Day 91- 18 months!

Caleb is officially 18 months old! I waited to post about it until after his doctor's appointment, so I could record his height and weight. Caleb is 33 1/4 inch tall (75%) and weighs almost 25 pounds (30%).

Here he is wearing daddy's shirt.

Smiling for a picture! His hair is getting so shaggy!

Big boy!

Caleb is learning and growing so fast! He now says over 20 words, his favorite of which is "no". Lucky us :). He loves being outside and exploring. He also loves to help with chores around the house and feels so special when I give him little jobs to do. Just today I had run out of diapers in his diaper bag, so I asked him to go and get diapers. Low and behold, he came back with two! Another thing he loves right now is to sing motions songs like "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" or "the wheels on the bus.". He also loves to read books. One of his favorites is his Jesus Storybook Bible. Caleb is a delight as a son. He is learning about becoming his own person, which is displayed by more tantrums and testing than in the past, but mommy and daddy are praying for wisdom to be faithful in teaching him what is safe and right. Love you big boy!


Day 87- Living Open Project Update

For those of you who are wondering what the Live Open Project is, click here.

Well, no totally life-changing or earth-shattering experiences as of yet, but I have continued to try and adjust my perspective.  I'm trying to view every experience as an opportunity to point people to Jesus.  Now, I'm not really going around saying explicitly, "Jesus loves you."  I'm trying to just meet people where they are at.  Even if the action is to simply be with them or give them a smile or a word of encouragement.  Also, I'm not trying to be something I'm not.  My hope and peace and joy comes from Jesus.  I'm striving to be authentic and aware of any desires to impress or win the affection of others through my words or actions.  Here's a helpful process/action plan I found in Missional Moms, by Helen Lee:

1. PLACE yourself where you can see, hear, and become aware of the needs around you.  (reading newspapers, looking around you on the bus, sitting on your front porch, etc)
2. PRAY that the Holy Spirit would speak to you if there is a particular issue He wants you to address or confront.
3. PROBE to gain a deeper understanding of a particular issue that is called for your attention. (start to take baby steps to get involved)
4. PARTICIPATE with God in helping combat the issue with concrete steps of action.

The diagram below is helpful to me in thinking about how I interact with people on a daily basis.  In most Christian circles, people are viewed as Christians or non-Christians.  The goal of Christians is to simply get other people over the boundary that divides them and bring them into the circle of the saved.  Now, I believe that becoming a Christian occurs through asking forgiveness of sin and confessing faith in Jesus, but I think that in some ways we over emphasize this "conversion moment."  There are many events and experiences that lead to the point that a person places their life under the lordship of Christ, as well as many events and experiences that will continue to shape and disciple them.  The "Centered Set" focuses on whether people are headed towards or away from Christ.  As a Christian then, we strive to influence everyone, whether "believer" or "non-believer" to become closer to Christ.  We try to show everyone his love and joy and forgiveness, just as he has shown it to us.  This viewpoint breaks down walls and barriers that are so easy to put up under the "Bounded Set" model.  This diagram has been helpful to me as I try to live openly!


Day 86- A lovely weekend

Alan and I went away for the weekend!  Thanks to Kayleen (Al's mom) for watching Caleb!  This was only the second time we've been able to get away overnight since Caleb was born!  We went down to Northwest Arkansas and stayed at a boutique hotel called the Inn at the Mill.  It was really fun and actually fairly affordable!  We arrived just in time for wine and cheese to be served in the lobby!  After settling into our room, we went to eat at James at the Mill, the Inn's adjoining restaurant.  It was SO good, although I wasn't much of a fan of the chef's taster for us: a corn pancake with caviar on top!  Fish eggs pop too much in your mouth!  After dinner, we headed out to see the Hunger Games!  We both enjoyed it, but got there so "late" we had to sit on the third row from the front (late being only 45 minutes early!)  It was a great movie, we enjoyed it just as we enjoyed the books. 

The next day, we slept in (well, I woke up at 7:30, but stayed in bed until 9!).  We has a delicious complementary breakfast at the Inn, then headed up to Siloam Springs. We spent the morning/afternoon hiking around Sager Creek, exploring campus (it was spring break so all the buildings were locked), eating ice cream at Barnett's, and hanging out downtown by the Spring.  I even got a bit sunburned.  We had a special treat and got to see Colby and meet his girlfriend, Stacey, for a few minutes.  After that, we headed back to Springdale for an early dinner/lunch at Marketplace!  We've been craving eating there for months now!  We ended up ordering a "mini" Chocolate/Peanut Butter mess, which was the perfect size since we'd already had icecream once that day.  We headed back to KC and arrived just in time to say goodnight to Caleb!


Day 80- 6 years of firsts

2012- 1st Real Valentine's Date with a kiddo
 2011- 1st trip to Italy
 2010- First outing with a kid
 2009- 1st trip to China
 2009- 1st time we're both out of school at the same time
 2008- 1st trip to Car Henge
 2007- 1st Home
 2006- 1st apartment
 2006- 1st 14er together
 2006- 1st Married Kiss

Here's to many more 1st's and a few repeats!


Day 78- 6 years

6 years... Yes, that's how long I've been married to my best friend. We've had some hard times, some fun times, some busy times, some adventurous times, some joyful times, and some trying times. But... we've been together through all of it. Have we learned and grown. YES. Do we have so much more to learn and experience together? YES. Do we have a deeper, more substantial, more meaningful love than when we said "I do" 6 years ago? YES!

I wish I could say that today was the best day of our marriage, but I can't. Alan had to study a ton. I spent a little too much time in isolation with a munchkin this weekend. We had some misunderstandings. Just being honest. That's the way a relationship works though. And I love him just the same. And he loves me just the same.

We get to really celebrate this upcoming weekend though! We're going back to northwest Arkansas, where our love was born. We may even go camping if the weather is nice and I can get off work in time! Look for pics of a 6 year recap coming soon!


Day 77- Painting and cookies

Caleb had to decorate a shoe box for school, so we had our first painting experience. Despite my efforts to keep his hands out of his mouth, blue paint must be very appetizing!

YouTube Video

One of Caleb's favorite things to do is help us cook! Here we are making cookies or "coo-ki" as Caleb calls them.


Day 76- Best dinner lately

This was our dinner last night. Sorry about the half eaten salmon (I didn't think to take a picture until I had already dug in)! All the parts of this meal were so good that in thought I would share the recipes! Enjoy!

Adapted from allrecipes "Lemony Steamed Fish"
Makes 6 servings"ish"
6 6oz salmon fillets (can use many different types)
Seasoning salt
Lemon pepper
Garlic powder
Lemon juice
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Cut 6 foil squares, large enough for the size of each fillet.
3. Center fillets on the foil squares and sprinkle each with seasoned salt, lemon pepper, parsley and garlic powder. Sprinkle lemon juice over each fillet. Fold foil over fillets to make a pocket. Pleat seams to securely enclose.
4. Place packets on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. (frozen fillets take longer)

Adapted from cdkitchen "Seasoned Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix (Uncle Ben's)"
Makes 8 servings"ish"
2 teaspoons dry chopped onion
1 teaspoon dry minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (if desired)
2 cups wild rice
1. Combine all of the ingredients as listed in Dry Mix in medium saucepan. Add to this water, butter, and wild rice. Bring to boil.
2. Stir to combine. Cover pan with lid tightly. Simmer gently 30-45 minutes or until almost all liquid has been absorbed.

Simply Susan "recipe"
1 lb asparagus
2 T olive oil
Juice of a lemon
2 cloves of garlic
Makes 4 servings"ish"
1. Heat oil and toss asparagus in a skillet, adding garlic and lemon juice. Add salt for flavor as desired.
2. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
3. Check and allow extra cooking time for increased tenderness. (I like my asparagus more firm.)


Day 74- Chatting with a lifegaurd

Spent 30 minutes chatting with a lifeguard that seems to need a friend. She was surprisingly insightful and kind.

Sent a text today to encourage a new friend. Now we're going on a running date tomorrow morning! This will hopefully be good for both of our souls.

Took an extra minute to cuddle with Caleb before bed and listen to his giggle.

Living "open" makes life sweeter and more meaningful. Hopefully it will bring life to others as well!


Day 73- Live Open Project

I'm starting a project. It's something that God has been brewing in my soul for a while now. I'm calling it the "Live Open Project". Basically, I am going to try to live with openness in all the different aspects of my life. Openness in friendship, with possessions, with time. I am going to intentionally seek out ways to live openly, such as playing in the front yard with Caleb so we'll have more chance of running into neighbors or smiling at the cashier and asking how she is or spending an extra 10 minutes talking with an older lady in the dressing room at the community center after work or sending a care package to friends overseas. I want to love all people openly. I'm going to try to see them as Jesus does. That's the main reason I need to stay open: because I know that in order to love these people, I need to allow Christ's love to move through my hands and out of my mouth and walk through my feet. I also want to stay open to the needs of the world. Those in my community and those on different continents. I want to ask myself- is there anything I can do to meet this need?

I offer to you to join in this project! I'm going to try to share stories, even small ones of ways I'm changing through this process.

Here's a quote from Missional Moms, a book I'm reading with some friends:
"one of the challenges of telling stories of people in hindsight is that we can become daunted by the eventual outcomes without realizing that which drove the story forward were small acts of obedience."

God of Justice by Tim Hughes

God of Justice, Savior to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served

Jesus, You have called us
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give

We must go, live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken, we must go
Stepping forward, keep us from just singing
Move us into action, we must go

To act justly everyday
Loving mercy in every way
Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us what You require
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give

We must go, live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken, we must go
Stepping forward, keep us from just singing
Move us into action, we must go

Fill us up and send us out, fill us up and send us out
Fill us up, send us out Lord
Fill us up and send us out, fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out Lord

Fill us up and send us out, fill us up and send us out
Fill us up, send us out Lord
Fill us up, send us out, You fill us up and You send us out
Fill us up, send us out Lord, yeah

Acting justly, loving mercy
We must go, we must go
To the broken and the hurting
We must go, we must go

We must go, live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken, we must go
Stepping forward, keep us from just singing
Move us into action, we must go, must go

Fill us up and You send us out, yeah
Heaven open


Day 72- Monday Meditation

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Day 71- Blue Valley Apple Tree

I found out about this resource at an Infant-Toddler Services meeting about a month ago.  Basically, this is a web-site dedicated to early learning.  They create a new song, music video, book, library book list, family game, family fun ideas, and parenting pointer video each month!  For example, this month the topic is Coping with Emotions.  They created a song with motions that is similar to Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me.  It emphasizes feelings and acting them out.  The program uses high school art and music students, as well as local teachers to provide the resource for FREE!  Check it out!



Day 70- Book Review: The Millennium Series (aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series)

Loved this series!!  I read all three 500+ page books in less than 2 weeks! (mind you I would have read them even faster if I could have dedicated more time to reading!)  If you don't mind keeping track of lots of characters with slightly foreign names (the books are set in Sweden) or a moderate-large amount of sexually explicit descriptions (more so in the first book), these books are totally addictive!  One of my favorite parts about the Millennium Series is the character development.  Some of the characters are stagnant, some become more human and empathetic.  Others become more evil.  The plot line of the series is based around a journalist and the scandals he uncovers with and about the girl with the dragon tattoo. 

* Sidenote: Alan is also really enjoying the series as well, so I'd say it definitely falls into the category of action/suspense/mystery category.


Day 69- Turning 28...

My birthday was late last month.  I turned 28.  In some ways I had already "owned" 28, and even told people I was 28 accidentally.  I guess that happens when your husband turns 28 six months before you.  It sounds older than 27 to me.  Yes, haha, obviously it IS older, but it doesn't really seem much different than 30.  I mean, if you round the number, it's definitely closer to 30 than it is to 25.  You're supposed to have life figured out by the time you're 30, ya know.  In a lot of ways I (we) do have life figured out.  At least on the surface.  We go to church.  We hope to do medical missions work someday.  In the mean time we support some kiddos and missionaries.  I'm a pediatric physical therapist.  I like my job and hope to find a perfect balance of work and home life at some point when Alan finishes school.  Alan is on his way to his dream career and is doing very well at school.  We have a beautiful son and a great start to a lovely family.  I'm SO thankful for all the blessings my life.  My life is incredibly stable and secure right now.  I have everything I need (and more). 
BUT... something feels unsettled.  There's something about the whole "I've got this thing planned out".  I don't believe what we are doing is wrong.  I believe that God has guided and brought us to this point in our lives.  I'm just not sure that just living with a smattering of Christ here and there is the abundant life God is calling us to.  I don't want my life to be sprinkled with God's love, I want to live fully immersed in it.  I'm reading a book called Missional Moms with some girls from church.  It talks a lot about living counter-culturally and creating a new culture around you that is centered in Christ.  Sometimes I don't even realize how American and Christian subcultures have influenced my life.  I don't want the main goal of my life (albeit a subconscious goal) to be comfort or things or even doing good.  I want to love God and love people.  I've had this unsettled feeling for years now, perhaps even since high school.  It comes and goes.  I guess I just thought it would be gone by the time I was "almost 30."  I'm not sure that it's ever good to feel you've arrived.  I do hope that God will lead our family into what he desires for us and that we would be obedient to whatever that call may be.

Alan and I before a lovely date to Bonefish Grill and Cheesecake Factory!  Thanks to the Sheltons for watching Caleb!

Birthday hug from the "baby".

Bethany took me out for breakfast and gave me these beautiful flowers.  So thankful for this long time friend.