Thursday, December 18, 2008

A year ago this week...

our little bundle of joy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

T-Day in KC

We had a great Thanksgiving! (What? Late in posting this? Nah...)

We went to Kansas City to be with Jon's grandmother on her 85th birthday! She had never met Sophie before... nor had she met 3 of Sophie's cousins who were there too! What fun!

After a long Thanksgiving Day spent in the airport (thanks to a 4 1/2 hour long layover), we finally made it to KC late that night. On Friday we went to the WWI Museum there. It was a great museum - very interactive. If you ever have the chance to go, you should.

(As I write this, there is a pile of shiny gifts in the middle of the floor that I wrapped while Sophie was napping. True to the saying, she is literally playing with the empty box of one of her gifts, completely ignoring the bright presents next to her...)


Ok, that was yesterday. Anyway, that evening all (well, most) of Jon's siblings and his dad came into town, and we all went to the church to hang out! It was great having it at the church instead of someone's house - we ate in the gym, so the kids could play on one end, we could talk on the other, and we weren't all on top of each other. They even brought in some nursery toys for the little ones. Fabulous.

The next day was Grandma's birthday party! Jon and two of our brothers-in-law took the young kids in the nursery to play - it was great! They got to talk, and the moms didn't have to worry about the kids! Sophie had a great time playing with new toys - and her cousins! Ok, she probably wouldn't have known one way or the other if her cousins were there, but I like to think so...

Saturday evening we all played Apples to Apples. Now, you have to understand something. Growing up, my family got a board game every year. Though we actually rarely played between Christmas, we ALWAYS did that day. Trivial Pursuit was a perennial favorite, though never mine. Jon has been telling me for the past four years that his family "doesn't play games." Ha! We all sure did have a great time that night! Then we played The Name Game, and Amy and I pretty much kicked butt.

Sunday Jon's dad and siblings left for home, so we went to Grandma's church. After that we went to his uncle Jeff's for lunch - leftover Thanksgiving! Since we at at Friday's in the airport for our Thanksgiving dinner, Joanne's leftover turkey, stuffing, and potatoes were FABULOUS!

You can see all the pics from the trip here!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Once around the sun...

My darling, on this, your first...

In some ways I can't believe it's been a whole year since you were born, but in other ways I can't imagine life before you. You have added such joy to our family!

I love how your face lights up when you see your dad. Yesterday when he had to leave for work, you laid on the floor and sobbed, brokenhearted.

A few weeks ago you learned how to smack your lips to make "the kissing sound." You are even getting the hang of doing it at the same time you get (or give!) a kiss!

We gave you a push-behind walker for your birthday the other day. As soon as you saw it, you flashed up a big smile, pulled up, and took off! It is now your favorite thing to walk around the house - if only you could figure out how to turn!

You love your independence. You have been self-feeding for months, barely letting me get a spoon in your mouth. Now that you can even drink out of your sippy cup by yourself, you drink water all day long! Part of it is probably that you are thirsty - but I am convinced that part of it is because you just like being able to do it for yourself.

When you get a very special treat (usually chocolate), you giggle. It doesn't matter what kind of mood you were in before - sometimes even crying - but unexpected chocolate is enough to make you giggle with glee.

You go through phases with things. Like, the kissing sound you made for about 3 days, then stopped for about 2 weeks. You also went through phases with sticking out your tongue (not straight out, but touching it down to your chin), "bubububing" your lips (when you stick out your lips and run your finger over them to make that sound), clapping, waving, and pointing. If things in your life go from cool to not cool that quickly, I don't think I will ever be able to keep up come junior high...

You have recently developed separation anxiety. It makes me feel good that you like to be with me so much, but I do wish you would let others hold you without screaming! Yesterday a friend from PWOC saw you cuddling with Dad at the Christmas party, and she was amazed you would go to anyone but me. I am so grateful you love your dad just as much!

You LOVE your doll. Every time you see her you say "aaoow" in your cute little way, smile, and give her hugs. You even pat her back (just like you do when you hug Dad or me!) - you somehow know how to treat her differently from the rest of your toys. The things you pick up on are amazing.

You are such a peaceful child. You are content at every stage, but excited to reach the next. You always want to know what's going on - if people are talking, you want nothing but to be in the room. You don't talk or try to be the center of attention - you just take it all in. Aaron said that you have that look in your eyes that says you know what's going on. You are so aware.

You're also fun! One of my favorite things you do is when you start laughing because other people are. Sometimes I laugh for no reason, just to see yours. You have recently started playing games and teasing too! Yesterday you were giving Dad kisses, then I asked for a kiss, and you turned away and laughed. Three times.

Sophia Anne, I love you. I can't imagine life without you. You have filled my life with so much joy. I am so proud of the little girl you are and the one you are becoming.

Happy birthday!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Peace

My friend Megan wrote a beautiful post that is a great follow-up to my last one. Though many are hurting, we know that the Prince of Peace comes to offer hope! If you don't have time to read the whole thing (which you should!), at least scroll down and read what's in green toward the bottom...

A Revelation

I have been given an amazing gift this Christmas season. It was probably costly, but not expensive. It is laced with beauty, but not found in diamonds or jewels. No, this Christmas season I've been given the gift of understanding.

Understanding how awesome it is that Jesus came to our world.

Understanding the idea that He began His journey to redeem the world on that lonely Christmas night.

Understanding what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.

In my devotions, I've been reading about the promise of Christ throughout the entire Old Testament. How Christ has reigned supreme since the very beginning of time. God revealed Christ for the very first time when He said to the serpent, "You will bruise His heel, but He will crush your head." Again, He declared the promise to Abram when He declared that "all the peoples of the earth shall be blessed through you." Abram knew God wasn't talking about Him, but of the One who was to come through Abram's line of descent. David received the promise of the Messiah when the Lord God said, "your kingdom will reign forever." Again, David knew it had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with God redeeming the world.

In the book of Isaiah, we find four songs of the servant, which can also be referred to as Messianic prophecies. One that has always been read during the Christmas season is Isaiah 9:6-7:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."

What I find to be amazing are the verses that precede this text, rarely ever read together:

"Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan - The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For unto us a child is born...."

Do you see what I'm getting at? How incredible it is that the one who brought peace came in the form of a baby! I have many other thoughts on this that I will write in another post, but for now I want to focus on the issue of peace. Reading my friend Sara's blog the other day, reminded me of the war-filled world we live in. Having her husband as an Army Chaplain, I doubt that she is ever able to think otherwise. It is sad for me to read stories of real people who are losing their lives. Men and women who are fighting for our country, but also wars that are taking place around the world that we don't even know about. Civil wars like the ones in Africa, tribal wars, religious wars, etc. take place always. Will peace ever come to be in this world of hatred and hurt?

Yet, in this passage in Isaiah, God says that there is One greater than all of this. There is One who will bring peace. And peace means so much more than just an absence of war or an inner calm. My devotion suggested it as, "completeness, wholeness, fullness, soundness, firmness, safety, well-being, prosperity, and contentment." Being a Wonderful Counselor indicates wisdom and royalty; "Mighty God" is associated with power and victory; "Everlasting Father" points to His eternal and divine origins; and "Prince of Peace" means he brings peace and well-being to the earth.

It is so humbling to me to think of my God coming to earth as a human. Think of a baby you know and love; maybe your own child. Think of Christ in that precious form. Knowing that those tiny hands would be nailed to a cross. That those tiny little feet would take the grueling steps toward redeeming the world as the world threw insults and hatred at him. That his sweet, soft skin would be covered in stripes of blood. And that through all of this, we have the promise of peace. True peace that no President, pastor or peace treaty can provide.

Why is it we tend to bypass this great truth? Why do we only look to the cross on Easter? For truly, that little baby was looking to the cross on that miraculous Christmas night. I will never cease to be thankful.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Return of the Red Baron

Last January, as Jon and I sat on the couch in the sunroom, one phrase stuck out at me:

"I'll be home for Christmas..."

And he is. When he first told me he was deploying this year, neither of us really knew the details, how long he would be there. What we were fairly certain of was that he would be home for Christmas.

That means so much to me... we all know another deployment is down the pike, and with all these calls for surges in Afghanistan (wait... not a surge, right? Just quickly sending more troops...), who knows if he'll be here next year...

You know those messages that are on radio and tv this time of year, from the war? "Hello, this is Sergeant X stationed in Baghdad, wishing a Merry Christmas to my wife and kids back at Fort Stewart." They make me cry every time. Jon will come home from work to find me in tears, listening to Christmas music.

Especially if "I'll be Home for Christmas" happens to come on. It's over then.

I have found another song this year that makes me emotional. I remember it well from my childhood; it was always one of my favorite Christmas songs. Remember it?

Yep, The Return of the Red Baron. Growing up I just thought it was a fun song - it is actually quite significant. Though the events specifically aren't from the famous Christmas Eve Truce of 1914, similar events were told of all over the war zone.

Don't know what I'm talking about? In 1914, when WWI started, no one thought it would last more than a couple months. On Christmas Eve, stories are told of both sides agreeing to not fight on Christmas. They really are touching stories - I think what's most amazing is to hear Soldiers talk about how that made the war more human to them. They realized that the enemy Soldiers were men just like them, with families and lives back home.

If you've never seen it, I'd encourage you to watch Joyeux Noel. I wrote about it two years ago in this post. (Though, I feel the need to caveat that there is one scene you may need to skip through...)

Christmas is happy for me this year. I have a beautiful daughter and a wonderful husband at home. Yet, I can't help but think about all the people it isn't happy for. Whether those around me whose Soldiers are still deployed, or others who are hurting in many different ways, this is certainly not "the most wonderful time of the year" for everyone...

Remember these people in your prayers this season. Be grateful for what you have. Help others when you can.

Merry Christmas.