Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Letter to My Kiddos: Don't Ever Forget to Dream

My sweet Harper and Bentley,

I have been thinking a lot about dreams in life lately... and it's hard for me to separate the concept of reaching for my dreams from the two of you.  I look into each of your sparkly, beautiful eyes and you have no idea how many dreams your dad and I hold for you both.

Your daddy and I have some big dreams and aspirations in this life... for you, for our family, for each other.  There may not be many seemingly simple concepts, such as dreaming, that are as important to practice throughout life.  For without dreams, without reaching for that which is bigger than us, without believing that the impossible just might be possible... we risk losing hope.

Hope is the lifeline to truly living.  Without it, we are dead... dead in spirit, dead to direction, dead to be used to help others.  I have brushed up against moments of feeling hopeless, feeling dead, and feeling like not a lot matters.  Looking back, it was during those times of depression and despair that I was most disconnected from the true source of hope... God.  It was during those times, when I couldn't see beyond tomorrow and the only dream I had was to feel again, that I had put my hope in something or someone other than Jesus.  It was during those times, where I took my eyes off of Him, that my dreams and my hope got warped.

Those times in my life remind me of Psalm 43:5

"Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."

Kiddos, if I could tell you one thing about your dreams and aspirations in life, it would be this... center your hope and your dreams in Jesus.  You can not fail that way.  You will not fail that way.  He is the one who can inspire your dreams to be BIG. He is the one who can inspire your dreams to be beautiful - far from dreams of selfish ambition and pride.

Your dad and I often feel moments of fear to live out our dreams.  Fear to step out in faith.  Fear to fail or not be enough.  Because the dreams the Lord has put in our hearts and our minds are big and wild; and that makes us uncomfortable.  Thankfully, I am reminded often, that dreams inspired by the Holy Spirit are the ones worth going after whole-heartedly.  Not because we are promised earthly money, power or fame... but because they are the ones that will teach us and refine us to be more like Jesus.  More often than we realize, by seeking after the dreams that Jesus has given to us, we inspire and give courage to others to dream themselves. 

You two are so little right now, but there is a big world out there that is dying to meet two hearts like we see inside of each of you... There is an even bigger and greater God who has desires and possibilities for you that are beyond human imaginations or dreams.  It will be a long time before you read this and fully understand what your mama's heart is wanting to pour into yours.  

Maybe you'll read this... sitting in a lonesome dorm room, crying because of a broken relationship or simply lost, without a dream to dream... It is my prayer that in that grueling moment, you'll turn to Jesus... that you'll talk to Him... and ask Him to give you hope and dreams.  

My sweet bug and boo, it is my prayer, daily, that you will personally put your hope and root your dreams in Him.  Always.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What Do Kitties Eat?

As a parent, it's not unusual to have countless videos on file that really have nothing interesting on them.  You turned the video recorder on because your kid was in the middle of this super funny/super cute moment... and the minute you turned it on... they stopped. This happens to us all the time!

Our neighbors have this semi-natural looking pond next door and it is chalk full of frogs and water skippers.  One night before bed, the kids were staring out the window listening to loud frogs.  This video cracks Jeremy and I up for a couple different reasons...

  • It's hard to hear in the beginning of the video, but Harper calls water skippers "skittles".
  • Bentley is doing his adorable pointing motion... holding his finger up by his cheek to get us to look at something.
  • Bentley is also mimicking Harper saying, "shhhh"
  • Then, Harper goes on this wild, unexpected rant on what successive animals/sea creatures eat.  It goes something like this: frogs eat bugs, water skippers (bugs) eat fish, fish eat crabs, crabs eat dolphins, dolphins eat whales, whales eat kitties, and kitties apparently eat sponge bob!  I promise we do try to educate our children correctly and are not just trying to confuse them as to God's food chain design ;)
Funny kiddos... you keep your mommy and daddy smiling daily!  We love moments like this with you guys and will cherish them in our hearts forever!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Belated Easter!

Our family enjoyed a wonderful weekend celebrating what Jesus did for us on the cross.  It was full of family, food, love and laughter.  On Saturday night, we hosted the annual Rispler German-inspired dinner which included an easter egg hunt for the kids, great conversations, and a meal I wish we could have more often.  Even though we were dead-dog tired the next morning, from the party and previous weeks of travel for Jeremy and life's usual hectic-ness, we got up to make it to our church's early service at 8:15am.  We are so thankful to have found a home church this year, a place that is authentic and makes Jesus and our faith come alive.  Church was immediately followed by Harper asking if we were going to get a scone... this is one of the negatives of our church... it's located next door to an amazing French bakery.  Trouble.

Yes, we went next door and had a small bite to eat and enjoyed the company of my sister who had come to church with us.  As soon as we arrived home, the kids crashed for their naps and Jeremy and I crashed on the couch while watching the Masters.  Silly as it may sound, because it's absolutely not the point of Easter, I love watching the Masters on Easter... something about it brings back so many family memories from Easters past.

Later in the afternoon, we drove up to beautiful Multnomah Falls to meet Jeremy's parents for lunch.  It was one of the more beautiful days (i.e., not raining) in Oregon as of recently.  We enjoyed their company, even though Jeremy and I cringed at how our kiddos handled sitting for this meal - just one of those days.  After our meal, we took a "hike" up to the first bridge of the trail to see the falls...  Bentley did quite awesome, wanting to walk most of the way!  That place is so breathtaking and our kids loved that ;)

On a serious note, apart from the normal hustle and bustle of seeing family, I am so grateful, thankful and awe-struck when I reflect on what Jesus accomplished on the cross and how he rose from the dead.  To be honest, sometimes I find it hard to wrap my mind around this sacrifice.  One thing I have experienced, is that ever since Bentley was born, this sacrifice means a little more to my heart.  I often find myself rocking him at bedtime and as I'm holding my precious little boy, I cannot escape singing praises to God in my heart for actually choosing to sacrifice his son for me and my brokenness.  Perspective.

This coming Saturday will mark seven years since my brother Jeffrey died.  It always seems to hit me just a little differently each year.  This year, with Easter just passing... I feel evermore grateful for the hope we have in Christ rising from the dead, conquering death.  I am so thankful that my brother was a believer and that Christ's actions allow me to hope... to not be overtaken by death.  Death may brush up against us for a moment, but the hope of life is eternal.  Thank you, thank you Jesus!
The Easter bunny came and left some goodies that our kids don't normally get!

I am trying so hard to watch my kids sugar-intake due to a handful of things I've been reading lately... but Easter sure doesn't make that easy.  More on that a different time.

Swift family 2012

Harper and OoOo admiring God's creation

Bentley was so excited to see the falls, he kept screaming over and over.

Harper and Bentley with their OoOo... sorry Nana, we didn't get a shot with you!