14 July 2011

The Submarine

When he was a baby, he was called "Tank." He really was quite a solid little thing.

Today he acquired a new nickname: "The Submarine."

On the last day of swimming lessons, Daniel got to show us everything that he has learned. He can jump in, surface, and start swimming. He's also starting to swim on his back a little bit. But we really enjoyed watching him swim freestyle for several yards. Until he ran out of breath. That's when the instructor told him he was a submarine. And apparently Daniel, formerly known as Tank, took that as a compliment. Because when my mom and I told him what a good job he was doing, and that he was just like a little fish, he emphatically told us he was not a fish. He was a submarine. I guess that does sound a little more manly and tough than "a little fish."

Daniel, the Submarine, swimming to his instructor

And, of course, celebrating the Submarine and his success at swimming lessons is always a good excuse to visit Sherry's Bakery. The place that can help us look like a family of submarines.

All in all, Daniel really did love swimming lessons - and improved quite a bit! I love the fact that every day when I peeked through the window to check on him, he was smiling - while he was swimming. I love my happy little submarine!

11 July 2011

The Near-Death Experience of Spotty the Goldfish

Tragedy was narrowly averted in our kitchen today. Hurrying along, so I could be done with the supper dishes, I knocked Thomas's Disney mug against the side of the goldfish bowl.

Spotty, meet Mickey.

I heard a strange "clink," and the next thing I knew, three gallons of goldfish water were pouring across my kitchen counter. Before I could move, Addie started screaming because the water started splashing into the corner where she was playing. Horrified, I watched as Spotty swam through the hole and flopped across the counter.

Yes, I really did take pictures. :)

For those of you who have met Spotty, you know that he is a three-year-old goldfish (yes, that reads "three-year-old") that Thomas's friend, Christian L., gave to him for his 4th birthday. He is also a fish that I joke (to my friends, not my children) about accidentally killing. But after joking about it for so long, I knew I didn't want THIS event to be the final chapter of his life! So I scooped him up and put him in a cereal bowl.

I won't go into the details of how I had to throw away my kitchen rug, mop, wash dishes that had been in my cabinets, mop, wash towels, mop, and sanitize my counters. Did I mention mop? I'm sure you don't want to hear me whine about those details.

Well, anyways, I'm thrilled to report that Spotty the Goldfish is happily swimming around in his old, original fish bowl. The one that is way too small for the giant goldfish that he has become. But, really. Who ever heard of a three-year-old goldfish -- and one that could survive an accident like that? I fear that in actuality he is one of those Japanese fish that could live to be 90. If that's the case, then maybe, just maybe, I knocked a few years off his life, and we won't end up having to put him in the will. :)

How do I love?

Have you noticed how many books are out there that tell us the best way to love people? Just in the Christian realm, there are books that tell us of different "languages" we use to love our spouse and to feel loved. They tell us that providing security, routine, and quality time communicate love to our children. And I must say these books have been helpful. But do they really explain the essence of love? They tell us how to make people "feel" loved, but does that mean there is real love present? The other day while studying through 2 John, I read a verse that brought much clarity to a question I've asked myself many times. How do I love people?

I know love is not a feeling. I've been married long enough to know that the mushy-gushy feeling waxes and wanes. But I still love my husband very much. I've had kids long enough to know that sometimes I just don't "feel" very loving toward them - such as when I'm exhausted and they keep asking questions and making big messes. But I know I still love them and would give my life for them if need be.

Sometimes I feel very loving toward other people, and it's easy to act loving toward them. But what about when I don't "feel" loving? How do I love people?

2 John 3:18 first tells us what "fake" love is, and what real love is. "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." Telling my husband, my children, and others that I love them are words that fall flat if there is no deed, no pillar of truth to hold them up. So then, how do I love people?

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome."

It all rests on loving God. When we truly believe God, we seek to follow Him and His Way. When you begin seeking his Way, it's not long before you find that His Way is one that conforms you to Christ. And when you start becoming Christ-like, you start putting others before yourself, as He did. You become less irritated, and more patient. You become less critical, and more merciful. You become less concerned about your image, and more concerned about his Image. And as we become more like Him, we then become more capable of truly loving others. Love becomes a lifestyle, not simply a "flash" of love here and there.

It can all start to sound very theoretical. But when we seek Him daily, through His Word and through prayer, He is faithful to convict us and show us how to follow His ways. And how freeing it is to know that "His commandments are not burdensome"! With others, "If you love me" can be followed by demands, guilt trips, or manipulations. But God's commands have our best interests at heart.

So when we choose to follow God's ways (and rely on the Holy Spirit to empower us!), we will start to act in ways that convey love. And as I heard a godly lady say a long time ago, "Right actions bring right feelings." But even if our emotions are not always what we wish they were, it helps to remember that feelings can be fleeting and and are influenced by so many things. Our actions, on the other hand, speak volumes and have long-lasting impact.

Studying the Word shows me what true love looks like. And the more I study, the more the Holy Spirit can convict me and change me into someone who loves as I should. So as good as it is to read books on how to love my husband, how to love my children, and how to be a more loving friend, only one Book (and the relationship I have with its Author) will bring about the supernatural change that I so desperately need. And in that truth, there is beautiful freedom.

07 July 2011

Already Seven

He's already seven.

Just a few, short years ago, he had chubby cheeks and legs.

Those chubby little legs would run as fast as they could to follow after Daddy so the chubby little hands could help.

And now he's seven. He can put his own toys together.

He can play first base.

He can read stories to his brother.

Once he decided to start moving and talking (he was rather laid back concerning both), he became quite the little worker. This year, he tried hard (most days) to finish his school work, and loved to report to me how far he had gotten (especially if he could get to the craft or game time at the end). He decided that he wanted to be better at catching the baseball - so he practiced and practiced, and ended up playing first base for most of his games. He loves his brother and sister - enough to get an extra piece of candy for Daniel if he falls asleep in church on Sunday night; and enough to worry about Addie in the yard, the parking lot, the grocery store, the church lobby.... (But at least he loves her!)
With his brother and his buddies at his birthday party

We love our seven-year-old Thomas!