Friday, May 13, 2016

Dr Cary Hill: Documenting the celebration, and even the mess

A new favorite kind of day: Waking up to a cluttered kitchen of sticky, empty glass beverage dispensers, baskets and dishes covering every surface, the tracks of treasured little ones who tromped through lemonade and dirt across the floors... Who knew these things could fill my heart TO. THE. FULL?! We've been in and out of the fridge eating leftovers all day, but I'm resisting touching anything else in the kitchen - a monument to the gathering of our people that brought with it deep rest.

Yesterday, in the middle of a 3 hour ceremony, Cary walked across the stage in Cassell Coliseum and was hooded Dr William Cary Hill. Our whole family sat in the bleachers drinking in his moment, and otherwise fanning ourselves with programs, squinting and pointing, and enjoying the entertainment of all the well-behaved kiddos.

We celebrated Cary's HARD work and faithfulness. For Cary and I, the end of this season was uniquely dry. We have wrestled with questioning, waiting, doubt, and prayers unanswered. But long ago God's love changed me, changed my husband, and has never stopped being enough. Along with his accomplishments, we celebrated that truth for our family.

What an example this Daddy is to his two (or three) favorite admirers.

A most special memory from this day was that God answered every prayer we prayed for the celebration:

We prayed that our people would be able to come, and they did.
We prayed for a spirit of fellowship and joy, and it was there.
We prayed for the weather to accommodate those two things, and watched the radar as places all around us (even here in town) got showers and storms, and despite the forecast, our skies remained clear.

And so, even though my husband (the doctor) keeps looking at me skeptically, today the mess is welcomed and we rest with the peace that our God is with us and for us and unchanging in His affection for us. Not pictured here are the ugly days and moments of a hard season that Cary and I will always remember even if we are mostly through. I think of His promises in John 15 - how apart from Him we can do nothing. How good it is -for us- to rest in Him... How when we abide in Him, our joy is made full. We are His purposed creations and that He is not done with us. Here's to everything and anything that He has ahead. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

"What Do Daddies Do?"

Dear Gabe,

Did you know that adults ask almost as many questions as four year olds like you? They just keep them on the inside and often look for answers of their own. This Mama sure does. Earlier this week, you answered a question I ask a lot, and although you didn't know, God used you to speak so clearly to me. Your Mama worries TOO MUCH about what other people think. I've had to battle this my whole life, but recently I hadn't realized I've been in the foreground of that battle again, and losing... I wonder what everyone thinks - even you and your brother! After losing my temper, I worry, what will my boys think of me? Do they think I'm a mean mom? Will they only remember this side of childhood? Is there any chance they'll forget moments like this? When you're a grown man, remember this: When you ask questions to the wrong people, you get the wrong answers. But all questions are safe with God who listens and answers. And this time, He didn't even wait for me to ask before He intervened.

It was after dinner when another certain four year old was still finishing the last cold bites of his dinner (we love you, Z!). The rest of us were clearing the table and you, Gabe, a self-appointed helper, declared: "I'm the Daddy!"

Oh really? What do daddies do? I asked. This was in no way pointed, but more to fill time and slow you down from grabbing the dishes that were at my fingertips. But your response was so precious I grabbed the grocery list off the fridge, flipped it over and wrote as fast as I could everything you were saying. It wasn't until later when I read them again, that I realized God was speaking to me.

Here's what you had to say, in something like your four year old dialect:

Oh really? What do daddies do?
  • Daddies love mommies and daddies love our children.
  • Daddy love Mommy, and Mommy love Daddy! 
  • Daddy cook sometimes, for a treat.
  • Go to work...
  • Daddy make a plan with Mommy, and tell the children.
  • And put the children in time-out.
Cary and I were chuckling. What else do daddies do?
  • Share the sink...
  • Daddy love to tickle Mommy
  • Daddy play guitar to Mommy when I sleeping

<3 <3 <3 Wow, Gabe. These are some of my very favorite things about your Daddy, too. But whoa was I surprised that THESE are the things you remember and your takeaways from your role model Daddy. And as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I felt a stirring in my heart. How critical am I? Of myself, and in my assumption about the perspectives of others... What am I believing about my own identity? It escapes me that I am a child of a Holy God - only through adoption, but don't WE know that when an adoption is done, it is DONE. THAT sonship is the real deal. My all-knowing God tells me that He sees me as righteous - my sins washed away. Why the heck do I keep looking for affirmations of the dirt of my flesh and the fears in my heart? More importantly, when I'm wrestling with these questions apart from God, how much truth and life am I missing! Thanks little helper. This brings me back to Mommy's favorite verse right now, Psalm 116: Here is verse 7...

"Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The twins: Three-and-a-half years old, and 'gettin' 4.'

Wild, Wiley, and Wonderful Twin Boys,

Here is Mama's overdue, long thought-about post on what you're up to these days. At age 3 1/2, or more realistically -and as you like to tell your acquaintances most worthy of impressing, leaning in with somber faces to share: "I gettin' 4." It's true - in just two months, you'll turn 4!

*insert gasps of disbelief and all the disgusted phrases about cliches being true and time passing too fast*


Mommy and Daddy could not be more proud of the Mighty Men you are becoming. Weighing in around 35 pounds, and growing so darn tall!! For the first time, Zeke has shot up at a different pace than Gabe- about 2 inches taller! You're still wearing all the same clothes and shoe sizes. (Because God is good.) I'm seriously considering cutting that wonderful wild hair of yours, because, let's be honest. We can't maintain it like this forever. (In the tub, it takes FOR-EV-ER.) You've mentioned this once or twice. Plus there are details like your inability to keep on a hat! Sorry favorite caps, but the 'fro must grow... So right now, the beloved John Deere caps sit close by, waiting for another day when you might take them up daily, and the parental debate is on: to let Mom trim it again, or to get big-boy cuts. *eeeeek!! Verdict is out.

Things I love...
(Can I say, all of it?) -Excluding, perhaps, the new days of brotherly arguments and using the word "Mommmmmm!" like it is a weapon that will ignite imminent missile destruction. (Though that's almost flattering.)

Today, (given- it's the slow Tuesday between Christmas and New Year's, when... what in the world... time basically stops. Do we even track these days??) I have been jotting down adorable phrases that you say:
Gabe: "Hi Momma. I buildin' somethin' with my dad. Wight, Dad?"
Zeke: "Mom! You can play legos with us, chtoo!!!!!!" *gushing enthusiasm and through-the-rafters inflection at the end of that invitation*
Gabe: (While playing with trucks) "Here Zeke, which one do you want? You can pick."
Z: ................  Hmmmn.........   .....................
Gabe: "Look, there's 1, 2, 3, 4. Which one do you want Zeke?
Z: ................ *finger to chin* ......................  .......*brows furrowed* .................. *finally chooses one.
G: Ok! (There are a lot of days like this that I am SO proud of the hard life challenges you're taking on daily - like Gabe's sticking with his plan to give Zeke first pick despite a VERY hard toddler wait. Also, watching those precious internal struggles is such great entertainment. I adore you.)

Words: They are so powerful. It's such a thrill when Daddy and I look up surprised to hear a new one pop out of your mouths.

"Congrachalations!" -Gabe's ALL-time favorite expression right now, which means he frequently uses it inappropriately. ;) Also heard saying, "Hey, Mommy. Mommy, I want you to say to me, 'Congrachalations!' and I say, *makes smug face* 'Thank-you.'" *and he bows.*
"Crocogator." - Our favorite monster that surfaces regularly around these parts. You boys legit never realized you crossed two species into one. I guess we'll point it out someday. Right now it's cute.
"Hey Zeke, I have a deal!" (Translation: Hey Zeke, I have an idea!)
"Let me try that again, Mama." This one is a new one that originated in practice time with Gabe. I LOVE the attitude, and the maturity of the phrase on such tiny little lips!
And last of all, "You my favorite Mommy." Sometimes followed up by "I wanna marry you, Mommy." <3

(Mischief) - A few months ago, Zeke figured out that he could reach the lock on the automatic door in the back of the van with his foot. He waits until Cary gets out of the van and comes to his door to get him out, then pushes the lock down. (Cary has to then open up the driver door again and unlock it manually.) Depending on Daddy's mood, once he hears the "unlock" button followed by Daddy's door closing, Zeke sometimes dares to push the lock down again. *cue steam out of Cary's ears.* We cracked down on this behavior because safety, and obedience... But when I see the idea cross Zeke's mind, and those little toes scoot over toward the lock as he weighs the decision, I can't help but relish the mischief.

(Nap) - It's still happening!!! Nap time is vanishing for mom-friends all around me, and I'm all *blinders on: la-la-la-la-la!* about it. We rock mornings hard, and you're still ABOUT your sleep come 1/2pm. Praise-a-lujah.

(Movies) - I'm just going to mention that this week (again, we're on holiday...) we borrowed "Cars" for you to watch for the first time, and while it was on, you had me read you 4 books, asked lots of questions since you weren't really tracking, played with toys, and basically waited for it to be over. Another day we watched the new live "Sound of Music" production, and you two were MESMERIZED!! This brings me to another topic:

(Solfege) - I introduced it with your little Sunday school class to help teach a song, and you've been asking about it ever since. Another musical venture completely led by you... But my heart is exploding as you sing good intervals and make the little Kerwin hand signs! Also, the sweetest little *on pitch* voices!! I am blessed. 

(Prayers) - Just a month or two ago, Gabe was always praying about peace and strong muscles. It usually went something like… “And thank you that my Dad can have peace, and strong muscles.” Sometimes, difficult parenting = not laughing when your adorable child is completely sincere. I guess I was praying a lot for Cary to have peace in a stressful season with some uncontrollable outcomes, and Gabe picked right up on it and began praying with me for that one. I can't say I had any part, however, in the strong muscle prayers. ;) That's all Gabe.

Lately, we have disciplined ourselves not to infringe upon little prayers at bedtime that sometimes go ON and on. They are truly precious, very recently having become more sincere conversations with God and less like opportunities to get away with saying no-no words. ("...thank you that we not say, poopy, or peepee...") Mm-hmmn. In the past month there's been a crazy jump in development and maturity, and tonight Gabe prayed, "Thank You that my mommy can be with us all the days..." "Thank You we can make bad choices and You still love us..." "Thank You that we can have money to buy food. Wight, Dad?" *sniff* Right, Gabe.

Z: Thank you that we have a beautiful day in our neighborhood. And please, that we have a beautiful day in our neighborhood again.

(Rituals) - Our bedtime rituals are always changing, but now that you're so big, you boys really steer the last moment rituals before we leave your room. Recently, the routine was that as we walked out of the room (post devotions and singing and 3 rounds of “What we do tomorrow?” with Gabe) we’d hug and kiss each of you, but once we walked to the door Zeke would call, “Wait, Mommy - I need-a kiss-a you!” “Hey Daddy, I need-a kiss-a you!” This has gone on every night for months.

More recently, since we tend to remember to get kisses from him before we leave the room, *he now adds a big pucker-pop sound to the end of the kiss* a new habit has emerged. It started out of the blue one night, just Zeke to his Daddy:

“Hey Daddy?! Daddy? How bout tonight I wanna think about you, and you think about me.” *heart melt* He continued to suggest that very thing for the next three nights, until I got my first, “I wanna think about you, and you think about me.” So sweet! Just this week, the boys have also started saying, "When I talk to God in my head, I can pray for you, and you can pray for me?" Love, love, LOVE.

Darling boys, you have DOUBLED the joy in our lives. I am HUNGRY to taste all of it, to see you continue to come more and more to life just as you were created to, and to experience it all together. Every day we love you more.  

Thanks to "Aunt" Kristen Uhler for some of these gorgeous photos of our two favorite people.

(P.S. Zeke, check out that smile pictured below. You've just about outgrown it, but that slightly horrifying upper lip curl inspired some great laughs while it lasted. Your Aunt Ka-ka went through a phase with that same smile every time someone said 'Cheese!' around your age too. Anyways. ;) We love you handsome boys!)