Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Daddy Date

Dear Eden,

You can't understand this yet, but you are the first "first date" I have had in almost 6 years.  All you know is that your Da Da took you to the playground, pushed you on the swing, climbed on the play equipment with you, and slid down the slide with you.

It was a nice day out, and we still had the whole play place to ourselves.  I watched the wonder dance across your face as you climbed the play place and explored every crevice.     
I'll never forget this date.  I'll never forget the way
you giggled every time you slid down the slide,
or when we walked over to see two dogs; you 
nearly had a panic attack from excitement.
I'll remember how you wouldn't let me
stop singing "I've got a river of life"
the whole half a mile walk home.

This may have been our first date, but it will not be our last.  There are more playgrounds to be discovered, zoos to be visited, lakes to be swam in, and doughnuts to be eaten... But mostly, there are more times for just you and me to laugh, play, explore and love.

I love you forever Eden,

Your Dad

PS. Check out the video of us below!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Word in Pictures: In The Kitchen

I must admit, I'm not the greatest cook, or at least the most creative one. I often stick with ordinary meals around here, and find myself comparing what we eat, to what others eat. We're a busy family so planning out new,complicated, or time consuming meals is a challenge. I do desire to branch out more, and as you'll see in these pictures, I did a little bit. I love the idea of trying new things. I'm adventurous when it comes to food. When I find a new recipe and we love it, I feel such a sense of accomplishment. So here's to hoping I have many more NEW food ventures in the Kitchen. Take a minute to see  how I captured "In the Kitchen" this month!

YUM! Homemade pizza!

First attempt at homemade yogurt bites. They turned out fine, but Eden wasn't such a fan. Bummer.

We love our taco nights around here!

Sometimes...You just have to keep it simple :). ( Don't worry this is not all we had for lunch).

Love having a whiteboard in the kitchen.  I love making lists, although I rarely accomplish everything on them.

This can happen in the  kitchen too :).

Eden thoroughly enjoyed discovering this box.

First go at roasted veggies. AMAZING!

Homemade potato soup. Next time hold the crushed red pepper!

Head on over to Arlee's blog and see what's cookin' in her kitchen!

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Life

The hope of Spring is upon us. The days are getting longer and sunnier, but when venturing outside it is clear that winter is still here in West Michigan. So we must wait a little bit longer. Spring brings with it the reminder of new life, and the joy of seeing God's handiwork come ALIVE! I cannot wait to take Spring walks with Eden, or go to the park or beach as a family! The warm days cannot come fast enough. 

This time of year not only reminds us of trees sprouting, and flowers blossoming, but of the new life we are given in Christ. Easter is right around the corner. Although this world tries to ignore it's meaning and instead focus on chocolate and the Easter bunny, the fact is, this LIFE CHANGING truth cannot be ignored: Easter is ALL about the RESURRECTION of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Easter, we have no hope. As the Scriptures say If Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead, thus securing eternal life for us all, than we should be "...Of all people most to be pitied" (1 Cor. 15:19).  Unlike the ever changing seasons, our souls are forever alive because of Christ. We do not have to worry about them fading away as Autumn leaves. Our hope is built on the Lord, and that is truly something to be thankful for.

New life is a concept that transcends any culture.  Nature itself follows a pattern of life and death. It is in who we are as people to rejoice with new life, and to despair when it is lost. I'm sure we would all agree that there is something incredible about meeting a new life. A precious and vulnerable little one, that leaves your heart overflowing with thankfulness to the Lord. For it is in the face of a child that we are reminded of God's most amazing creation: Human Life! Babies have a unique way of making you pause, forget your busyness, and wonder at their very existence.The handiwork of God is incredible!

 So it is with GREAT JOY that Mark and I announce to you that we are expecting another child! God, at this very time is creating this new life inside of me, whom we cannot wait to meet! Our hearts are so very thankful. We are hopeful, and continue to ask God to grow and protect this little one. For those of you who may not know, we lost a child in the Fall at 19 weeks, our sweet Noah. We were overwhelmed with heartache, but also have never felt the love of our friends, family, and church family, so clearly. In the midst of the hardest moments God did NOT leave us. So although we must admit fear fills our hearts at times, and we worry that we may never get the joy of meeting this child, we have to remind ourselves that fear and worry will not add an extra minute to this child's life. For his life is securely found in the arms of our great God. He knows what is best, but trusting Him can be so very hard. We cannot imagine the loss of another child, and hope that we will never have to.

It is wonderful to experience the first part of this verse "The Lord gives, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). Although, this verse often comes to my mind in the midst of trials. Right now I am so thankful that the Lord has given! He has granted us the desire of our hearts in a way only He could supply! 

So for all those curious minds...I give you our journey thus far: After losing Noah Matthew, we had decided that we would begin trying again in January. However, once it was clear that things were physically as they should be. We decided to start trying at the end of December. As God would have it, I conceived very quickly. Early January I found out that I was pregnant. What a mix of emotions we felt in those early weeks. We felt that we couldn't be completely excited; what if we lost this child too? But we didn't want fear to keep us from loving this child with our whole hearts either. During my 7th week we had our first ultrasound. Praise be to God! We saw a flickering heartbeat, but not much else :). Even a week and a 1/2 later (at my first official OB appointment) it was still early to hear the heartbeat externally. My OB suggested I come in the following week so I wouldn't have to wait a month to hear it! So at about 10 weeks I returned. What a joyful moment it was to hear that fast strong heartbeat! 160 bpm! Woohoo! :). It was after that appointment that we more openly began to share the news with our family and some close friends. My heart wanted to wait longer to share this news with the world (all of you :). I knew that I would never feel completely "safe" during this pregnancy though. Last week we had an appointment. Mark and I had the blessing of hearing our child's heartbeat for the first time,TOGETHER :). So as far as we know, things are going well. Praise the Lord!

 We are so excited to be on this journey again. But as we reach each mile stone we grow nervous. We already find ourselves at 14 weeks, which is wonderfully encouraging! My quickly expanding waist line, and popping belly would prevent us from keeping in this news much longer. Our precious miracle is due September 20th! :). It is a joy to finally share this news! We will keep you updated as we get closer to becoming a family of 4. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers!

***On another note***
We felt that this blog post should appropriately end with a reminder of where we have been. As we briefly shared above, we lost our Noah Matthew in the Fall. October 29th was by far the hardest day we have faced yet as a married couple. Holding our lifeless little boy, tears streaming down our faces, we fell apart in each others arms. Even in these unimaginable moments we want you to know that God is still so very very good! We had 19 weeks to love our little boy, and although we wanted a lifetime, we were not given that. God knew what He was doing, and we must trust Him daily with that decision. But today, March 22, is Noah's due date. We feel his loss in a fresh new way today. They joy of his arrival has been replaced with the heartache of his loss. We will never forget him. Although we have the blessing of another child to give us hope, we can't help but imagine what he would have been like. Oh, just to watch him run, play, laugh, and grow up. We hope one day to have the joy of meeting our Noah. But for now we confidently walk on. Looking forward to the plan God has for us, and knowing that He holds us ALL in His hands!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Night in Their Shoes

Team Worth (minus Eden) spent Friday night sleeping in a box. Well, I'm not exactly sure how much sleep was had a midst the cold, snow, and rough sleeping conditions. However, we learned some very valuable things that I think are worth sharing.

I have never before experienced homelessness, and to be very honest hope that I never will have to. But last night we got at taste, just a taste of what over 600,000 people face on given night in America. Even with our fire barrel and 2 small fire pits, a soup kitchen (out in the elements), card board boxes, sleeping bags/ blankets, and our pillows, we still had a very hard night. Mark and I shared a box of course that was constructed simply out of boxes and duct tape. (But stop and think about this MOST homeless people would be lucky to find warm/dry boxes to sleep in, let alone have the duct tape to create a shelter with those boxes). We had 1 sleeping bag, and 3 other blankets, plus our own body heat. Despite this there were many times we were cold, or uncomfortable. We even had tarps to put under/ and on top of our boxes. What a luxury right!? Well for many in our country it is!

Our evening started around 6pm. Once all boxes were done being created, we made our way outside to discuss the expectations of the night and to begin our evening as homeless people. Their were activities and discussions that guided the evening, and some lovely ladies who brought us soup. The night ended with the gift of hot chocolate in the shelter of the church. ( A blessing so many do not get on a daily or even weekly basis...A warm drink in a warm place). Everyone was to be in their boxes by midnight.

I must admit I was nervous about the evening. I easily get cold, and didn't know how I would handle hours of being outside! However, I did quite well. That is until by boots got wet. By the time I departed to my box my jeans were soaked, along with my boots, and the 3 pairs of socks I had on. Luckily, Mark had an extra pair I could wear to sleep in. I was very thankful for when Mark finally joined me in the box. I could not wait for the body heat. However, it was almost impossible to get fully comfortable sleeping out in a parking lot. We tossed and turned and although we thought we built a good structure we were soon proven wrong. Due to the heavy wet snow falling our box began to collapse and leak. Talk about being claustrophobic. By 5:30am the tarps blew off, and the tape was separating from the box. Mark was already out talking with some people who were up. I called him over, and asked for help to fix the box. But in his mind the box was a lost cause. He suggested I just get up and join the ever growing group by the fire. As I soon came to realize, almost ALL the boxes had collapsed during the night forcing people out of their boxes, and most did not sleep much at all. We were amazed with the few that did. Considering 2 of them were our younger middle schoolers who had their own boxes. No extra body heat for them. They slept great :). AMAZING!
So I put on my wet boots, and only having my leggings and PJ pants for leg warmth headed inside for a little while. This was so Mark could have a chance to take my boots and warm them by the fire. What a wonderful husband. They were a little dryer when he returned them to me, but that didn't last long. I grabbed my coat, wrapped my fleece blanket and joined the group by the fire.
Finally, the collapsing and clean up process began. We had are final wrap up discussion around 7:30am  in the shelter of the church. I have never been so happy to go home and take a nap in my own bed.

I have definitely been humbled by this experience. I shamefully admit I almost always look at homeless people with disgust and think " Stop being so lazy, get a job". But the reality is that many do not have ANY support from anyone! No guaranteed food or shelter, no job that would accept them the way they are. Even if they could land an interview, what would they wear?  Where would they shower, and how would they get there?

Many are homeless due to financial situations out of their control, some from addictions, and others because their families have abandoned them. But truth be told they are no less valuable.God has made us all in His image. God has made us all valuable.What right do we have to look at someone who may be less fortunate and define them as less valuable?   We need to care about them the way that God does. We need to love  them the way that God calls us to. How often do we take that calling seriously?

I have a lot more appreciation for what homeless people face day in day in and day out. Yes I slept in a box, and it was HARD, but I got breakfast from Mcdonalds afterwards and went home to a warm safe house, and took a wonderful nap in my warm bed. I caught my break this morning, so many never get that break. They sleep in a box like I did, they toss and turn and freeze. But they start all over again the next day. Walking miles  for food, begging at street corners, just hoping that maybe the next day will be better than the last. Just maybe someone will give them a meal, or a blanket. Maybe tonight they'll find a warm place to sleep. I NEVER have to wonder or worry about those things. I am so BLESSED. Sure maybe I took a nap in a bed, ate 2 meals so far today, showered, and put on warm clothes. Big deal...But wait...All those things are question marks for those who are homeless. When will they

So the next time you see someone homeless think twice. Think about how YOU can be Christ to them. This event has challenged my heart, and my view of those who are homeless, and I hope reading this has challenged you!

**This is the box Team Worth slept it...Just in case you were wondering :)