Friday, February 28, 2014

Somedays

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I feel like I've addressed this to a certain extent in other posts, but I still have a few crazy hopes and dreams and "somedays" up my sleeve.

Someday, I want to be in a house full of kids who call me "mom", whether I carried them in my womb or not. I'd love to not have to stay up nights worrying how to feed them all or where they'll fit in my house.

Someday, I hope to "retire" and own a bookstore/coffee shop in a resort town (ski resort, maybe?). I'd love to not have to worry about making money with the business but rather meet new people, be surrounded by books and drink coffee all day. =)

Someday, I'd love to do more traveling and even live in a foreign country for awhile again.

Someday, I'd like to be fluent in another language (preferably Italian so I could live in/visit Italy!)

Someday, I'd like to know what it's like to have grandkids.

Someday, I'd like to die in the bosom of my family and go see Jesus.

But not today!!

Today I am so grateful for my "now" and for you and Daddy in it!




Thursday, February 27, 2014

Faithful

Today's post is about my favorite trait of Daddy's.

I would have to say that he is faithful in every way and I love that. 

He's faithful to God and to his calling as a pastor, even though I don't think this would have been his first choice of job or location. He felt God calling us here and here we are. And here we will remain until we hear something different!

He's faithful to his wife and gets queasy when he hears about people cheating on each other. I can see it affects him negatively even to hear about it. That made him easy to trust and give my heart to. I know he's not chasing anyone but me.

He's faithful to his family! He works hard to make money and then he comes home to play with you, kiss me, and half the time cook dinner, too. (He's an amazing cook.)

So there you go! Your dad has all the elements that make a real man of God. I love him for many other things but the fact that I know he's here and he's not going anywhere...that's why I love him most of all.






Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Favorite Parts

What is your favorite part of your body and why?

Well, kid, this might not be the most interesting subject matter...to you or anyone else really! However, I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror as a teenager just telling myself, "This is it. Love it or spend your life hating your body." Yes, thanks for noticing that I WAS a wise teenager. =)

But the thing is, the body is constantly changing. We're growing up and then growing out (most of us) and then we start drooping on our way to our ultimate demise. (Sorry, but it's true!) Especially those of us who have given birth...we can attest to the body being a strange and wonderful thing. After having a baby you can probably find 9 out of 10 women have looked at themselves in the mirror and thought, "Who's body is that?"

I feel like this would be more important to you if you were my daughter, but I guess it is important for sons to hear a female who isn't constantly complaining about all the things she doesn't like about her body. OK, OK, so let's get to the question. What's my favorite? 

I want to say ALL OF IT!! Because it gets me around every day, it heals from sickness, it processes all the yummy food I love to eat, it housed and fed YOU, my dear one, and Daddy likes it all a lot too. But I guess "all of it" would be cheating. Not to mention a little disingenuous because there is always a little something every woman wishes she could change. 

So I guess I'll go with torso. And butt. I've got a good one. Hard to fit into jeans that also fit my waist, but I'm not going to complain too much about that. My torso is so long that it made it unfairly easier than some to bounce back to my pre-pregnancy abs. All the fat could get distributed into a longer area, see. So, those are the things I love! I hope I didn't gross you out too much. =)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Love.

Photo Credit: shopbroker_gc via Compfight cc

What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?

This is easy: LOVE. 

In my mind, love out in the wide world is either too easy or entirely too complicated.

It's too easy in that you can throw the word around and it can be so cheap. You use the same word for "I love you" as you do for "I love lamp". One can mean everything while the other is nonsense. (Albeit hilarious nonsense, but you'll have to watch Anchorman for yourself one day and decide.) It lets the other person do whatever they want, as long as they say those three magic words and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Love is a cute little flying cupid, blindly striking people with its arrows. TOO EASY.

Sometimes it can get way too complicated because we're going around looking for "the one" to "complete us" which is just wayyyyy too much pressure for one person! Also, sex complicates things and people run around doing it whenever they feel the urge (which is a lot, you'll discover as you grow!) Broken hearts, broken lives, broken marriages, broken homes. TOO COMPLICATED.

The world's view of love is a popular notion that bears little resemblance to my view.

In my worldview, love is a verb.
It has hands and feet and it serves.
It sacrifices itself for the object of its affection.
Love has TEETH.
It is tenacious and it never lets go. And not in a Titanic, Jack-and-Rose way. (There was totally room for two people on that floating piece of wood! But I digress.)

The word for this kind of love in Hebrew is hesed or chesed. It is a covenant love that never goes back on its end of the bargain, no matter what happens on the other side.

This is the kind of love that God has for us.
It is the kind of love that has saved us.
It is the kind of love that we spend our lives practicing and still will never get right.
But it is the kind of love that we must have or forever subscribe to something lesser.

And in the words that we so blithely recite at weddings from 1 Corinthians 13:

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

If you could have a dinner party with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?

I feel like once again I should say Jesus. And that we would eat loaves and fishes or something. =) And of course, I'm dying to meet Jesus (har har)! But if it is a dinner party, I guess I could invite a group of people, so let's go with that! A nice cozy dinner party would be about six, I think.

For my entrance into the accelerated program in high school I answered a similar question with an essay on feminist/anarchist Emma Goldman. I still think she's an incredibly interesting figure, as any female anarchist from her era would be! I'd ask her how she thinks anarchism would look in the modern world. Also, it would be fascinating to hear what she and Jesus would say to each other. So that's two.

I think I would like to hear from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. That guy was so hard core, I think I would just hang on every word. I would ask him how to be bold in the face of fear. I would ask him if he would do anything differently if he knew how his life would end. I have a feeling I know the answer already, though.

Next on the guest list, I think I would love to hear from Harriet Tubman. I'd like to see how she and Emma get along, and I'm sure Harriet would enjoy talking to Dietrich. I'm sure she could regale us with some amazing stories of her time as "Moses", shepherding slaves to freedom.

Then how about Galileo Galilei? We need some real higher thinking at this party, and I think he's just the guy. I want to hear about how it feels to have the whole world (or at least the Catholic Church, which was practically the whole world) against you for something you know to be true.

And how about one more amazing female in the form of Amelia Earhart? I have not the least interest in aviation, but in mold-breaking females, I take a definite interest. I'd love to hear her stories, as well, and of course I'd ask her about what really happened when she disappeared on July 2, 1937.

What would we eat? Whatever we want!! I'm sure we'd barely touch our meals with all the spirited conversation! But how about some nice steaming hot bowls of pho, just to make everyone try something new.

Photo Credit: Initiales JB via Compfight cc

There you have it. Looking at the list, apparently I admire deep thinking gentlemen and spirited ladies. Sounds kinda like my marriage to Daddy! =)

Only five more blog posts to go in the in the 30 Day Challenge. If you're interested in joining me in this fun series, please feel free to post a link to your blog in the comments.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Least Favorite/ Most Favorite

What is your favorite and least favorite thing about parenting?

Ah, so many things I could expound on!!

Let's start with least favorite: You're two. Soon you will be three. So this one comes to mind quickly...My least favorite is watching you willfully disobey me to see my reaction. Because we both know it isn't going to be fun for either one of us. I struggle to remember that it is part of your development and sometimes I take it personally.

My other least favorite that goes along with this is when my reaction to your testing comes from anger and frustration instead of a genuine desire to teach you and guide you. I hate seeing that side of myself, but I think it is important so I can work on it. Sorry you get to be the impetus and the guinea pig on this one.


But the favorites...well, the favorites will hopefully always outweigh the not-favorites!! Your smile, your laugh, your hugs and cuddles, your dancing, your singing, your talking, your learning!! I learn a little more about God every day in my imperfect love for you. He teaches me how much more I have to learn from Him, the ultimate parent. I learn just how much He loves us because I take my love for you and times it by infinity and it makes my head hurt but my spirit happy. 

Parenthood...an epic daily struggle but a wonderful gift. Wouldn't trade it or you for anything in this world. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Favorite Holiday

This one will also be short and sweet. My favorite holiday is easy: EASTER!!

The tomb stands open wide. He is not here, for he has risen!!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!!

It's pretty much the fulcrum on which our whole belief is based. If Jesus lived his life as a moral teacher, teaching crazy stuff like He was the son of God and that he would die and come back to life, but then died and did not rise again like He said...well then, where is our hope? On what is it based? Nothing. We are fools.

But I believe that Jesus meant everything He said while He lived, including His claim of divinity and the fact that He did indeed rise from the dead, just as He said.

Easter reminds us of the empty cross AND the empty grave, giving the real hope of eternal life to all those who believe.

In short, Easter rocks.

Also: candy, egg hunts and Easter baskets. =)

Photo Credit: peasap via Compfight cc
For the whole list of prompts for this 30 Day Challenge, click here. If you decide to join me, let me know!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Squinting Into the Future

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10? 15 years?

I actually like how this question is phrased because it doesn't say anything about a plan that you have, but more like squinting into the future and having a fun guess. Of course these will be based on desires I have hidden in my heart... Which will now be revealed!!

5 years
In five years I will be 35 years old. You will be seven and your younger sibling (who doesn't quite exist yet) will be four. You will both be in school, probably public school unless the homeschooling bug hits me really hard before then. I see us still living somewhere in San Jose; who knows but that we will have stuck it out in this same roomy apartment?
Maybe Daddy will have gotten a raise or two because Dwell has grown and maybe we are finally getting close to a down payment on a place with more than two rooms. 
My days will be free because you're both in school, so what will I do with my time? Work? Be creative? Probably a little bit of both, knowing me. Hey, we might even have saved up enough for a second car!

10 years
In ten years, I will be 40 years old, you will be 12 and your little sibling would be about 9. I'll be doing all kinds of shuttling y'all around because you'll be in middle school and the little one will be in grade school. 
We'll be more financially stable, able to give more to causes we care about, and also to start seriously contemplating adoption FINALLY! You'll probably find me poring over county adoption websites and crying a lot because I can't take all the children home with me. You'll be used to this sort of behavior by now.
Maybe you'll gain a couple siblings all at once, maybe siblings in their own right who are about 5 and 7. We'll have a house/condo/apartment big enough to squeeze us all in.
Dwell will have a thriving kids ministry at this point, and hopefully will have settled at a comfortable threshold of about 200 to 250 people. We might even have a new building to worship in, but the old one will do if it's still standing!

15 years 
In 15 years, I'll be 45, and Dad will have crossed over into the other side of 50! We'll be close to the ages my parents are now. You'll be closing in on 18 years old and hopefully your high school graduation, with your siblings tagging along behind you at 14, 12 and 10. So I'll still be shuttling kids around even while my first baby is getting ready to leave the nest!
It's difficult for me to even squint this far into the future. Will we be in San Jose? Will the Lord have called us somewhere else? Will Daddy have stuck it out in ministry this long? Will mommy be working? And if so, what will I do? I guess this one has more questions than answers. Suffice to say, planning ahead has never been my strong point.
But one thing is sure...the God we serve is always good, always strong, always with us. I am not nervous or apprehensive about the future because He's there! We are never promised anything good and wonderful in this life but Himself. Learning to know that He is all we need is the real trick!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sister, Sister, Sister, Brother

Today's prompt is to describe the relationship I have with my siblings.

It is really, really hard to grow up and move away from your family. It's even harder when the siblings you love and grew up with move far away too! It's the worst when we're all scattered throughout the US!! That's the case for me and your aunties and uncle. Auntie Becca is in Florida now, Uncle Ryan is hard to keep track of but I think he's in Arizona still, and Auntie Rachel and Auntie Blair are in the DFW area of Texas.

Now, all that being said, I am pretty thankful that your aunties have all been involved in some way in your growing up so far...visits, presents, Skype, phone calls, photos... They are a part of our lives! What a blessing.
Haas Family
Auntie Rachel - Rachie and I grew up as kind of a part of team. When we were in a house with four little girls, there's bound to be some pairing up, and Auntie Rachel and I were the quieter ones who liked to read and write and dream and were kind of shy. She was the oldest of all of us, so of course she had that coolness factor of being the adored biggest sister, at least in my mind. We are only three years apart, but she has always been mature for her age, so I always felt like she was light years ahead of all of us in life. =) We don't talk on the phone very often as I don't think either of us really like it (the phone, that is, not talking to each other!), but I know she loves me and she loves you. I love her lovely faithful husband and her beautiful kids...your cousins Kylie and Zane.

Me, Blair, Rachel, Becca - this photo always makes me laugh. =)

Auntie Blair - Auntie Blair and I are less alike, but I adore her precisely because she's different. She's not afraid to speak her mind, laugh loud, ask questions, poke fun and just live her life and be the best mom and wife she can be. Growing up, she was in the pair of her and Auntie Becca...they were the vivacious blondes always hamming it up and being stopped by strangers to say how cute they were. Auntie Blair and Becca were always making up dances, throwing parties and generally having fun. I feel like Auntie Blair is still like that now. =) We talk on the phone the most, which is still not a lot, but I know that I can always call and chat with her and have a grand ol' time. I love her husband, your Uncle Josh, and her three kiddos: yours cousins Brooke, Jaxson and Davis.

Auntie Becca and I, always having fun

Auntie Becca - Due to birth order and life circumstances, Auntie Becca and I are probably the closest, at least now! As I mentioned before, growing up it was she and Blair, and it seemed like when Blair wasn't around, all Becca wanted to do was to be a giant pest and get me in trouble. Even as we grew up and were pre-teens and early teenagers I felt like we just didn't "get" each other. We were on different wavelengths. After a mission trip Auntie Becca went on to Honduras, she came back home and we seemed to instantly click in a way we never had before! We were besties from then on. We've been on trips together and made friends together and tried to keep in good touch while each of us was traveling the world. She's one of the kindest, most thoughtful and generous people I know, and I know a lot of great people!

Just love her!
Love this kid.
Uncle Ryan - Your uncle Ryan is a bit harder to pin down. Due to circumstances of birth order and just life in general, we were not quite as close as I would have wanted. He's seven years younger than I, which doesn't help matters. He lived with his dad a lot while I was living with Yaya when we were young. That made it hard, too. I do remember the day I found out that I was finally getting a brother...I was thrilled! Then the day he was born, I was even MORE thrilled. I loved having a baby brother, even though he was just as annoying and insulting as baby brothers are supposed to be while we did live in the same house growing up. =) He was married for a little bit and gave you a sweet cousin named Lilly, whom we've never gotten the chance to meet except on Skype. Nowadays we aren't very good at keeping in touch, as busy as we are with our own lives in completely different states. But I love that kid; now matter where he goes or what he does, he'll always be my baby brother.

At my wedding

We might have different parents, different parts of the US, and families of our own, but as far as I'm concerned, we are and always will be FAMILY!!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Memory

Describe three significant memories from your childhood.

This is tricky because choosing three snapshots can make you think so many things about the whole portrait of my childhood. I will try to be fair to the overall feel of my childhood without being too maudlin. :)

1. I will start early - I remember sticking "It's A Girl" stickers on See's lollipops with my big sisters Rachel and Blair, to announce the impending birth of my little sister Rebecca. In the midst of a lot of bad and painful memories of that time, this was a really jolly one that showcases the love my sisters and I had for each other (and for candy). 

2. Next one is sort of a cluster of memories from when my mom divorced her second husband and got sober and we were on food stamps and had a car that barely worked. We lived in Seal Beach in a one bedroom apartment and shared a room. I was ten years old. I remember the food stamps and that she had to work while I had to come let myself into our apartment after the after-school care was closed. She tells me we had to get food from a food bank and that sometimes we had to eat that at the end of the month to make ends meet. I don't remember that at all!

I do remember the little yellow Datsun 210 that seemed to never work and needed a milk crate to hold up the front seat. I had to get up early and push start the thing while my mom was in the driver's seat. It eventually got so bad that we had to reverse push-start it or push it to a hill. I still think about these times with great joy...a few songs will forever be embedded in my memory from this time. "Already Gone" by the Eagles, "Hold My Hand" by Hootie and the Blowfish, "Lights" by Journey, and pretty much the whole Crazy Sexy Cool (TLC) and One Hot Minute (RHCP) albums.

3. The last one is I guess the end of my "childhood" per se, even though I was 18 at the time. It was the sick feeling in my stomach I had at the airport as I prepared to fly off to college in Sydney...a city I had never seen and where I knew no one.

I remember being terrified and thinking that perhaps I had made a terrible mistake. After many years of dysfunction, we had finally started to gel as a family (in my mind, at least), and it was right then that I had to leave and make it on my own. My step-dad hugged me tight and told me to ask for help when I needed it. I went up an escalator at LAX to the TSA checkpoint (9/11 had happened in September of my senior year of high school) and watched my family grow smaller and smaller and I sobbed uncontrollably. I looked absolutely terrible and felt about five years old. Just when I thought I had control of my emotions, I handed my ticket to the TSA guy and I hear a loud chorus of "We love you Cassie!!" and I burst into tears all over again and it was all I could do to not drop all of my belongings and just run back and beg to stay home.

But of course college in Australia was one of my favorite times and eventually we must all leave the nest in some capacity! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Thousand Moments

How did you feel the moment you became a parent?

I guess you'd have to define when that moment was...

THIS?
OR THIS?
Finding out I was pregnant was fantastic because I just knew...I.just.knew. And Daddy was nervous and kept telling me to wait to take the test. As if that would change the result somehow? Ha ha, I think he just didn't want me to be disappointed because I seemed so sure. But honestly, I didn't start feeling like a parent right away after becoming pregnant.



So I guess I'll go with the latter photo. Yes, it was taken mere seconds after you were born. I won't get into too many gory details (yikes) but I will say that 26 hours of labor and 5 hours of pushing and a pair of forceps later...you were finally in my arms!!

I was drugged (after all that, no shame in drugs!) and exhausted and a little traumatized, as were you. I was in awe of the fact that you were real. I just kept looking at your poor swollen little red face and thinking, "He looks exactly like my grandpa!"


Ha! Being a newborn is no picnic. 

But because you bore such a strong family resemblance right away, I knew you were mine. You slotted right into the family.




I don't know if words can adequately describe how I felt about you. It took a few hours/days for the shock and drugs to recede (it was quite a difficult birth, my sizable-noggined one!). But I knew I was in love. I knew I didn't want to put you down. I felt like I was living in a dream for those first few days when you slept so nicely. Of course, very soon you were hungry all the time and waking up to the fact that you weren't in the womb anymore and then the real fun began. 

But those first moments are priceless. A thousand tiny moments make up the whole of how I fell in love those first few hours and days. And I just remember being so amazed with how my life could go from
THIS

TO THIS!!!
And all in a matter of a few (ha!) hours of labor.

And also being in awe of how I would do it all again in a heartbeat to get another sweet baby to love.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Love the Most

Today I'm supposed to write about what I think Daddy loves most about me. How do I know what he loves most? He isn't the type to go around saying, "I love this the most" about anything, so I decided I'd better just ask him. It was a good thing.

My guess at the answer before I asked Dad was that he loves that I'm there and that I love him back! HA! Not the strongest answer in the world.

So, when I did ask Dad, to his credit he couldn't pick one thing (of course!! I'm just so lovable!!). He said I'm smart, funny, "hotness" and a few other things. He might have mentioned that I am a good mom, which was quite nice to hear. I might have to wait til you are an adult, God-willing, until you decide to tell me I was a good mom. ;)

I don't think I could pick one thing I love most about your dad either. I could list a bunch of things, but I think that's a future post, so I won't do it here. But, I do hope we gross you out every now and again by loving each other well in your presence. =)

Photo by Sposto Photography

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tiny Dancer

This one can be short and sweet...what is the one thing I wish I were great at? Dancing. More specifically: ballet!!

Ballet SJ dancer Ali Meijer, photo by RJ Muna.

Many little girls dream of being ballerinas, even stocky tomboy girls like me!! I am not too flexible and no one would describe me as lithe...due to my genes, my ballerina dreams were over as soon as they began. Working at Ballet San Jose was fun so that I could flit amongst the crowd of talented ballet dancers, and once in awhile get mistaken for one. ;) 

I dunno if Daddy will ever be convinced to let you take ballet, even though you love to dance, my little one! The great thing to remember is that you don't really have to be "good" at dancing to enjoy yourself...just get out there and shake your booty and have fun!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Greatest Accomplishments

What are your five greatest accomplishments?

Hmmm...this is another one where I feel like there are obvious answers like "my relationship with God" (which is more His accomplishment) or "my family", but I feel like these aren't really "accomplishments", but more gifts of grace. I feel a bit weird calling relationships accomplishments, because it also gives the notion that they are static and finished, when of course they are dynamic and require constant attention.

However, if I take away awesome relationships, could I even come up with five other things I have accomplished? I'm not really sure I could! So let's just see where this goes...

1. Graduating from college - I feel good about this one not because it is super-important to life, but more because I think I am the first one in my family to actually do so, or at least to earn a Bachelor's degree. People in my family have attended college, gotten AA degrees, gotten certification in all kinds of awesome things, but I am either the first or one of a few that stuck it out to have a Bachelor's. So, that's pretty cool. A big part of this was also learning to adapt and live in another country (Australia). Even though they speak English, Australia is a vastly different place than America! So I'm proud of myself for becoming an honorary Aussie, too.

2. Marriage and Motherhood - See, I couldn't even get halfway through this list without mentioning a relationship! Ha. But now that I'm thinking about it, since you DO have to work at it every day, I guess marriage is an accomplishment if you stick with it and constantly work at having a healthy one. Your dad and I have only made it 5.5 years so far, but since there is so much divorce in our family, I guess we have something to be proud of as we continue to try and sacrificially love each other day in and day out. And motherhood is as difficult as it is rewarding; I have to try very hard every day to be patient and unselfish and forgiving, because these do not come naturally to me! So I guess I'm going to go ahead and name these as accomplishments, even though it is all accomplished in God's grace.

3. Becoming Entrepreneurial - This is an accomplishment because I always considered myself extremely unambitious in anything business-related. But my friend Erin pointed out that not only have I marketed and sold things I've made myself (like in an Etsy shop and elsewhere), but also taught private singing lessons and group lessons for children! Without even thinking about it too hard, I guess I do have a little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit after all! It's not my passion, but I can do it when I need the money! =)

4. Learning to Play the Piano - I started teaching myself when I was a teenager and I haven't stopped learning since! I definitely did a lot of learning in college, when I had my dearest Ludmila Beliavskaia as my teacher...she taught me the right way and the classical way. But, when your dad and I were just friends and trying to get a very small ministry on it's feet, I was called upon to be the worship leader. I was terrified and terrible at worship-leading on a piano, but after years and years of practice, I am starting to be more and more comfortable behind the piano and in front of the congregation. I have gotten to the point where I don't always have to be looking at my fingers, which is huge! ha ha.

5. Staying in One Place - My whole life I haven't lived in one house for very long, even if I lived in the same city. I think the years from 7th-12th grade is the longest I've lived in one city, even though we moved houses and I moved schools while we lived there. Anyway, the point is that we've been in San Jose for about five years now and I don't foresee us moving anytime soon. So, this is the longest I've spent in one place as an adult. Not to say I haven't dreamed (and let's face it, still do dream) about other places and parallel lives I could be living somewhere else. But I'm still here! I'm sticking it out with the Dwell community, as your dad's wife and as your mama. This is big for me.

There you have it! I have also written a novel, although no one would ever mistake it for the next Great American Novel... and not a Nobel Prize or cure for cancer on the list. But I'm not even 30 yet, so you never know. ;)

And speaking of accomplishments, I'm halfway through this series of 30 things AND I just celebrated my 20,000th all-time page view of this blog! (It only took me years and years to get there, but hey! Slow and steady, right?)

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Funny Valentine

This is your dad and I when we were newly dating. 8/18/07
Fortuitously, the prompt about how I fell in love or how I knew my spouse was "the one" has fallen on Valentine's Day. Dad and I don't really celebrate because we aren't the "romantical" types with the flowers and the chocolates and whatnot, and yes, we think it is a consumer-driven holiday and all that. However, don't give up on your old parents and think we're just living together in comfort. We definitely still love each other and smack each others' booties and wink at one another and all those crazy things that you will understand more as you get older. =)

The story of your dad asking me out is a great one, but the story of when I knew he was "the one" (even though I don't believe in that concept) is nice and mundane...just like much of our romantic history. 

One day, a few months into our dating, he was really late picking me up from a designated meeting place so that we could go out together. I was sitting in a dark parking lot and starting to get worried. I didn't want to be annoying but was calling and texting him and trying to figure out where he was. It was about twenty minutes or so after the time we said we'd meet and he texted me to say he was just leaving his office...which meant it would be another 20 or so minutes until he arrived!!

When he got there finally he said he had just gotten carried away playing Wii at the office and he didn't have a good excuse and he seemed so low about it and kept apologizing. He seemed very distressed. I asked him if there was something bigger that was bothering him. 

He basically said he was worried that he'd upset me and that he "didn't want to mess things up." I remember being offended at this thought, and nearly shouting, "You can't mess things up, I love you, you dope!" But I stopped myself, because I hadn't even realized that this was how I felt, so I certainly wasn't ready to tell him quite yet!!

I finally got up the courage after acting very ridiculous one night to tell your dad that I was in love with him. We both already knew it and he said he loved me back. When he left my house that night, I cried and cried with joy because I knew I had truly found the man I was going to marry and spend my life with and start a family with and the whole thing. 

A few months later, we got married. 



And look, here we are! A few years later we've got you, and we're thinking about adding a sibling to the brood and we're just livin' the dream. A blessed life!! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Strength and Weakness

Describe 5 strengths and weaknesses you have.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to describe 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses or just a mix of 5...the first sounds pretty exhausting so I will go with the latter.

Now, to get a real objective opinion about this, you could ask your dad or Auntie Sam or Yaya or someone. This is just my opinion! 

1. STRENGTH - Faith
I truly believe that God has gifted me with strong faith. I might sin, and whine and rage and complain, but I never actually stop strongly believing that God will have the last say in everything and that everything He says is good.

2. WEAKNESS - Pride
This one just creeps in there where I least want it or expect it sometimes. But a lot of time it is blatant. This is sometimes hard to see as a weakness because in our culture some pride is still okay and we call it competence or confidence or any other of a list of virtues where it can hide. The opposite of pride is humility, which is rare to see done well but you can find it around Dwell if you look!

3. WEAKNESS - Impatience
This is the one you'll notice this most in your mama because you will probably bear the brunt of it. I'm sorry to say that my patience with you, my baby, where it should be strongest is probably weakest. I will be constantly apologizing for snapping at you to hurry up or that you're not doing something quite right. It's something that I am asking God to change in me and you get to be someone who holds me accountable!

4. WEAKNESS/STRENGTH - Assuming the Best in People
Sometimes this is grace and other times it is just blindness or naïveté. When I asked your dad to name a weakness I had, he said this one and I asked if it was a weakness or strength and I'm sure we could have argued at length for either side. This is just one of those things that I inherited from your Papa John, for better or for worse.

5. STRENGTH - Sense of Humor
This one comes from both parents and I'm so thankful for it. Laughing at situations is a huge blessing because while there are certain aspects of life to take truly seriously (such as justice, sin and salvation), most everything else falls into the "we can laugh about this at some point" category, which helps me a little bit with my pride sometimes and simply serves to make life more fun!!


I'm sure we could find many more weaknesses and I hope at least a few more strengths, but I'll stop there for today. ;) 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Grow Up!

What's the hardest part of growing up?

Oh my son, so many hard parts about growing up. I could talk about the bills, the responsibilities, TAXES, my gosh, the taxes. 

But honestly the hardest part of growing up was realizing that I would never have quite exactly the same relationship with my family as I did when we were all living together in the same house and I was dependent on my parents for survival. 

Your Yaya and I say (semi-jokingly) that we grew up together and we had a very close relationship through the years, even when I was a teenager and I knew everything. *wink* I was just starting to feel like our family finally was gelling and getting along when it was time for me to leave. 

I went happily/sadly away to college, but I soon realized that things would never be the same. Right around that time, I would hear a song called "Mama's Hands" on a compilation of bluegrass songs I had and just sob and sob. 

One of the verses says, 

                                 As I looked back down that dusty road

To mama and her heavy load
I knew what I was leavin’ – I’d never find again
And it was hard to let go of mama’s hand
My mama’s hand

It was hard to let go of my Mama's hand, and the thought that someday you will have to let go of my hand is a little too much for your mama to think about right now!! (*sob sob*)

Mama n me

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Day in the Life

Describe a typical day in your current life.

Since going back to work, this prompt will be much easier. Working mom mode is a lot more about rhythm and schedule than stay-at-home mom mode was. There are parts I like and dislike about both. I would never say one is better, but they are certainly different.

I was recently encouraged to try waking a little earlier by some mom friends...to have some quiet time and not be dragged out of bed by a hungry toddler or the alarm after the fifth snooze button. So these days my day begins at 7am. You, my baby, were one of those 6am waker-uppers when you were a bit smaller, but thankfully no more!! I get up and try and read some Scripture, some news and make coffee before you and Dad get up.

Then we all get ready and head to work. I drop you off at Beth's house and no matter how sad you act or how much you say you want to stay home, when you see your friends at Beth's you take off running and never once look back to say goodbye. Which makes me smile because I'm SO thankful I can leave you in such amazing hands in the day.


Batman, Optimus Prime and Sir Calvin - Photo: Beth Thompson
Off Dad and I go to work and I do my job from 9-2, Monday through Thursday, then I swing around to pick you up! You're usually pretty happy to see me even though you express it with naughtiness sometimes.

We go straight home and climb in mama's bed to have our nap together. I wake you up after an hour or so and get you a snack. The time in between when you wake up from nap and when we start dinner is the only time I really get to be creative with you now that I'm back at work. At the moment you love to "play a game", "watch a show" or "paint", before we start dinner.

Ideally you help me with dinner, but some nights I plop you in front of Curious George. Sometimes you eat the dinner we make and sometimes you declare "all done!" before we've even sat down.

After dinner is a short play time before bath. You spend a nice amount of time playing in the bath so mama and daddy get a bit of a break if we are the one in charge of bath time. Then we wrestle you into pajamas and get you to your room for stories. Depending on how the evening has gone, you get 1-3 books read to you. You're liking longer and longer books these days which is kinda fun and kinda taxing at the end of a long day. :)

Bed time is somewhere between 8 and 8:30. You're a toddler so sometimes you go down quietly, but much of the time you need milk or you want to go to mama's room or something scared you. I'm super happy if you're actually asleep by nine! 

Then Daddy and I get to kick back a bit...the perfect evening at home would be some popcorn, some wine, and some Breaking Bad before reading ourselves to sleep around 11pm.

It's a charmed life and I'm glad it's mine!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Books that Have My Heart

Today's prompt was supposed to be me listing 10 pet peeves I have. However, it seemed excessively negative...I don't need any encouragement in enumerating things that annoy me. And since you live with me, my guess is that you will have a great grasp of that list and don't need help with that one.

So I decided to tweak it. There are a list of books I have that whenever I think about them I just get happy or see them in the book store and have this near-uncontrollable impulse to buy, even though I already own a copy. I thought this list might be more edifying!

I was excited to receive books as gifts even as a little one!
As with any of my "top whatever" lists, it's coming off the top of my head and not through any extensive research. I'm sure I could list more, but these are the ones that spring immediately to mind. I could talk for hours and hours about authors and books and genres and titles and on and on and on. These books are not the most worthy in the world, they're just the ones I have a special attachment to. 

1. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster - (I almost recalled the author's name as Burton Guster, but he's from the show Psych. lol) This strange and wonderful adventure starts out with a bored little boy. I couldn't believe how inventive and even sort of dark this book was when I was a kid!! You'll always find it around our house.

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - I just thought this was a masterpiece. Daddy tried to read it when we were dating to impress me. Let's just say we've been married over five years and he's still not finished reading it! Ha ha.

3. The Brothers K by David James Duncan - This is a family saga that I have read multiple times. I think about scenes from it often. Can't say exactly what I love or what made it have such staying power in my mind. Maybe one day you can read it and tell me what you think?

4. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - This is another sweeping historical saga (I'm fond of these). I've read it at least five times, along with its sequel-of-sorts, World Without End.

5. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - For a time I was obsessed with Asian writers and stories set in either China or Japan. This was my favorite book for a very long time! Wild Swans is another one that has stuck with me; that one is an actual memoir which makes it all the more memorable and left quite an impression.

6. George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl - I read this very short book in school and was so taken with how wicked it was. The author finally acknowledged how horrible some parents can be, as well as children, and I think I found that refreshing as a child. Many other of Roald Dahl's books could have made this list, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and The BFG.

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Perhaps I should be embarrassed to have this on here, but I'm not. Maybe these books and movies won't be a big deal when you're older, but I'll probably introduce you to them anyway! Bet you can't read just one.

8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - There is something about magical realism that resonates with me. Your Yaya sent me this book while I was in college in Australia and I devoured it. Love in the Time of Cholera is also amazing.

9. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - I stole this from Hayley Byrd at summer camp when her mom was trying to get her to read more and suggesting books to her. I read it in a matter of days, could NOT put it down!! Then I had my first real encounter with "the book is SO much better than the movie" syndrome. In this case, it couldn't be more true!

10. The Bible - Though my faithfulness to its contents will wax and wane, it never becomes old or irrelevant. Charles Spurgeon said, "Nobody ever outgrows scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years." I have found this to be true.

There you go, a little (tiny) glimpse into my literary life. I pray you will be a reader like your Mama and Daddy, then you can keep me up-to-date on all the stuff I missed!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

How Embarrassing

Sometimes you wear Teddy Ruxpin overalls & someone takes a photo.

The prompt for today was about my most embarrassing moment.

Honestly, I don't look back on my short life and see one glaring embarrassing moment. I see years and years of embarrassment that we might as well just call my teen years. From age 12-17, I think I was at least vaguely embarrassed all the time. I had a pretty long awkward phase that sometimes I'm still not sure I've come out of, and I'm nearly 30.

I have had terrible haircuts, three years of braces, and really bad skin since I was about 10 years old (which, I have to say, seems a bit unfair!).
Sometimes it's the 90s and there's a lot of light denim.

I've fallen in front of the whole school, said things out loud (not to mention loudly!) that I never meant to say, and had my skirt blown up by a rogue wind. I had a step-dad who tried to turn embarrassing his teenage daughters into an Olympic sport. 

I've spent a bunch of time onstage so inevitably I've dealt with my voice cracking, hitting loud wrong notes, speaking into microphones I didn't know we're on, tripping and falling.

And don't even get me started on pregnancy...you haven't known embarrassment until you've visibly lactated in front of an unsuspecting male friend.


Sometimes a small human invades your abdomen.




All this to say that most embarrassment comes from taking yourself a little too seriously. Our pride is pricked and we feel shame. I think the trick of life is to think of yourself less and others more, and learn to laugh at the small things. Laughing at yourself in a healthy way is an invaluable life skill that I hope you can learn early. But I can't save you from your teen years...we've all got to go through that to get to the other side, kid. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Influence

List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

in·flu·ence
ˈinflo͝oəns/
noun
  1. 1.
    the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.

WOW. This one is a doozy. I've lived a bunch of places and met a lot of great people, and I feel as if I've been shaped by them all into the person I am today. It's a bit unfair to do this to a person with such a large and amazing family, but let's see if I can attempt a list... The first three are easy.

1. My mama (your Yaya)
Mothers influence their children, yes. So this is a very obvious one. My mama is truly one of the best people I know. She taught me how to trust my gut, how to be kind and aware, how to appreciate beauty in all kinds of surprising places. She taught me how to care for myself (in every possible way!) and how to love people even if they've hurt you. I'm so glad you get to know your Yaya.

2. My dad (your Papa John)
A girl needs her dad. And my dad did the very best in all his circumstances to be with me, to spend time with me, to support me (financially and in other ways). In this, he taught me what it means to honor your responsibilities and also to just love your child. I think I got a lot of my sense of humor from my dad, which has been a very valuable asset in this life!

3. My step-dad (your Grandpa Kev)
This guy got to be my live-in dad throughout my teenage years and has influenced me in ways too numerous to count!! He's another one who taught me responsibility to your family. He taught me how to do real life, like opening a bank account and getting a job. He also lent me much of his sense of humor, as well as libertarian leanings. One of the most important things he ever said to me was right before I flew off to college: "Don't be afraid to ask for help." It helped me find my way in a new country and continues to be something so important to life in general. He's an amazing dude.

Here's where the list starts getting tricky...I have three sisters and a brother, amazing aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, cousins and what-have-you. It's pretty hard to start naming some and not others (especially without offending someone! Ha.) when it comes to who has been an influence on me. So hopefully I'll still have friends when this is over. =) These are in no particular order of importance. 

4. Hayley Byrd - Hayley and I have been friends since we were 13. That's gotta count for something in this crazy world. She was a huge influence on me in junior high and high school, because I thought she was one of the coolest chicks ever, and I am so grateful that we have just remained friends through it all. I think I can attribute some of my outspokenness to Hayley; she helped me know it was okay to have an opinion (yes, world, you can partially blame Hayley). I think it's important to still be friends with someone who knew you when you were at your most awkward and terrible. It's humbling. The fact that we still like each other is very encouraging to me as a human.


5. Samantha Freestone - So many ways Sam has influence me - and all of them good. She taught me that true friends practice fairly extreme honesty, especially when those friends are also schoolmates, roommates, and sisters in Christ. She constantly encourages me to love God deeper, to dare to be different, and to follow God's plan for my life. And she does this all from 10,000 miles away. What I wouldn't give to bring Sydney to California...but I'm so grateful for the technology -and love - that keeps us connected.

6. Chris Tenny - This is another obvious one. I'm trying to think of all the ways your dad has influenced me. I mean, he entered my life and was the first man I ever really loved. I fell in love with his humble leadership and obvious desire to follow the Lord faithfully. He made me a wife, a pastor's wife, a church planter, and helped me become a mom. In other words, he has helped me become all the things I think I was created to be. He influences the direction of our family. I learn how to be a faithful servant from your dad every single day!

7. Calvin Tenny - I couldn't skip you, my little one! You might not be that great at talking yet, but you have influenced my life possibly in the greatest way of all, seeing as the shift to being a parent seemed one of the most seismic in my life so far. Your influence affects my sleep, my mood, my way of looking at the whole world. I have to evaluate pretty much everything now with you in mind! You are teaching me how to truly love sacrificially.

8. Becca Anderson (and all my siblings) - My baby sister has been a very close friend to me. By virtue of the way we grew up, we were thrown into a lot of the same situations and had to deal with them in our own ways, but we did it mostly together. When we were growing up quite small, she and I were like oil and water, but as time went by and Christ had an influence on both our lives, we became closer. She has also shown me a true servant heart and what it looks like to care for the ones you love. She also has this amazing work ethic that I truly admire. I love my sister Rachel because I feel like we are the most alike: introverts who love reading and fiercely love our families and children. Blair is the spitfire and I love to be around her. We probably talk on the phone most often because she's great at chatting even when I am not. My baby brother is responsible for the first maternal-type feelings I ever recall having. I can still remember finding out we were finally getting a brother and the crazy excitement of the day he was born. I've learned so much from watching him live his life since then.
He'll probably kill me for this photo - jazz hands!

9. Jason Helveston - Jason is different; he isn't influential because of a super-close relationship that we've had for years, as with the other people in this list, but I can say he has been a huge influence on the life I'm living right now. I am in California because of his wild idea to plant a church in downtown San Jose. The past five or so years have been directly influenced by his vision for this city, for Dwell Christian Church, and for ministry. He's a wonderful pastor to his church, and husband and father to his family. I love that he married Laura because she's an amazing pastor's wife and friend and model of loving motherhood. I'm so glad you get to grow up with their kiddos!

10. Jesus - You knew it was coming! Yes, my son, I believe Jesus was a real, historical person who walked this Earth. I hope my life is a testimony to how someone who lived over 2000 years ago can be the most influential person I've ever encountered. I hope His influence is the one you can sense most strongly in my life, and I pray He becomes the most influential person in yours!!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Oh the Places You'll Go!!

The prompt for today was supposed to be about 5 passions I have. However, I feel like I've really addressed those in previous posts about my three wishes, my dream job, and others. I don't want to start sounding like a broken record.

So instead, I thought I would tell you about some of the places I've lived...there have been a lot!

I was born in Watsonville, California, which is an agricultural area on the central coast of California, not too far from where we live now. It is the Strawberry Capital of the World, and there have always been jokes about that having to do with my hair color. =)

For a little while, we lived in Santa Cruz while my mom and dad were married. They and their parents were all born around there. Then, my mom moved down south, and I have lived all over Southern California; from the high desert of Antelope Valley, east to Chino, with my dad for awhile in West Covina, Azusa, Glendora; down to Lakewood, Seal Beach, and Long Beach for my school years with my mom and step-dads.

So, I'd consider myself quite the citizen of Southern California.





















In the middle of that time somewhere, I had a time that I spent in the mountains of Colorado with my Auntie Leslie and Uncle Chuck.



Long Beach was a really great place to grow up, and I still have great fondness for it, and for friends who still live there. It was close to the beach with amazing weather, and relatively safe, at least where we lived. I am still proud to say I grew in Long Beach if anyone ever asks.

Familiar Long Beach faces
Upon graduating from Millikan High School in Long Beach, I set off to Sydney, Australia for college. I went to school in Drummoyne, a suburb of Sydney, and lived in the suburbs of Leichhardt (Little Italy), Canada Bay, and also Drummoyne. Somehow, with a little help, I managed to live in one of the more expensive and beautiful cities in the world as a college student...and I didn't starve! I love and miss Australia, but as I graduated and tried to figure out how to stay in the country, it became apparent that short of marrying a citizen or remaining illegally, it was time to move on.

Don't cry for me, Australia...
I traveled back to the US to live with my dad (your Papa John). He lived in Lakewood, CO, which is a suburb of Denver. I lived with Papa John until the day I married your daddy. What a gorgeous place to live!

In Summer or winter!
Then the both of us moved out to San Jose to plant a church, and we have been here ever since. It's where you were born (well, technically in the hospital in Santa Clara), and it's where you will most likely grow up and go to school. Sometimes I am ungrateful and whine about how expensive it is to live here, but I know that God has brought us here and that He will sustain us.