Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jaden!

Me: On a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest, how has this birthday been?

Let's recap:
1. Today at her violin lesson she learned how to play the bow over one string and is very proud of that fact.
2. She loved her new boots (the coolest boots ever!) and her dresses, and called her outfit today an "outfit." She thanked us profusely for her new clothes.
3. Her classmates loved the ice cream sandwiches she brought to share.
4. After school she was efficient in her routine: picked out clothes for the next three days (new dresses), cleaned her thermos, practiced her violin, practiced the piano and recorded the progress of her bean seeds for Science.
5. Pumpkin farm! The four of us explored the pumpkin farm on a beautiful feels-like-summer day.
We ate dinner late, but it was her favorite, spaghetti and salad.
Yes, I think today has been a FIFTEEN too!

Monday, September 22, 2014

My Heart Skips a Beat

Today is the day before Jaden's seventh birthday. We have a plan for tomorrow:  wake up early to take her to school for violin lessons, go to school, and go to the pumpkin farm at her request.  

We gave her a present tonight for her to wear to school: new black slouchy boots and a black and white houndstooth dress with fuchsia accents. She was open-mouthed when she opened the box of boots and was sad when we wouldn't let her wear them to bed.  

For the snack to give her classmates, she asked if she could bring ice cream sandwiches. After getting her teacher's approval, she will be sharing the ice cream sandwiches at lunch time. 

This is her first birthday with us. She's excited and happy.  

Bedtime was later than usual because it's Bible study night.  Alannah and Jaden "babysit" the kids whose parents come to the Defending Your Marriage study. 

After packing lunches and last-minute homework, I tucked them in, prayed over them and blessed them.  Then I called them by the pet names they gave each other; Alannah, "Sissy Boo" and Jaden, "Baby Boo." They giggled, and Jaden reached out to me and called me in a baby voice, "Mommy!"  

Alannah and I immediately responded, "You called her/me 'Mommy'!" 

She realized what she'd said she told me that she was "just teasing."  She's not ready to call me mom, and that's okay.

I comforted her by saying, "I know you were teasing, but it made my heart skip a beat."

Her eyes grew wide. "Really?"

You see, a couple of weeks ago she began winking at me when she was happy. After a couple of days of this new habit, I told Michael in front of her that she was doing this and that it "made my heart skip a beat."  

She's continued winking at me a couple of times a day, and Sunday she questioned me after winking at me, "Does that still make your heart skip a beat?"  I raised my eyebrows in surprised that she remembered my quote exactly and told her it did. She smiled at me and said in a satisfied tone, "Good."  

Hugs from Alannah, winks from Jaden, encouraging words from Michael - these are what makes my heart skip a beat.  God is good.  All the time.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tattoos and the Bride of Christ

Yesterday I met a young couple at an event at our church. They are not members, but are related to people who are. I asked them if they were married (I noticed a ring on his left hand) and he said that they were going to get married, and had plans to get married in May but they didn't.  He didn't offer an explanation, and I felt it wasn't my business. But I did ask these questions: Where do you live? Do you go to church?

He did all of the talking. They live close by. He doesn't go to church anymore because all they talk about there is money and politics.  

I mentioned that I hear many people don't come to church because of the hypocrites, and that everyone I know is a hypocrite. I continued by saying that no one stops going to the grocery store or bank because there are hypocrites there, but they stop going to church because of the hypocrites.  

Then the real conversation started.  He said, "I want to go to church, but when I do I am told I'm the son of satan (he doesn't deserve a capital letter) because of my piercings and tattoos, and I've actually been told that exact words!" 

I looked him in the eye and apologized on behalf of the people who told him that, telling him if that happens again that he should tell them the Bible makes no mention of satan having children.  That made him grimace a little, but he was not amused because of the painful memories.

Then I said, "I hope this doesn't offend you, but I didn't even notice your tattoos." Then I looked at his arms and realized he was covered in ink! I continued, "I did notice your earrings, but they don't bother me."  My ears are pierced, so why should it bother me that his are?  So I'm not a hypocrite about piercings, but I am about other things.

I told him that if he came to our church that no one would mind his tattoos or piercings, and that I hoped he would consider coming.  To my surprise, he immediately responded, "I would like to come here!"  

I then suggested that they get married at our church, and I offered to photograph the wedding and do the graphic design of their invitations and such. His fiancee asked for my contact information, and I gave her my phone number and e-mail address.  

I have been praying for them constantly since our meeting, and I hope they do come to our church, get married here, and I get the honor of photographing their wedding.  Most of all, I pray that our conversation has an eternal difference!  

Church, we have to stop thinking that people need to be a certain way or look a certain way before they come in the door!  No one would ever be able to cross the threshold if we had to be perfect.  Jesus died for us because we weren't perfect!  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Just Fiddlin' Around

Here's our Jaden with her electric purple violin that she purchased with the gifts of money she received on her baptism day.  She is as happy as a kid on Christmas day, and has carried her violin in it's backpack-style case around the house all evening.  

She'll begin lessons at school in the middle of September!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

While at the eye doctor . . .

Alannah wants glasses so bad and has for years, and recently she'd been commenting that she couldn't read signs from far away so I scheduled an eye appointment.  Sadly for her, she has 20/20 vision.  While she was being examined, Aja took some photos of Jaden. They are adorable, so I had to share.

Monday, August 25, 2014

First day of first and seventh grades

We had another "first" today. It was the first day of school. First day of first grade for Jaden. First day of seventh grade for Alannah.  First day at a new school for both girls.  First day for Michael and me to have two kids going to school on the first day of school.  

They now attend the school where I work, saving time and money in transporting them.  It was not an easy decision. We were thrilled with their old school; a place where both girls thrived. The teachers were incredible, and the staff was too. We will miss Immanuel in many ways.

We look forward to the future at their new school. Things change, but some stay the same.  Opening chapel was today, the same as it's been since kindergarten for Alannah. 

Jaden tells friends, family and strangers that she's going to learn to play the violin at her new school. Regardless of their age, gender, appearance or location, she tells everyone who will listen about her violin. Some people respond with interest and others ignore her. Personally, I am geeked she's excited to play and look forward to the coming years as her skills improve.  She had a tough time at school today as her new name is now a reality. She was introduced as Jaden Stahl, and her desk tag reads the same. She's acclimated so well to being part of our family, but she simply doesn't like the name Stahl. I wish I could help her work through this issue, but time will help her come to terms with her new name.  Other than that, she had a great day.  Her teacher had given her a booklet for her to read last night that included some pretty confetti to put under her pillow to help her to not be anxious.  She woke up this this morning and immediately told me "that stuff didn't work because I had a dream about zombies last night."  I told her I was sorry to hear about the dream and then asked if she knew the confetti did not have powers, but it was a special gift from her teacher to make her feel better.  She paused and then said that she knew that.  I had weird dreams last night too, and I had no confetti.

Alannah has always had stomach aches on the first day of school, but today she did not.  I don't know why her annual anxiety was gone, but when I hugged her after school she whispered, "I didn't cry today."  This is a huge milestone for her, and I think her life is turning a corner. She's going to be in handbells for the third year and also play the trumpet in band. She'll run track in the spring in a much longer season than her old school.  Piano lessons begin on Thursday, and we have to discuss if she'll get a new guitar teacher as hers has gone back to college.  What else?  She's eager to make good choices and get organized this year.  She adores the teaching staff at Bethlehem, and is eager to get involved in the youth group. 

I attended morning chapel and photographed the service to post on Bethlehem's Facebook page.  Pastor Korte took off his shoes at the beginning of his message to the kids in reference to the Old Testament reading about Joshua standing on holy ground.  Then he asked the kids who else in the Bible took off his shoes to stand on holy ground.  Jaden raised her hand, was called on, and answered, "Moses!"  I just smiled.  Moses is her favorite Bible character, and she has a deep sense of injustice that he does not have a book of the Bible named after him.  

What more can I say than I'm grateful to God for a beautiful first day of school.  The only thing that marred the day was me throwing up in the car on the drive home.  Yes, I've been sick for nearly three weeks (hence the silence on my blog) and today was not a good day for me.  However, my girls are happy and safe, in another school that values them as children of God, and I am content.  To God be the glory!

August in photos

Lucia, Laurine, Alannah, Karder, Sarah, Jaden and Mercedes performing a mini operetta to
"Hello, My Name is" by Matthew West on Jaden's baptism day, August 10.
Hand motions to "Hello, My Name Is"
Mom and Dad with Jaden
Cookie Grandma and Jaden
My mom, grandma, me, Alannah and Jaden - three generations
My dad, his sister, Susan, her husband, Jim - plus me and the girls
My dad, his sister Susan, her husband Jim, my sister Angie - plus me and the girls
Stahl family photo
Jaden posing with her cake
Jaden wearing the tiara she purchased
Jaden & Alannah on the first day of school!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

This is love

This is love: Letting your 6-year old do your hair in the style of Robert Palmer's
"Addicted to Love" band models with enough hair gel for the entire band
and then doing her hair just like the photo she found on Pinterest. I'm not
a coordinated braider, but she encouraged me: "You can do it, Stacey!"

Then she asked if I would put this on the internet for the world to see.

Despicable Them!

Today was the annual parade in our little town, and our dear neighbor Aja had the brilliant idea to create a mini float based upon her favorite movie characters from Despicable Me 2.  She and her parents made all of the costumes for the minions (4 of her sisters and my Alannah).  She was Lucy. Two neighbor boys were Gru and Dr. Nefario.  Our little Jaden was Edith. 

Each minion costume was made by paper-machacing a beach ball and poster board. Yellow felt, black pipe cleaners and custom-made overalls with a "G" on each of them rounded out their costumes.  Even Dr. Nafario's gloves and Gru's hat had that "G" on it. 

I just got a phone call that their entry got first place!  Yay!

Here are the photos I took of this very special day. 
Karder is driving the mini-float.

They played Pharrell's "Happy" the two-miles of the parade route and Jaden danced the whole time.

This was seriously the highlight of a fabulous week!

Karder was so awesome!

Dr. Nefario!

Lucy and Edith dancing to "Happy"

Alannah, Mercedes and Laurine as minions.

They went by so quickly, but it was an incredible moment.