Saturday, June 06, 2009

Changing the Beds

It all started when Mike and I got engaged and he announced he was going to build a bed for us. My family busted a gut laughing. You see, I grew up in a house where putting together "furniture" from a box was a long and frustrating process. Little did I know that my husband is a "do-it-himselfer" (aka cheapskate) who doesn't seem to know furniture stores exist or that people buy things there. So he built us a beautiful four poster bed which we still sleep in.

Here we are after he set it up for the first time in our new apartment the week after our wedding.

When we were expecting our first child, he announced he was going to build a crib. Our son was put in a Christmas stocking when he arrived.

Here the crib is finally finished. Notice there is no longer any snow on the ground? We live in Northern Minnesota where the snow doesn't melt until May. Well, he finally had a crib.

As the children kept piling up around here, we had to continue to come up with places for them all to lay their heads. So my husband announced he was going to build some bunk beds. And he did. I have never been really fond of bunk beds. Changing the sheets on them takes the energy equivalent to running a marathon, but they are practical when you need lots of beds in a small space.

The day finally came where we took down the crib after ten years of constant use.

Until all that was left was the crib mattress from the '80's someone gave us that we were going to "get by" with for ten years a few months.

I keep telling people I'm not really sad. Well, maybe I am a little. How did this all happen so fast? We are now a three bunk bed family. I told Mike maybe he should make us a set of bunk beds! This time it was his turn to bust a gut laughing.

This is for the little girls. We bought it at a garage sale for five dollars a while ago. If you're into brand names, which we obviously are, it is from Ethan Allen (about 15 years ago).

This is for the big girls. This is the original bunk bed built by Mike. Of course, we found a really great deal on the wood. Too bad he doesn't know how to weave together a mattress, not that he wouldn't try.

This is how their beds look when I know we are getting company.

This is how it almost always looks. As you can see, Jenna runs a small stuffed animal farm on her bed.

This is for Grant. We got this FREE from some friends! It's great to have the futon for guests we don't want to overstay their welcome. It's not very comfy. We know because we sleep there when we have guests we like and let them have our four poster bed. (I'm kidding people who have slept on the futon - We really love you.)

So change comes and there's not a lot I can do about it. Sometimes we have some choice in change, like whether to move or take a job. But more often than not, change comes as a surprise. But change means there's the opportunity for growth. I love, love, love babies and wasn't sure how I'd do when there wasn't a baby in the house. But I'm learning that I love school age kids, and four year olds. Some of the time I even enjoy two year olds.

The older kids are spending more time with their friends. The first few days of summer have already been filled with sleepovers and friends. In the toddler years I thought the days would never end, they would never be potty trained or leave me alone for more than five seconds. But they do now. I've hardly seen Grant in two days, and it seems like just yesterday we were putting up the crib.

And guess what? If I'm not careful when I blink again we'll be having graduation parties. My parents always said that you have to find the joy in every stage of parenting. I enjoyed the baby days and now I need to enjoy the toddler years with Maren. I need to find joy in the freedom of being able to up and go to the beach and hanging out with the kids' friends. There's joy in seeing the kids follow Christ, having conversations with depth and beginning to become friends with them.

Whatever stage you're at, please don't wish it away. Whether you're hoping for a crib, dealing the with sickness of pregnancy, up at night with a newborn, battling a two year old or sending someone off to college: you are exactly where God wants you to be. Find the joy in the stage you're at and thank Him.

Sometimes changing a silly thing like beds can make you think about these things. The only change that really stinks is changing the sheets.

Psalm 139:15-16
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. (The Message)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Hope is causing a lot of hype these days. And not this sweet Hope from my church, although she is almost two and can cause a hype all her own. Here she is enjoying some ice cream and root beer at my house the other night.

Hope is a political buzz word thanks to Obama's campaign. People want to be hopeful: for a better tomorrow, a speedy recovery, a safe flight, a nicer world to leave our kids.

Although people want to hope, most people are living without it: sickness, starving children, war, famine, abuse, unemployment rage on. The choice for most people is to forget it and live it up while you can or work hard and accumulate as much wealth and earthly happiness as possible. It's tough to cope and there are rising numbers of depression and suicide.

I like President Obama. I think he and his family are a great inspiration. If our kids were on the same baseball team it would be fun to sit and chat with them on the bleachers. I do disagree with him on several things. And this is one of them:

“Hope is not blind optimism. Hope is not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside of us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that there is something greater inside of us.” Barack Obama

On the other side of the spectrum, I heard or read a quote from a conservative commentator that had the same idea. He encouraged putting your "faith and hope in yourself and your freedom". Again, I disagree.

The greater thing inside of us is Jesus. It is not our ambition, drive or determination. If we hope in ourselves, we are going to be disappointed. Unfortunately, through the years, I've seen what's inside me. It's not pretty: selfishness, pride, envy, anger, bitterness. I think I can join the multitudes that want to give up if that's all I have to hope in.

God's got the corner on hope. He sent His son to die for our sins so we would not have to. Instead of death, we look forward to heaven. Forever. No death, war, crying, pain. Ever.

I cannot imagine living this life without hope: Hope in the One who can save us. Hope that there will be healing and rejoicing when we meet Jesus.

So I wonder how I can instill hope into my kids. I want them to live with the knowledge that there is a hope beyond the here and now. And I want that hope to overflow into the others around them. Like it says in Romans 15:13

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

It seems to me that families I know with the most vibrant faith and kids that follow Christ as they grow up don't have it all. They are not living for the "American Dream" with a little God on the side. Decisions have been made to live for something different. Romans 8:24 says,

"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?"

Instead of trying to gain more and more, I want our family to strive to give more and more. More of ourselves, our resources and our time. If we only think about what more we can get, we will be tempted to hope in things.

Instead of focusing on our own successes and recreation, maybe we can give those up for Christ. It's important to have relaxation and rest by taking time away from the normal routine. But do you know people who cannot live in reality? The more and more they have their needed get aways, the more they cannot deal with the regular things of life. Which leads to needing to get away again.

Instead of caring about ourselves the most, can we strive to care more about others?

People are hungry for hope and we have the answer! We know who can fill their hunger eternally with the hope that will never fade away or disappoint.

Romans 5:5
"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Colossians 1:5
"the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel"