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Salvation July 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — houseofyoung @ 1:58 am

I have been horrible about blogging for the past few months, but this was too important to let pass by. Tonight, Taran accepted into Jesus into his heart! Well, according to him, he already had. During our devotion at bedtime, I explained to him how we were sinners but that Jesus has defeated sin, and we can put our trust in Him to save us and invite Him to live in our hearts. I asked him, “Would you like to invite Jesus to come and live in your heart?” He looked sideways and thought for a second and said, “Well, I think I already have.” I kind of guessed as much, as he seems to have understood the gospel message and has referenced Jesus living inside of him. I prayed with him a simple prayer thanking Jesus for His sacrifice, and asking Him to forgive our sins and come into our heart (his heart). So really, it was just a formality I think. 🙂 After our prayer, we talked about how even though we still have the temptation to sin, God has defeated sin and is bigger and stronger than that temptation. Taran then informed me that when dinosaurs were on the Earth, the devil tempted microraptors with berries and caused their fall. You learn something new every day!

Our conversation tonight stemmed from troubles we’ve been having lately. Taran has had a hard time listening/obeying and following instructions, and Dad and I, after a prolonged period, have struggled to maintain patience and gentleness throughout it all. I’m thankful that God has taken the shouting and tears (all Taran’s, of course ;)) and turned into something absolutely beautiful. I pray that Taran will surrender his strong will to the Lord and that God would turn his spirit to His heart, that Taran would follow unwaveringly after the Lord and His will throughout his life. Taran will likely still struggle to obey for years to come, and Dad and I will certainly never be the perfect parents…it is so hard, for me, to find the balance between exercising discipline and consistency and exhibiting grace and mercy. It doesn’t help that each of us has a short fuse! But knowing that we are all on the same page, led by a God of holiness, unconditional love, and abundant mercy, gives me great hope. Thank You, Lord, for coming into my child’s heart. May we exhibit Your love and grace, so that he (and our little girls) would see Christ in us.

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Glorious Day January 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — houseofyoung @ 4:22 am

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a Virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He

Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He

Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore

Death could not hold Him
The grave could not keep Him from rising again

Living He loved me, dying He saved me
And buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming, oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day
Glorious day

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my beloved one bringing
My Savior Jesus is mine

– Oh Glorious Day, Casting Crowns

This is Taran’s favorite song right now. He asks me to sing it to him as I rub his back each night at bedtime. As tired as I am at that hour, as much as my selfish instincts are urging me toward the comfort of a recliner and a cup of tea, there is honestly no better honor than for me to sing to my son. I love singing in the first place, and I always have…first for personal pleasure, solace and reflection, and now in worship and conversation with my Savior. When I sing to Taran, it is a time to slow down and thank God for his graces and mercies toward me, toward our family, and pray that my son would come to know and have a close relationship with Christ.

Kids are more thoughtful, I think, than we give them credit for. He lays still and listens quietly, and I assume he has grown drowsy, lulled to sleep by Mommy’s singing. But many times he is listening intently, and wonders aloud. “Mommy, did you say He was nailed to a tree?” “He rose from the grave…yeah, I remember that!” And my favorite: “Trumpets? Jesus is coming back one day? Here? And we’ll all play trumpets when he comes! Cool!” Parts of the salvation story that are not emphasized in the children’s Bible, maybe because they are too ethereal or too painful to explain, but that Taran absorbs as much as his little five-year-old heart can.

The girls typically want me to sing Jesus Loves Me or ABC’s over and over again at night, and if they are wound up or not sleepy, it is sometimes excruciating to sit there and sing the same children’s song repeatedly for 30 minutes or more. As I’m inwardly screaming, longing again for my recliner and cup of tea, God reminds me to slow down. What are you really longing to do? Lounge in a chair and watch mindless tv? As impatient as you feel inside, how can you make this time honor Me? And so I have begun to sing this song to the girls as well…rather than making it a chore, I sing to my Lord and become lost in worship to Him. Fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes go by, and it seems like barely any time has passed. And again, I sing to my Savior, sing in prayer over my sweet little girls, and take much needed time to reflect upon His love and grace toward me.

We are always going, going, going around here. Taran is in Kindergarten now, and in a seemingly (to me) rigorous curriculum…or maybe I’m just now used to having kids in school. 🙂 Each evening there are sight words to learn, spelling and writing practice, reading homework, Bible verse memorization…and brilliant me, I decided this was a good time to enroll Taran in piano lessons. I don’t regret it, because he enjoys it and is picking up on it pretty well. But it is one more thing I’ve added to our already full plate! The girls started preschool a few weeks ago, four hours a day, two days a week. They really love it there. They get such a kick out of school, out of having a teacher and classmates and activities and toys…the structure that so many children have each day, they don’t have at home (what am I admitting?? :)), so it is new and different and fun for them. I’m so happy that they enjoy school and are doing well there. My next celebration will be when they enter pre-K, and our daycare costs will (hopefully) drastically be reduced! Besides that, Ari and I are busy with work. I have a new position that I really love, but there is a definite learning curve, and more than a bit of trepidation on my part that I can do well in the position and meet everyone’s expectations. And the position also comes with more travel, both within the state and out of state. Ari keeps pretty occupied with lesson plans, grading papers, etc, which will be pretty standard till the end of the school year. It is a struggle…actually, impossible…to fit everything into our day, but we prioritize and do the best we can. And give the rest to God, and trust Him that it will all work it out in the end. (Repeat to self…it is okay to have a perpetual pile of laundry…one day, I will get my junk drawers (…cabinets, closets…) organized…the girls will figure out this potty thing before they hit Kindergarten!)

I know it is almost February, but…Happy New Year to all! I look forward to seeing what God will work in our lives this years, and in yours. 🙂


 

Taste Testing September 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — houseofyoung @ 3:10 am

Tonight after dinner, we had our very own Taste of Suwanee…well, maybe Taste of Our Fridge would be a better description.  It all started when the girls and I had sliced tomatoes with Italian dressing.  I don’t even attempt to place such dishes in front of Taran anymore, knowing he will kick and scream all night before he ever tries a bite.  Instead, I utilize my best child psychology tricks to make him think that trying new foods is a game.

Near the end of dinner, Taran asked what I was eating, and I told him about the Italian dressing and showed him how much the girls liked it.  Intrigued, he prodded, “What does it taste like?”  I told him “sour” because he loves sour candy (and vinegar is sour, right?).  I casually poured a dollop from the bottle onto his plate and said, “Here, try it.”

He made a horrid face and shook his head, but I went to the fridge to see what other sauces he might be interested in trying.  His eyes lit up when he saw the Ranch dressing: “I know that! Some kids eat that!” Bin-go!  I put some on his plate, and he was still hesistant…

He took a deep breathe, squinted his eyes, and with all the courage he could muster (poor kid! :)), stuck his finger in his mouth.  And…

Success!!

He tried the Ranch dressing and actually liked it!  I was super proud of him for trying it, and even more happy that he found something new that he likes.

He eventually tried the Italian dressing and some Honey Dijon dressing also (seen on his plate above).  He didn’t like them, but that is A-OK with me.  I heaped praise on him because he used to refuse to even consider trying something new.  I guess he has gotten braver (and more mature) with age.

The girls were not going to sit by and watch Taran enjoy this culinary experience by himself.  I soon got a chorus of, “I want some! I want some!”  I gave the girls the same array of dressings…and they asked for more…

And more…

I think we spent at least 45 minutes at the dinner table.  Clare and Laurel had at least 7 helpings of dressings…meanwhile, Taran slowly licked the one portion of Ranch off his plate. 🙂

As a Mommy, these are the moments I most treasure – just sitting with my kids, interacting with them, and learning the unique facets of their personalities.

Speaking of personalities…Laurel has definitely distinguished herself as the “rebellious” twin.  “Laurel, can you come here?” is code for, “Laurel, please run around the room laughing maniacally while Mommy frantically tries to chase you down.”  She definitely takes after me…from all the stories I’ve heard, I was an obstinate child.  My first word was, “No!”, which is a typical response from Laurel (even when she means yes). While Clare can be mischievous, she is usually very agreeable and quick to respond to guidance or instruction.  When we pray (or sing, or do anything with repetition involved), Clare loves to try and figure what I’m saying, so she’s just a hair behind me as I speak.  So when I began bedtime prayers, she immediately put her hands together and bowed her head, repeating after me…”Deaaar God…Thank you for this day…Thank you being our friend…Please forgive us when we don’t listen…We love you…” Laurel, in the meantime, was sitting in my lap scowling and squirming.  After we said “Amen,” I looked up and noticed Clare was still praying, with her eyes tightly shut and an intense look on her face.  “Deeeear, God.  Please hep Wa-wul <Laurel>. A-men.”  I had to laugh out loud. 🙂  Laurel is a sweet and happy little girl, but is also a spitfire.  I wonder how her personality and temperament will play out in the years to come.  Good to know that her concerned sister has started praying for her already! 🙂

A typical Laurel face

The look of mischievous glee on Laurel's face after I caught her climbing up the stairs.

Sweet Sisters!

Just because...can't leave Taran out! The three kids at the awesome playground at Marietta Square.

 

A Very Happy Birthday September 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — houseofyoung @ 4:36 am

We celebrated Ari’s birthday this weekend with a trip to Charleston.  We’ve been several times, but never got to stay for long, and never without the kids.  We decided to stay in the historic district to get the most authentic Charleston experience.  We picked the King George IV Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast in a 200-year-old house.

Our location was perfect – we were able to stroll along the beautiful streets of the historic district and get to dozens of shops, restaurants, and historic sites.  We probably walked at least a couple of miles throughout the weekend.  On Saturday morning, we walked to Marion Square on the north side of the historic district, as the innkeeper recommended checking out the local farmer’s market.  Not only did it feature several stands of fresh fruits and veggies, but also art, handcrafted jewelry, homemade soaps and scrubs, and best of all, lots of food stands…crepes, Asian tacos, barbeque, homemade pastas and sauces…if I had known about it, we would have skipped breakfast that morning!

After the farmer’s market, we headed to the City Market area and took a guided horse and buggy ride.  No better way to see Charleston!

My favorite part of Charleston was the Battery Park area, which is at the tip of the peninsula.  The homes here have amazing history, many of them dating to the mid 1800s.

The park itself is an expansive, lush area shaded by dozens of gorgeous angel oaks, overlooking the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.

At this point, we had walked most of the day and were ready to take a break and people watch…and find other ways to amuse ourselves…

We ended the evening by a taking a walking ghost tour.  Unlike the tours in Savannah, this one wasn’t kitchy at all, but was rich with history and the tragedies and injustices that befell some early residents of Charleston.  The guide has written a book and told us everything in a very matter-of-fact manner…that almost made it creepier!

Randolph Hall at the College of Charleston...not actually haunted, but it's a beautiful building and looked pretty creepy at night!

One of the best parts of the whole weekend was the food … Charleston is probably best known for its seafood, but has an eclectic variety of all kinds of cuisine.

The Noisy Oyster

Tazkiki's, a little cafe with the best Mediterranean food...and a view of the Apple Store across the street, much to Ari's delight

32 Degrees, a frozen yogurt shop. I got a mix of chocolate-marshmallow and white chocolate mousse yogurt with fresh raspberries on top....yum!!

We also went to a comedy show at the College of Charleston featuring Gary Valentine, who is the brother of Kevin James.  We saw the marquis and decided it would be fun to check it out.  (I’m a planner…a urban planner, an emergency management planner, a trip planner…so spontaneity is kind of rare for me. :))

When we got home on Sunday, we had a little party at home for Ari.

Taran even had a party game ready…Pin the Tail on the Monster 🙂

All in all, it was an awesome weekend.  We missed the kids, but it was great to have a little getaway.  Happy Birthday, Ari!!  Thank you for being a wonderful husband, doting daddy, and my best friend.

 

10 Years June 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — houseofyoung @ 5:38 am

It struck me tonight that this amazing journey God has brought me on began in large part 10 years ago. Ari and I went to the movies tonight and found ourselves in Alpharetta. On the way we passed through a very familiar intersection (Kimball Bridge Rd & Northpoint Parkway)…half a mile to the right lay his old apartment, where he lived when our courtship began. This Summer, 10 years ago, he had just moved in, and we had only been dating a month or so. I remember visiting his new place and being amazed by how well put together it was, considering it was a bachelor pad. (Ari’s knack for a well-designed home is evident even today…I don’t even get to have much say in how the house looks! ;)) I was at this apartment and hung out quite a bit, and it was here that our relationship blossomed, and at times was put to the greatest tests. Neither of us had been in a serious relationship before…and there is nothing like giving your heart to someone to expose all the ugliness inside, that you never even knew existed. There were many wonderful times…studying as he graded papers…laughing over silly shows…attempting to cook (like the time we used canned chicken to recreate Chinese stir-fry – ugh!!)…and scores of late night conversations trying to understand each other, admit our faults, and seeking God’s wisdom and heart to nurture the bond between two very broken people.

I knew from the start he was a keeper 🙂 But I couldn’t have imagined where we would be today. (With 3 kids to boot!) Ten years ago, there was the thrill of new love…a fluttery feeling with each glance or touch, the excitement to learn all about this amazing new person, counting down the minutes till we saw each other again. While that romance is still there, I’m so thankful that our relationship has evolved into a sacred commitment to love each other, serve one another, and love and honor God above all else. Because without God’s hand, as the puppy love faded, our faults and sins would have overwhelmed any good intentions or good will.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5

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2003

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First Anniversary, Lake Tahoe

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New York City, 2008

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2006

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2009 – pretend these are two babies instead of just one 🙂

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2010, St. Simons Island

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Disney World

Filed under: Uncategorized — houseofyoung @ 4:31 am

I’m already overwhelmed at how behind I am in updating the blog! I’ll try to briefly recap the past few months, one post at a time.

April (Spring Break) – We went to Disney World! The trip was so much fun but exhausting, as Disney always in. We almost scared Taran away from the get-go. One of his first rides was Haunted Mansion, which he rode warily…I think it would have turned out fine if the ride didn’t get stuck at the end, while he was surrounded by spooky voices and ghostly images…needless to say, it ended in tears. Next we took him on *our* favorite ride, Splash Mountain. I felt guilty walking through the lines as Brer Rabbit cheerily sang his tune, assuring my suspicious son that it would be so much fun. To be honest, the ride scares the bejeebies out of me and Ari (we’re wimps), but that’s the fun of it. Taran actually did a great job and wasn’t in tears at the end like I expected.

Clare and Laurel LOVED meeting Mickey and friends. They hugged them like they were long-lost friends.

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So funny!!

Here are some more pics from our trip:

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And the best part of the vacation…

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Lovely Chaos May 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — houseofyoung @ 5:16 am

I wonder sometimes when the chaos will end!  Or at least simmer down to manageable levels.  There is so much I’m behind on writing about – Clare and Laurel’s 2nd Birthday, our trip to Disney World, Taran completing Pre-K, Laurel’s transition to a big girl bed, Clare’s broken foot :(…I can blame much of it on our internet connection – as soon as I begin a blog and start uploading photos (which usually happens at night, when the kids are in bed), the internet connection goes wacky and I get nowhere, particularly when adding photos.

 

I think I should put a surveillance camera on the wall and have it record randomly throughout the week.  Meal time will look something like this: calling the kids for dinner, and they happily run to the table. Girls are in high chairs, Taran at the table.  The girls begin eating well, but Laurel decides something looks funny and scowls at me, handing back her favorite food.  Then gets mad when I take it.  Taran, bless his heart, is trying his best to sit nicely, but for some reason teeters at the edge of the chair, dropping crumbs onto the floor with every bite.  Then proceeds to have a conversation, and I have to remind him to keep eating. “Oh! I forgot!”  About 7 minutes in, he remembers a dance he wants to show me, and somehow winds up in the living room.  “Umm, Taran?  What about dinner?”  “Oh yeah!  Sorry, Mommy!”  In the meantime, Clare has polished off two servings and Laurel has decided she wants to eat after all, and they repeatedly ask for “more!” of whatever they are eating.

 

Fast forward to bedtime. Oh, bedtime – I had such high hopes for you.  I envisioned snuggling in bed with all my kids, who had more than happily dressed in pajamas and allowed me to brush their teeth.  Instead, it looks something like this.  “Okay, kids, bedtime – let’s go upstairs!”  I open the gate and the babies giddily run through and begin climbing the stairs, as if they’ve been released from a prison.  Taran asks for a minute more to finish whatever he’s doing, which I usually oblige.  When the girls get upstairs, they run anywhere except their bedroom. I try to corral them into their room (not an easy task) to begin changing diapers and clothes.  As I lay one child down for changing, she often begins screaming and flailing at my attempts to restrain their newfound freedom.  After much struggle and making an overly-big deal about which pajamas they get to wear (“WOW!  You ge a Dora shirt!! YAY!!!”, I finish with one child, only to realize the other is in Taran’s room, wrecking the train set.  I get second child in changing position (cue more screams) while the first proceeds to takeover the job of destroying aforementioned train set.  Luckily, Taran is happily oblivious, bounding around his bed, playing a made-up game with sticks or stuffed animals or other random object he has found. (He’s a creative child!) However, this also means he is totally oblivious to the ten times I’ve asked him to please pick out his pajamas and put some on.  Something I would help him to do if I at all could.  Next comes teeth brushing.  Both girls sprint to the bathroom to see who gets first dibs, both standing precariously on a stool, with no surface area to spare.  As I turn the water on to wet the brush, rather than opening their mouths agreeably, they recognize this as time to play in the water.  They repeatedly reach out to turn on the water, and I repeatedly turn it off, lest they wet the pajamas that were oh-so-hard to get on.  This goes on for about 15 seconds – and in this time, no one has gotten their teeth brushed.  After a bit more struggle and desperate attempts at cheery distraction (I’m worn out by now), teeth get brushed.  If I have the energy, it’s story time.  If not, it’s straight to bed for little girls.  Taran asks me to read him a story, and I keep telling him after they are in bed, much to his annoyance.  (He’s not great at waiting.)  I won’t even go into the bedtime ritual – if things go well, they lay down the first time and maybe only cry out once before they fall asleep.  Then I breathe a huge sigh of relief (exhaling an exhausted spirit as well), and go to Taran’s room for storytime.  If I’m lucky, he’s still awake and I get to cuddle with him and read.  Usually more than one book, as he begs for more, which I am great with (unless I am too tired to see straight). If I’m not lucky, I open the door to find him sprawled across the bed, already having fallen asleep.  And that makes me very, very sad, because that means the girls took so long to go to bed that Mommy broke her promise to read him his story, and I missed my special time with him.

 

By the way, this makes it sound like Ari hasn’t done anything…but he is behind the scenes, providing support along the way (finally feeding Taran himself so our distractable boy will get a decent meal; making me something to eat after I’ve exhausted all energy feeding the kids; finding the only pacifier that Laurel will sleep with after it’s been flung somewhere in the playroom; bringing milk upstairs; pulling clothes off an exhausted Taran who’s decided at bedtime, he’s too tired to change into pajamas himself).

 

I think I am writing this more for catharsis than anything…and hope I can read this years from now and laugh at our crazy family.  So, no pictures of the precious kids tonight, as I actually wanted to blog for once.  I’m hoping someone can reassure me that I am not alone in our chaos.  If you have the perfect, peaceful meal times, bedtime, and every other times, feel free to share your success…but, really, I’d rather not hear from you at all! (J/K :))