semester, I must admit, if you remove God from the story, these rituals don't make a lot of sense. And as a Christian, it's still hard for me to look at this part of the scripture and see the amazing, loving, awesome God that we sing songs about.

So, what's the takeaway from the laws of the Old Testament? How do we apply Leviticus to our daily life and strengthen our faith by reading it? Honestly, I'm not sure, which is why this section is a struggle for me and why I hesitated to even write about it. I am thankful that these laws are no longer our laws. I'm very thankful, for example, that I don't have to sacrifice two turtledoves or pigeons to be cleansed each time I have my period.

How about you? What helps you get through this part of the Bible? What's the lesson to be learned?

February 14, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: Why did this have to change?

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I plan to post weekly about what I read the previous week. 

Last week's reading was Exodus 7-27. A lot happens in the middle chapters of Exodus: the plagues, Moses parting the Red Sea, manna in the wilderness, the ten commandments and other laws. There's plenty I could write about, but there's one verse I've been kind of fixated on this week. Under a section my Bible describes as "The promise of God's protection," Exodus 23:26 reads (using the New Living Translation, to put it into contemporary vocabulary):

"There will be no miscarriages or infertility in your land, and I will give you long, full lives."

I realize this verse was a promise to the children of Israel at that time and not a promise for all future generations, but why? Why did this have to change?

Miscarriage and infertility have caused me to ask "Why, God?" over and over. I have not experienced either, but that's part of why they are such big issues for me. Why the unfairness?

I know Sarah and Jen are both dealing with losses right now. It was Jen's story that really got me set on this verse this week. Then there are those I know in real life who have had miscarriages and who have dealt with infertility. I know there are women right now who desperately want to be pregnant. Who knows how many others I don't know about.

I think of these women often and pray for them. And I ask God why. Why does it have to be this way? As I said in last week's post, only He can see the big picture. But this little piece I can see just doesn't make sense sometimes.

February 7, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: How Did We Get Here? (Genesis 12-50 & Exodus 1-6)

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I plan to post weekly (although lately it's been every other week) about what I read the previous week.

In Genesis, we learn about the beginning. We learn about the life of Abraham, of his son Isaac, of his grandson Jacob, and of his great-grandson Joseph. For the most part, everything is good. Joesph is a governor in Egypt. Then comes the Exodus, of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and out of slavery.

Whoa, wait a minute. How did we get here? How did we get from Joesph and his brothers and their families just hanging out in Egypt to Moses, the great-grandson of Joseph's brother Levi, leading the Israelites out of slavery? What happened in those few generations, and why did this never bother me before?

Exodus 1:7 says: "But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them."

Exactly how it was supposed to be. God promised Abraham in Genesis 22:17 that his descendants would be beyond number, just as the stars in the sky and the sand upon the seashore, and God fulfilled His promise. But immediately following, in Exodus 1:8-11 (emphasis mine):

"Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, 'Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.' Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens..."

It's because they were so numerous that they became slaves? Didn't God see this coming?

Of course he did.

As Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

All things work together for God's purpose. Sometimes, it just takes awhile to see what that purpose is. Sometimes it's not just weeks or months but generations. He takes His time. Sometimes it's difficult for me to trust in God's plan and His timing, but I know He's the only one who can see the big picture.

February 6, 2014

10 Things to Do Before Kids: How Many Did We Actually Do?

Six months before I got pregnant, I made a list of 10 things I wanted to do before we had kids. I referred to these as ideas instead of goals since these things didn't necessarily have to be done before we had our first child.

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at what I actually did before Evan was born.

Figure out being a family of two
I feel like our marriage did get stronger in those months before I got pregnant. Sure, pregnancy and having a baby can strain any relationship, but we're still very much enjoying being married.

Go on a relaxing vacation
This one is kind of funny. I meant to write a post about this one specifically but never did. Basically, we found out we're no good at relaxing. About four months into my pregnancy, we tried to spend less than 48 hours in Nashville, IN, staying in a cabin with no agenda, and we were bored! I guess we need to find a balance between planning too many activities and not planning any.

Start buying organic food and stop buying as much processed food
I wanted to at least buy the "dirty dozen" organically. I had a setback with this one when I bought organic potatoes and one was rotten inside. Why should I pay extra for poor quality? I'm still working on buying and making healthier foods, especially now that Evan is eating a wide variety of food and we found out Nathan has high cholesterol. I'll admit I gave Evan non-organic strawberries though. It's a process.

Get a second dog
This barely happened! I got pregnant three weeks after we adopted Adyn. At that time I was thinking it could still take awhile. Had I known I would get pregnant right away, there's no way I would have gotten a second dog. I guess it was just meant to be. Adyn's like my soulmate and archnemesis all in one. It's been an interesting ride.

Get in the habit of regular exercise
Eh...this has been off and on. I wanted to keep jogging during my pregnancy, but the crazy hot spring we had two years ago along with not feeling so great during the first trimester kind of killed my progress. I'm counting this one because I did walk the third of a mile to work until I was seven months pregnant.

Move somewhere with a washer/dryer and fenced-in yard
We sure did! And then right before Evan turned one, we moved again and no longer have a fenced-in yard. We can put the dogs out on a chain at least, and it's a much nicer area to walk the dogs (when it's not a blizzard). Having a washer and dryer was the biggest requirement!

Read and Research
I tried to limit this one so I didn't get overwhelmed. The one book I'd recommend is Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin.

Have a better community
We're getting there! We finally found a church we like right around the time we got pregnant. Several of my good friends are currently living overseas, which has been rough, but I needed the push to meet new people, especially other moms.

Do some freelance design work
I didn't actually do any freelance work before Evan was born, but once I made the jump and quit my day job last May, I found clients very quickly. It all worked out!

Continue putting all my income towards student loans and savings
During 2012, I contributed $50 into our Health Savings Account each week, and the rest of my paycheck went towards paying off student loans. I'm glad we'd had nearly three years' experience of living on Nathan's income by the time I decided to quit my job. We won't get out of debt as quickly now, but we knew we would be fine without that money.

Is there anything else I wish I'd done? Is there anything I'd encourage childless women to do before they have kids? I honestly can't think of anything I couldn't do now that I have a son. I wish I could have crossed off the two remaining items on my list, but I think I needed to quit my job to have the extra time to devote to them.

Anything you wish you'd done before you had kids? If you don't have kids yet, what's on your list? 

January 24, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: Job

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I plan to post weekly about what I read the previous week. I got busy prepping for Evan's birthday bash and missed last week, so I'm just writing one post on Job.

Job is the 18th book of the Bible but fits in chronologically after the first 11 chapters of Genesis, right before Abraham. Job is the story of a man who loses everything, and he had a lot to lose: 7 sons, 3 daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 she asses. In almost in instant, it's all gone. His children are all dead, and his animals are either dead or stolen.

And how does Job react?

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Wow! Often when I hear this verse out of context, I think of material possessions. If I lost all the things I own, I know I'd be okay. But to lose your children? I can't imagine praising God upon hearing my son is dead. 

As I read on, I started to get confused. While I'd read parts of Job before and knew the general idea of the story, I don't think I've ever read the entire book before.

"Am I missing something?" I asked Nathan.
"No, you're just not missing the part that most people miss," he told me.

You see, Job is held up as this amazing person who keeps his faith throughout unbelievable suffering. While he does have an amazing faith and never curses God, after he is inflicted with sores from head to toe, he says (Job 3:11): "Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?" His reaction is certainly understandable, but I was surprised to read it. We remember Job for his "naked I came from my mother's womb" faith and tend to overlook the part where he wishes he had never come out of his mother's womb. He wasn't perfect.

This realization caused me to think about what that I say and how will be remembered. I'm not just talking about the legacy I leave after I die but how I'm perceived right now. Will people remember the good things I say or just that one ranting Facebook status? Am I saying any good things worth remembering? How often am I saying "Blessed be the name of the Lord" in my daily life? 

January 22, 2014

One Year

One year from a tiny, helpless newborn who can't hold his head up to an energetic toddler who can feed himself. When I was pregnant, I wasn't sure I was ready for just how quickly my baby would grow and change. After Evan was born, I would look at babies a few months older and think, I'm going to have one of those in just months? It's been a lot of fun to watch Evan reach new milestones this past year, but when I look back, the changes are just phenomenal.

Overall, I'm loving this age. I think the word that best describes Evan now is inquisitive. While he's always loved exploring, now it's less about going and more about doing. He's slowing down (at times, anyway) and figuring out how things work. He's currently fascinated by stacking things - blocks and whatever else he can find. Several times now he has sat on the floor of his room with me before bedtime and spent a half hour building towers. Considering Evan learned to crawl before he sat up on his own, for a while I didn't think he would ever sit for a half hour doing anything. At around eleven months, he become interested in stuffed animals again after totally ignoring them for about seven months. Now he babbles to them, usually in a higher voice than he uses to talk to people. He's become very interested in books. I think I could read him all his board books (around 20 now) five times each every day and he wouldn't get tired of them. He's also figured out doors recently and shut himself in his room the last two days. Let's hope he doesn't figure out locks for a while.

His language development is beginning to take off. I started teaching him a few signs when he was six months old, and while he started doing "milk" and "eat" around seven months, by nine months he wasn't signing at all and didn't even seem to respond much to me signing them. He was just too focused on mastering walking for a couple months. Now he's signing "milk" again sometimes and is starting to figure out "water." As far as spoken words, "Dada" has taken on a clear meaning lately. He also says "Day-Day" sometimes for Adyn and often says "Duh! duh! duh! duh!" when he has a rubber ducky. "Mama" has become less common, only coming out when he wants to nurse and I'm distracted with something else.

Evan's appetite has increased immensely in the last month or so. He never wanted to be spoon fed more than a few bites until he was ten months old and refused to be spoon fed at nine months when he was teething. Now he's much more into food, both being fed and feeding himself. Meat and cheese are probably his favorite foods right now. I'm thinking we might have to raise the grocery budget soon, and he's still nursing four times a day. 

Although Evan started walking one day shy of nine months, it took him another month to walk more than twelve steps at a time. He stopped crawling (at least 95% of the time) around eleven months and is walking very well now. He loves to run from us and be chased. Another interesting part of his physical development is he's figured out how to snap his fingers in the last month. It isn't very loud, but considering I can't snap my fingers at all (seriously) I find it crazy that my son already can. 

The night of his birthday, before I put him to bed, I was singing to Evan about how we'd had a good year and we would have even more fun in the next year. As I sang, I realized I'm really excited about having a toddler! The fact that my baby is no longer a baby really doesn't make me sad at all. I'm just looking forward to what's to come.

January 9, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: Genesis 1-11

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. I've never attempted to read the entire Bible in one year, but since all previous attempts at reading the Bible without a time limit have failed, I'm giving it a try. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I plan to post weekly about what I read the previous week.

Last week's reading was Genesis 1-11...the beginning. I read through the story of creation, Adam and Eve in the garden, Cain and Able, Noah, the tower at Babel, and lots of genealogies. It's interesting to me how when I read a part of the Bible I've read before, even stories like these that I've heard since before I could read the Bible myself, I still discover something new. So, this week's post is just some of these various observations and ponderings.

I didn't recall that the river in Eden branched out into four heads: Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates.

I also didn't realize the place Cain was exiled after killing Able was called the Land of Nod. Why would anyone think that's a good name for a company that makes toys and children's furniture? Very strange.

I always forget how soon after creating the world God decided to destroy it again. Granted, it was actually about 1600 years later, but it's only the sixth chapter of the Bible. It only takes a few chapters to get from "God saw that it was good" to "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth."

Do you ever wonder how it was that Noah found grace in the eyes of God? He couldn't have been completely sinless, so just how wicked was everyone else in the world? Was Noah just the least wicked?

The dove with an olive branch has come to symbolize peace because when Noah sent out the dove the second time, she brought back an olive branch as a sign that there was dry land and new growth. What if the raven had brought back a piece of moss? Can you imagine that on a Christmas card?

Interesting names from this reading: Arphaxad, Peleg

Feel free to share about what you've been reading in the Bible this week, whether inspirational insight or rambling observations like mine.

January 1, 2014

New Year, New Goals

At the beginning of 2012 I set 12 goals to achieve. However, succeeding in my unwritten goal of getting pregnant kind of derailed my progress on most of them. It also prevented me from setting any new goals for 2013 since a year ago I knew I could have a baby at any moment. It was difficult to focus on any other plans at that point. However, I never completely lost sight of my 2012 goals.

Here's a look at what I've achieved over the past 2 years:

Financial Goal (a.k.a. the BHAG)
1. Pay off half the student loans   We've now paid off about 85%.

Business/Career Goals
2. Update my physical portfolio This hasn't happened, but it hasn't really been needed. This was a goal when I wasn't sure if I'd be seeking a new job or going full-time freelance.
3. Create an online portfolio It's not perfect, but it does exist. As with #2, this was more of a focus for job seeking.
4. Decide on a freelance business name and create a business website Core Spring Design is very much a business now! 
5. Complete at least one paid freelance job I had 4 clients in 2013 and am working on a retainer for one of them.

Homemaking Goals
6. Bake with yeast I made homemade pizza. It wasn't great. I'd like to try bread.
7. Switch to using homemade or natural cleaning supplies This has mostly happened, but I'm not sure I like the baking soda and vinegar route. I need to look into other options.
8. Decorate our bedroom This never happened in the two years we lived at our last house, and we moved to a new place at the end of 2013! Maybe this bedroom will look more put together.

Personal Goals
9. Complete a 5K race I ran a race 11/16/2013 in 42:43.
10. Figure out my blog purpose I basically decided to not take blogging too seriously. I still want to write about life, but my focus is more on my design work.
11. Make something with a sewing machine I haven't decided on anything I want to make that's really beginner level. I did use a needle and thread though.
12. Visit a place I've never been before (new state or new part of a state) I haven't been to any new states in the last two years. In fact, other than visiting Nathan's parents just across the border, I haven't even left the state.

For 2014, I want to set goals that more closely relate to my priorities. Making homemade pizza doesn't really help me get where I want to go in life. 

This is what I want to achieve this year:

1. Go on one child free date with Nathan each month.

2. Get out of the house with Evan at least once a week.
3. Read to Evan daily.

4. Get out of bed by 7:00 each morning.
5. Walk (preferably run!) Adyn every morning.
6. Read the entire Bible.

7. Create a weekly cleaning schedule and follow it.

8. Become completely debt free while maintaining an emergency fund of at least 3 months' expenses.

9. Make double the income I did in 2012.
10. Design 3 portfolio-worthy logos.