Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Aliza Rose

On this day, six years ago, mom knew the baby was finally coming! She was a whole week late, which was odd for my mom's babies, who usually come a day before or after their due date. I remember Nick and I were running together at the time, and were up for our morning routine. But as soon as Mom told me she was in labor, running was the last thing on my mind. So I sat and waited with her, and Nick went running. And Nick came home. And slowly the rest of the kids woke up, and the exciting day was underway. Dad came home from work, our grandma came over, and the mid-wife arrived.

At this point our family was nine. Mom, Dad, two girls, five boys. We girls were well out numbered, and we knew it.

The summer I turned fourteen I remember praying consistently for a baby sister. Nolan, then the baby, had just turned two, and as far as Angela and I were concerned, it was time for another baby! So we guessed when she would tell us, and in secret code (I think it was MTP - Mom Tell Pregnant :-P) circled the date on the calendar we thought she would announce it: September 27th. 

But Mom beat us to it, and September 26th she told us a new baby would be here before next summer!

O, I hoped and prayed it was a girl! We all hoped and prayed it was a girl. Of course we would take a boy, everyone knew we loved boys, but how badly we wanted a pretty baby girl!

Well, it was a girl. And sweet Aliza Rose has blessed us with her life for a whole six years. She is quite the drama queen, and busy, busy, busy. Loves friends and pretty things. Just lost her two bottom teeth and learned how to ride a two-wheeler. Her most recent witticism was telling mom, "I really like the mall, Mom. I'm just not a Target girl." :-P

This girl is my Poppet - my girl. I watch her and want to pull my hair out because she is so very much like me when I was her age.

I've been having some fun with iMovie recently, and put this together in honor of her Very First Birthday.

video


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dear Legalism, I hate your stinkin' guts.

You make me vomit.

I hate you so much I could swear.

How many tears have I bitterly wept on account of your lies?

How many Christians have you ruined through suffocation?

You say that our works matter. That we must live perfect lives. That our humanness is a fault to be conquered.

How many children have you chased away from Jesus because of your impossible demands?

How many weak victims fall prey to your brood of vipers?

You are a slow killer, and Satan's best weapon against the gospel of Jesus Christ.

O, Legalism, you are a heavy burden.

Do you not know that Jesus Christ died to destroy the weight of sin?

His work is easy, His burden is light. And in Him we can rejoice, and be comforted, renewed, and redeemed.

Legalism, your power is fleeting. You may seem strong, but Christ is stronger.

Sincerely,
          Ashlee

p.s. And, Legalism, I hate your brother Antinomianism, too. I'll yell at him later.

"Let it be known to you, therefore, that through Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by Him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be free by the law..." (Acts 13: 38-39)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Meet Zoe

Our Sweet New Puppy!



We've been talking about a dog for quite some time now. Daniel has especially been talking about a dog. After graduation, with his flexible work schedule this summer, seemed a good time to add this little addition to our family. :) He would have been happy with any ol' dog, but me - I had to have a baby. We also knew we wanted to adopt a puppy, and not get a purebred from a breeder or pet store.
We found Zoe at Animal Control where she's been living with her three sisters. We don't know where Mommy is, sadly. She's only about six weeks old. We played with her first by herself for awhile, and then had her sisters brought in too. They were all adorable and unique, but for both of us, and Daniel especially it was love at first sight. Zoe was spunky and frisky, and so very quirky. She has this funny army-crawl that she does, with her tail wagging rigorously all the while! It's hilarious. We wished we could take them all with us, but know that the rest of the cuties will find good homes soon enough.

She went from a un-owned number to a adopted and unconditionally loved Zoe!
She was in serious need of a bath. So we did that as soon as we got home.

She tolerated it fairly well. Looks so tiny here!

Love those ears!
We had a hard time picking out a name. Even after we decided on Zoe (say the E) I was still trying to think of something else. After a day though, I think it fits. In Greek, Zoe means "life." Given we rescued this little one from Animal Control, and she has quite a funky personality, "Zoe" fits doubly well.

:-D

Maura and Michael were just itching to meet her!

Michael had a hard time learning how to hold her... he'll get it, eventually. :)
Zoe and Isabelle were a trip. Isabelle did fabulously, and even seemed to understand she couldn't play too rough - though Zoe did get batted at several times in the excitement of everything. They chased each other around, and Zoe nibbled at Izzy's feet.


Stay tuned - the puppymoon will end shortly, and doggie training will begin! :-D

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Graduation Day!

Today was Graduation Day! 


I am so proud of my husband for finishing is Master's Degree.

There was an unusually small class this year - only 17 total 

Late last night his mom flew up from Florida, and his sister surprised him with a visit too! 

We enjoyed a short, tasteful graduation ceremony and reception late this morning.
Daniel and Professors Dr. Belcher and Dr. Cara

Daniel with Dr. Fortson


The Graduate
My sister Angela also got to be here for the special day, so Daniel is surrounded by women all weekend!







We enjoyed dinner at Olive Garden and then oreo pie (Daniel's favorite) back at home this evening.

Love him! <3


A Kindle from his mom and sister, brother-in-law and niece!
For the first time in our relationship Daniel is NOT a student. This will be exciting. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Parenting 001 by Kevin DeYoung

Daniel and I got a good laugh out of this Parenting 001 by Kevin DeYoung. How often do I (even as a nanny, and not a mother yet) try to raise heart issues and bring Christ into a child's actions, only to be met with a blank stare and an "I dunno." This is a good reminder that even the "experts" have difficulties, and that training a child is not a one-time deal, but a life long process of love and consistency.

"Does it seem like parenting has gotten more complicated? I mean, as far as I can tell, back in the day parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, and keep them away from explosives. Now our kids have to sleep on their backs (no wait, their tummies; no never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.


It’s all so involved. There are so many rules and expectations. Kids can’t even eat sugar anymore. My parents were solid as a rock but we still had a cupboard populated with cereal royalty like Captain Crunch and Count Chocula. In our house the pebbles were fruity and the charms were lucky. The breakfast bowl was a place for marshmallows, not dried camping fruit. Our milk was 2%. And sometimes, if we needed to take the edge off a rough morning, we’d tempt fate and chug a little Vitamin D.

Trial by Error

I don’t consider myself a particularly good parent. I was asked to speak a few years ago at some church’s conference. They wanted me to talk about parenting. I said I didn’t have much to say so they should ask someone else (which they did). My kids are probably not as crazy as they seem to me (at least that’s what I keep telling myself anyway), but if I ever write a book on parenting I’m going to call it The Inmates Are Running the Asylum.

There are already scores of books on parenting, many of them quite good. I’ve read several of them and have learned much. I really do believe in gospel-powered parenting and shepherding my child’s heart. I want conversations like this:

Me: What’s the matter son?
Child: I want that toy and he won’t give it to me!
Me: Why do you want the toy?
Child: Because it will be fun to play with.
Me: Do you think he is having fun playing with the toy right now?
Child: Yes.
Me: Would it make him sad to take the toy away?
Child: I guess so.
Me: And do you like to make your brother sad?
Child: No.
Me: You know, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means loving your brother the way he would want to be loved. Since Jesus loves us so much, we have every reason to love others–even your brother. Would you like to love him by letting him play with the toy for awhile?
Child: Yes I would daddy.

I try that. Really I do. But here’s what actually happens:

Me: What’s the matter son?
Child: I want that toy and he won’t give it to me!
Me: Why do you want the toy?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: What’s going on in your heart when you desire that toy?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: Think about it son. Use your brain. Don’t you know something?
Child: I guess I just want the toy.
Me: Obviously. But why?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: Fine. [Mental note: abandon "why" questions and skip straight to leading questions.] Do you think he is having fun playing with the toy right now?
Child: No.
Me: Really?! He’s not having fun? Then why does he want that toy in the first place?
Child: Because he’s mean.
Me: Have you ever considered that maybe you are being mean by trying to rip the toy from his quivering little hands?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: What do you know?
Child: I don’t know!
Me: Nevermind. [I wonder how my brilliant child can know absolutely nothing at this moment.] Well, I think taking the toy from him will make your brother sad. Do you like to make him sad?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: [Audible sigh.]
Child: He makes me sad all the time!
Me: Well, I’m getting sad right now with your attitude! [Pause, think, what would Paul Tripp do? Thinking . . . .thinking . . . .man, I can't stop thinking of that mustache. This isn't working. Let's just go right to the Jesus part.] You know, Jesus wants us to love each other.
Child: I don’t know.
Me: I didn’t ask you a question!
Child: [Pause.] Can I have some fruit snacks?
Me: No, you can’t have fruit snacks. We are talking about the gospel. Jesus loves us and died for us. He wants you to love your brother too.
Child: So?
Me: So give him the toy back!

Then I lunge for the toy and the child runs away. I tell him to come back here this instant and threaten to throw the toy in the trash. I recommit myself to turning down speaking engagements on parenting."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Little Red Shelf

I found this junky little shelf in the dumpster back in the fall. It was exactly what we needed by the front door for our keys, green bags and flip flips. I found it so useful it's taken me nearly six months to finally get it refinished! Of course I forgot to take a before picture... It had sat out in the rain for several days - I'm guessing, because the stain was nearly completely gone, and there were water bubbles under the wood. This made it especially easy to sand down. I got some pretty red paint from Wal-Mart and voila!



I had forgotten about my little shelf and vase of flowers Monday when I came home from work. As soon as I opened the front door I couldn't help but smile! Hopefully soon, I'll be able to put fresh flowers on the shelf once my wildflowers and zinnas bloom (which they are slowly but surely!)


One of my favorite things is the space on the bottom of shelf for a basket. We put our outgoing mail, keys, and anything else we need when we're leaving the house.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Next?

Remember being a senior in high school (or imagine, for those of you yet to experience it)? What's the one question every adult will inevitably ask?

"What are you doing next?" right? They want to know: College? Where? When? What will you study, etc, etc.

And you get to smile and share the same exciting details over and over and over again. Until you're sick of it.

Well, college is the same way (I've heard), and Grad school is too (I'm experiencing). Unless you're settled down with a couple of kids there is always going to be someone asking you, "What are you doing next?" 


Finishing seminary is a difficult task. I am so proud of my husband! He tries to say, "O, it's just seminary, it's not like becoming a lawyer," which is certainly true. But it is still a challenge and takes a great amount of diligence and perseverance. I particularly admire how he re-organized his first and second years when I came on the scene. So confident was he that I was God's choice for his wife, that he  loaded up on virtual classes, and never took J-term off, so that the year we would be married - this year -  he would have more time to be home and a be a husband. I am so very thankful for that! Yet, even this year has been tough: Juggling several part time jobs, a full class load, and a directed study course is not easy. But he's nearly done! Classes are over, a couple more exams to finish, a paper or two more to turn in,  graduation commencement, and his academic career will be complete (maybe?).

So, here we are - Daniel and I, that is - approaching the end of one journey and the beginning of another, and at least every day "What are we doing next?" crosses our minds. We think we know, and then we don't. We are blessed to at least have opportunities.

This summer we will be in Charlotte still, working with another church on evangelism and outreach stuff. Daniel is going to try his hand at organizing and running a Vacation Bible School, and I'll help as much as I am able. Daniel is especially excited to work at this church because their pastor considers it a revitalization church plant. Unfortunately, like many churches in the United States, this church has grown older without growing larger, and now the average member is at least 70 years old. Their new pastor is excited for the challenge to get this church going again, and Daniel is nearly thrilled to help him.

I'll be working full time with the kids, going to the zoos and Carowinds and swimming at the YMCA. I better have a serious tan by the end of July!

For the fall there are several opportunities that we are pursuing. What is incredible is the obvious ways God has shown us "I'm going to lead you." Which really is a blessing and an answer to prayer. When your "plan" changes within an hour, you know God is doing something!

So, at this point, we're still uncertain, but are proactively seeking opportunities to see where God would have us go.

It's exciting. We both struggled this year with the temptation to think of our lives as not begun - to think we could really be the people we wanted to be after seminary, when we were living how we wanted. But we both, in turn, had to correct the other. Our lives have already begun, each day we're responsible for how we live, whether we're where we want to be, or not. But even with that mindset cast aside, we are still anxiously anticipating the next season of our lives, and are excited to see where God would have us go, and what he would have us do for His glory.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nolan David Willeke

Today Nolan is nine!

I posted about him last summer after he gave me the sweetest birthday present.

This past year he has grown into a man of his own: He is a science guy!

Here is our family picture when he was the baby - we would always fight over the baby for pictures. Usually Angela or I won. Notice though, that Nick is beaming!
 (Nevin was in the car sleeping at this time, so he's missing)


Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Beautiful Woman That Is My Mother

Some little girls dream of being princesses, or ballerinas, or fairies. Others dream of being doctors, or veterinarians or astronauts. Some dream of being world renowned pianist or an Olympic figure skater. Me? I just wanted to be a mommy, because the one woman I was fascinated by and impressed with the most was my mother. Do you know her? If you do, you are blessed. If you do not, here is a list of what I think of when I think of my mother.

Mom holding me after my first bath at home.
My mother is a nurturer. She cares so well for others that she often doesn't even think of herself. 

My mother is strong. She knows what pain and suffering are, and still endures. She inspires me.

My mother is wise. How many times in a week do my sister and I have to say, "Well did you ask Mom what she thinks?" Somehow, she can always say the right thing. I hope I will have such wisdom when I am a mother. 

But, my mother is honest. She will not tell you what you want to hear. She will tell you what you need to hear. She is teaching me to be truthful with my speech, and not just say what I think will please people.

My mother is beautiful. The greatest compliment people can give me is, "You look just like your mother!" because I am so happy to resemble such a gorgeous woman.

My mother is a hostess. She can throw a real, good party, and make a mixed drink to boot. (Or a cake and coffee, if you're not into the fruity stuff).

My mother loves the Lord with an adoring love. She taught me that God is our "Dear Heavenly Father."

My mother loves my father and marriage, and is wholly committed to both. I'm convinced she is the reason my sister and I married so young - why would we not want to be married? Mom made us love it.

My mother is smart. I cannot even begin to list the things she has taught me. Like how to make lists, and how to journal, how to use lavender to calm a headache, and oil and flour a bundt pan before baking a cake.

pulling down my veil before I walked down the aisle.

<3
My mother makes the best soup in the world. She's famous for it - whether it's chicken noodle, split pea or beef barley. We all will gobble it up.

When my brother Nicholas was young he painted a picture for my mom, and on it he wrote a quotation. I reflected on that long and hard, and it has stuck with me year after year.

"All that I am, and all that I ever hope to be I owe to my mother." - Abraham Lincoln. 

In the midst of wedding preparation and packing up to leave, there were a lot of bittersweet moments, especially for my mother. She would courageously tell friends, "I am not losing daughters, I am gaining two wonderful sons!" But, having two daughters leave within six months' time was difficult, I'm sure. I know I cannot understand this yet. But, when my mother-in-law told me that the hardest thing she ever had to do as a mother was watch (and let) her children drive off to college and then get married, I did understand a little bit more. We are not any less their children just because we are grown. 

One of the things that I have loved, enjoyed and now treasure, is the sweetest of friendships that has formed between my mother and I over the last several years. Our relationship is not just that of mother and daughter, but of friend and friend.

asking Mom if I look OK, and her trying to hold back her tears.
As my sisters wedding day came and went, and mine was fast approaching our mother came to us with a quotation she had read, "She who has a daughter has a best friend." It touched our hearts to be so beloved by our mother. But I'd like to turn that around, because I know that

She who has a mother has a best friend.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Pretty centerpiece for Mother's Day. Inspired by this blog. I would have grown the grass if I had had time, but for a last minute project, I think this works. 



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Did You Know...

... I was not the first woman Daniel asked to marry him?

His first proposal was six months before we met... he was never actually rejected - she just never gave him an answer. You can watch it on the video here. Fast Forward to the 7:10 mark.



Yes, my husband proposed to Ann Coulter. I think he's just hilarious. And in case you didn't hear she told him she would need to see his W2 from 5 years prior (which he probably didn't even have as a non-working college student)
and his voter's registration. 
:-D

On a slightly more serious note, the fact that my husband can make a crowd of several thousand erupt in laughter delights me. His sense of humor is one of the things I love most about him.


And, Babe, I'm glad you got over her and found me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

RED

Not my favorite color...
 ...but kind of my favorite color.

Red Dirt = Good Red


Weird Creepy Little Spring Time Bugs that Fester by Your Front Door = Bad Red

Lady Bugs = Good Red

Red Weather Warnings = Bad Red

New Red Wreath from Goodwill = Good Red


But of course, all these reds are not nearly as wonderful as my favorite redhead. <3