Life marches on so quickly, sometimes I wish I could stop the hands of time and just freeze-frame it for a moment, so that I could soak it in before it's gone. The older I get, or more specifically the older Ava gets, the more I long for that. Not because I want to cling to the past or because I'm terrified of the future, but because I just don't want to let the beauty of today slip by in the hustle and bustle of life. So, because I write this blog, primarily for my own reflection, I want to take a snapshot today of this particular season. I want to just sit and reflect a little bit on where we are and what God is doing for each one of us...You know, all 4 of us!
So, in the spirit of the most dramatic sound effect you can imgaine...."CLICK"....
In this last weekend of May, Travis and I find ourselves in a great place. We are enjoying the last little bit of relative calm before the summer schedule is officially in full swing. For a youth Pastor, this means camps, retreats, day trips and late nights. Kids are available more now and so are we. It's full, it's busy, but we love it. Travis especially. He can't wait for summer to start. I can see it in his demeanor and I hear it in his conversation. He is such a relational guy and He thrives on quality time, so I know he sees this summer season as a critical time in his ministry. He's got his annual boys wilderness trip in a few weeks, then VBS at our Church, then he's leading a mission's trip to a Native American tribe in South Dakota, then we'll be in full swing for junior high summer camp. Add the regular grind of Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights in there, plus some extra trips and events here and there and that pretty much sums up our summer...BUSY!!
Fortunately, because his schedule is so non-traditional and especially during the summer, I know that means we'll get lots of fun time together too. Time when we get to serve together, but also time when we get to just do our own family stuff. I can't bank on a normal 9-5 work week with him, but I do love that on a random Tuesday or something, he's home with us and we can head to the pool or the park. We will be busy with lots of home projects too, trying to get our place ready for another addition. In August, we will celebrate 7 years together and we can't believe how quickly time has gone! In 7 years the Lord has grown us and stretched us and blessed us beyond what we could have imagined. I have been given a wonderful husband who is as full of life and energy as the day I married him! I have watched him grow into the leader he is today and I get to watch him be used by the Lord on a regular basis, doing exactly what God created him to do. I'm unbelievably proud of him and I respect him deeply. He is the man I always wanted to marry and then some!
My heart still skips a beat when he walks in the door at night and nothing has been sweeter to watch than to see him step right into the role of Daddy. Although we will be thrilled no matter what sex this next baby is, I can say with certainty that Travis is a great Daddy to our daughter. He delights in her and she is over the moon about him. Ava's favorite word is "daddy" right now and she follows him around everywhere. He can get giggles out of her that are crazy, funny and he's always on the floor inventing some new game for the two of them to do together. He's so good about taking her places with him and letting me catch my breath. With every new stage of her development, he is more taken with her and we find ourselves just laughing at night about how cute and fun she is! We can't imagine life without our Ava.
And speaking of her, she is a mess!! Literally!! Full of energy, constantly on the go and always looking for something to do or get into. She keeps us on our toes from the minute she's awake until the minute she goes to bed, but we couldn't imagine it any other way!
I mean seriously, have you ever seen a better spaghetti beard???
I couldn't have painted that on any better!!
It is so fun to see her little personality really begin to come out. She's a lot like me in that she's determined and stubborn, but she's also a lot like her Daddy in that she's wild and adventurous!! We're in the thick of her first bout with separation anxiety when we're at Church, which makes the nursery on Sunday mornings a struggle every week. She does great with a few people she doesn't know, but big crowds and lots of people in her face are not her favorite things. She wants to be held a lot, which I'm usually happy to do :) I know it's a stage and I know she'll outgrow it quickly enough and then she'll be back to her normal wiggly self! She does seem to love the junior highers however. Wednesday nights are fun for her and we try to go as often as possible.
She's walking everywhere and often running! She is testing us like crazy with boundaries and trying to understand what's ok and what's not. We are having to think about the beginning stages of discipline, mostly involving repetitive reminders or removing her from a situation and distracting her with something else. She can pick up on our different faces and the tone of our voices now. When she knows she's got something she's not supposed to, she usually looks at me to see if I notice and then if I do indeed notice, she turns and runs from me, all the while squealing and laughing!! Most of our attempts to keep a straight face go out the window, but occasionally something warrants a serious "No" and we're trying to be as consistent as we can about that! Dobson's "Dare to Discipline" has a permanent place on my night stand right now, it's only going to get more important from here on out!
Ava's still pretty little, but she's an unbelievable eater! A total chow hound! We've transitioned to the sippy cup now, except when it comes to milk. She's not a fan of milk in a cup yet. She definitely still wants it in a bottle, so we're slowly working on that. She's talking constantly, mostly saying "uh oh" "daddy" "dadda" "yeah" and occasionally "momma." She babbles all day long and often very loudly! She like to walk in big circles around the house, practically yelling about something! Her babbling means something, but we haven't quite figured it out yet. She still loves her baby doll and carries her everywhere. She loves to play with her toys and it thrills her when we play with her, but her favorite thing in all the world right now, is to go outside. She just goes crazy! Daddy takes her out every time he takes Ryley out and of course we take walks and trips to the park too. She loves our screened-in balcony and so do we, it's been nice to be able to let her play out there without having to worry. Although the other day I caught her with her leg in a pot of dirt up to her shin! I've got to get some plants in there soon :) She's at such a fun age, we truly love all that we can do with her and she has a personality that's always up for an adventure or a trip somewhere. We're exhausted at the end of the night, but our hearts are full!
Baby #2, is also in rapid stages of development. I will be 20 weeks on Friday, so he/she is currently the size of a cantaloupe...which explains a lot!! The back aches, the slower pace, the bigger stomach :)
He/she's gender is already determined and those important parts are now fully formed! We get to have our ultrasound next Friday, on June 4th, so we will hopefully be able to know if Ava is having a sister or brother to play with soon! I feel the baby move a lot more now, lots of fluttering but no kicks yet. It's fun to be in this stage though, when they are changing and growing like crazy. This baby is still such a gift of God's grace to us, it's amazing to think how quickly this pregnancy is going! We are in discussion about names and have a few that we both love, boy and girl. It's so fun to start thinking about another baby around here. We are both getting very excited. I had a friend who's first baby was born just last week, and as I read all the tweets and facebook updates, I could not stop thinking about how excited I was to do this whole baby thing again! I love the hospital and the whole process of giving birth. It was so amazing to me and such a good experience, so I'm hoping for more of the same with this one. I catch myself saying things like "the kids" or "our babies" and I can hardly believe we're about to be a family of 4!! Being a Mom the first time is such an adjustment and so exciting, but having 2 kids seems totally outrageous to me! Like, am I old enough to have them??? Don't answer that :)
And speaking of old, it's now been an entire month since I turned the big 3-0! And actually, it's been just fine :) This particular season really feels like I'm in the prime of my life. I've got an incredible husband, a darling 1 year old and another little blessing on the way. How did that all happen?? It feels like yesterday that I was in college, wondering what God had planned for me...I'm currently overwhelmed at God's goodness to me and many times each day I find myself thinking...I love my life! It's not perfect, I don't have everything the way I "want" it, but He has poured His blessings out for me to see and He keeps reminding me that "His ways are not my ways and His plans are not my plans." His are so much better!!
I love being at home and I'm so excited about this summer. I have 3 weddings to keep me busy and each one will be a unique and different challenge. Of course the baby prep and projects at home will keep me on my toes, in addition to the little redhead who tries to dictate my day! I'm going to do a little nannying again with my 3 little guys, who are no longer little! Nothing overwhelming, just one day a week for a couple of hours. Ava will be so happy! She loves them and it's fun for her to be on the go with their busy schedule. We'll be doing lots of shuttling little boys to camps and lessons, plus getting some good time outside playing. It's a fun way to get out of the house for both of us. I'm meeting with a couple of sweet gals this summer for some good Bible study times and trying to pray about what to do this fall. Not sure what I'll be able to handle with 2 kiddos or what I'll need the most in that season, but I'm sure the Lord will help me figure that out. I've committed to memorizing Proverbs 2 this summer, and to setting my focus on one goal, being in the Word and prayer often and well. I have been so challenged through a series we are doing on the book of Nehemiah at Church right now and I just know the Lord is calling me to go deeper with Him as I stay faithful to that goal.
Life is good in this particular season. It's challenging, constant and full, but rewarding and promising too. Before I know it, I'm going to blink and find ourselves in a whole new season, with a whole new set of challenges, but today I'm grateful for exactly where we're at. All of us. Works in progress. Lives under construction. Hopefully bringing glory to the Lord along the way. One thing I've learned is that life never stays the same for very long, just when it gets comfortable and predictable, you can usually count on some kind of change just around the corner. In earlier years that would have thrown me and caused me to worry about the future, but today I can say that I find great peace in knowing WHO holds my future, no matter what it looks like.
"...CLICK, CLICK, CLICK..."
Take it all in today...none of us are promised tomorrow, nor do we know what lies ahead.
But today, today is the day to cherish...
"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonders..
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High."