Thursday, October 29, 2009
One thing I love about almost-a-year-and-a-half is how kids' need for Dad intensifies. It's at this age I'll be pulling my hair out thinking, "What's wrong with this kid?!" Then S. comes home, passes out kisses & wrestles, and my toddler transforms into a cheerful child again. I then realize, "Oh yeah, he just needed his Dad."
Everett throws himself on the floor in tears when S. leaves for work. In fact, he can sense it's about that time of the morning and runs into our room to block Sean from finishing getting ready...pleading with him to stay. Everett's bribes include laying his head on S.'s shoulder, and kissing him while clasping both sides of his face.
One of Everett's favorite things when S. is laying down is to stand on top of his stomach or chest and yell "G-eee!" (with a hard 'G') We have no idea what G-eee is but it seems to be "Go" or "Ride 'em cowboy" or "Hit me with your best shot!" all in one. S. responds by tackling, wrestling, or propelling him into the air... all of which is met with laughter and more "G-eee!"
Darla bonds with S. often over 'coffee time', or at the library picking out books. They share a love for food so often end up at the Co-Op for muffins. Ever since he taught her how to ride without training wheels they also have special bike rides together.
Hudson and S. work on the car together (I think Hudson's knowledge of tools now surpasses mine). They roam the aisles of Napa together, doing life shoulder to shoulder.
As Everett develops his interests and personality I'm excited to see what he shares with his Dad. Right now it seems to be wrestling, rolling balls, playing cars. He's ready for adventure & it's a good thing S. has been hitting the gym. With 3-on-1 wrestling he has to be ready.
Monday, October 19, 2009
There is only one thing I miss about S. and my life before kids. I don't miss going out with friends, I don't miss "me-time" (I have a rant saved for that obnoxious term another day), I don't miss doing my own thing when I want to do it. All I miss is a spotless house. I recall cleaning windowsills with q-tips before Darla was born and I now can't imagine ever getting to a point in my week where that would be a priority. I still nearly laugh whenever I wipe the kitchen floor down. What a weeks worth of crumbs was for S. and me is now an hour worth of crumbs with 3 small children.
Instead of lamenting about what was, I have found delight in teaching my kids the joy of shiny clean! They are getting the idea. Now after picking up toys in their bedroom they throw themselves dramatically on the floor proclaiming, "It's so refreshing! It's the best room ever now!" (Note: this is trained, not naturally ingrained in my preschoolers) Once a week we go through our routine: Hudson empties garbages, both he and Darla help dust, Everett runs the motor on the vacuum, and everyone picks up. Then the reward is a 20 min episode of Berenstain Bears while I wipe the floors clean on hands & knees. Ahh...I love these days. By the time dinner is done it's looking like the whole house could use a deep clean all over again but I have the peace of mind that it was done.
Hudson relaxing in a 'refreshing' living room.
As I was switching laundry I heard Darla come inside and say in her best concerned-big-sister voice, "Mom! The boys are playing outside without shoes! I told them they have to wear them but they won't!" I assured her I'd come see in a few minutes...it is October after all. When I discovered them in the backyard my boys were in pants & sweatshirts...barefoot. But my daughter? Sure enough, she remembered shoes. However, she was riding her bike in shorts and a tank top. (I let them all play exactly like that until naps)
Friday, October 16, 2009
I have been humbled this past week...again through the story of Moses. I was in the shower (this is where the majority of my good thoughts come from, which is part of why I take insanely long showers). I was having an honest conversation with the Lord about adoption & some of the other ventures going on in our life right now. I was feeling discouraged because some of these things are not coming as easily and naturally as I had hoped. I asked the Lord specifically about our adoption journey. "Lord, I'm getting frustrated! All this raising money, waiting, fumbling our way through... is this really what you want? If it is I'm willing push ahead but I don't want to forge a way that you haven't designed."
I was reminded of God coming to Moses and telling him "Come now, therefore and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel out of Egypt." After initial reluctance, Moses went to Pharaoh. And man, it was not easy! He knew God had hardened Pharaoh's heart and that God was going to be showing signs and wonders, but this hard? And this scary? Lives hung in balance, plagues, bloody water, and rebellion saturated Egypt. Eesh. Really God? That's your plan?
If I were in Moses' position I would make the assumption, "If I'm willing to obey God things will come together quickly and smoothly." In my life experience God has been very gracious to bless me when I obey. I have seen it countless times in my own little family and in my parent's lives. We honor God and he gives some fantastic provisions in fun and surprising ways: groceries dropped off on the counter, the gift of a car (and that's happened more than once!), ministries funded, children born, and I've even watched children adopted into my family quickly and miraculously.
As I ran up our hot water bill in the shower I realized that because I've seen God work quickly in big ways, I've drawn wrong conclusions about the way God "always" operates in my life. God did free the Israelites. He did get them to the Promised Land. He did use Moses and Moses did obey. But the goal wasn't only to get from point A to point B! God had a purpose bigger than milk and honey. He had to establish the Israelites as His people. He had to reveal Himself, His character, His authority to these people. They had been slaves and assimilated into a culture that was not their own. Now God had to set them apart. He gave them the Law, He gave them passion, goal, understanding of who they served. Egypt is embarrassingly close to the Promised Land. There is no way that journey had to take 40 years. Yet it did. Because the goal wasn't merely to get from point A to point B.
Here I sit...convicted, humbled, and still encouraged. I don't want to hear Pharoah's "no" and immediately assume "Oops, must not be from God. Oops, I must have heard wrong" or even "I did my part. I'm out of here." My attitude keeps me detached to some extent. It prevents me from really investing and putting myself out there. It keeps me from working really hard at what God's placed in front of me. That's not who I want to be! I want to push ahead when God's called me to something. I want to persist regardless of how it feels or what others think. When I reach the Red Sea, instead of freaking out and questioning the process like the Israelites did, I want to respond as Moses did; "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today...The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." Exodus 14:13a, 14.
This resonates with Sean and me on many levels. It's made him rethink his upward climb in a new ministry & new church. It's made me excited to work hard this week for a Fall Kid Sale we are doing at North County CTK to raise money for our adoption. Tomorrow we get to sell some donated items and though I know it's not enough items to raise the money we need, I know I can say "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today...The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Right before we moved to Mount Vernon this past summer I had an incredible weekend with Jasmine & Sommer. Amidst pots of coffee, strawberries and trail mix, we talked about Moses. We talked about how depressing the end of Moses’ life was. Moses was obedient to God and it resulted in 40 yrs wandering the desert with a group of hard hearted, draining, complaining people trailing after. He pressed on, believing that the Promised Land would be worth the heartache. Then under the pressure & frustration, Moses cracked and had an incident of disobedience. As a consequence, God didn’t allow Moses to enter the Promised Land. Ouch!
Then when Moses goes up to Mount Nebo to die, God lets him look at the Promised Land. God tells him that when the Israelites get fat and happy they’ll turn their backs on everything that God (through Moses) taught them & will cause curses to come on themselves. If it were me I would think, “All this? For nothing?!”
I struggled with this after spending a year studying the life of Moses. I thought, “He could have stayed in Egypt & lived a life of wealth, comfort, royalty.” For that matter, he could have stayed in Midian where he was a shepherd, mentored by his father-in-law, resting. Instead, he chose to follow God and it was a brutal ride with what to me looked like a sad ending. My human sympathies were left feeling a little sour.
Then the Lord began showing me Moses’ life differently. I read that he was the most “humble man to walk the earth”. I read about him seeing the glory of God. He constantly poured his heart out to a God who audibly answered!
He experienced severe valleys: plagues, hunger, bitter companions. He understood fear: can you fathom coming out of a valley leading millions of people only to realize you are trapped by the Red Sea & Egyptians?
Oh, but Moses also saw unbelievable miracles. He led millions of people! He received the law- the first written word from God. He understood things about God that no one knew before because God chose him to reveal his character through him. Seas parted, water flowed from rocks, food fell from the sky, and armies were defeated.
Knowing what I now know about Moses I don’t think he would wish he lived comfortably or safely. He wouldn’t end with, “Man, I wish I had more in my savings account…Should’ve stayed in Egypt.” Or, “If only I had holed up with my little family in Midian and blocked out the scary world!” This is not a man who gave his 10% and then lived his own life. He put it all on the line.
I think he would say, “I obeyed. What a ride! There were valleys but wow- the mountaintops! I knew God face to face.” Then he did rest. God gave him an honorable death “His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished” (Deut. 34:7) “Since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (34:10)
That weekend I told the Lord that my desire is to be able to say at the end of my life “What a ride! There were valleys, but wow- the mountaintops! I knew God face to face.” As is always the case in these conversations with the Lord, I know I don’t know the weight of what I’ve chosen.
When I got home from girl’s weekend I shared with Sean my thoughts. He, too, had been listening to the Lord and felt a pulling regarding the type of life we are called to live. After talking about living a faith-filled, don’t-hold-back kind of life, Sean said, “All weekend I’ve been thinking I’m crazy because here I am by myself with all 3 kids and I can’t get it out of my head that we should start the adoption process. I think that’s what God is asking us to obey in right now.”
So here we are. We moved to a new town the same week we had that discussion and soon after turned in an application to our adoption agency. It’s looking like we will be adopting a young toddler/baby from an orphanage in Ethiopia. The agency is relatively inexpensive for international adoption but it will still probably cost us between $15,000- $18,000. Here begins the faith! Our next packet of paperwork is sitting in my drawer waiting for a $2,900 check to accompany it. Every emotion possible accompanies this journey. How thankful we are that we know the One who orchestrates the journey!
Monday, October 5, 2009
"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He trains my hands for battle. My arms can bend a bow of bronze." 2 Samuel 22:33,35. Yes, this third born is our fighter. He has surprised me with his personality and I am nowhere near figuring him out.
Everett was the easy-going, cheerful, good eating and sleeping baby that makes you want a dozen. It's a good thing he wasn't my first because he would have made us over confident in our parenting abilities! I hear parents all the time saying by the third they don't have time to cuddle and the third gets cheated of time with mom and dad. I understand that partially...I have had moments of "Oops! I forgot about Everett!" Yet at the same time I've seen how fast the baby stage goes so I have taken advantage of every cuddly-fall-asleep-on-me, wear-you-on-my-hip moment.
And those moments are fading as Everett is almost 17 months and a feisty go-getter. When I cuddle him with a cup of milk before bed he thinks it's hilarious to squeeze my nose, stick fingers in my mouth while I'm singing, or just laugh (slightly mockingly?) when I pray over him. Much like his dad, Everett has engaging blue eyes that make you feel special when he greets you with a loud "HI!" in the grocery store. He has no fear of people or animals. Darla and Hudson are terrified when he chases after strange dogs, sticks fingers in a chicken coop, or has to be drug away from a horse pasture. He isn't fazed and like many third born children, has no problem finding his own things to do.
At the same time as being charming and a bit of a free spirit, we are seeing a streak of determination in this little man! When he doesn't agree with a decision we've made he arches his back and lets out a scream that makes outsiders wonder if a trip to the ER might be in order. Being confined whether in a car seat, cart, or even on my lap, is not his thing. How I would love to carry him into church instead of having to walk across a parking lot holding 3 sets of hands...but I'm choosing battles carefully with Everett. He desperately wants to be entrusted with privileges so as much as possible I'm handing them to him. With the other two I would have thought, "that looks dangerous!" "I should take that tool/toiletbrush/sharp pencil away!" With Everett I think "It's not worth the fight...he'll figure it out." (I exaggerate...but not that much.) I believe God has made him a bit of a fighter, with a strong will and charismatic demeanor for a purpose that we will celebrate. In the meantime I'm choosing boundaries carefully and then digging my heels in so he can learn that boundaries are important (and serious business!).
Sean, Darla and I love teaching, telling stories and entertaining the masses. Serving doesn't quite make it on the radar so you can imagine our delight when we got our hard working, steady, serving Hudson Aaron. At 3 years old he likes the mornings where we clean bathrooms together. Toilet brush in hand, he sticks with me until the job is done. He wants to be a dad and a garbage man when he grows up. A couple weeks ago he was helping with bathrooms when I realized he disappeared. A quick once over of the house and I started getting nervous. I heard his voice at the end of the driveway. I peered out to see my 'toddler' retrieving our large garbage can from where the garbage man emptied it that morning. I had asked him to set the bathroom's garbage bag out by the kitchen door but he's not one to do a half-ass job. He heaved the bathroom garbage in, and was resting the big can on his hip while he talked with a neighbor. He then very neatly returned it to it's place beside the garage.
When he came in I said, "Hudson, if you choose to be a garbage man when you grow up I absolutely believe you will be the best at that job." He grinned, threw his arms around my neck and said, "Me love you, Mom!"
"Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid nor dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9. I got this verse in my head for Hudson before I even knew he was a boy. It is right on. He is strong...which might come from being a 3 yr old in a 6 yr old body. (He outgrew his 5T clothes after his 3rd bday in June) I have sympathy for him when adults address him and then look surprised when his speech isn't that of a 6 yr old. He has great courage, which we discovered last December when he had tubes put in his ears. After realizing his language was developing slowly and without many consonants, we learned he had not been hearing properly due to a lot of fluid stuck in his ears. Not only was he courageous in the process of doctor appts. and surgery, but he was courageous in learning words, in hanging in there when everything sounded noisy. With Darla as interpreter he has plugged away, not letting misunderstandings slow him down.
Hudson is passionate about tools and often motivates S. by pulling on his jeans with holes (his 'rip-ED pants' as he says) and saying, "We work on your car, Dad? What we work on, Dad?" He makes sure everyone is careful with our kitchen table because he helped S. build it and is very proud of his work. Hudson is only 17 1/2 months younger than Darla and takes seriously the role of her protector. When she falls asleep first he covers her with blankets and adorns her bed with stuffed animals. When she's scared he assures her, "Me shoot tigers and bears, Darla. Me get them for you!"
I never really had much chance to have Hudson be my 'little boy' because at the age of 2 he insisted that I stop rocking him so he could rock me instead. So we would sing and pray with me tediously "sitting" on his lap. I have a feeling he will be defending the defenseless throughout his life and I pray that he will see that serving and working hard are traits of a real man... traits of Christ.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Our little four year old's new fascination is Egypt. She asked to go there last week. When I told her it's too far to stop by she nodded knowingly & said, "Does it take all day like going to Montana?" I soon discovered why she wants to visit Egypt when she asked, "Mom, if I go there do you think God would open up the Red Sea for me so I can see where the Pharaoh and his chariots are?" (Her only concern in visiting was that there might still be a hard hearted Pharaoh ruling.) We have had great fun this week looking up pictures and facts about Egypt.
It's moments like these that I look at her and think, "Is she really only four?" Darla is constantly amazing us because she has this beautiful ability to articulate the things most kids only think. She devours books & memorizes unbelievably. We often smile because she picks up on tones and even humor that we don't expect to see her comprehend. I heard her yesterday telling Hudson something and then saying, "Just kiddin'. Hudson, do you know what kiddin' is? It's like teasing. I'm joking with you, Hudson."
We're so thankful to have her as our oldest. There are times I reign her in because she has this idea that "If I sound like Mom, look like Mom, act like Mom...surely I can boss people around like Mom." (Oh, how I see myself in her...I take this moment to apologize to my younger brothers!) At the same time, much like her Dad, Darla is full of ideas and fantastic roles for everyone to play in her make believe. As a result, her brothers love to play with her (often they cry when she requests alone time) and they seek her leadership.
I thank God often for Darla's ability to affirm. Spontaneously we hear "Dad, you're rock-awesome." "Guess what? I love you!" "Mom, you're cute all the time no matter what you wear or look like." The life verse we picked for her is Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God, in your midst, the Mighty One will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
We picked this verse when Darla Jules was young but we knew from the start that she was going to be an intense, relational person who would need to be quieted, calmed, by the Lord. She is also our rejoicing, life-loving, glad little lady.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I have S. to thank for the fantastic blog name. I am writing this as a glorified scrapbook; for no one other than S., me, Darla, Hudson & Everett. My goal is to have something to look back on that gives glimpses of our story as Taylors; to remind S. & I about God's faithfulness in our journey, and to teach our kids about how God's hand has been in their lives since before they were born.
I told S. that I wanted a name that reflected God's abundance in our lives. We are always blessed beyond what we could ever muster in ourselves. At the same time I wanted something that shows the craziness that is our life with 3 kids 4 and under, doing full time ministry, walking in faith the way we do. It's a walk that entails bumps, blessing, messes, and it includes a lot of coffee. So... this blog was named.
11 yrs ago last month I met S. Taylor. He immediately disregarded (& nearly mocked) my insistence that I not date. If only I had known what I was up against! His idea of giving me space was bringing "non-flowers" to assure me that "this isn't a romantic relationship". (These included baby's breath with no flowers, and real estate magazines re-fashioned to look like a bouquet of flowers.) We just "happened" to run into each other all over campus and "yes I'll go to coffee" just "happened" to turn into an 8 hour dinner date. It wasn't long before I realized whether I liked it or not this was a relationship and I didn't have much to say about it. But like anyone else who has fallen for S.'s vision, ideas, and grand plans, I loved every minute of it. It was faith building, stretching, exhilarating, and just plain fun.
See, S. has this effect on people. Since being charmed on our college campus, I have watched S. come up with hundreds of ideas and manage to get large groups of people on board with him. In our neighborhood he managed to convince a group of teenagers that a fun Saturday activity is neighborhood clean up. Somehow everyone who comes to work on his '63 Fairlane leaves thinking it was a privilege to work on S.'s car with him. He acquired a '69 Dodge Van that no one wanted & told everyone what a great ministry tool it would be. Somehow he managed to get an x-box donated to mount in the back, flashy lights for the top, full vinyl wrap to advertise on the exterior...and the ministry machine was born.
Once we bought a house that was out of our means because S. swept into our 900 square foot cottage, kissed my cheeks and proclaimed, "I've found our dream home! Get in the car!" He walked me through the acre at 911 Hampton Rd, peeked in the windows of the sadly deteriorating 1936 farmhouse and whispered the vision in my ear. I caught the vision, God blessed it (in the most unique way funding a remodel), and again it was faith building, stretching, exhilarating.
I try to be the rational, practical one in our relationship but I confess that I love S.'s ideas. They have sometimes caused me tears, frustration, and an empty checkbook. But we have also had some mountaintop experiences because he is all-out, full of faith, passionate, never bored, and out for adventure.
On a much smaller scale S. told me this week, "you need to start a blog." I protested saying "There are too many blogs out there already...I'm not eloquent or as profound as many blogs I read...I probably wouldn't even keep it up..." My arguments fell on deaf ears (& were met with eye rolls). While I said "probably not" S. started listing blog names, putting together my blog page, and finding pictures to accompany the creative names. While I fed kids lunch and did dishes, a blog was created and handed to me by a visionary who has better ideas than I do.