Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's in a name?

Here I am just before the birth of my third girl (so we think) and we have not yet finalized a name. Well, at least not the first name. The middle name I've been pretty sure about for a few months and hubby is on board. The other two girls were named at least half way through my pregnancies and I loved being able to refer to them by name for months before they were born. For someone who likes to plan and be prepared, this no-name-nonsense is driving me crazy.  And the closer we get to the end the more the pressure builds from all our friends and family asking me if we have a name every time I see them.

Since we are so close to the end anyways, we will just wait to announce the first name after birth. But I've gotten hubby's permission to disclose the middle name now via my blog because it has special meaning to me.

Our first two girls have Grace or Faith as part of their name. We didn't even pick the name Grace because of what it meant, we just thought it was a pretty name. It just happens to mean gift of God that cannot be earned and is not deserved.

K. Grace @ 2 3/4 years old with me, preggo with #2
 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God... Ephesians 2:8

The name Faith, on the other hand, was chosen for a very specific reason. Before I even found out I was pregnant with her I was going through a very frustrating period in my life. I didn't have peace, I was anxious. I had this feeling like God had other plans for me but I wasn't sure what they were. I begged Him to make it clear to me. I cried a lot but didn't really know why. I struggled a lot with working full time. I thought maybe I should stay home but we couldn't swing it financially. I wondered if I was supposed to change careers. I was sick of the daily grind. I had no idea where my life was going and what my purpose was. And then, out of the blue, we found out we were pregnant again. Although we weren't even trying for a second child, I found myself feeling extremely happy and hopeful. I thought for sure, God wouldn't send us along another baby without making a way for me to be home with two kids, at least part time. We still couldn't see how that would happen though. But God snapped me out of my funk and kept telling me over and over again - "TRUST ME!!" 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

I knew I needed to trust God and I wanted to have more faith, believing he had something great in store for me. I chose to name the baby I was carrying Faith so that every time I thought of her (which when you're pregnant is pretty much all the time), I would be reminded that I needed to put my faith in God and trust him to work out all the details of my future. It was a little roller coaster ride as we thought for a while I would be able to stay home after she was born, then had to face the reality that I could not. Even in all that I continued to be reminded each day to trust God and His plans and His timing of them. Before Faith was two years old I was able to stop working and stay home. Things started falling into place. And now I look back and see how God was working in me and providing for us in all the details every step of the way. Her name continues to remind me to have faith, and I love that.

Faith @ 11 mos with me

Then surprise - pregnant again. This time my reaction was a little different than with number two. Not so happy about it. Two was good, I could handle two. Life was starting to get easy as the girls were getting older and more independent. The thought of going through pregnancy and infant-dom again made me feel a little bitter. Barely surviving colic with Faith stripped my memory of almost all the positive moments during what are supposed to be those sweet first few months. Those first few months where you walk around in a sleep-deprived hallucinogenic state all the time. Where you feel like a half-human milk machine. So throw all that goodness into the mix with keeping up with the other two and attempting to accomplish some semblance of schooling with my Kindergardener and I'll be honest - I haven't really been looking forward to it.

As you can see, and those of you who know me have experienced, I haven't really been too shy about my feelings.  I've been pretty much assuming life is going to really suck for at least a few months. Everyone who's had three has confirmed for me that the challenge of adding the third child has been far greater than they ever imagined. Great. Just when things were getting good this child is poised to steal my joy!

Now I know that children are a treasure from God, a blessing. "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3) Of course I feel that way about my first two girls and I'm sure that as our third child grows up I will feel the same way. It's just the beginning of her life I've had doubts about.

But the Holy Spirit has been convicting me about my attitude all along. Especially considering that during the first half of my pregnancy, as I studied the book of Philippians, I was reminded that true joy does not depend on my circumstances or people or things, but on my relationship with Jesus. When my mind is soley focused on Him and on my mission to take the truth of His gospel and His love to others, that is when I am guaranteed joy. And I can confirm this is true based on past experience. But oh how easily Satan loves to come around and breathe his lies down my neck. And how quickly I believe them.

So I've had to put my foot down and determine that, while my circumstances may be inconvenient or even hard during my baby's first year of life, I will not let that rob me of my joy. This has been my prayer. And what better way to constantly remind me of this then to give this third child the middle name Joy.  I know that God will use her to bring me and others joy and her name will also remind me that He is the true source of my joy.

"I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds." 2 Corinthians 7:4b

There you have it, a sneak preview of my third daughter's middle name and why. Please be praying that God gives us just as clear direction on her first name. Though I can't promise a similar story behind the meaning of her first name. So far a couple of the names on our list of possibilities could have her labeled as a heiffer or a boar-slayer!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Nature Hunts

Whether I'm searching for a few lingering blooms in the garden, traipsing through the woods for berries and branches, or hitting up my local stand for pumpkins and mums, I LOVE hunting for fall's natural treasures. I'm instilling this love of a good nature hunt in my kids as well.

There really is not much color left in my garden these days. A single morning glory still blooms. A few marigold heads are still orange. A few tall stalks of light purple asters reach up outside my dining room window. That's about it. I was able to harvest just a couple things worth clipping and bringing indoors:

A few heads of red mystery flower (if you know the name please let me know) and two skeletons left from this spring's globe head allium sit in a set of three adorable handmade vases my mom gave me.  I must have forgotten to cut these last two allium stalks down with the rest of them post-bloom in mid summer. Next year I'll purposely leave all the dead allium heads or clip and save them earlier. The big dry spiked globes that remain are fun for fall decorating!

Since our yard was coming up short, the kids and I took a walk to the park to see what other goodies we could find. We each had a basket in hand and I also had my clippers and gloves to protect me from thorns. We immediately started filling our baskets. These are some of the berries and mini-apples I passed up because, from previous experience, they need water to stay alive and even when the berries stay looking okay the leaves still shrivel up and die, looking terrible.

A sudden burst of rain cut our expedition short (thank God no one else was there to see me trying to run at this stage in the game) but not before we had gathered this bounty:

My basket of bittersweet and rosehips
The girls' basket of colorful leaves.
 Half the fun is in the gathering. The other half is in doing something fun with what we've collected.

I took the dead brown hydrangeas out of the vase in my entry and filled it with my berries. Here they are just waiting for the bittersweet to pop open. Come December I'll keep the rosehips but exchange the bittersweet for greenery.
The girls and I made stained glass/sun catchers by placing their favorite leaves and crayon shavings between two pieces of wax paper ironed together and framed with construction paper.

I have to admit I was far more excited about making those than the girls were. I had them interested up through choosing and placing their leaves and watching me grate crayons but they couldn't be bothered to watch me iron them. I barely got a "wow" out of them as I hung them up to the light. What the heck??? Aren't they beautiful???   :)

This year, I really wanted to get some funky shaped and colored pumpkins as well as a big white pumpkin but none of the farm stands I first stopped at this year had what I was looking for. So I settled for a few of the regular varieties, mums, and one little cabbage for our stoop and porch. I was able to find a small white pumpkin at Foppema's Farm which sufficed for my 2nd annual letter "V" monogram, free-handed with a Sharpie. I couldn't find my black marker so I resorted to purple. And just the other day a spur-of-the-moment swing by Pete's Oasis revealed a large selection of all sorts of funky pumpkins and big fun gourds. I couldn't resist a squatty greenish gray pumpkin.

Front stoop. The growers that thought to plant three colors of mums in one pot are brilliant.

On the porch by the front door in a little folding chair that was my dad's growing up: pumpkins my kids colored with crayons and a basket with fake mums that I toss in every fall. Ooops, guess I lied in this post when I said that forsythia sprays are the only fake flowers I decorate with.
My next nature hunting expedition will most likely be around the beginning of December on my annual gathering of greenery for winter decorating. And the harvest will be much easier this year thanks to some handy new tools I scored at the one yard sale I stopped at this past Saturday morning:

My new bargain trimmer and clippers will come in very handy for collecting greenery this winter. The seller threw in a few other smaller tools as well.
I've got no more than seven days left to enjoy the great fall outdoors before being cooped up inside for quite a while. I'm praying that the treasure I'm about to receive will be well worth it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Curbside Treasure

Gee, it was back in June that I wrote this post about my nameless front room. I discussed this set of wicker furniture by my front door and how I wanted to get it out of the room:

I didn't want to get rid of the wicker altogether, because I still liked it and thought maybe, someday, I'll have a big farmers porch where I can make better use of it. But I was willing to let someone else I knew and trusted use it for what would probably be a long time.

In place of the wicker I wanted to get something smaller and more functional, along the lines of a bench like this:

Well, one of my best friends moved within the past month and she was talking about how she still needed to get some furniture for the sunroom in their new place. She was thinking along the lines of wicker but didn't want to go out and pay for new furniture. I immediately responded that I had a wicker set she could essentially have.  She was thrilled to score what she wanted for free, and I was so happy to send them off to a new loving home where I would still be able to visit them. :) 

As happy as I was to see them go, I didn't have that replacement bench I'd been thinking of yet. Within the last few months I had looked at a few at discount stores such as WalMart, Christmas Tree Shop and even Big Lots but they were all too small, too big, or too cheaply made. I wanted a bench made out of real solid wood, and with plenty of storage beneath, but I didn't want to pay a lot. All along, I kept hoping I would come across something at a yard sale, though I haven't been out treasure hunting for many weeks. At the same time I just knew that if I was patient, the right thing would turn up eventually.

So this past Sunday afternoon I was driving down the hill from my in-laws and as I whizzed past a house I realized out of the corner of my eye there were some pieces of furniture out by the edge of their yard. I thought one of them was a bench so I did a big u-turn at the upcoming 4-way stop to go back and check it out. Sure enough, there was a parsons bench. I pulled in the driveway and the owner was outside. I rolled down my window to ask if the furniture was for sale. Even better, it was FREE!!!! So I got out and took a better look. Solid wood. Perfect size. Psyche!! I told him I'd take it. I called my mother-in-law who met me there within five minutes with her SUV to take it back to our house.

It's definitely not what I would have bought new. It is stained a honey oak color with a high-gloss polyeurethane coat. Between the color and style, it is more country than I prefer. And it nees a little TLC - some drips of latex paint needed to be scraped off, and one of the sides is pulling apart and needs to be re-nailed for it to be sturdy enough to sit on. BUT - it will work for now. The size is just right and the seat lifts up for storage underneath:

This new storage space will most likely be used for hubby's books.
It certainly has potential. I can bang a few nails and chip off a little paint for now and then refinish it with a darker stain down the road.  What the heck, it was FREE!!! And it takes up so much less space than those oversized wicker chairs and ottoman.

This is what it will usually look like on a daily basis:

Not only is it a place to sit and put on/take off shoes, but its a place to dump my purse, diaper bag, kids backpacks and stuff I need to remember to take out of the house to bring to people (like bags of maternity clothes).
I just can't even believe how God provides - not just the big stuff, but even in the details we often think are trivial to him. He knows the desires of our hearts and he is faithful to us. Have I ever shared my favorite verse?

"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"  Isaiah 30:18
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