We are ten years in to the new millennium and in that time Jason and I have gotten married, moved across country, lived in two different cities, had three children and countless other “worth mentionings” on the timeline. If you zoom in on our life in 2010 you will see that after a few years of hunkering down for baby life, we are all – including Salem – very much on the move as we run a family household of three zooming, playful toddlers. As all three of them on different levels are becoming more independent, this season has felt so much more about nurturing, guiding, instructing, training, encouraging and reconciling. This age has brought us to bended knees frequently as we see this age is about reaching down into their conversations, their frustrations, their concerns, their joys, and most importantly, their hearts. God has been gracious to teach us as we learn how to be individuals who abide in Him, as well as a married couple who takes care of each other well, while also being parents who know exactly where our children are right now.
The very lovely and oh so sweet Grace Cowan (3 ½). Grace has turned into such a dancer. She loves to perform for us, which is always such a treasured gift from her when she offers it, because she tends to shy away from the spotlight so often. She makes up her own routines, moving her feet, leaping about, and using such graceful arms. Grace has such a gentle spirit, bringing a peacemaker quality to play with her brother and sister. Grace says really adorable things like when we are passing by something and we say, "Look, Grace!" and after we've gotten past it, then she will say, "Mommy/Daddy, did I see it?" Out of the endless moments of joy she brings us is the sound of her laugh when she is most delighted!
The beautiful and full of life Kanah Cowan (3 ½). Kanah has been entertaining us this season with her renditions of Frosty the Snowman, Jesus Loves Me, Rudolph and Away in the Manger. She loves to sing, quite loudly actually, and if we’ve got our ears perked up to her voice, especially from the very back seat, we get that treat of her live performance very often. She has also become quite a bit more social this year, enjoying little friends and knowing to ask on Tuesdays, “when are 'the friends' coming?” Kanah brings us so much happiness and she just seems to be made for close relationship, as she is always pursuing hugs and snuggles and smiling two inches from your face.
The manly, the brave, and the fast Salem Cowan (1 ½). Now that Salem is closer to being two than being a one year old, he has decided he’s going to start speaking English in two and three word phrases, adding “mommy” or “daddy” to just about everything he says. Little Man is so expressive and loud lately that one of his most endearing expressions is when he simply whispers “k” in response to everything. It is quite often that Jason and I look at each other and shake our heads as we watch him play, saying the same thing again and again, that we cannot believe how much we love our son.
All three of the kids had a great time this year at gymnastics. By the end of the year, the girls took their first ever non-parent gymnastics classes and laughed and tumbled their way through every 45 minute session, while across the room I hung with little man’s class as he went wild on bars and trampoline and breaking all the gym rules he could. A big highlight for the girls this year definitely had to be their at-home co-op preschool with two of their little lady friends. Learning about God and his creation, doing crafts, and singing songs became a great way to start every Monday.
Jason and I have been really blessed this year to enjoy a getaway backpacking trip to Ingles Peak as well as a couple days down to Canon beach, our favorite yearly destination on the west coast. And before the year is up we are so thrilled to head back to the bed and breakfast that I used to work at in Blowing Rock, NC called the Inn at Ragged Gardens to have our Christmas date. We love our life with the kids but getting away just the two of us is always a gift – and we have both sets of parents to thank! We have continued to enjoy having our community group come to our home every Tuesday, as well as enjoy relationship with men and women, respectively, in our bible studies. And we could never part from a few very important individuals in our lives who are far away but whom God keeps close to the deepest places in our hearts. We are thankful for this, as I in particular, have been learning from the Lord a lot this year about leaning on Him by leaning on his people, who are gifted to encourage, lead, and counsel me. The Lord has been faithful to keep leading our hearts, counsel our marriage, and meet us where we’re at individually. I’m just so thankful to know Jesus and I don’t know where I would be or how I would see life without him.
For just a fun little tidbit on our day to day life, we have been working on remembering the verse I have pictured at the top of this blog. And the kids, including Salem, like to sign this one. For "from the fullness" we blow up our cheeks and make our arms round like a big belly. For "of his grace" we make a sign like we are sprinkling something over our head. For "we have all recieved" we have our arms extended and then pull them tight to our chest. And for "one blessing after another" we pat our heads as we say each word. I am thankful there is a fun way to teach toddlers Bible verses and it's one of the main way I have remembered too! :)
These two verses below are the ones we put into the bags for the homeless that we made with the kids. We all have a shared struggle of poverty in our hearts and Christ offers us riches beyond riches by his generous hand. We struggle in this physical life in various forms but all of us share the struggle of inner depravity and hopelessness without the gift of God. That is what these verses express together and that is our hope, for all of us, this Christmas. That hope came into the world in the most humble of ways. And this season, as a mother, I have felt an even closer association with how humble our Jesus must have been because as moms we are constantly being lied to that spending time at home with our children, our babies, isn't worthy. Yet what a worthy call, what a dignified gift God gave Mary to ask her to take a knee and give her life to love the baby Jesus who would save the world.
2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel...