Sunday, March 30, 2008

The joys of life... with a 15 month old!

So...umm... this is where I found Evelyn this afternoon.

Apparently she can climb into the bathtub all by herself now. I LOVE that she is so curious and wants to (and can) do so much by herself right now. BUT... the gray hairs on my head are multiplying very quickly these days!

... but I truly am loving every minute of it, give or take a few seconds! :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Easter Weekend

This is SO overdue... here is a brief reacap of our trip with lots of photos.

We arrived at the beach on Friday afternoon. It was SNOWING on the way over... no joke. Once we came down the pass, tho, it cleared up... thanks, God! It was B.E.A utiful! Sunny skies, just a little bit of wind. We were the first ones there, which gave Evelyn a chance to get used to the new surroundings before all of her crazy boy cousins got into town. Grandpa and Grandma showed up soon after we did and we all headed to the beach. She had so much running and running and running.

Her first reaction to the sand? She clapped and squealed. It was cute.

I love this picture... her butt is so cute...heehee!

Look at this big stick, Grandma!!

I love the beach!

I LOVE my family!

We spent Friday and Saturday on the beach and hanging with the family... all 24 of us! Evelyn really did well and didn't get too overwhelmed with all the commotion (she has a tendency to do that). She loved just watching her cousins run around and play. They are all boys, so that meant lots of hot wheels and wrestling!

Sunday it was pouring, but we ventured out and went to church. As much as I wanted to attend services at Sunset, I was very moved and met God during worship. My sister-in-law's church is small but full of love and the Lord. (Debbie lives at the beach)

In true Evelyn fashion, she was not in the mood to pose for photos. She looked so pretty in her dress! These are the best shots I have :(

Overall it was a wonderful weekend. I am excited to get back again and play with Evelyn in the sand!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What would you do?

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. As I was getting Evelyn out of the car, I noticed 2 little kids in the car next to me. ALONE! The doors were unlocked and the kids were no more the kindergarten age, most likely younger. They were fine, just jumping around and playing. But no adult in site... except me. So I stayed by my car and just hung out, not wanting to leave them out there. I debated calling 911... but it wasn't a true emergency... or was it?

A few minutes later, a women came out of the store and went to the car. She only had one bag, so it appeared she wasn't in the store long. I gently told her it probably wasn't the safest thing to leave her kids alone in a unlocked car. She said, "were they out of the car?" I said no, and again said it wasn't a good idea to leave kids alone in a car. She just gave me a blank stare, got in her car, and drove off.

I got the license plate and called the non-emergency police line. Basically there is nothing they can do unless they arrive on the scene when it is happening. If I had called 911, which the police officer said would have been fine to do, the police wouldn't have gotten there in time, as the lady came out only a few minutes after I arrived.

I wish we lived in a world that was safe enough to leave young kids in the car to run a quick errand. But we don't, and this whole thing just really bothered me.

What would you have done?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Home sweet home

I dont' have much time but wanted to post a couple of pics from the weekend. What an amazing time we had at the beach!! It was sunny and gorgeous and Evelyn LOVED the beach.

Here is a another pic of Evelyn and her uncle Don. See my last post to compare pictures.

This is the best family shot we could get on the beach but it certainly captures Evelyn's joy.

I'll post more when I get caught up on laundry and rest!! I hope your Easter was wonderful!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Off to the beach!

Tomorrow we leave for Cannon Beach to spend Easter weekend with Doug's family. We have been going for a few years now and it's become a mini-family reunion of sorts... and so much fun.

Last year we just went for the day. I wasn't ready to do a overnighter with Evelyn yet.

Here is a pic from last year in her uncle Don's lap... geez she was so little... and had such crazy hair! :)

I'll post again with new pics when I return. Happy Easter bloggers!

Hallelujah! He is risen! Hallelujah! He is risen indeed!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A sign?

So, Evelyn has a new word : baby. She says it a lot and carries around her one and only baby doll (this is new, too.. she has mostly ignored the doll up till this week) around the house. This morning she has been saying "momma baby"... all morning. Hmmmmm.....

I think she wants to be a big sister!

We'll have to work on that. Someday... ;)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The night I heard the voice of God

His name was Paul. He was handsome, smart and funny. And he liked me. It was January 1994. We had been set up on a blind date a week prior. It was the best date either of us had been on in while. I was really excited about seeing him again. He was excited, too.. we had talked on the phone every day since our meeting. He had come over to my apartment to watch movies that next Friday night. One thing led to another... next thing you know.... we weren't watching the movie anymore. We made our way to my bedroom and things were starting to heat up. I was lying there with him in the dark, and all of a sudden I heard a very strong yet gentile and calm voice say,

"What are you doing, Stephanie? I have so much more for you than this."

It was the voice of God.

For every soul there is a dawning
When we see there's more to life than we believed
Faith is that one road that's left to travel
But it means we have to start
to trust
what we can't see
Then at last
We choose to take that first step

I grew up in a very loving,wonderful family and lived a very happy yet sheltered childhood. My dad sold insurance and my mom was at home with me and my two sisters in the (then) small town of Roseburg, Oregon. I was raised in the Catholic faith. I went to Catholic school and went to church every Sunday. I remember learning about Jesus, Mary, and the Saints. I memorized countless numbers of prayers. I learned right and wrong and how to be a good person. I loved my family, my friends, my school, my life. I was in an environment that was nurturing, encouraging, and confidence building. It was my Eden, really.

 I wasn't, however, versed on what lurked outside the walls of my small group of church and family friends.

Until I went to middle school.

A public school middle school.

In a new town, no less.

It was brutal. Being socially immature and out of the loop of public school coolness, I was mocked and teased on a regular basis. Today it would be considered  bullying and it would not have been tolerated. But not in 1983. I had been a well liked kid in a small private school. Now I was the doormat to be stomped on in the big leagues. Since I also was a new kid (we had just moved), I had to make friends... but I didn't know how. People had always just been my friend, liking me for who I was. Now, I was desperate to fit in and to be liked. I lost myself in the process, trying to be like the popular kids and make friends by being someone I was not. I tried too hard, and it showed. I was so unhappy, so lonely, and felt like I had no one to turn to. I don't think anyone, not even my parents, knew how bad it was. Those 3 years left painful and permanent scars on my soul.

We moved to Beaverton my freshman year. It was better, I was involved in cheerleading and student government, and was well liked. But my confidence lacked. Memories from middle school and fear of not fitting in were huge. I continued to try to be like everyone else... except me. I had many shallow friendships (on my part) because I really didn't know who I was. At all.

The years after high school were spent searching. Searching for happiness, acceptance, love, passion, self worth.. searching for me. I tried many things, but none were very successful. I dropped out of college and started working ("money will make it all better"). I lost way too much weight ("being skinny will make it all better"). I lied (I didn't like the truth). I drank often (an escape...), I hooked up with guys who only wanted one thing (and, yes, I gave it to them sometimes). I pretty much disobeyed every one of the Ten Commandments. Whatever it took to be accepted. I was still a good person, I just did stupid things. I so badly wanted to be happy. So very badly.

Little did I know God was working on me and had a plan to reel me in.....

There was always one person in my life I could count on. He was my "god" in a way I guess. He was my rock. He was my dad. He was unsinkable in my eyes. Until he let my family down in a really huge way (it was a financial thing... no need to elaborate). It was a complete shock. The one person I thought I could trust and depend on had betrayed me and my family. It rattled me to the core. I was even more lost and empty than I could even imagine. (Thankfully my relationship with my dad was healed quickly and I still consider him one of the greatest men I have ever known!)

My sister had become a Christian about 6 months prior to this all going down. People from her church spent time with us, helping as they could after the situation with my dad unfolded. They would pray with Laurie. They genuinely embraced my family. I thought they were sweet, but man, they seemed like big time "Bible thumpers"! My parents started attending church with Laurie. I kindly declined the invites most of the time. It didn't interest me. Until my sister came to me and said, "There is a cute guy at church I want you to meet. I think you two would really hit it off."

Cute boy? I am SO there!! Yes, that was my shallow response.. but it got me to church.

The next 3 months were interesting. I enjoyed going to church. It certainly was different than "church" I was used to, but it wasn't as freaky as I thought it might be. At first I was trying to "act the part" to fit in, just like I had become accustomed to doing. I even bought a bible and started to listen to Christian music a bit.. but really, it was kinda just for show. Soon though, I wasn't "acting" as much as I used to. I felt comfortable, I was more "me" than trying to be someone else. People genuinely embraced me and loved me for who I was and let me see that there was more to walking with the Lord than rules... there was joy. There was fun. I was ever so slowly starting to soak up talk of God's grace. Could this make me happy? Could he really forgive me... love me.. die for me? Was it that simple? I wasn't convinced.

That Guy? Well, Andy was cute and nice. He also was willing to let me be real. He came to know the Lord later in life, too, and could relate to my past. We had honest talks about faith. I felt comfortable asking him questions. He gave answers and shared Jesus in a way that I could understand. But really, I wasn't ready to fully embrace the whole "Jesus" thing. I didn't want to let go of my familiar ways, even if they were pathetic and sad. It was a safe place to hide. In all honesty, I didn't think I was worthy of a love like God offered. So I lived in both worlds, trying to figure out which one I liked better, I guess.

Then there was that Friday night with Paul.

The night I heard the voice of God.

I think I made some lame excuse to stop the heated action, like "my roommate will be home soon" or something of the like. He obliged (like I said, he was a nice guy) and we both got dressed and decided to call it a night.

I never talked to him again.

For every soul there is a midnight
When it's silent in the room but loud inside

You lie awake what seems like forever
And you wrestle with the big stuff that cannot be denied
All of life has led you to this moment

I didn't sleep much that night. I was anxious. I knew that God wanted my heart. I knew I wanted to give it to Him. And that really freaked me out, to be honest. I thought about and read some verses that Andy had given me in a "4 Spiritual Laws" booklet. This is what God showed me thru those verses:

I am a child of God, beautiful and perfect in His sight. I also am a sinner. The world is a broken place. Despite myself, despite brokenness in the world, He sent Jesus to die so I could have eternal life. All he asks for is my heart.

The next day I spent alone, pondering so many things. I cried and prayed. A lot. I was tired of being lost and empty. I told God if he wanted me, he had to take me with all of my junk. I realize now that's how he wants us... broken. Man, I was so broken.

When the time comes
And the games are finally over
There's no more pretending
All charades are done
And the time comes
When the soul is finally ready
You know the truth and
This time you don't run
God is waiting there, you'll find
When the time comes

I called the church the following Monday morning and asked to talk to someone. The next evening Dora Ann Dodson and Gerrie O'Leary (two "mom" like figures who I had met at church and had come to love and respect so much) came to my apartment and prayed with me as I gave my life to Jesus.  I have goosebumps as I type this, remembering the moment. I had always thought faith was about religion. Now I knew it was much more. It was about a real relationship with my maker.

He'll rush
He'll reach
He'll run
He'll do anything
To get to you

I made Him work for it, but he got to me. The years since have been spent re-finding myself.. the real me. I am so blessed to have met a guy like Andy, who really kept me searching for the truth. He remains a friend for whom I will always be grateful. I was thankful to have been part of my church's singles ministry, which allowed me to meet people who wanted me to grow in my faith and held me accountable to do so. Soon after my decision, the Lord brought my friend Heather into my life to disciple me. My greatest growth and maturity in my faith came through sweet time with her. I love her like a sister, and to this day I still call on her for honest counsel. Being around such encouraging people like her and others gave me confidence to go back to school and fulfill my life long dream of being a nurse. It was in that same singles group that I also met Doug, truly a man after God's heart.

Don't get me wrong... my life is not any more perfect than it was before I let God have my heart. I still struggle with self confidence, still try too hard to fit in, still make PLENTY of mistakes. There are still mountains to climb and valleys to walk through.. BUT... what is different now is that I have HOPE and a PROMISE. Hope for tomorrow and a promise of forgiveness and life forever with my father in heaven. My life has been changed by the love and grace of God.

For God so loved ME (and you)
that He gave his one and only Son
So that I (and you) would not perish
but have eternal life
John 3:16

This Easter, it is my prayer that you know that God is real. That God gives real hope in this broken world. You are His child, fully loved, and one that He sacrificed His only son for. I hope you can come to know the (not perfect but) abundant life you can have through that sacrifice. And I pray if you are someone who is struggling like I was, that you, too, would be changed.

Changed by the voice of God.

(Words in red are lyrics of the song "When the Time Comes" by Avalon)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Let the tagging begin... again

Jos tagged me. You all know the drill by now.

A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.

B. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago: Living the single life, trying to figure out if Doug and I were actually "dating" or just "testing the waters" (we all know how that one turns out...;). Working night shift... I don't ever want to do that again.

5 Things on my To Do List today:
1)Make spaghetti sauce.. check. 2)Clean house... ugh. 3)Grocery shop.. I'm craving blueberries. 4)Read Romans 12... I am reading it everyday for a month. 5)Love on my husband and my sweet Evelyn... the best part of my day, everyday.

Snacks I Enjoy: Apples w/ peanut butter, anything chocolate

Things I would do if I were a Billionaire: Hmmm... 1) get a good lawyer and money man, 2) Give to charity, 3)Pay off all of my immediate family's debt and set up college funds for my kids and my nieces and nephews 4) learn how to fly 5) buy Doug his dream car

3 of my Bad Habits: worry, impatience, talking too fast

5 places I have lived: Bellingham (WA), Roseburg, McMinnville, Eugene, Beaverton, Alexandria (VA), Portland

5 Jobs I have had: McDonalds (my first job), nanny, bank teller, medical receptionist, nurse, mom

Who am I Tagging???
Here are today's lucky winners:

Melinda G.
Carrie P.
Erika L.
Suzi J.
Carol B.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

For Laurie

My sister was complaining that I haven't posted in a while. As much as I didn't want to cave into her whining :), I couldn't resist posting some pics of Evelyn today. We went for a walk. Or in Evelyn's case...

... walk a few steps and stop to watch kids playing basketball, then squeal with excitment

... then turn around and run back the way we came... we did this several times! We had so much fun!

My happy girl who can't get enough of dancing in the sunshine!


So, "Aunt LoLo"... are you satisfied? :)

Monday, March 3, 2008

A thank you and a smile

Our dear friends Stan and Dianne in Klamath Falls sent Evelyn this adorable outfit. I wanted to post a picture of her in it for them. THANKS Stan and Dianne!!!

She even smiled for me!(apparently Sam also wanted in on the photo op... nice!)

Saturday I tried to get some fun pictures of her playing with daddy.

This is what she was doing most of the time I had the camera out... just looking at me.

... but then she did this right when I had the camera ready to shoot! FINALLY!

It's not the best, but it will do for now. I'll keep working on it!