Saturday, August 23, 2014

11 Years Ago We Made a Choice

August 23 marks our 11th wedding anniversary.
To the teens that we work with that sounds like a long time to be together. 
To my grandparents, who just celebrated their 66th (or was it 67th? I'm guessing they may lose track after that long as well) wedding anniversary this summer, we have hardly begun to fill the bucket.


To those who haven't crossed the marriage line yet:
Choose wisely.
Yes, it is a choice.

Know what is most important to you in a life partner. Yes, marriage should be for LIFE. That's how it was designed and intended - not by man, but by God. I actually made a list of items that were important to me when I was 18. Some were on the silly side and I knew were not essential. But I knew which ones were essential to what I should commit my life to.  He had to love Jesus more than he could ever love me. He had to pursue me. He had to have a heart to serve. He had to be an honest man. He couldn't be caught up in money and material things. He had to make me feel beautiful and make my heart race. Non-negotiables for me.  Some pursuing guys did not make the cut.

Adam did.

He wasn't shy about his relationship with Jesus. It was clearly important to him. It was a matter of easy conversation for us. He initiated praying with me before I went on my Spring Break missions trip when we were still just friends. He was eager to serve others and help them, often sacrificing his time to do so. And I loved that he drove a very rough-looking little Corsica and didn't seem to be bothered by it one bit.

And man, that guy pursued me and made me feel special. Notes. And lots of them! Good old-fashioned calling a girl up and asking her to hang out or go on a date. Sweet guestures. Flowers. Did I ever tell you about the time he sorted through a box of Lucky Charms and gave me a box of just marshmallows because he knew how much I liked them? That boy covered many miles to see me throughout our summer breaks. And he embraced my decision not to kiss until there was a ring on my finger (a decision I made after kissing a few, but before he came along) (Honestly, one of the best decisions I ever made.....probably material for another blog post).  And did I ever mention how he proposed? (definitely material for a blog post)


I chose Adam. And he chose me.
And every day, we need to be reminded of that choice.
And that commitment we made to one another 11 years ago.

Some days it is easy to love one another. Very easy.
And other days, it's hard. Very hard.

Many of our days we get along great and we are in sync with one another and laughter comes easily and he is still the most attractive person I have ever laid my eyes upon.  He is thoughtful and kind. I am considerate and pleasant. So easy to love one another on those days.  Blissful even.

And other days. Oy. Its like we are two hangry (hungry + angry) bears that have awoken from winter hibernation and we walk around cranky and taking swipes at each other. Our sinful human nature pokes through and is ready to be selfish and hurtful. Or life circumstances simply happens. And its hard and difficult and messy and we just keep getting knocked down.


That's when our choice is put to the test. That's when the opportunity to love really happens. That's when we have to stop and be reminded of what is required in the covenant of marriage that we vowed before God and 300 of our friends and family. We have to think about the sacrificial love of Jesus that we both have experienced and come to know.  He shows us how to love.

Some say that love is a choice. And yes, it is. We have to choose whether or not to express or extend love in many circumstances throughout our day.

But I have already made the commitment and choice to love Adam.
I need to see it through to completion.

11 wonderful years down.
Excited for the years to come.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Bucket Day

Well, Becca is away so the boys will play and I will post.  I normally don't post on the blog as Becca is a much better writer than I am and knows how to use grammar and punctuation properly.  But every so often I get adventurous and desire to do something postworthy. (this is different than when i am adventurous and then Becca posts about me  :) )

So back to the title of this post. Becca and the boys created a summer bucket list


So with 3 boys and no Becca I dubbed today as "Bucket Day" and took on the task to cross off as many of the items on the list as we could in one day.  The boys all got onboard with my idea so away we went. 
 Here is a timeline and list of our day with some pictures and comments:

Start time: 10am
Park #1 - Alpine sports complex


park #2 - Alpine E/lementary



Park #3 - Wahlfield park




Park #4 - English Hills

Park #5 - Orchard Hills


Noon - Lunch time. We stopped at McDonalds and I treated the boys to a happy meal and we were surprised to find that the 3 best Mcd's employees were all working at the same time so we got a photo  to document it.  Thanks Lydia, Christi, and Grace!

Splash Pad at Millennium Park - check off go to a splash pad :)

Park #6 - Millennium Park




Park #7 - Sunset Hills


Park #8 - Community Park




2:30pm - Home 
Swim time - Task: get older 2 boys to jump off the diving board. Success! I have a video I will post on Facebook.  This was no small feat as our boys don't like getting their heads wet or going under the water but with the excitement of "bucket day" and the bribery of going to a movie,we made it happen.  Now the real question is - will it ever happen again???  Only time will tell.

3:00pm - Heath - nap time
3:30pm - the Amazing Lydia who got off work at 2 came over to hang at the house while I took L & T to go see a movie in the movie theater. Check off another bucket list task.  We went to see "How to train your dragon 2."  Pretty good movie we all enjoyed it. I think i liked it better than the first one as it had strong themes of sacrifice and servant leadership.  I am sure there are other themes in it as well both good and bad but the boys and i were entertained and we used the refillable popcorn bucket i got for Becca for mother's day - and brought home a full bucket, so score!

6:45pm - return home and release Lydia, feed older two boys dinner (Lydia fed heath and herself before we got home. She is so great)
7:00pm - give all 3 boys showers/ baths
8:00pm - boys to bed
8:15pm - Dathan & Emily stopped for a quick visit.  They were the program directors for jump start program at lake ann camp this summer.  So i got to know them when i spoke at camp this summer and i recently helped Dathan get a new bow so we did a few tweaks, caught up, and then they headed on their way.  Very nice couple that Dathan and Emily. 
9:30pm - start working on the bucket day blog post.

All in all I would say it was a very fun and busy day and would rule it a success.  My highs from the day were watching Heath conquer the tallest slide on every playground - that kid is a thrill seeker we better watch out.  Out of the 3 boys he would always protest the most when we would leave a park but was also very excited when he saw the new slide at the next park.  I also enjoyed motivating the boys to jump off the diving board and going out to a movie with them. It was a great father son day that is for sure.  I hope this is a day the boys will remember for awhile. 

-Adam 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

10-Month Anniversary

We still get asked frequently by people we don't see regularly on how Adam is doing, so I figured we were due for a blog update. We have passed the 10-month anniversary of Adam’s accident.  The one that resulted in trauma to his spinal cord and broke his neck in the C4/C5 area. Oh yeah, that accident. 

Sometimes my mind and heart still go back to the early moments and days. The shock of it all and the emotions can still seem very fresh. The needing to be present enough in mind to make decisions about how to proceed and having to choose whether or not to move forward with surgery not knowing how much it would help - and risking that it could cause more damage to his spinal cord.  The pressure I put on myself to be put together and presentable for those stopping by to lend their support and prayers – and the feelings of desperately wanting to have them there so I didn’t feel alone.  The moment of looking at my boys in a quick trip home and not knowing how to parent them and just simply feeling like I had nothing, NOTHING, left to offer to them.  Having to watch my life partner needing aid for simple, everyday tasks as well as needing to have others care for him in personal ways in which no one wants to have someone else do.  Conversations with God, not out of anger, but with desperation and human certainty that I could not handle being the caregiver for a husband that could not function from the neck down – and if that was the case, the guilt of my admission that life would be easier if he had instead died. 
(Gulp. Yes, I thought that.)

But, here we are.  God saw it necessary to allow Adam a level of healing that most professionals would say was not possible.  We’re humbled, but also incredibly grateful. Strangers would have no idea there was anything different about him.  He is doing so much.
                In late June, he led a missions trip to New York. He drove the church bus for long hours. He participated in construction projects (not to the same level he used to be able to, but his skills and knowledge still lend him as more capable than most).

                He’s riding his bike. He’s never rode for more than 6.5 miles, but he says he thinks he could and he’s noticing its getting easier. He’s started wearing his bike shoes again – the kind that clip into his bike pedals.

                He mows our lawn on our stand-up riding lawnmower that requires a decent amount of hand/grip strength.

                He carries Heath, our 25-lb toddler, when needed to.

                He does all of the old stuff around the house that he used to. I honestly cannot think of anything that I need to pick up the slack on these days.

                He no longer takes any medication.

So, is he completely back to his old self? Well, no.

Here’s where we still notice some differences:
                He doesn’t have some of his fine motor ability/feeling back. Recently, he had some french fries in a bag from a fast food restaurant. He was trying to reach his hand in and be able to distinguish in being able to feel and pick out just one french fry. He couldn’t do it.  If you watch him do anything with fine requirements, it might look a little awkward.

                He made the comment last week that he doesn’t like going to bed. Its at the end of the day when he finally feels like his body has loosened up and able to function a little smoother. He wakes up in the mornings with everything feeling like it has curled up and gotten tight and sore. 

                He still can’t do anything that requires quick, graceful, or of anything with decently athletic movements.  He got a bit lazy with working out for a bit, but he’s back at it again. He’s noticed that it takes a lot longer for his body to recover from a workout where he has pushed himself. He says it is different than how it used to feel and the soreness sticks around longer than it used to.

We are still just blown away and thankful for how we are really back to a pretty close resemblance of how life was before the accident.  We won’t forget what we’ve learned and what we’ve gone through. And we still hope to use this to point others to Jesus.  Human support was beautiful, abundant, helpful and so appreciated.  We still run into people that we don’t know….but are friends of friends – or heard about Adam from someone that they knew – who say they were following his story and recovery and had been praying for Him.  Um, WOW. Always makes me feel that the world isn’t so big after all. 


But it was the hope we have through Jesus that made all of the difference for us. Despair never stuck around for very long – even in the early days. God granted us peace in most of our moments – even when there was so much uncertainty and unknown. We would come to Him and He would comfort and deliver.  I knew in my heart that no matter the outcome, He was going to supply what we needed and get us through – in His power, not our own.  And even if things were overwhelming and difficult, I knew that this frail life was just temporary and if we could just make it through our numbered days here on earth, we would have an eternal, perfect, heavenly dwelling with no more suffering and hardship.  We would be face-to-face with the Savior who loves us beyond what we can imagine.  There’s nothing that can compare with that. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tate turns 5!

Our Tate turned 5 earlier this week!

His birthday was on Monday. We somewhat quietly celebrated at home. We let him choose what we had for breakfast (Lucky Charms) and dinner (Stromboli). We went to the zoo. We opened some presents and cards from far away family and from us. We let him stay up late and catch lightening bugs. A good day. Here's a few pics:
Tate loves the Schleich brand dinosaurs - especially the ones that have mouths that open and close.
And Grandma Vig loves to indulge his little heart.
Tate, and his birthday buddy, Lydia, at the zoo. Same birthday....just 12 years apart.
Great-Grandma Willis and Heath watching the gift opening.
Tate LOVES bubble gum! 



But then, what he had been waiting his whole life for up to this point:

His 5-year old Birthday PARTY! 

Theme: Sharks! 

Tried to keep it simple. But I like order (as opposed to chaos). And I'm a planner. And well, it's F.U.N. to throw a birthday party! I still felt like I kept things pretty simple, but we kept the 2 hours hopping with activities and food and attempting to reign in the energy of 10 young boys! I'm pretty sure the boys would have been happy with just running around our yard, kicking balls around, and yelling. But again, I like order. And I was in charge. :) I was also the only girl that was allowed at the party. Tate said this was to a be a party with "only boys." 









Here's what Tate is like at 5 years old:
- He's showing to be a bit of an introvert much of the time. Still gaining confidence in who he is and figuring out how he feels about being in groups. (2 years ago I would not have predicted this!)
- He loves ferocious things with sharp teeth! (Dinosaurs, Sharks, Dragons)
- He has a GREAT memory and will recall details that I often struggle to remember.
- He's very observant at times and just likes to sit back and watch what is going on.
-Yet, he also has a great deal of energy and at times, it is like it is bursting out of him and he cannot contain crazy body movements and even crazier noises. 
- He loves to eat! He is often thinking about the next meal or asking for a snack.
- He still takes a 2-hour nap almost every day. 
- He can throw some HUGE fits when he doesn't get that nap. 
- He is almost as tall as Landon. 
- He can be a big sweetheart! 
We love him very much and cherish these 5 years we have got with him so far! 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Youth Missions Trip

We just returned from a trip with the youth from our church (well, 5 days ago now, but it takes me awhile to catch up with the every day stuff in order to be able to sit down and blog.....who am I kidding? I'm not caught up?! I'm running around feeling crazy and stretched too thin!) Anyways. I don’t write about our work in youth ministry a ton, but it does make up a very, very large part of our lives. We still feel very drawn to work alongside youth, love on them, hear their stories, guide them to Jesus, and help them to grow in their faith. Some days it is easier than others. But this trip was really enjoyable on multiple levels. 

We went with GROUP mission trips.  Basically, GROUP puts on these trips all over and churches can sign up to participate one. They handle many of the logistics regarding securing work, feeding us, lodging, putting on programs, providing devotional material, etc.  (I must admit there are aspects of the trip that we (Adam and I) were not big fans of, but this trip was great to try and due to Adam being out of the office for several months, it was great in having many of the logistics covered and handled by someone else.  We mostly had to get a handful of paperwork completed and get ourselves there). We travelled to the small community of Newark, NY. We served alongside 6 other churches from various denominations.  Our youth were all split up amongst these other churches and went out to various work sites to serve.  Some served alongside organizations that provide services to the community. Some served in residential locations. Some served in nursing homes. We worked hard. We painted. We weeded. We built. We cleaned. We planted. We talked with.

The nature of the trip was great for getting to help a community with their needs and having the opportunity to serve in tangible ways.  It was also great at getting us out of our comfort zones and forcing us to work alongside others that we had just met.  Working alongside someone nearly always begins a relationship and allows you to hear one another’s story. 

Some of the stories I heard broke my heart.  Youth from inner city Philadelphia who appear vibrant and happy – but only to hear that they have wretchedly awful home lives that they will be returning to (emphasis on wretchedly and awful). Or talking with a pleasant young man in my serving group who has grown up in a church, yet it has clearly failed him as he has no working knowledge of what the Gospel is about, he is not aware of what John 3:16 says, and he did not seem concerned or bothered by any of that at all.  My attempts at sharing with him felt kindly brushed off and unnecessary to him.

There’s a great big world of people. People that need love. Sometimes the task to love on them and share with them the saving grace of Jesus just seems overwhelming. 

But we keep in mind that its one person at a time. And its our job to be faithful in the small things.  Our job is to love God and to love people. Sometimes we forget that. Trips like this remind us and force us to extend ourselves for others.

One of my favorite aspects of the trip is that due to most of our group being separated during the day at various different sites, we were brought back together in the evenings and eager to share our varied experiences with one another.  A trip like this brings your group closer.  We lived in close quarters. We ate together. We shared showers that had limited availability and warm water. We rode a bus for long hours.  All of those have the opportunity to instill in you patience, looking out for one another, being flexible and content, and of course, loving each other and having lots of fun. J

Here’s a few snapshots from our trip:
Team-building games prior to leaving.
Visited the restaurant where "Buffalo Wings" originally began.

Adam using a gas auger to dig holes.  He questioned whether or not it was a good idea for him to try to use this.
Of course, that didn't stop him.
Someday I will learn to not let teenagers look at my phone.
Although, it is fun to post the pictures they take of themselves. ;) 
Pretty sure arm-wrestling happens on all of our youth trips.
Out for pizza on our night off.  
Cut through Canada and checked out the beauty of Niagara Falls.
Dutch Blitz made the hours go by a little bit faster on the bus.
Trust me, we worked. We were just working so hard we didn't stop to take pictures of that much. 

So thankful for these great youth that we get to work with!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Let's Get This Summer Party Started!

School ends tomorrow! Happy and sad feelings. But as I look at our calendar, I realize we'll be Busy (yes, I felt the need to capitalize that). Even though we have a lot going on, I still wanted to make sure the boys felt like they had some input into our plans. The boys and I sat down tonight and listed some things that we want to do this summer. I tried to keep obvious things off the list. (i.e. Have a pool party. Plan a playdate. Eat popcicles. Go to VBS. Play in the sandbox. Go to the zoo (family pass +2 - who wants to come with?!!). Stay in our PJ's all day.) You know, things that are essential to summer break. We tried to keep the list to things we will need to be intentional about making happen.


And onto other fabulous things. I had to share what Adam and the boys got me for Mother's Day last month.
 Not flowers. Not jewelry. Not chocolate. 

A refillable movie theater popcorn bucket!

Be still, my heart.
They know me so well.

I can fill this baby up until October 1!
We only see movies in the theater a few times a year, but I don't need to see a movie to stop and fill this up. 
I'll probably gain 10lbs with all of the butter flavoring I like to add.

Let's add "Eat as much popcorn as humanly possible" to that Summer Bucket List. 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Soccer

Landon played his 2nd season of soccer with our city rec league. I say "season"....but it's only 5 games.

He played in a 5 & 6 year old league again. There was a HUGE improvement from last year to this year. He was much more aggressive. Last year, he almost scored a goal once. This year, he scored 1-2 goals every game.

We're trying to teach him about good sportsmanship. A work in progress that I'm guessing will take 25 years, give or take a few years. Several times we would have to tell him to not make negative comments about the other team if they weren't playing well. He never said them in a mean tone....but still, things that shouldn't be said outloud. Or remind him that being part of a team is not just about how many goals that he scored. We even saw him purposely push another kid back after he was pushed. Yikes! (Something he may do to his brother.....but we've never seen him do this to another child, let alone one that he did not know at all). Overall, he ran around the field having a great time and smiling the majority of the time. But every once in awhile we would witness something that we would feel the need to talk about with him afterwards.

He seems to really love the game and told me that he wants to play it until he's a grandpa.

Here's a few actions shots from his last game:

This is what much of the game looks like. A big pack of kids all trying to kick the ball into each other's shins. 



And this is what Tate likes to do during much of the soccer game:
Picking clover flowers and looking for bugs.  He says he wants to play soccer when he turns 5.

And Heath likes to play a soccer game all on his own behind the spectator area: