Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Her Handsome Prince

May you, fathers and warriors of your family, never take lightly your impact on your daughters.

This week I told Darla she should consider letting Aunt Jazz cut her hair. The battle we endure every morning as we get tangles out is not worth it. She thought about it and announced she wanted short hair like cousins Pearl, Eve, and Delayne. That afternoon Jasmine gave her a cute bob. She was delighted.

On the way home Darla suddenly burst out, "I don't like my short hair! I want it long! I want it back!"

Wide eyed (and slightly panicked) I turned to her. "Slow down, Darla. Talk to me about why. You loved it a few minutes ago."

The tears started. "Mom! What if Daddy doesn't like it? What if he doesn't think I'm pretty anymore?!"

My mouth dropped open. "Darla, you know Dad doesn't care if it's long or short. He loves you not your hair."

My appeals went unheard. When we picked S. up she hid her hair under her blanket. He asked to see it and she refused until we got home. We came into the house and she bravely took her blanket off.

"Darla! I love it! Look how beautiful you are! You look like you could be six years old with that cute haircut." S. continued, examining and complimenting as she began to glow.

After a few moments she turned to me with a big grin. "Hey Mom, I like my hair now," and flounced off to play with all the confidence in the world.
Dads, you have the immense responsibility and privilege of being the number one man in your daughter's lives. Yes, moms tend to braid better, pick out coordinating outfits, and have sympathy for a wide range of emotions. But they can't build confidence the same way an approving dad can. They can't model how a woman should be treated.

When a little girl watches valiant princes rescue and treasure their princesses, she thinks of her dad. (This window of time is short- don't take it for granted!) Someday she'll pick a prince with you as her reference point. Will you be thankful or concerned if she marries a man like you?

Have you earned the right to walk her down the aisle? Not because she's your daughter, not because you've provided a roof over her head- but because you've interceded for her in prayer, you've protected her from creeps, you've modeled integrity, listened, given counsel, and been the covering over her.

Darla spent much time drawing a picture with herself and her Dad this week. She asked for help with spelling so it could say, "O Dad I love you. Your secret note".

S. has been sobered as God has given him grace to be fully present in each moment as a dad. He realizes the honor and challenge it is to be the man for his little girl. S. taught Darla to ski this month. Yesterday they had a date to the library for beginning reader books. He bought an Easter dress for her when he was out the other day. She immediately tried it on and twirled proudly for us... but mostly for her handsome Prince.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nothing terrible about these twos.

Every once in awhile one of our kids seem to hit a new phase overnight. The new phase usually reveals a new aspect to their character or personality. I then find myself looking at them saying, "Oh, that's who you are!"
Around 4 months old when babies start laughing, cooing and interacting I think, "I know you now! You have personality!" It's so wonderful that I start planning to have more. (Then they start crawling and I decide it's okay if I don't have another one right away.)

Another moment this happens is about the time a child turns 2. Everett is 2 months away from that birthday and a magical new phase struck him this week. He has decided that he wants to be heard, he wants to make people laugh, and he wants to be talked to like a big kid. He is adding at least 10 words to his vocabulary a day.

I first noticed in the car that whenever anyone tries to talk to me Everett possessively says, "Mommy. Mommmmyyyy!" I wish you could hear it because there is no way to capture the comedy as his voice escalates in intensity. He doesn't scream...he furrows his brow and announces it seriously.
"Yes, Everett?"
To which he responds, "ah bah Mommy. Ow ah na abba no?" Then he ends his nonsensical sentences with a chuckle as though it's a punch line that we should all get.
Poor Darla and Hudson are frustrated that they can't get a sentence in before Everett takes center stage. I try to be sympathetic but it's so funny to me that I end up over-indulging in my 'conversations' with Everett.

Everett is insisting he pray at every meal. We can make out the words "Jesus, day, and amen." Everything in between is just filler words anyway.

I'm curious to see Everett at 2 because his will is already stronger than the other kids'. In fact, to brush his teeth I have to use both my arms and legs. I put him between my legs, hold his hands with one hand, and brush with my other hand. It might sound harsh but he is downright feisty and I'm determined to not watch his teeth rot!

The other day I heard someone say, "You know how it is- the terrible twos" (and the eye roll that inevitably follows). That phrase grates on my nerves. S. tells me I have too many pet peeves but I'm sorry, I have to add this to the list.

No. I don't know anything about the terrible twos. Do you mean the phase where your child actually wants to do things independently? The beautiful moment where he can put on his rain boots and trek outside without your help? Do you mean when he masters eating yogurt without a bib? When he victoriously makes laps pedaling on a bike? When he's proud to sleep in a big-kid bed? That he can actually use the toilet? Did you want to change diapers forever?

Two year olds aren't for the faint of heart. I know this. It takes a lot of thought to answer endless 'why' questions. It takes extra underwear shoved in the purse while shopping. It takes a vigilant eye because you underestimate how high they can climb. It takes a willingness to abandon a full shopping cart to remove a screamer to the car for discipline.

I can see where I might think two is terrible if my highest aim was compliance. I'm all for obedience, but I am also for my children having passion. I love watching them grow independent. I love hearing their own ideas and opinions. (Even if it is about vegetables and their place on the floor.) I want my children to ask "why" and to start negotiating cause and effect.

Even more than the term 'terrible twos', I cringe when I hear it said in front of a two year old. Why do parents think it is okay to speak 'terrible' into their child's life?
My Aunt Jules (Darla's namesake) once told me that her son Tyler was a picky eater when he was little. She was telling my Beppe (grandma) about it and Beppe advised her to talk about what a good eater Tyler was...within earshot of Tyler. Jules did it. Tyler improved his eating. Hearing his mom speak highly of him made him rise to the occasion. (By the way, Tyler lived with us before he got married and trust me- he IS a good eater.)

This isn't the only phase of life I hear parents moan about. My heart breaks for teenagers who hear their parents lament about the 'teen years'.
Often I have strangers say to me with raised eyebrows, "My, you have your hands full."
I respond with, "I am so blessed! 3 helpers- how great is that?"
To which the negative stranger mumbles, "Just wait until they're teenagers."
I can't let remarks like that go so I respond with, "We can't wait! We've worked with teens for 8 years and we love that stage of life!"

Again, if compliance was my goal, I would be terrified of teens. But I have seen amazing things that teens can accomplish with all the optimism and zeal in the world. They learn to drive! They plan what they want to do with their lives. They master skills. They build friendships and experience heartache. I want to be along for that ride- not isolating my kids with insensitive comments about the stage of life they are in.

I vividly remember being a teen and hearing adults complain about teenagers. My life-speaking Mom would go into great detail about how wonderful having 4 teenagers was. Don't get me wrong, she had every reason to complain. (Okay...she had 2 reasons...I'll let you conclude which 2 it was.) It wasn't easy for her. I know she spent those years on her knees.

Yet my mom believed it was important to instill in us that we are valued and heard, and validate what is important to us. She made the most of each stage. That's why she put in her time listening to us form sentences as two year olds, answering why questions, and then listening to the important things our barbies did during the day. That grew into her caring about who our friends were and who is eating lunch with who. In high school she would pull out an ice cream carton and some spoons when it was time to talk about boys. Soon it wasn't just us racing home after school to hop on the counter with snacks to entertain Mom with stories of the day- our friends would pile into our kitchen to do the same. Mom would never say, "It's only high school. It's not a big deal.", which made it safe for us to share.

I've often thought she probably wishes we would stop talking at some point...too late. We know we are valued and heard! Now she's also listening to two daughter-in-laws, two son-in-laws, and nine grandchildren. At all of our ages we know that we are valued and heard so we continue to include her in the big and menial moments of life.

...And that's my long way of apologizing for talking too long on the phone with you this morning, Mom- when I know I'll see you tonight anyway. (But I know I'll be competing with the other 4 members of my family who think they are your favorite.) I'll try to keep my calls to less than four a day...unless something interesting is going on, of course.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010


"Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and our grandchildren." Deuteronomy 4:9
The list of accomplishments is long for my Pake and Beppe (grandparents). My truth-speaking Pake is a proud Dutch immigrant and has been married to my tall, gracious, Dutch Beppe for 60 years. They have been missionaries in Nigeria. They have pastored numerous churches in various states. They started Acres of Diamonds; a home for mothers and children who need safety, training, and to be grounded in Christ. They mentored and ministered to business people, and counseled more than could ever be counted. Pake served as an Air Force chaplain and never hesitated to follow the call of God outside of comfort, outside of the "practical" and even outside of the country. Often in Lynden I meet people who vividly recall my Pake & Beppe from the short 3 years they pastored in the neighboring town, Everson. People talk like it was yesterday, using phrases like "revival", "huge impact", and "never-heard-someone-preach-like-that". It was in the early 1950s that they were here. The impact is still seen in the lives of that generation.

Pake & Beppe visited last weekend and although our kids have only met them a couple times, they were excited and quickly warmed up to them (I suppose since my parents are "Pake and Beppe" to them, they assumed "GREAT Pake" and "GREAT Beppe" must be extremely impressive.) In the years that most are slowing down, talking about their health problems, and telling stories about the past, my Pake and Beppe are pressing on to the future. Pake mentioned that they simply don't have time to die with all they have going on. Beppe has been busy painting and learning photoshop. She is selling artwork to raise money for Acres of Diamonds. Pake asked the Lord what the next phase of ministry would look like for him. He felt God tell him to use twitter to spread the Word of God. So as he enjoys his 80s he is mastering twitter, blogging, and facebook.

This summary only touches on the things my Pake and Beppe have poured their life into, all because they cling to Christ and willingly live the adventures He has for them. Yet in all of this, I don't believe their best legacy is a tribe in Africa. I don't believe their best legacy is in all they have written, preached, or accomplished.

I believe their best legacy is in their 8 children, 46 grandchildren, and nearly 40 great-grandchildren (and many yet to come, I'm sure). The purpose of Pake and Beppe's visit last weekend was more than just good coffee. They decided to make a home visit to each of their 46 grandkids. They want to see how the gospel is being shared and passed down to the next generation. They also take time at each home to pray a blessing over each member of the family. I pray Pake and Beppe see what I see; a family that has learned to love the Word. Pake and Beppe pray and read at every meal. They take Scripture very seriously and understand that we will never learn it all. My parents followed their example by family devotion time after dinner and now S. and I have implemented the same in our home.

Pake and Beppe built a family that knows Jesus personally. Spending any time at all hearing Beppe speak of her relationship with Jesus makes you crave that kind of intimacy. We all joke (but are actually quite serious) that, "Look out if Beppe prays. It'll happen- and usually quickly!" I used to think it was because she was God's favorite. She might be (she's certainly all of our favorite!) but I now know that her heart is aligned with Christ and His will. When she prays she often knows what He wants to accomplish.

They have taught us what is worth celebrating. Family reunions always have a day reserved for share/prayer time. Each family gets to share what God has done the previous year and what their prayer requests are. Then the extended family (multiple generations) gather around to lay hands on and pray for the family. The following year we get to hear how the prayers were answered. I have seen phenomenal answers to prayer through this; pregnancy when there was suspected infertility, physical healing, family members come back to the Lord and restored to the family. We celebrate weddings (with skits, songs, and everyone dances), births of babies (and more babies...and more babies), and other rites of passage. Above all, we celebrate when the Lord changes lives and family members submit to Him. Nothing is sweeter and nothing is valued more.

There are two ways people become Tademas. They are either born into the family or 'grafted in'. Pake and Beppe adopted two of their sons from Korea and the blessing of adoption multiplied in the next generation. Half of their grandkids are adopted and now some of those grandkids are looking into grafting great-grandkids into our family. We believe adoption is a powerful picture of the way God grafts us in to His family.

I am personally so thankful and blessed by the spiritual heritage of my family. My cousins and siblings are my best friends. I've never known any family reunions to rock like ours do. Yet what we are in Christ is stronger than what comes from the Netherlands, stronger than traditions at the holidays, and stronger than sharing blood (most of us don't even share that!)

Much of what the world values is individual accomplishments. How often do I hear people explain that they only want a couple kids so they can still do what they want to do and live for themselves? I find it laughable 1.) that people think investing in children slows them down 2.) That they believe their lives mean more if they are lived for themselves & their own accomplishments (noble as they may be). I am thankful Pake and Beppe chose to grow their family to 8 children so that those 8 children could have 46 children and so that those 46 could have...???(Still counting). Through them have come pastors (too many! Can I just say? How many pastors does one family need?!), teachers, exhorters, musicians, counselors, parents, cosmetologists, firefighters, construction workers, a pharmacist, philosophers, contractors, writers, missionaries, students, sales clerks, waitresses, and more. We are a variety of life-changers; in occupation, giftings, experiences, and color.

Recently both Pake and Beppe accomplished writing books about their lives. I treasure those not as individual accomplishments but as an account of a legacy; a work that God began in my family long before I was born. As I pour into my own children I don't want to focus on making them Taylors or Tademas. I'm not bent on our traditions or own stories. I want them to know the God we serve and why we serve Him. I want them to see the powerful examples of marriages that were committed when it wasn't the easy way. I want them to hear the testimonies of their aunts, uncles, and cousins. May it grow their faith and make it personal the way our heritage is a foundation for my own faith.

*I say 8 children but perhaps I should say 9? Pake & Beppe's Nigerian son, Moses, wasn't able to come to the U.S. when they moved back but have since re-united with him and his own family... which would also add to the number of grandchildren. On second thought, we'll save that story for another day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bertranda; neighborhood of Champions

Everett has learned how to pull on his rain boots, open the sliding glass door, and trek outside without notifying me. (This often happens before 8:30am) Thankfully, we have a neighborhood where everyone watches out for each other, we are surrounded by 1/2 an acre and a private park so I have enough time to catch him.
Yesterday I was dusting inside while watching all 3 kids play outside. I saw Mr. Hardaway circle around with Crystal, the small dog he walks multiple times a day. My kids adore Crystal and love sharing their stories of the day with Mr. Hardaway who has a kind, grandfatherly way about him. They talked awhile and patted Crystal before letting Mr. Hardaway move on.
Awhile later Mr. Hardaway passed through again. I could see Everett saying "puppy, puppy". Then I saw Mr. Hardaway fish around in his pocket, pull out a kleenex, and gently wipe Everett's nose before moving on.
Ahh...that's a good neighbor.

We got our neighborhood newsletter last night; regarding spring clean-up in the park, the summer garage sale, and other items of business. Then the sentence, "Welcome back Sean and Shilo Taylor family. We are pleased you are able to rejoin our community."

This morning I made my way to the Green Barn: the best produce store I have ever known and only a couple miles from our house. The owner greeted me as I came in and said, "Shilo, you're about 1/2 an hour late."
"I would have been here 1/2 an hour ago but I had to stop at the orthodontist," I explained. Then, "Oh geez, am I really that predictable?!"
Ahhh... the familiar.

I drove through The Woods Coffee to bring S. a coffee after running errands. I was blessed with 2 free coffees from a good friend who was working as a barista this morning.
Ahhh...good riddance Starbucks. Thank God for local coffee & quality friends.

Hudson learned to ride a bike without training wheels last week. He can practice whenever he wants, even without S. or I out there to help because he has a full length basketball court to cruise. The kids have been collecting dandelions, earthworms, large sticks, and pinecones. They visit the neighbor's rabbit and are right now decorating the patio with sidewalk chalk.
Ahh...independence for toddlers.

There is no better place to be when you don't know where the heck you're supposed to be.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why you'll want this little man for your daughters

It's easy in parenting to get hung up on aspects that aren't running smoothly. There have been moments with Hudson this month that have made my eyes cross in frustration. S. & I ask each other, "Is he not paying attention? Is he intentionally ignoring us? Was that disrespect out of rebellion or simply for a laugh?" There have been some rough pull-over-on-the-freeway-to-discipline moments. However, I am determined to not get absorbed in the rough patches when there is much to enjoy:

I am watching admirable character traits deepen in the heart of this not-so-little boy. They say you can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his mom. Hudson melts me.

Last week I came home from working out early in the morning and Hudson had snuck into our bed to be by S. I passed through on my way to the shower thinking they were both asleep. I heard Hudson whisper, "Mom! Mom, you look so, so, so pretty! You put your hair like that all the time, okay?"
I hid a smile- sweaty, in shorts with a messy ponytail? Doesn't take much I guess.

A couple days ago I burnt myself on the stove. I bit all the words that came to mind as I ran it under cold water. Hudson rushed over, "Oh, Mom! Oh, Mom! Are you okay? It's okay, Mom. You're okay." He then dashed out of the room to find what he uses for comfort; a tractor blanket and an armful of stuffed animals. I wrapped the blanket around me while I finished making dinner.

Yesterday on our way out the door for church Hudson stopped to compliment me again. "Mom, you look so pretty! You the prettiest girl ever!" He paused thoughtfully and added, "You AND Darla. Only you and Darla the prettiest. You always look pretty and not any other girls! Not any other girls pretty...not girlfriends...anybody." (His Dad agreed.) I know Hudson won't feel that way forever so I am going to soak up every minute of it!

This morning over breakfast the kids were sharing their dreams (this is the highlight of many Taylor breakfasts). Darla had much detail into her Tinkerbell dream. She then asked her brother, "Hudson, what did you dream about?"
He answered, "Me have dream just about me and mom. Me a grown up and me a doctor so then me fixed Mom's back."
He has been quite concerned about my back since I threw it out recently. But concerned enough to dream about being able to fix it? Now that's a real man.

May the Lord continue to build these things in him; an ability to comfort and encourage, to see a need and meet it, and exclusive devotion to the most important woman in his life. This 3 year old has some lessons to teach many adult men I know. Oh, and Lord...please make him a chiropractor for real. That was a prophetic dream, right?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

a 2 week blur

I can't quit yawning and couldn't figure out why. I did get nearly 8 hrs of sleep last night. Then I glanced at my calendar and remembered the last 2 weeks. 2 weeks ago we decided to move back up to our old house. S. was getting ready to teach at a retreat so I decided to do most the packing when he was gone. Unfortunately, the morning he left Everett woke up with a double ear infection. I spent half the day in urgent care with him, the other half rocking him. The next day he fell at my mom's house and got skid marks on his face to prove it. Add to his world boxes, a busy mom, a dad gone, his toys packed, and you get a little man who needs a lot of attention and affirmation. Needless to say, I didn't get much done over the weekend. When S. returned he had a job interview in Lynden at a radio station. The next day he drove to Portland and back for a job interview at Luis Palau's organization. As I was knee high in boxes and packing paper, S. called and said, "Palau wants to fly us to San Diego to check out their festival and meet Luis himself. That's where we would move first if we take this job. How does Sunday work for us?"

The following day we moved while on the phone with Palau booking tickets and lining up care for the kids.
We had 3 days to get ready for San Diego, unpack our house, cancel & start utilities, and stock up on groceries.
Megan helped organize the kid's rooms, helped my mom take care of them while we were gone, and made us remember why we've missed living by her so much!
The kids are beyond elated to be in our old-new house. Starting immediately after breakfast Everett begs to go outside by bringing me his shoes and pressing his mouth up against the sliding glass door, staring at the park longingly.
Darla was slightly miffed the first morning, asking, "Why is this house so small now?" I thought the same thing! I didn't remember how tiny 1300 square feet felt for 5 bodies. All day she kept remembering all her favorite things; the neighbor dog Crystal, having the top bunk, riding her bike on our basketball court.
I didn't know how I would feel moving back- would I feel like it's a step back or would I feel like I was coming home? I knew as soon as we pulled in that God had planned this respite for me. I felt a load lift from my shoulders and found myself breathing easier.
Sunday we boarded a plane for San Diego. Only 3 weeks earlier we had flown to Georgia to check out a boarding school for a potential job. On our way to San Diego we sat at our favorite table at Sea Tac airport's food court. "Have we really been here enough this month to have a favorite table?" Apparently Sea Tac has become our regular date night spot. Our interview was fantastic and we had the privilege of hearing Luis Palau speak at a leadership/pastor conference. We caught the passion and vision of the organization and are now trying to decide if this is the season to do this job.
While in San Diego, with boxes still strewn about our house, we had the first showing of our house in over a month. Every moment of every day the Lord reminds us to stand with open hands.

Here's us on our flight home in the middle of the night. We're delirious (but together) so it captures this season of life quite accurately.
The day after we got home we got a call from Georgia. The boarding school we sent a resume to is now hiring and would like to fly S. out for an official interview. Then the radio station called. We gave them an official application and the rest of our information. Palau was having a conference call yesterday getting ready to talk specifics with us.

We stand with hands open, 3 job possibilities but no firm offers, a sermon to preach tomorrow at MVCTK, and a house we can't seem to sell but is perfect in this moment. I told S., "Even if we only live here for 2 weeks it is worth it to me. I need to be here."
In the meantime we've been doing some wrestling, playing, unpacking, and praying. (Please note the gorgeous new carpet- the BEST surprise of the year to come home to...thank you Dad & Mom who know and love me beyond what I deserve.)
Even as we look ahead to decisions, more changes, and possibly (gasp!) more moving boxes, we are learning to be fully present in each moment; resting in the Lord and blocking out much of the world to grow together as a family.