Saturday, February 26, 2011


So I've decided that one of my favorite things to do is go on a walk. Well, actually, I guess I should clarify that statement a little bit. If you think about it, there are a number of different ways and reasons we take one foot and put it in front of the other. More often than not we walk with a purpose. It could be for a simple reason, as in walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water ... or walking to the bathroom to brush your teeth. There are also occasions where a walk is undertaken for a greater purpose. Not too long ago I found myself walking through the mountains of Costa Rica ... for nine hours ... all day ... to visit four churches of four remote villages. Perhaps the "greatest" purpose I've ever seen associated with a walk was when I watched the women of my family cross the finish line after walking 60 miles, over three days, to help the fight against breast cancer.

The point in mentioning all of this is that most walks begin with a purpose. So when I say, "I've decided that one of my favorite things to do is go on a walk," it begs the question as to what sort of walk I would be referring to and the purpose I have been prompted to pursue. Well, it probably goes without saying that I'm not talking about those simple walks that take me from the bedroom to the living room. Nor am I referring to the grueling journey of traversing the Costa Rican landscape and the inevitable exhaustion that ensues. I'm referring to an unexpected richness that emerges when one walks simply for the sake of walking.

Tonight, I returned home after an elaborate excursion at the grocery store. Tomorrow is James' baby dedication at church so we will be hosting friends and family all day after the service. Jennifer has been amazing in her preparation. She is absolutely the best mom ... no doubt. She has worked tirelessly to cultivate a beautiful day tomorrow. But the reason I love all the effort is that she isn't trying to impress our relatives or work on her baking skills, she simply loves our son so much she'll do anything to make his days special. So, my trek to the grocery store held an uncommon amount of pressure. I had a specific list and was given specific instructions to take a pen and "cross things off my list to make sure I actually picked it up and put the item in the basket." I can proudly say I passed this test. So I returned home nearing the hour when James is finishing his late afternoon meal and is teetering on the edge of needing a quick nap before his nightly routine. It's a time of day when the sun begins to descend into the lower half of the west Texas sky and the heat of the afternoon fades into a comfortable coolness. If you looked up trying to locate the clouds, there were few to identify. It was a perfect day. So, I wanted to walk ... and take my son with me.

Before James was born Jennifer and I began to incorporate an evening walk into our daily routine. I guess you could say that our "purpose" was to help with the labor or for exercise, but really, it was just to walk ... nothing more. It quickly turned into one of my favorite times of the day because when we fled the trappings of the home that can steal our attention with laundry, chores and TV shows, we exposed ourselves to a world of simple discovery. All of a sudden we went from living in a house to living in a neighborhood. We went from living on a street to living amongst neighbors. Our eyes shifted from pictures on a screen to the portraits of landscape and the colors that only creation can provide. We went from feeling the regulated temperature of central heating and air to the cool chill of a subtle wind or the comforting warmth of a setting sun. But without a doubt, the greatest discovery was how we magically journeyed from short, sporadic statements of requests and instructions to the enriching depths of authentic communication. It was more than question and answer, it became a revealing of our thoughts, emotions, frustrations and hopes. It quickly became my favorite time of day and the best way to spend some valuable time with my favorite person.

These memories began reemerging just a few weeks ago and we relished that the more recent walks have included a new companion along the way. The conversation remains vibrant and engaging, only now, our gaze continues to look down upon our son taking in the elaborate details of this world for the first time. You can see he is trying to process what this "tree" is all about; or he is trying so hard to discern the noises of the birds flying in the air; the wind that comes and goes intrigues him and he looks in our direction to see if we are making the same discoveries that have him so captivated. We just meet his eyes and smile, we are the only ones that understand he is the greatest display of creation we could ever taken in ... and he has us captivated. So today, I walked down different streets and saw different houses I had yet to discover in our community. I showed my son the first duck that wasn't a cartoon in some book but one that could actually fly, swim ... or walk. I watched him as his eyes slowly grew heavy and eventually closed thereby granting him that much needed nap at this part of his day. And once again, it affirmed why I have grown so fond of these moments.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that there is something to be said for finding that simple thing that can breathe depth into your day. Whenever we discover those moments that can shake us from the monotony of routine or the trappings of desensitization, we would be wise to explore them further. We are often so distracted by thinking about "what is next," be it a daily chore, an event for tomorrow, a project at work, an email we have to send, or anything that might be outlined in our future; we so constantly let our days vanish at such a rapid rate we rarely stop and ask the question, "what is now?" In my recent experience, shedding those sorts of distractions can take us to a place of richness we may not have realized was dying to be discovered and appreciated. Whether it be the subtle beauty of living in this incredibly crafted world, the incredible insight into another person's soul when you finally let conversation run free, or the awe inspiring glimpses of your son taking it all in for the very first time, we are finally knocked over by the power of our current situation ... the simplicity of "now." Perhaps that power is a subtle tasting of the truth that worrying about tomorrow is meaningless ... it has enough troubles of its own. Thinking about all the demands of tomorrow and "what is next" can not add a single hour to your life, rather it often steals your attention from the very life that is waiting for you to discover now. For life is so much more than a check-list, a TV show, a chore or a task at home. That's why I think these moments have become my favorite times of day. I think that's why I have grown to love walking just for the sake of walking. Because in those steps, I seem to see things just a little bit differently. I discover a rich humility that provides an eloquent reminder as to what life is all about.

So here's to walking ...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baby James at 6 Months

  I can't believe that my sweet little boy is now 6 months old.  It seems like it was just yesterday that we brought him home for the first time.  I remember looking at him in the hospital the day he was born and just realizing how this little person would change my life forever.  I can also remember all the months and years I prayed and cried out to God to send me a child.  Those were some of the hardest times of my life, but I am so thankful for every tearful night because they have helped me appreciate every second I have with my son.  I don't take a second with him for granted.  Even the times when he is crying at 2:00am, I am blessed to be rocking my baby back to sleep.  He is everything to me.  I just hope and pray that I can be the mother that he needs me to be.  Being a mother is such a huge honor.  Even more than that it is a huge responsibility.  I feel the weight of this responsibility each and every day.  I am constantly going before God and asking him to give me the strength and wisdom I need to raise this little boy.  In a world full of hurt and evil my initial reaction is to protect him forever.  I just want to keep him close to me forever and never let him go.  But I believe that God has great things to do with this little boy of mine.  I know he has a great purpose on this earth and I can't wait to see what it is.   Thank you Jesus for my sweet little miracle.  James, your momma is so in love with you. 

On a lighter note, this is the pre-bowel movement face that James gets right before he has a blow out.  (and yes, one second after this picture was taken we had a massive blow out, fun times).

He is always sucking on those toes.  This is one of my favorite things...pretty much everything he does is my favorite thing.

Right now James is SO close to crawling.  He pushes up on his arms and kicks his little feet.  He is scooting a little.  You're so close James!!

After he has been trying to crawl for a while he gets really tired and has to take a little break.  So cute.
These little legs never stop moving...seriously....they never stop.
Little man got his shots yesterday and it was sad, but he is so tough that it only bothered him for about 1 minute, then he was good.  In this pic he was really preoccupied with his band aids.  He wanted them off!

Please note the blur from his bff, Solie dog.
This dog has been killing me lately.  She has been eating food out of the trashcan on a regular basis this week.  She is so smart that it's stupid.  She knows how to open the door under the sink and get food out of the trashcan.  She is really sneaky about it and quietly takes it to the guest bedroom to devour.  Today I wrestled her to the ground to pull out a stick of string cheese.  Awesome. 
James would pretty much do anything to get Solie to recognize him.  Poor kid, she couldn't care less. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

History Made

"There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments, this is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken. Their voices have been heard and Egypt will never be the same."

What is in a date? What gives a particular day significance? I can admit that if anyone were to ask me what I was doing on February 11th, 2010, very few things would come to mind. In fact, pick a year. February 11th, 2000, 1994, 1987 ... it doesn't really matter, nothing about those days mean anything to me. Interestingly, it seems that more often than not, our memories rarely gravitate around the specificity of a date but rather they collect themselves as a conglomeration of moments, seasons, or occasions. I'm not sure why this is the case. I guess in many ways I'm thankful we don't remember all the details and all the specifics of every day of our lives. I guess you could say being forgetful is a measure of grace. Perhaps it helps us be more present in our current situations. Whatever the reason, what I am sure of is that those moments of forgetfulness should lead us to an awareness that in those rare occasions that we are able to recall the specificity of a particular moment in time, well then that means something significant has taken place.

The measure of this significance can vary across the spectrum. For example, the events of September 11th, 2001 are forever etched into the deepest parts of my mind. I can retrace, not only my steps and interactions, but my emotions and my feelings throughout that entire day. A majority of us reading this blog immediately understand why. It was one of the darkest moments in our nation's history. Conversely, there are four other dates that I can recall with a similar level of specificity but for completely different reasons (I would post the exact dates here but some things just don't need to be published on the internet). The significance found in these four days lies in the fact that they are the most notable milestones that have brought me the greatest gift in my life ... my family. The first is a day in March of 2002 when Jennifer and I officially tried to give this "dating" thing a chance. It was the moment when all the flirting transitioned into, "hey, I kinda like you." There was a special day in February of '04 when I finally got down on my knee and asked her to be my wife. Later that same year we greeted the month of August with anticipation for the day when we would finally fill the air with our "I do's." Lastly, this past summer we both shared an unforgettable day when our marriage transitioned into a family and we welcomed our new roles as parents. I can recount an inordinate amount of details for each and every one of those days. My point in saying all this is that "significance" can be found across the broad spectrum of joy and despair. We remember the specifics as moments of darkness or moments of light.

So what about this date? What about February 11th, 2011? As the quote at the beginning of this post suggests, today marks one of those rare moments where we all received an open invitation to watch history being made right before our very eyes. Hearing those words offered from the President of the United States gives them a little added weight. The events that have taken place in Egypt the past 18 days has been nothing short of amazing. I first heard the news of the protests of Egypt as I came off the mountains of Costa Rica after a week of camping in the rain forest. The friends who had accompanied me all welcomed the news with a sense of anxiety and a certain degree of fear. It was primarily a fear of the unknown but one that was indicative of our awareness that whatever transpired in the upcoming days would have a global impact. So for 18 days we watched. We were wondering which direction this most ancient civilization would go. After being led under the authority of President Hosni Mubarak for more than 30 years, something tipped the scales towards the animosity of the people who had felt subjected to some form of oppression for far too long. What was the catalyst? What caused this shift? Interestingly, it was the unlikely and unanticipated courage of the people of Tunisia. Earlier in the year, the protests in Tunisia rapidly overturned the current regime and became the pebble that was thrown in the pond of freedom that has subsequently created a ripple effect throughout the Arab world.

It is not doubt, Egypt considers themselves the heart of the Arab world and the courage of the Tunisians emboldened them to take action. So for almost three weeks we witnessed thousands ... then tens of thousands ... then hundreds of thousands ... and finally millions of Egyptians take to the streets demanding that their voices be heard. The world watched in eager anticipation as the activists teetered on the edge of violence as they were met with the opposition of the police force and Mubarak supporters. In fact, while many were injured and several killed, it seemed the entire country was on the verge of erupting in bloodshed. But as the days unfolded, something profound and inspiring occurred ... peace prevailed. The protests continued and grew in passion and numbers ... but the violence began to subside. The presence of the protesters alone was all the power they needed. The way they vigilantly clung to their compelling hope for freedom became their most effective weapon. It was as if they could taste the liberty they were so desperately craving, and nothing would satisfy but the full course.

So on February 11th, 2011, President Hosni Mubarak announced to his fellow countrymen that he was stepping down from the office of the presidency ... for the first time in 30 years. People were heard on the street saying that for the first time in the 35 years they've been alive, they will finally be able to vote and know it actually means something. "Jubilee" erupted throughout the streets and in the hearts of the people. Watching half-way across the world it was difficult to not be captivated by what we were seeing. The powerful display of peaceful protests that had not only changed a nation but became a portrait for all the world to gaze upon, without question, carried one undeniable quality ... significance.

But no one is denying that February 11th marks the beginning. There is still a journey that lies ahead and it remains somewhat uncertain. So while I anticipate being able to recall February 11th to mind for years to come, I believe the reason why I will be able to do so remains to be seen. For this significance needs to be further defined. As I mentioned earlier, there is a broad spectrum between darkness and light that can help define those moments we consider significant. And with so much remaining to unfold in one of the world's most ancient civilizations, the question that remains in our minds is if this day will usher in a greater joy for the world to behold or take us closer to the edge of anxiety and despair. Have these events ushered the setting of the sun that makes way for a darkness to sweep over the land or have these voices of hope arisen as a response to a glimmer of light, peering over the horizon? The world waits and watches.

Personally, I know my prayers are anchored in my expectations that this is the dawn of a new day that will lead us into a greater hope. But there is no doubt such an expectation is far from being guaranteed. In any event, the one thing that should not be disputed is that February 11, 2011 will forever be marked in significance. And that makes it a day worth remembering.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Life is Good

  What can I say, life is good.   Yesterday afternoon we had a little jam session with James.  We do this alot with him and he loves it.  Jer plays the guitar and sings to James while I sing along and usually dance around, depending on the song, ha.  Usually we sing songs that are about worship.  I love singing these songs over James.  I know he doesn't know the words and he doesn't know what we are singing about, but he looks so intently at us as if he did.  When we was a newborn, playing the piano or guitar was the best way to get him to calm down if he was fussy.  I really think he loves music.  I don't want to be the kind of parent that forces their child to do something, but I really hope he enjoys music as much as his momma and dad.  
  I also think my husband is the greatest father.  He loves his boy so much.  These pictures warm my heart every time I look at them.  

Let's Work From Home

Ok, so as we were all met with some gorgeous weather today, thereby bringing a long awaited end to Snowmageddon, I began to reflect a little further on how crazy life is in the "normal routine." While I'm aware not too many people enjoyed being trapped inside for such an extended amount of time (which was obviously challenging under these conditions), I do think it gave us all a subtle taste of what it would be like if a common dream became more of a reality ... working from home.

It's no secret that the rapid advancement in technology has created new dynamics of the "office." In truth, I'd submit that a majority of us never really leave the office. We typically carry it around in our pockets, incessantly checking emails and staying "connected." The truth is that in this day age, our "offices" have less and less to do with location. I would have to say that the two main reasons I have a physical office is that it provides a common area for meetings to take place and a work room to print various materials and documents. But even those two amenities are becoming less and less advantageous. Most of my meetings take place at a restaurant or coffee shop than my office. And as we continue to migrate our work to the virtual world of the internet, I create more pdf's than I do hard copies so in a way, even the workroom is becoming somewhat obsolete.

Now, while I'll be the first to admit I did not lay out a rigorous work schedule during Snowpacolypse, I did in fact work. Perhaps more than any other time of my life, these four consecutive days of being confined to our homes showed us what a work week could look like if the "office" itself became obsolete.

At the risk of sounding lazy, unmotivated or complacent, I would argue that this recent experience has led me to think even more seriously that this is a direction all vocations should consider. Granted, certain professions make this a little more difficult. For example, teachers will always need to share a classroom with their students and doctors will always need some sort of medical facility to provide care. But beyond certain trades, I'm willing to venture a guess that a shift in this direction would have not only positive effects on productivity but on our culture as a whole. I would say the amount of interruptions at home are comparable to those you find at the office. While it would take some getting used to, I do think a routine could be established at home and allow for productivity to increase.

But the real advantage I would say comes from what this could do to strengthen the family. Sadly, our culture has watched the family structure continue to deteriorate at an alarming rate throughout the last several decades. People are married to their careers more than their spouses. We are better fathers to our clients than we are to our own children. We are more "connected" to our phones than the people with whom we share a home. Consequently, divorce continues to climb and children are forced to raise themselves ... even when the parents stay together. This fact has hit me harder this past year. Not surprisingly, since I just became a father myself and am 2 years into my career. I think this is a natural point to be evaluating these sorts of circumstances. However, I'm saying these things for more than just a personal reason. It is difficult to argue some of the Biblical principles Paul offers in so many of his letters. It is interesting that so frequently he addresses the churches by presenting the life-changing truth of the gospel. He then often proceeds to explain that encountering the gospel requires an inner transformation. We no longer live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Once this inner transformation begins to take place Paul almost always goes on to say that the next arena that demands our full attention and love is the FAMILY. That's often the first place we should see the gospel manifest itself in our lives. Sadly, as I look around today, it seems that ends up being the last place we think to take the gospel.

So maybe there is some value in embracing this technological shift and altering the way we approach the "office." Maybe the taste we got this past week can remind us all of the value of not letting our work demand more of our heart and attention than our family. So it was a small taste but one that has definitely left me saying ... I'm for it. Let's work from home and rediscover what our homes should truly be about.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting In On The Fun

Well, let's just say that my wife is definitely one who enjoys creativity and productivity. Four consecutive snow days do not slow her down and give her cabin fever, they merely give her motivation to revitalize our "cabin." I guess part of that revitalization has been taking our lives here at home into the virtual world of the internet. So here we are ... on the world wide web, blogging about our lives. I must say I am proud of her because she's a doer. No need to sit around and talk about these ideas, she'd much rather just make them happen and sure enough she has.

That said, I'm not really sure what my role is on this new blog site. She told me she wanted me to participate so I guess there is some part of her that wants me to contribute to these stories and daily updates. I would have to admit there is some hesitation about this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it is no secret that I am somewhat of a fan of facebook (as are another 550 billion people in the world). When she first presented this idea to me I believe I responded by saying, "shouldn't we just make a page on facebook?" Not really what she had in mind but I was simply responding out of a belief that everyone is already on facebook and I'm not sure how many will venture out to read this blog. When twitter is wildly successful because it limited people to just 140 characters, it was alarmingly clear, people like brevity. Which leads me to my second hesitation, I am not exactly known for being brief when someone asks me to write anything. My wife often mocks my email responses by saying I am way too "long-winded." A friend of mine at work frequently mocks the promotions I hand into him because they are always too long and require too much "print space." So, the open invitation to blog without limitation could be comparable to awaking a sleeping giant. I'm fearful my propensity to ramble and rant to great lengths could work against us.

All that said, it has become apparent to me that this blog is not really about getting followers or readers. It's really more of a personal exercise for our little family. The more I have thought about it the more it seems to be that this blogging thing is really about documenting our lives. It's an online journal of sorts, not to appease the masses, but for our family to look back on the many things that bring us joy, laughter, heartache and sorrow, each and every day of our lives. That to me, seems to be more than worth the effort.

So since I've come around on this whole blogging thing and am now providing my first post, I guess I will close with this ... a summation of the four consecutive snow days and what they have meant to me. It has been interesting to observe the variety of comments that litter the facebook newsfeed as people went from elated to deflated for having to stay indoors. Calendars were all of a sudden cleared. Business/Work/Appointments/Meetings all came to a screeching halt and people were forced to ... stop ... and slow down. Fascinating to see how difficult this was for some of us. In thinking about how so many people reacted I was reminded of a common truth I have often shared throughout the years ... the importance of friendship in marriage. There are many things that attract you to another person. There are many dreams you share and goals you have for your lives when you say "I do." But I stand behind the fact that the greatest thing you could ever find in marriage is a best friend. I've always said that Jennifer makes the boring things in life exciting. I love hanging out with her. She makes me laugh. I love watching her grow in her role as a mom. I love seeing her redecorate our house. I love being forced to stay inside for four days and just be ... with her ... and our son. I'm truly grateful and humbled by the fact that I married my best friend. It makes the boring things in life exciting and brings a surprising value to slowing down and embracing each moment of life. I guess in so many ways, that's what this blog is all about.

Let it Snow!

   I LOVE SNOW!!  It was so much fun to wake up this morning to see that we had gotten so much snow!  James woke up around 6:40 so I was up bright and early.  We sat in our "sun room" and looked out the window as the snow continued to fall.  It was so beautiful.  Jerimiah woke up about 30 mins later and I went outside and took these pictures of the snow.  It was magical walking around in the freshly fallen snow.  I loved being the first person to walk on it and make prints in the snow.  I also appreciated the quiet of the morning.  It was abnormally still and quite outside, which added to the beauty of the moment. 
  It's funny how much stuff you realize you have when you are stuck in your house for 4 days straight.  I have found so many old things that I forgot that I had, like old picture frames, vases, my grandma's old knitting needles, and some really cool pancake molds.  I know, very random, but I found some heart shaped pancake molds that I put to good use this morning.  I thought that it would be appropriate to have a Valentine's Day themed breakfast since we are just a little over a week away from the day.    They were great!  I would highly recommend buying some pancake molds to spice up your morning pancakes and to let your loved ones know they are loved : )
   I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but I had a very sad attempt to build a snowman today.   It was an unfortunate failure.  You see, I turn into a 6 year old little kid when it comes to snow.  I want to go play in it, build stuff, roll in it, make snow ice cream, the whole 9 yards.  So I went out today to build a snowman and I was really excited.  I planned it all morning.  I knew that James would take a nap around noon and that is when I would go.  So I gathered all my gear (scarf, hat, buttons for eyes and mouth) and headed out.  To my disappointment the snow was not sticking well and I realized it takes alot of effort to make a good snowman.  After I started getting a little winded with all the snow gathering and rolling, I gave up.  So we have a sad little clump of snow in our front yard, definitely not picture worthy.  I am sure I looked like a fool to the neighbors.  What 29 year old goes out and makes a snowman by herself, yikes.  To make up for my disappointment Solie and I went on a little walk up the street.  It was great.  
  Well, I guess I better go be productive in some way.  Maybe I will be blogging again later, I am really starting to like this.  My fear is that when life gets back to normal I won't be a very consistant blogger anymore...we'll see.  I have done pretty good so far so hopefully I can keep this up.  Talk to ya soon!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Love Snow Days!

Everybody loves a snow day but when you get three in a row, well, that's just a little slice of heaven.  I have loved being snowed/iced in these last few days.  I was telling Jer the other day that it seems like it is God's way of forcing us to relax and stop the crazy busy life that we all live.  Spending time with Jer, James, and Solie for the past few days has been priceless.  If you know Jer and me, we really can't sit still for too long.  We have rearranged or redecorated about three rooms in our house, its been so much fun!  I will post pics when everything is finalized.  I have also learned alot of new stuff of photoshop and have worked on some photography projects, personal and professional.  I have also started a personal blog, which is obvious since you are reading it : )  
  James has been having fun playing with his toys and sitting up with out assistance, a huge deal around here.  I also bundled him up in the clothes we bought him for our Colorado trip (which was supposed to be on Wednesday but go canceled due to weather) and sat him in the snow for approx 30 seconds.  Solie joined us outside and decided to dig a hole in the backyard.  She had to have her second bath in three days due to mud all over her face and feet.  She kills me.  Jer has been working/studying for Wake Up Weekend coming up soon.  He's the speaker for the event.  Yeah, he's my husband, he's kind of a big deal.  Hope you are all staying warm!!

Well here we go!

  So we have decided to join in with all of this blogging fun. Apparently it's what you do when you have a kid...or something important to say. Jer and I want to be able to keep up with all the fun we are having with our litle man James and of course our Solie dog. James and Solie are two of our favorites. Solie came first and got us through some really interesting times in our lives. She is now realizing her new place in this world, which is definitely second to James. James is in LOVE with her! He would prefer her over his parents any old day. I am just ready for the day where Solie will realize that James could be her best buddy if she would just give him a chance. James is our pride and joy. He entered our lives on August 13, 2010. Words will never be able to express the love and adoration we have for this little boy of ours. God has blessed us abundantly with him. Sometimes I don't feel like I deserve a child this perfect, what a graceful God we serve!
   I do need to add a small disclaimer, I am not the best speller in the world and I may not have the comma in the right place 100% of the time, sorry! So if that is something that drives you crazy, then you may not want to keep least not my posts b/c I don't plan on doing much spell checking or proofing before I post. My husband, on the other hand, is great at both and he will have much more interesting things to say I am sure. I am just a mom trying to document my kiddos life. Thanks for joining us!!

Meet Solie Dog.  A super hyper, spastic, paranoid, lovable, schnoodle dog.  I think the cross breeding caused some of the psychosis.  But we love her so much.  Her favorite thing is to take toys like the one above and pull out all the stuffing.  Awesome.
That's my boy James!  Don't worry, we have bumpers now so this is not as much of a problem,
but it was definitely picture worthy!
James loves laying on our bed and looking at the ceiling fan.  He is also doing alot of talking these days.
I am thinking he had alot to say in this picture.  Love, love, love!