Priestman Home Stage

After a great – barring one minor ER trip – (who am I kidding? THAT was great, too) 4-day family stay-cation, Matt and I got another treat tonight… THE PRIESTMAN HOME STAGE. It was the perfect way to end a couple of snow days.

Matt set up the photo booth backdrop and the kids used it as a stage curtain. They took turns performing, and each introduced the following act for their sibling. Having been to a few High School plays themselves, they knew enough to turn off lights before removing stage props, such as stools. Super cute overload mixed with some serious hilarity and multiple knowing glances at the hubs. I love it when we can make eye-contact over the littles and just know.

Tonight’s performances particularly highlighted the kids’ different personalities…

HER Performances (all while holding a mic, of course):
1. Dramatic Reading of A Hippopotamus Ate the Teacher
2. Dramatic Reenactment/Singing of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” (from Frozen)
3. Dramatic (and beautiful) ballet performance
4. Dramatic Lip Sync/Singing of “Let it Go” (Also from Frozen)
5. Dramatic Leap Pad Demo of a Measuring/Cooking Game (Dramatic? Really?? Yes. It’s all in the facial expressions and vocal inflections.)
6. Passionate Singing performance of “Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe*
(It was at this point that I BAWLED LIKE A BABY. Because there is nothing – nothing – that gets me more than my kids singing full-on TRUTH. IT IS MY FAVORITE IN ALL THE WORLD. I just sit there, weeping and stifling loud sobs, begging God that this will be buried deep in her heart forever, and thanking Him that she is so passionate about it right now. And of all her Dramatic-with-a-capital-D performances, this is the ONE that was NOT acting. I would’ve videoed it for you all, but I couldn’t FOR ALL OF THE TEARS.)

HIS Performances:
1. And I quote, “Rockin’ out” to “We Built This City” by Starship circa 1980s (Due to a little stage fright, this performance only continued when he could get his sister to share the stage with him. She – of course – was happy to oblige.)
2. Roaring (i.e. Like a lion. With a James P. Sullivan mask on)
3. Growling (i.e. Also like a lion. with a James P. Sullivan mask on)
4. Leap Pad Demo #1 (With sister sitting next to him on stage)
5. Leap Pad Demo #2
6. Guitar Solo (That lasted 15 seconds, because while he loves to talk, he does in fact get embarrassed while being the center of attention. Love him and his sensitivity.)
7. Bonus Performance after the show ended and he was no longer on “stage”: Dramatic Falling (He is all boy, after all.)

My heart is full. I love these people. Times one billion.
And now I am weepy again. Geeze louise.

*These lyrics. Sung Belted out with passion by my 6-year-old. May she remember this truth all her life.

Steady My Heart
Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy?
Why is pain a part of us?
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You’re here
You’re real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart (x2)

I’m not gonna worry
I know that You’ve got me
Right inside the palm of your hand
Each and every moment
What’s good and what gets broken
Happens just the way You plan

You are here
You’re real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart (x2)

And I will run to You
And find refuge in Your arms
And I will sing to You
‘Cause of everything You are

You steady my heart (x2)

Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart (x2)

I’m not gonna worry
I know that You’ve got me
Right inside the palm of Your hand

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The Apple Has Been Compromised.

We’ve heard all the excuses in the book.

I’m too full.

I don’t like that.

It touched the dressing.

It smells funny.

It looks funny.

It tastes funny.

It’s green.

It’s orange.

It’s brown.

It’s too crunchy.

It’s too mushy.

I only like it when it’s by itself, not in something.

But this time, it was apples. And apples are his favorite. So when I asked the 3-year-old-boy-covered-in-marker to finish the apples off his dinner plate, food nearly shot out our nose when he shook his head no, held up his marker-covered-apple, and said, “The apple has been compromised.”

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That’s a new one for the books.

An enigma wrapped in a mystery

They grow up too fast.

Big conversations with her after she’s been staring out the car window and suddenly asks you a question you didn’t see coming a mile away.
Almost adult-like comments when she reads your hesitant body language and responds calmly and confidently, “Don’t worry, Mommy…”
Absolute laughter (and maybe even a high-five) when – just as we pull out of the driveway – her brother points out that Daddy isn’t buckled, Daddy (having already been “corrected” by the same child about his driving direction) says, “Thanks. It’s just a short drive. We’re almost there already,” and she replies with no hint of disrespect at all, “Oh! So can I unbuckle then, too?” And Daddy (putting on his seat belt exactly one block from destination) chuckles at being unintentionally outwitted by the wise girl.

Where did the time go?

Heart-melting conversations with him as he tells me he doesn’t want to grow up. That he doesn’t even want one more birthday. Not even the one that is coming up that he has been working so hard at planning his theme: Trains. Cars (again). Mickey Mouse. Green. Thomas the Train. No matter what theme he settles on, he’s done – D.O.N.E. – with birthdays, because he’s afraid he won’t be able to sit on my lap anymore. What is that? How is a mother supposed to hold in her tears with that kind of thing happening?

And when I tell him that he can always sit on my lap, no matter how big he gets, he laughs and says, “No I can’t. I’ll squish you!” And then I tell him that ok, then I’ll sit on his lap, and he can hold me. And then he laughs again and says, “No you can’t! YOU will squish ME! You’re TOO BIG!” And suddenly all flattery is out the window with my tears.

But then today, he asks me if the cashews he is eating – a favorite snack of his – are healthy. I tell him that yes, they are full of protein, and that will help him grow big and strong. And so he stops eating them. He puts down his favorite snack of cashews and walks away, mumbling on the way out, “I don’t want to grow big and strong. I want to sit on your lap still.”

Ugh.

I’ve determined that half of parenting is being patient, and the other half is wishing this growing up thing would just slow-the-heck-down!

I’ve determined that parenting is an enigma.

And this…
Jacob asks how old we are when we die. I tell him we don’t know, that people die at different ages. He is deep in thought for a moment then says, “You know what’s funny? FIRST you die. THEN you go to Heaven, where there is NO deadness at all!” I smile at his comment. He continues, “I’m serious Mom! For reals! You hafta DIE first, then you go where there’s NO DEADNESS at all. NO DEADNESS in Heaven. Just ALIVENESS! Really! There’s ONLY ALIVENESS!”

I’ve determined that half of living is wishing we could live moments longer, live slower, and the other half is yearning for our Heavenly home to come more quickly.

I’ve determined that life is an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

And yet, it is perfectly clear…
No deadness. Only aliveness. We were made for this.

Fall Changes

Last night, as we drove down a windy road lined with colorful trees, I said to the kids, “Look, guys! Look at all the beautiful fall colors!”

Jacob started in with one of his long one-sided conversations. The kind where he asks lots of questions but answers them himself. The kind where he pauses often, but you can tell it’s only because he’s working so hard at figuring something out. Here is the monologue he gave…

Yeah! I see them. And you know why it’s called fall, Mama? (Pause) Because da leaves change colors and den fall from da tree!

And you know why they fall, Mama? (Pause) Because it’s called fall!

And do you know why it’s called fall, Mama? (Pause) Because da leaves change and fall.

And do you know why they do? Because it’s called fall.

(Long pause)

I guess… I guess when things change, they dist fall.

(Long pause)

Da road doesn’t change, and it doesn’t fall.

(Long pause.)

A bush and grass doesn’t change, and dey don’t fall.

(Really long pause, then he perks up and says excitedly…)

I fall when I change my undies!

(Pause, then he wraps up his monologue with this concluding statement…)

Yep, only things dat change fall.

 

And there you have it. The answer to the question “Why the Leaves Fall.” Wisdom from my three-year-old.

And be careful next time you change your undies.

I love you more than that

MY GIRL:
Annalise has had a prayer for as long as I can remember her talking… She has prayed for her cousins to live by her. Sometimes it makes her so sad that she cries. “Mommy, I just don’t understand. Why do some kids have their cousins live in the very same town, and my cousins live in another state and on the other side of the world?!? I might never even get to go to their house ever!”

It breaks my heart when her little heart is broken.

We’ve had discussions about it. God sent her Uncle John and Auntie Ko-Ko and her same-age cousin Ellia that she loves just so much, and Jacob’s same-age cousin Alyssa, all the way to Indonesia for a purpose. He has them there to do the job He wants them to do. So we pray for the job they’re doing there, reaching unreached people, building churches in jungles where people have never heard of a savior, being the hands and feet of Jesus in a land we’ve never seen.

And right now, God has her Uncle Ryan and Auntie Ky-Ky and cousins Riley and Mason in Nevada. And she loves them so much, too. So we talk about that God has a plan for them, and right now the plan is to be where they are. And that even though we miss them, too, we’ve been blessed to get to visit their house every once-in-a-while.

And we talk about how blessed we really are, that even though her cousins are so far away, we’ve been able to see them lots. And sometimes we get to Skype with them when they’re home. But right now, they’re here! And they even get to come to Annalise’s 6th birthday party, the first one since she turned one!

Just the same, Annalise still prays that she’ll get to have her cousins live here, just like other kids. And I don’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t think that’s going to happen, to just give up on that big request of hers, because God has Ellia in Indonesia. That is where they live now.

The truth is, some days it breaks my heart, too. Because while I didn’t always grow up with my cousins in the same town, we were just on the other side of the Cascades, and we got to see them often. They were a big part of my life, and one day, my prayer was answered to live by my cousins. We lived in the same town and went to school together for the last 5 years.  I even lived in their house for a while during college. God answered my prayer in a bigger way than I could imagine. I loved the blessing of them in my life, and I have longed for Annalise and Ellia to have a similar experience.

Well, it just so happens that one of the cousins that I prayed to live by and graduated from high school with and lived with in college, moved last year from Eastern Washington back to Whatcom County.

And it just so happens that a week ago, he became the head pastor at the church he grew up in right here in Ferndale.

And it just so happens that his middle child is Jilly, another same-age-girl-cousin that Annalise loves.

And it just so happens that when that cousin of mine got his new job as a pastor, they moved into the church parsonage in Ferndale. Which meant Jilly and her big brother Josiah got moved to a new school this week, which just-so-happens to be the same school I teach at, and more importantly, the same school Annalise attends.

Annalise was already bursting with excitement when she found out Jilly would be at her same school. And then, the unimaginable happened. Josiah was put in my class, and Jilly was placed in the same kindergarten class as Annalise.

Leading up to Jilly’s first day, it suddenly hit Annalise exactly what was happening, that this was not an “it-just-so-happens” event. “Mommy! Do you know that God is answering my prayer? I prayed for a cousin to live here. I really meant Ellia, but God answered my prayer in just a different way. And I never even thought about having a cousin in my school or especially in my class. God answered my prayer, but even better than I thought, because I get to have a cousin with me every day!”

And then, Annalise became sad again. Because, “What about Ellia, Mommy?” Ellia has the same prayer. She loves her cousins just so much. She wants to live in America, to be by her cousins, too.

God has not forgotten Ellia. Several weeks ago, He answered her prayer, too, also in a different way. First, He brought her here for 5 whole months, enough time to make lots of American memories, from the Northwest Washington Fair, to cousin’s birthday parties, to starting kindergarten, and she’ll even be here for Thanksgiving. But there’s more. While she has been living here, God called her aunt and uncle and a same-age-cousin for both her and her sister to Indonesia, to the same church she is a part of, in the very same city. She will likely attend school with her other same-age cousin.

God couldn’t move Ellia here to Annalise. But He gave Annalise and Ellia different same-aged cousins to not just live close by, but to be in their same school and same class. At the same time He did this, God brought two churches a new pastor, one in Ferndale, one in Indonesia. (And by the way, that church in Ferndale was in need of a pastor because the former pastor  had moved with his family to a place God had put on their heart… Indonesia.)

Answered prayer… Two little girls pray for a cousin. Two churches pray for pastors. Two families pray for guidance on where the Lord wants them. 

Strengthened faith… An impossible prayer answered. All those prayers answered, all at once.

God’s word lived out…  He who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine… I could have never imagined.

Here is what I’ve been reminded of:
1. Ellia and Annalise, your prayers have been answered, and God has big plans for you.
2. Pastor Elis and Pastor Andy and your families, your prayers have been answered and you have followed the Lord’s leading, and God has big plans for you.
3. Whatcom New Life Assembly, you have been given a new pastor, one you poured into as a child, and God has big plans for you all.
4. Indonesia, you are a land being blessed by two more wonderful families, and God has big plans for you, too.
5. God has not forgotten this land, or these families, or even the hearts of two almost-6-year-old girls. And God has not forgotten you or me, either. He knows the desires of our our hearts, and He knows our greatest needs. He has big plans for us, too.

MY BOY:
Jacob has this little saying that melts my heart. Whenever I say “I love you,” he responds with, “I love you more than that.”

“Jacob, I love you more than the moon and stars.”
“Mommy, I love you more than that.”

“Buddy, do you know I love you more than all the waves in the ocean? And farther than from here to Indonesia and all the way back?”
“Yep. And I love you more than that.”

“Hey kiddo! Come here. I love you so much!”
“I love you too, Mama. I love you more than that.”

I love that boy so much more than I can describe. But even if I could, he’d just say with his joy-inducing, heart-melting, God-awing smile, “I love you more than that.”

MY GOD:
He still answers prayer. Even prayers of little girls.
He still amazes with his creativity. Two girls, impossible prayers, answered in ways I never imagined. One boy, with a big smile, and even bigger words that melt every time.
He still can do and does immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

And when His plans are carried out, and are far beyond what we could imagine, it’s almost like He is saying, right to the heart of my almost 6-year-old girl,  “I love you so much Annalise. But I have different plans. I need your cousin where she is.  I’m not going to give you just exactly what you ask for. I’m going to give you more. Because I love you all more than that.

Remember His promises. Pray big prayers for His purpose and glory. But keep in mind, His plans might be a bit different, because He loves you more than that!

“14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” ~ Ephesians 3:14-21