The day I stepped into the realm of love

It was this day three years ago that I celebrated the best day of my life.  I remember waking up anxiously and in anticipation as I waited to meet my groom and see his face again.  Much of the day was spent in preparation.  I remember not even feeling nervous as I spent time having my hair pinned and curled.  It wasn’t until the clock struck 12:00 p.m that my heart began pound, just a little.  I rushed to the church and met my bridesmaids.  We had exactly one hour to get ready before walking down the aisle.

A few minutes before walking time,  my sweet mother helped me pull my dress over my head.  Its’ heavy fabric cascaded down my waist and I felt the delicate crinoline and gauze tickle my ankles.  I felt so feminine. I was the center of attention.  Once dressed, my three sweet friends and a cousin who I consider to be a best friend gathered around me and we spent the final moments in prayer.  I have never felt so loved or cherished.   My thoughts wandered to what my groom was doing.  What was he feeling.  Was he nervous? My heart jumped and fluttered as we began to walk to the place where I would meet my beloved Grandpa and I would walk to meet my best friend for life.  As the girls gathered my train, I felt like Guinevere surrounded by her ladies in waiting at the royal court.  How beautiful!

We lined up.  One by one my bridesmaids left and walked down the aisle to wait for me.  As Grandpa and I stood together, his deep and gentle voice brought me peace.  “You look beautiful, sweet heart.”  He said.  Oh how I LOVE Grandpa.

As the doors opened my eyes met with my handsome soon to be husband.  I almost burst into tears right there!  Not of grief or sadness, but of pure joy and excitement.  I had waited so long to find this man!  Now I had and I was walking the steps toward him proclaiming with each step that I was going to commit myself to him.  I would stick by him no matter what.  I would always love him.  I would always honor him.  At the end of the aisle, Grandpa gathered my veil and cast it over my head and pulled it down behind my shoulders.  He kissed me sweetly on the cheek and I finally grabbed the hand of  August Napotnik.  We stood together finally.  As we listened to Bill Leach perform the marriage ceremony I remember one thing.  I had never felt SO beautiful.  I had never felt SO loved.  I had never felt SO thankful for the grace of God and how he had brought me to this man.  Despite all of  my failings and shortcomings, THIS man chose me.  This man pursued me.  This man wanted to show me a picture of God’s love for the rest of my life!  How gloriously my heart sang!  Thank you God!

Three years later I still sing and praise God for bringing me to that man.  August Napotnik is my wonderful husband and today is our anniversary.  Three years of growing, forgiving, loving, and honoring have brought us even closer than we were that day.  I celebrate our life together and thank God that He saw fit to see us as ONE.  I love August with all my heart and he esteems me.  I feel like a queen in his palace.  God blesses us greatly and although we have gone through some bumps (one because he is an ornery Austrian and I am a rebel Scot) I have never felt so close to anyone.  August knows me better than I know myself and God uses him daily to sharpen me and show me more of His love.  I love you sweet man of mine!

Daddy’s little girl

This morning in the quiet and rather dark 6 a.m. hour, August and I heard a little voice.  That voice so sweetly came from our little 10 month old, Anya.  What was she saying?  “Daaaadaaaa.”  Out of exhaustion and with groggy eyes I turned over and looked at August.  He heard it too.  We looked at each other and smiled!  Anya was saying Daddy’s name.  She wanted to get out of bed and she was calling for her Dada.  Precious!  My little girl has a few first words already.  Here are just a few…

“No.”  This was her FIRST word.

“Hiii!”  she knows how to say hello.

“Uh oh.”  She mostly says this when she pushes something off her high chair and it crashes to the floor.

“Nah nah.”  “Night night.”  She’ll repeat it to herself when I lay her down for bed.

“Da Da!”  DADDY!

I am continually amazed at how sharp she is.  She is very alert and takes in everything.  So, my little baby is talking.

Grace, she’s got so much to say.

Grace is such a little beauty.  I have to say that I am in love.  I cherish my girls!  Grace chats so much now.  It is precious and often hilarious to listen to the little sentences that come out of her mouth.  Usually, I am caught off guard just by the sheer thought of her ‘conversing’ with me…she’s not a baby any more!  About a week or so ago it rained steadily for a few days straight.  Occasionally, the rain would let up for a while and Grace and I would steal over to Oma and Papa’s house just to get out of our place for a little bit.  It was beautiful.  Dark gray and blue clouds hung over the blue mountains.  There was no rain, but the air was crisp and clean and no haze blocked our view.  Grace looked up at the sky and said, “Oh, it’s dark!”  I love hearing her little observations.  She then looked at me and said, “Momma, we need to turn the lights on!”  Pride welled up in my chest.  On my face was a huge grin, but inside me was the feeling of laughter and delight welling up like a huge balloon ready to burst.  How hilarious that she would make that connection!  In fact, she loves being able to reach up and turn on the lights in her room now.  She is such a little helper and she will often reach up and turn the lights off for me as I nurse Anya and get her ready for bed.  Sweetly, she’ll leave the room, and then turn around and as she closes the door I see her sweet little face peek through and she says, “Shhh…we gotta be quiet…Anya’s sleeping.  I’m going to close the door.”  I am glad for her help!  I love knowing it gives her a strong sense of accomplishment to help me.  I remember feeling so proud of myself when I could do things by myself and help my momma and it gives me delight knowing I am boosting her self esteem little by little.

But then there’s discipline.  Discipline is DEFINITELY a challenge.  Some days her little iron will shows itself.  I always give her an opportunity to obey me first before I discipline.  Though she knows better (because it’s not nice to take Anya’s toys away or because Anya only wants to follow her around) she still weighs her options and opts for the spank!  I find that a spank will change her behavior…but I’ve found a good time out can actually change her mood!  There are some mornings where she’ll wake up cranky and whine about this and that.  I can only take so much whining.  After a fair warning I tell her it’s time for a time out and as I sweep her up in to my arms and trot her off to her room I tell her, “Grace, when you are ready to talk to mommy you can come out.”  I then close the door and hold my breath as the tantrum erupts!  Volcanic wales, wild protests…toys flying.  Then, there is quiet.  I peek inside and see her laying quietly on her bed snuggling with her beloved stuffed dog, Auggie Doggie.  “Grace, mommy put you here because you were whining and mommy does not appreciate whining!  Are you ready to come out and obey?”  Grace will reply so sweetly, “yes mommy.”  Afterward, she is the happiest little girl.  I find it interesting that she almost needs those boundaries to thrive as a child.  Children need lots of room to learn and grow but the love of a mother’s boundaries is miraculous.  She then goes about playing as if no tantrum ever happened!

My newest area of dicipline is the big girl bed.  She slept in her crib fine and never once even attempted to escape.  You would think August and I would be content to just leave things as they were.  Yet both of us craved to give her a little more ‘big girl’ room.  It’s just fun seeing her transition from baby to kid.  We removed the front railing to her crib and converted it into a day bed, so to speak.  She can now get in and out of bed freely.  Only once did she get out of bed and try to play with the sound machine, but after a reprove from Daddy, she was content to stay in bed.  That was, until the other night when, of course, I was alone.  It was a little after 8pm and I heard some rustling of covers and a light thump. I stopped what I was doing and listened a little closer.  Another thump. I opened the door and there was my toddler sitting by her bookshelf pulling books out to read.  “I wanna play toys!!” she very innocently said.  How could I not giggle, just a little.  I picked her up, told her it was time for bed and then put her back under her covers.  Door closes.  I sit down and get under a blanket myself.  Thump.  Oh dear. I think to myself.  Here we go! I walk back in and find her once again by her little book shelf.  This time, and a little more firm, I say, ” Grace baby, it’s time for bed.   Go to sleep now.  If I have to come back here one more time Grace will get a spank.”  I close the door yet again and sit down and get comfy (of course it’s when you’re comfortable!)  I hear a little thump and this time a click and Grace opens her door!  She was SOOOO cute.  Her curly hair hung around her face and her sweet little blue eyes looked up at me with excitement and spontaneity.  “I not tired yet.”  She said.  Let me tell you, I wanted to burst out with laughter.  I wanted to just scoop her up in my arms and give her big smooches.  Everything in me wanted to give in and just snuggle with her in my bed.  But, I remained firm gave her a little pat on her toosh and said “time for bed now little girl.”  After putting her in bed that time she did not get back up.  I know I needed to be firm because I didn’t want to set a precedent of it being OK to be up late with mommy.  Trust me, I was SO tired and ready to go to bed myself.  But my heart swelled with love for her.  She was adorable and I find it incredibly funny that she would tell me she wasn’t tired.  Oh how precious.  So, my compliant little girl has only tested the limits one more time.  She does very well with her big girl bed and I am proud of her.

heart song

These, my thoughts,

their worth still may gain,

For peace from Christ,

may I soon attain.

Go, He says,

and make unto Me,

workers of Love,

and truth, to be free.

For, My child,

If thou hast Mine eye,

and soon thou shall see,

From you I won’t deny.

You, are mine

From Me none can take.

No powers from hell,

You, they shall not shake.

Unto us,

A Son is given,

To bless and forgive

For Christ is risen!

So, go now

will you now proclaim

the good news to give

For He took our shame!

Amen.

all the things added unto me

Ahh, the feel of cool fall temperatures.  I absolutely love this weather.  It is a nice change from the scorching heat of summer and to be quite honest, I don’t mind rainy days.  To me they are a perfect time to read, play games with the girls, and relax.

Anya will be 10 months old on the 9th.  Wait, hold on a minute!  10 months?  Really!?  How is that possible considering that it was just yesterday we were moving here and I was pregnant with her?  I feel like I blinked and yesteryear suddenly became today.  My precious little girl continues to thrive.  She is so vivacious!  From the time she wakes up she is on the go.  There isn’t much I can’t keep out of her reach because she stands now and reaches for things.  She quickly crawls around and anything she sees on the floor pretty much ends up in her mouth.  Nice.  I’ve scooped out leaves, paper, dirt, old Cheerios, and anything else one might find on the floor out of her mouth.  Who knows what she has swallowed without my knowing!  Anya is beginning to mimic a lot of sounds I make.  Just the other day I opened the door to get her after her nap and playfully said, “hi!” She in turn, pulled herself up on her crib, bounced her little feet up and down and said, “hiiiii!”  She will often shake her head back and forth and say, “nooooo,” when I catch her chewing on something she shouldn’t be, or exploring a part of the bathroom I really don’t want her exploring.  My little girl is forming her first words already.  I often wonder what her little personality will be like and it is a joy seeing little glimpses of a strong-willed, happy, and assertive little girl.

I still continue to have difficulty with getting her to sleep.  She does not nap very well.  I can’t figure out why.  I feed her well, I let her spend her energy till I think she’s obviously tired.  I try to keep her on a schedule so that she can be comfortable with nap time.  I’ve tried letting her cry herself to sleep several times.  It just seems that no matter what I do, she is who she is!  Anya is not a text-book baby!  She does not follow typical norms and I can’t seem to get her to comply with any encouragements to follow them.  She is just my little adventurous, ball of energy.  This doesn’t surprise me.  August and I are both avid explorers…we love being active and getting out in nature.  I don’t like sitting still for very long and I can’t fathom not being outdoorsy.  So, Anya is just like her momma and  a lot more like her assertive daddy.  I am thankful for this.  I want to raise our girls in such a way that they are strong willed…in a good way.  I want to raise Anya to be a fighter.  A warrior.  Someone who will stand straight when adversity strikes and a woman who will love the Lord her God with all her heart.

Grace is my little helper.  She speaks whole sentences  now and I love hearing her express her little toddler thoughts!  A few days ago when it first started to rain, we were walking outside.  She looked up at the cloudy gray sky and said, “where’d the sun go?”  I smiled and said, “it’s hiding sweet heart!  The sun is hiding behind the clouds!”  She simply looked at me very seriously with her eyebrows turned and said, “you need to fix it!”  Oh so funny!

Grace loves to read.  Well, she loves for me to read to her.   Four or fives books are always stacked next to our reading chair at bedtime and even when we’ve read them all she wants me to read them again.  Some of the time she is stalling going to bed.  Haha.  But I think she loves escaping into the realm of imagination with mommy.  I don’t blame her..I do too!  Just a few days ago we converted her crib into a bed.  As August took off the front railing I cringed and thought of the different ways she might escape.  I imagined doing battle at bedtime to get her to stay put.  I imagined her getting out of bed and throwing things into Anya’s crib as she slept.  I imagined hours going by after she was supposed to be sleeping before she would finally stay put.  None of that has happened!  After reading five, six, or ten stories, I snuggle her into my arms and say a prayer for her.  “May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He shine His face upon you.  May He be gracious unto you and give you peace.  Amen.”  In her little toddler voice, she replies, “amen.”  I lay her down and cover her with soft snuggly blankets and say, “it’s time for bed now sweet girl.  night night!”  I then walk out and close the door and then hold my breath.  Do I hear stirring?  Are those little footsteps on the wood floor?  Nope.  Only the sound of gentle breathing comes through the monitor.  Only once did August and I hear the station on the sound machine change.  Just once.  My little girl is so compliant.  She knows it’s time for bed and she falls to sleep!   Somehow I think Anya will be a different story.  LOL.  We’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it.

As fall approaches I am thankful for all the ways God has brought bounty into my life.  I am rich in family.  Rich in love.  God provides for our little family.  I am at peace with where He is leading us.  I trust God holds us in his hands.  I am always hoping for our own place someday, but I try to remember to let tomorrow worry about tomorrow.

33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6: 33-34

Amen.