Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Taking Off the Training Wheels

It's sweltering. The sun is shining hot in the sky. We pull into a shaded spot. Little feet hop out of the car, excited with anticipation. A few minor adjustments and the little girl climbs onto the seat. Feet on pedals she trusts her Daddy to hold her steady. And just like that, with a little nudge and a balancing finger on her seat she begins her first ride on her bike without training wheels.

First time's the charm she yells to her Daddy, "Let GO!" and off she rides, smiling confidently. Daddy jogs beside, ready to lend a helping hand. She's a daredevil, that one, and she is not afraid.

So many things running through my mind, the least of which is how glad I am that Daddy is here to jog alongside on this hot day instead of me. I watch in awe, videotape the event, take lots of pictures. This is a big day! And it's a beautiful thing to watch.

She's growing up. She needs us, but she doesn't need us. She can do it, but Daddy's right there in case she falls. After a few laps he reminds her how to use her brakes and how to put a foot down. She goes very fast and practices slowing down. She's getting it!

Doesn't take long for my sweet girl to start riding off curbs, shouting in excitement, "I love BUMPS!". Now who does she take after?

This is the first of many milestones. And she's our baby, our little girl. We are proud and excited for her!

I see her glancing over her shoulder to make sure Daddy's following behind. Big brother cheering her on, "Way to go, Ellie! You're doing great!" She hollers to make sure I'm seeing this. I wouldn't have missed it!

These are the moments we live for as parents. Opportunities to nurture, teach, encourage, and practice. But they are also bittersweet. For all the times in my day to day with them that I wish for a moment I could just sit on the couch and read in peace. Or to make a meal without having to stop to referee an argument or bandaid a scraped knee. And we enjoy the summer, the swimming and the vacation, knowing that before we know it school will be here and my little girl starts full-day kindergarten. And I ask myself, "When did this happen?" and I wonder if I'm ready (not if she's ready, but am I?).

When you wake up in the morning and drag yourself out of bed to make breakfast. When you have a bad day and long for peace and quiet. When you wonder "how did I screw up my kid today?" because you lost your temper or were impatient with them. Let me remind you that you aren't alone. That every day is not a successful parenting day (does that even exist?). When you look down at your Momma body and yearn for what used to be. When you have a date with your husband and wish you just had more time together. It's okay! You aren't the only one. Even the "isn't motherhood so wonderful?" Mommas know there is another side. It is not all well behaved, giggly-happy, obedient, dry diaper days. We all wonder sometimes if we were cut out for this?

But on the other side of the challenging days and moments of self-doubt there are "riding without the training wheels" days that let you know that you are doing okay. That your children are happy and content. That they trust you and need you, even if it's running alongside them instead of still holding on. And one day they will ride off alone and you'll be standing under the shading tree waving proudly, encouraging them to soar, knowing their Heavenly Father will be there to catch them when they go over the bumps!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Father's Love

About a week or so ago my husband told me about this song he came across and how it was really convicting. That one of the hardest things for him is exactly what this song is about...leaving that "one more thing".
"There's always just one more thing • There's always another task • There's always I just have one more small favor to ask • And everything is urgent and everything is now • I wonder what would really happen if I stopped somehow • • I'll be there in a minute • Just a few places to go • You wake up a few years later and your kids are grown • And everything is important • But everything is not • At the end of your life your relationships are all you've got • • And love to me is when you put down that one more thing and say • I've got something better to do • And love to me is when you walk out on that one more thing and say • Nothing will come between me and you • Not even one more thing • • There will never be an end to • The request upon your time • It's your place to stand up and tell the world • You've got to rest awhile • And everything is important • But everything is not • At the end of your life your relationships are all you've got • • And love to me is when you put down that one more thing and say • I've got something better to do • And love to me is when you walk out on that one more thing and say • Nothing will come between me and you • Not even one more thing • •"
Adam is an amazing father. He's such a natural with kids. I have always been in awe of his natural way of connecting with little ones. We joke that it's because he's just a kid at heart, too, and that may be part of it. There is nothing more beautiful then watching a Daddy loving on his kids. But I think the thing that is so wonderful about Adam is his passion. He wants to be a great Dad. He gives it his all. And the thing that he says he struggles with the most (leaving the one more thing) is the very reason he's a great Dad. It's all in the effort. He is aware of the struggle. He tries so hard to choose home over work. He wants to be there. Be here. Be available. God's blessing has been that Adam understands what the kids need. They need their father. We need to eat, but we need Daddy. We sacrifice so they can have more of him.

He is their strongest example (no pressure there). What is caught and what is taught is a real man, trying his best, working hard, making mistakes but making it right, and love, for his wife and his children. He teaches our son to hold doors for ladies, to be gentle with his sister, to respect his Momma. He teaches our daughter that she is lovely, important, and smart. He is proud of them. He comes to soccer practice and games. He watches the school musical and the awards ceremony. He sleeps, I mean sits through piano practice. He gets up at the crack of dawn so he can come home and eat dinner with his family. He plays in the pool, he rides bikes, climbs trees, he does homework, he reads the Bible with them and prays with them at bedtime. He is the father God chose for them. And he takes his responsibility very seriously.

So when you feel convicted about doing that "just one more thing" just remember that we are just happy it's even on the radar. That you are making a choice to be here. And when you can't be here, we know you are working hard for us and we really appreciate that, too.

Thank you, Adam, for working hard to be the father our kids need. Thank you for choosing to be here and making that a priority. But most importantly, thank you for showing them what love looks like, the love of a father that cherishes the precious gifts that they are. And I know you'll read this and blush and say you don't always do all of these things, but hear this...you try and you try hard and there is nothing more important then that.

We love you, Daddy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Treasures By The Sea

Sand between our toes, the sun setting at our backs, we strolled hand-in-hand beside the crashing waves, sea breeze blowing in an evening coolness. It was peaceful, relaxing, and just what we needed.

A gift of time away from our little blessings. A time to reflect, talk, or sit in silence. We were celebrating eleven years of marriage, eleven years of a covenant commitment. It was nice!

As we walked along the Jersey shoreline we were overwhelmed at the number of seashells that had washed up. We don't normally go down there this early in the season. By Labor Day, we are lucky to find a whole clamshell and a couple of pieces of seaweed. As we continued to comb the beach we came upon a cluster of shells that at first glance looked like complete chaos. Chards of shells piled on top of each other. But as we approached the pile, got down on hands & knees, a very different story was revealed. There were hundreds of whole shells; tiny whelks (commonly called conch shells), scallops, a couple of Augers, Wentletraps, slipper & moon snail shells all clustered together. I never saw so many in one place. (FACT OF THE DAY: The whelk is the NJ state seashell.)

So as we sorted and searched to find a treasure we were struck by the amazing intricacies of each shell, particularly the teenie-tiny versions. How could anything be that small? And in those moments we had some perspective. Between remembering how our awesome God created every living thing (even the teenie-tiniest seashell) to the vastness of God's love & knowledge of each and every one of us. Like the pile of shells that looked like chaos to us, God can see each and every shell, knows every grain of sand. He knows. When he takes care of the tiniest details of the seashells, each unique in color, size, twists, patterns...how can we ever feel like God doesn't see us? Doesn't know or care about the tiniest details of our lives?

It was relaxing that evening being on the beach, listening to the calming lullaby of the ocean waves, smelling the sea breezes, and hearing the familiar squawks of the seagulls above. And picking seashells started out as a search for the perfect, whole shell and quickly became an opportunity to see the beauty in all of them, even the broken ones. The interesting ways the sea changed them over time, made some smooth and polished. Broken pieces with brilliant purple or textures & ridges warn by the waves. It didn't matter anymore if they were whole. They were still beautiful.

I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. God doesn't make mistakes. He doesn't throw out the imperfect, the broken. He is not a collector of the whole. He made us. He knows we are all broken. And like the shells, once we are broken we cannot be whole in the same way we once were. The only way to become whole again is through Jesus Christ. If you mend a broken shell together with glue the crack is still there. We all have scars we carry, battles we have fought, brokenness we often try to hide. But God knows it's there. He is a Healer and a Redeemer.

And we are a beautiful treasure in His hands.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My blog contest led to an opportunity to take pictures for my friend Amy and her family last Sunday. It was a lot of fun and they are happy with the results. If anyone is interested in setting up a session (Philadelphia, PA area) with me, feel free to email me at christynadam@aol.com or leave a comment on my blog. I'd love another opportunity!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Love, Me

"Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will become.
Who will love me for me?"
LOVE ME - by JJ Heller

The sun shone bright in blue skies. The day began with a bustle, running here and there. Last minute this...shower, hair, make-up, dress. I'm guessing most wedding days start out that way. An afternoon wedding, we said "I do". Did we really know what all of that meant?

We agreed to a dream. An expectation. An idea of what it might be like, would be like. We came with our own baggage, acquired from years apart and years together, from childhood, teen years, and college. We had dated for six years. This was a natural next step. And it felt like it was about time.

We remember the big events. Weddings are definitely one of them. Looking back on eleven years of marriage, seventeen years of being "a couple", and twenty-nine years of knowing each other (we met in first grade). Wow! We had a lot of time. A lot of history. None of it could prepare us for all that life would throw at us. But we are no different then anyone else. We all have our valleys and mountains. That's why the vows spell it out so clearly. We aren't in it solely for the good, successful, rich, healthy times.

Would you do it all over again? This is an unfair question. Why even consider an answer. Of course. This was The Plan. This was the one chosen for me. This was the story God was telling. Willing characters. The story isn't over. There is still more to be told. Yes, He knows the ending. But for now, we will just have to wait and trust.
"We might not be able to see the end of the story. But we can trust the Storyteller."
(JOANNA WEAVER "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World")
Thank you, Adam, for being my husband for better or worse. Thank you for allowing God to work in your life. Thank you for surrendering to the story He was writing. It's much better then anything we could have come up with on our own! Thank you for your love today, for striving to be the man God calls you to be, and for fighting for our marriage. Thank you for the many times you leave "the other thing" to make our family a priority. Thank you for wanting to be the man I need. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for loving me for me.

Happy Anniversary!
Love, your forever wife,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dive Through Or Let Go

Marriage. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. The vows spell it out for us. The words remind us that both happen. It's not all cloud-free days and a bouquet of roses. Why are we ever surprised when the wave knocks us over? We know it's there. We knowingly choose to get in the water. Sometimes we see it coming. Sometimes it sneaks up on us when we're not paying attention. Then, WHAMO...we toss and we turn. For a moment even we might not even know which way is up. Hopefully we remembered to take a big breath before we went under or else we're gasping for air. If we're lucky we pop back up to the surface and all is calm again. And we float. And we enjoy the calm. And we get ready because another wave is coming. The ocean waves crash one after the other and then there's a calm. Like they need time to regroup...or they know we do.

Today, I take a breath. A slow return to my feet. I was swirling about in the wave, but my feet have at last found the sandy floor. It started with a small wave, enough to knock me off balance a bit. A wave of stress, followed by a tired and a burdened and a plate too full hit me. This is life. This is what it's like to be a human. This is living out the vows. This is feet digging deep in the sand when the currents want to take you away.

But I'm thankful. Thankful he's still here. Thankful he didn't wash away with me. Thankful that the wave didn't keep me under for long. Maybe it's the perfectionist in me that thinks this shouldn't happen. Maybe it's the very thing I need to open my eyes and remember that I'm not in control. As much as I try to keep my feet under me I can't keep the wave from knocking me under.

Oh, there are times when I see it coming. It's big and ominous. And I take a big breath and dive through it head first. But then there are other times when I see it coming and I just hold my nose and let it come over me. And I don't fight the wave. I let it swirl me around and even though it feels like chaos I trust that when it passes over me I will come up again for air and be mostly unscathed. I know my diving through it is me controlling, self-protecting. The sooner I can get through it the sooner I'll be standing on two feet again. But is that the best way?

There is something freeing about letting go in that wave. About letting yourself be tossed about. And trusting that it will be okay. Trusting not in yourself. Believing in the plan God has for you and accepting it, whatever it may be.

Like the rhythm of the ocean waves on the sand...struggle, rest, struggle, rest...this is the rhythm of life. Don't dive through. Just let go!
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you. (PSALM 116:5-7
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