I guess it was inevitable…

it was bound to happen. There was no way ’round it. As certain as the sun rises, Xavier turns 2 today!!

This is the day I have been dreading. The day my baby wouldn’t be a baby anymore. Even yesterday, when he was still 1, he was a baby. But today, the day he turns 2, he is a full-on toddler. I can scarcely admit it. But the facts are there. He is taller, as evidence by his needing a bigger bed. He is talking more clearly and saying things like, “Watch dis, Mama!” He is heavier, my arms can attest to this fact. He is 2.

My little ray of sunshine, who sings with abandon and dances like crazy, who shouts and hollers at the top of his lungs, who prefers to be naked or at least pantless, who plays hard and explores with no fear, who reads his beloved books even if there are no lights on to see, who climbs on EVERYTHING, tables, chairs, stools, stairs, toys, window ledges, book shelves, guitar cases, etc… and keeps me quite literally on my toes, who loves to snuggle and have quality time, who adores his big brubber, Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, who gets up with the sun and calls for me 1st thing, who loves everyone and doesn’t know a stranger, I love you more than stars in the sky! You bring excitement, noise and sunny days to my life. You make it a joy to wake up. And you know, no matter how big you get, you will really always be my baby love. Happy happy birthday, my sweet one!

It starts with the traditional birthday hat!

Then the birthday breakfast!!

The obligatory messy face pic🙂

The birthday breakfast crash!

 

 

 

Dear friend, dear friend?

Dear friend,

I call you friend b/c I love your heart & your generous nature, the way you cry unashamedly when you are full of joy and love, your strength of love for your family, your assurance of convictions that the church CAN be fresh, new, beautiful and creative. But I really love you for believing in, pouring into and championing a young man who means the world to me. Thank you, kind friend. I love you dearly.

Dear friend,

Many things have changed. You have chosen to follow a dream that I find inspiring. You have weathered a storm that I know has been so hard but look at what you have received on the other side!!! Freedom! Freedom from tyrannical rule and micro-managing. Freedom to create and commune with the Lord in ways some of us only dare dream of. We have had deep conversations about grace and mercy and how we both know why they are easy to give once you have understood the depths to which we have been shown these gifts.  I know there have been times of darkness. Of poor choices you didn’t know if you could recover from but again, you are on the other side now. And through this all you have learned and shared what you have learned and again you have been blessed with new friendships and opportunities b/c the Lord still has incredible plans for you. Wow. I am so excited for you.

Dear friend,

I sense a shift in you. Yes, you are still the passionate, loving person I have come to admire and cherish, but I am seeing more and more suspicion, more grasping and coveting in your shadow. Since when do you, you who love so well and so deep, hold your affections to only those who can do for you or fawn over you? You are adored by your family and your friends no matter what you can or can’t do for us. Is that not enough? I still come to your defense even when the person that is showing through online is a dim, DIM reflection of who you really are and those who have not been able to live life with you see you as arrogant and self-possessed. They only see what you put out there through your various outlets. And yes, there will ALWAYS be people who pat you on the back, who think they know you because they “follow” you online. But those people have never had the opportunity to share so much as a cup of coffee with you. They DON’T know you, they only know what you allow them to see. I am worried friend. Worried this duplicity will begin to confuse who you really are. Worried the shadow will overtake the man. We are poor and by the world’s standards unimportant but we love you. Are we going to be phased out because we can bring nothing of “value” to the relationship? I refuse to believe that! You love too well!

Dear friend?

Where are you? Where is the man who loves so fiercely that he is moved to tears at the mention of someone he loves? Who loves creating/creation more for its mere existence than for what worldly value it has? You have walked through darker times than this and come out with such amazing rewards and blessings, so why now? Why have you melded w/ the shadow? I still say the man the outside world sees is only a poor reflection of who you truly are so why are you choosing to be that reflection? When did you lose sight of all that meant the world to you? What is happening? I am so confused and sad. I know you exist. I KNOW IT! I know it with all of my being. This shadow is NOT you.

Dear what do I call you now?

I still in my heart call you friend, call you beloved. I have called you many other non-complimentary names in the last 9 months but those were said out of anger and hurt. The level of devastation you left behind when you ran left me speechless. Why did you run away? You don’t run. You fight. You stand. Or you kneel. But running away? And then when you started to kneel, when you reached out and the person who I knew and loved so well started to surface, something grabbed you and sucked you back in to the shadow. What? What could make you say all those horrible things to people who only wanted to see you healed? To people who really, truly love you? Was it because they didn’t say what you wanted to hear? People who only say what we want to hear are not really our friends. I thought you of all people understood that. And you of all people understand grace, don’t you? Grace is always given but you don’t feel the true healing effects of it unless you are sorry. Are you sorry? To the stranger watching, it does not appear so. To the people you hurt, no devastated, is does not appear so. So how will you ever really know if you have been extended grace? The shadow of pride, suspicion and self-preservation has stolen that from you. As long as you are living in it, it will not allow you to experience true grace. And just because we did not defend your actions, (who could?) or support your decisions (they are destructive and unhealthy) does not mean that we are not loving you. We are loving you, the real you, with all the love we have. Begging for the shadow to be removed and reconciliation to happen. We have ALL sinned and fallen short. That is not why we distanced ourselves. We distanced ourselves because if you are so hellbent on remaining in this shadow, what is the point? We don’t know it. We know you. I hope with all of my heart and soul we will see YOU again one day.

With love,

Jen

New starts overwhelm me…

and I give up easily. Things that I must do, feed my children, clean my house, meet basic needs for my self and 3 others, I do. But the things I want to do, read, organize, bake bread, volunteer in the community, live more liturgically, try to figure out what my creative outlet is, I give up on. I have grand plans but when the logistics of said plans get complicated, trying to figure out how they fit w/ the must-dos, I quit. It will take too much energy. I will be spending money we don’t have to waste. I will be inconveniencing someone. I will probably fail anyway. So I get overwhelmed and wish I were a better person at planning, scheduling or just being free.

Lately I have been wondering what I have to “give” to my sons. What talents do I have to share w/ them or pass on to them? Chad gives them the gift of music and dreams and athletic talents. I’m not trying to sound pathetic, but I really do not know what I have to give them. Yes, I give them unconditional love and a safe place to be who they are meant to be. But as far real talents, I’m coming up empty right now. What I really DON’T want to pass on to them is my penchant for retreating, quitting, or being overwhelmed so easily.

This is why I don’t make resolutions. If I make them and do not follow through, I feel like a major failure so it is better not to put myself in that situation at all. So I am looking at the new year as an open book of what could be and praying I can find the courage to be a better me.

How did you grow so big overnight?

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, just like that, Elijah is 3!!!

I have watched him shoot up. I have heard him process and pretend more. I have seen the wheels turning in his head whilst he is figuring something out, plotting new adventures and figuring out his place in this wide wide world. He stalls at bedtime, connives at mealtimes, cajoles at bathtime. But mainly, he continues to steal my heart daily.

Someone asked me once how long I would call him “Baby ‘lijah”, especially once his brother got here. Just last week during bedtime prayer time I noticed I had stopped saying, “Thank you, Lord for my Baby ‘Lijah” and was saying, “Thank you for my sweet Elijah.” Just like that, he is a baby no longer. Not sure I can handle it, but I can revel in his amazing little self!

Happy birthday, my precious precious son!!

3 men in a tub…

Rub a dub dub, 3 men in a tub

The Butcher: That doesn’t sound great at first, but hear me out. This man started it all. He has been the provider. Provider for food and physical needs, provider of shelter, provider of guidance but overall a provider of legacy. By being an amazing daddy to my mama. By being a godly example to my daddy. By being the ideal grandaddy to me. This man is adored by his family, young and old alike. He has set all our feet on a path of love, peace and grace.

The Baker: This man continues the legacy. He took what was given to him and kneaded it, flattened it, rolled it over and over and cut out an amazing heart. A warm and tender heart who cannot stand to see others in pain or need. A giving heart who takes such great care of his family. A safe heart because we know he is bringing us before the Lord in prayer every day. A child-like heart, who believes every grandchild deserves ice-cream and cake no matter how old or young they are.

The Candlestick Maker: This one, oh this one. This one brought music in my life and light to my being. A man I could walk in the Lord with. A man whose heart leads me into the throne room on God. By the world’s standards, he has every excuse to be a distant father. Or not even a father at all. But he has always broken the cycle, the trend. He is a sweet and gentle and loving father. He plays guitar for his children to dance to and sings silly songs and puts castle tents together. Everything he missed as a child, he pours into our boys. He is creating the instruments that will hold their light high one day. He is an amazing Dada.

Happy Father’s Day!! 2011

Today I grieve

Today I grieve.

As I make breakfast for my little ones and myself, I grieve.

As I watch my boys play with their cousins, laughing and teasing and chasing, I grieve.

As I clean my house so I can welcome many friends after a long break, I grieve.

I grieve for two wives. One whose best friend and love is gone too soon, just as life was starting for them. One whose best friend is gone after years of love and friendship. One lost to a disease, one lost to a decision. Neither easy to take. Both tragic and heartbreaking.

I grieve for four children. One little boy who doesn’t understand why he can’t go to heaven with his daddy now. One daughter about to wed without her beloved father to walk her down the aisle. One daughter about to bring her first joy of life into the world, wondering if the child’s grandfather will be a part. One son coming to grips with his mother slipping away as his first daughter will be born soon. Two lost to a disease. Two lost to a decision.

I grieve for friendships. Friendships built on love, respect and faith, torn down and carelessly thrown away. Admiration tarnished. Faithfulness abandoned. Lost to a decision.

I grieve for sin. Sin that is the cause of all grief because it separates us from our Maker and Father. Sin, a result of a decision.

But I know that joy will come. It will come because of Who has defeated sin. Because of Who loves us, enough to die for us. His joy will overcome disease, defiance, decisions. But today I grieve for all that is lost.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

He’s 1 and I can’t believe it!

Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, jiggle,
Tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle,
Little sack of sugar
I could eat you up.

Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, jiggle,
Tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle,
Little sack of sugar
I could eat you up.

You have been a little mystery since we first saw your little heartbeat. What were we going to do with 2? Would be able to share clothes or have to buy a whole new wardrobe? Would you be anything like your brother?

Hey, hey, hey,
You’re my little sack of sugar
Ho! Ho! Ho!
My little sack of sweet.

Hee, hee, hee,
My pretty little angel.
So pretty, pretty, pretty
I could eat your feet

From the minute I held you and saw your curly hair, I was smitten again. So sweet, so sunny, so gentle. You look just like your Dada with the same nose as your brother. I don’t remember a lot about your first few days, but I remember feeling more confident than I had before. I knew you were mine. Then something terrible happened – the world around us filled with water and we could only watch and wait. I held you close and thanked the Father for bringing you before all that happened and for keeping us safe.

Hey, hey, hey,
My little honey-bunny
Ho! Ho! Ho!
My little turtle dove.

Hee, hee, hee,
My little sack of ‘taters.
So pretty, pretty, pretty
I could eat your toes

To be very honest, your first few months were a bit blurry too. I was trying to figure out how to take care of you and your wild brother. I remember we spent a lot of time in our jammies! Sweet friends came and helped and sat with us and loved on you!!

Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, jiggle,
Tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle,
Little sack of sugar
I could eat you up.

You were a lot noisier than your brother at night! You wiggled and talked and kept us up. You got a room to yourself once you would sleep for 5 hrs. straight! Your hair fell out and came back in blonde! I prayed and prayed your eyes would stay blue like your Dada’s and they have! Now everyone claims they look just like someone in our family. Who ever would have thought I would have had a blonde haired, blue eyed baby?

Hey, hey, hey,
My tootsie wootsie.
Rangle,tangle, dangle,
You’re my honey in a tree.

Ho! Ho! Ho!
My butterfly-flitters,
So pretty, pretty, pretty
I could eat your nose.

Your growing has seemed so fast!! It is probably because I have been more worried about keeping you alive with a very active big brother than taking note of milestones. But every time you reach one, sitting up or standing or getting teeth, it takes me by surprise and I cry more than a little. But you light up my sadness with your amazing smile and your sweet cuddles. You are my cuddle bug. Holding tight to me or Dada while you examine the world. You are our little feeler. You wear your heart on your sleeve and we never have to wonder what is going on in your head.

Goo goo google
and a coo and a cuddle
Kick your foot like a bicycle pedal
Pretty little hoe down
And a one eyed frog
So pretty pretty pretty 
I could gobble you whole

So my precious, on your first birthday, which I have of course been late in recording, I celebrate your love of music, dancing, cars & trucks, pulling my hair, smiling, tubby baths with brubber and how much love and joy you have brought to our life and my heart. You are my sweet little sack of sugar and I can always eat you up!! Happy 1st year my precious baby! Your mama loves you so!

Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, jiggle,
Tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle.
Little sack of sugar 
I could eat you up.

“Little Sack of Sugar” lyrics by Woody Guthrie

Xa’s 1st Year! from Jen Jarnagin on Vimeo.

“Its a Big World” Lyrics and Music by Renee Stahl & Jeremy Toback

To my love on the occasion of 8 years…

Collide
The dawn is breaking
A light shining through
You're barely waking
And I'm tangled up in you, yeah

I'm open, you're closed
Where I follow, you'll go
I worry I won't see your face
Light up again

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
I somehow find you and I collide

I'm quiet you know
You make a first impression
I've found I'm scared to know
I'm always on your mind

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the stars refuse to shine
Out of the back you fall in time
I somehow find you and I collide

Don't stop here
I lost my place
I'm close behind

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills your mind
You finally find you and I collide

You finally find you and I collide
You finally find you and I collide
Songwriters: Howie Day, Kevin Griffin
Publisher: TENTATIVE MUSIC

Confession…

This is a post I wrote for my bestest, Nathalie’s blog, which is AMAZING btw, and thought I should have it here too. FYI – I could write a whole blog on this topic.

Hi! I am Jennifer and I am a worrier. Everyone say, “Hi Jennifer” in your best therapy group voice😉

My amazing husband, Chad, and I got married in 2003. I was an elementary school teacher at the time w/ NO designs of having kids any time soon and we didn’t… for 5 years. For the majority of that time, I was fine w/ it being just us. We traveled and went on tons of dates and spent time w/ friends. But then the bug hit me. I realized I wanted to have kids. At one point in time I wanted to have 2 before I was 30. Well, I was hurtling towards 30 and we hadn’t even discussed it. I would drop hints and casually bring it up but Chad wasn’t thinking the same way. He needed time to process and I was already there so I started to worry. FYI~ I come from a long line of worriers so I come by it honestly. I worried he didn’t want kids ever. I worried I was getting too old to have kids. I worried we might not be able to have kids. It got so bad that I spiraled into a really dark place. Worry really will rob your joy and life. The Father dealt with me gently and patiently. I know now that He held me close the entire time, waiting for me to calm down and listen to His reassurances.

We did eventually get on the same page, that is a whole other story of redemption, and started trying to get pregnant Fall of ’06. I thought it would be very easy b/c it had been that way for both of my sisters, but after 8 months, the worry started again. And b/c you don’t ever worry about the same thing the same way twice, it brought all new kinds of baggage. Anger at Chad for making us wait so long, jealousy of my sisters and friends for having an easy time, thoughts that I was somehow being punished for some kind of sin. All craziness that once again the Lord pulled me out of so patiently and gently.

Fall of ’07 I found out I was pregnant. I was so thrilled and so was Chad. We found out around Thanksgiving and wanted to wait to tell our family at Christmas, Of course I was secretly worried. Now that I had what I had been dreaming of I couldn’t just relax and enjoy it. No, now I had to worry that something bad would happen. I was determined that beside family, I was going to keep this to ourselves until the 22 week mark, That way if something did happen, I wouldn’t have too many people to explain to. Looking back now, how sad it is. I know so many people who had been praying for me who would have loved to celebrate God’s gift, but I deprived myself and them that moment. Of course eventually we shared our news, when I felt it was safe and I really did my best to enjoy being pregnant. We chose not to have all the prescreenings for birth defects done. We said it wouldn’t matter to us and knowing myself, if they aren’t 100% accurate, I would worry myself to death. But of course, I still secretly worried what if something was wrong. Then the closer to my due date a whole new set of worries set in. Worry about the whole birthing process, worry about anesthesia and pitocin, worry about not being able to give birth and having to have a c-section. And if that happened, worry I wouldn’t bond w/ my baby or be able to breastfeed. And on and on and on. I robbed myself of some precious quiet moments with all that nonsense. My precious Elijah made his entrance Aug. 5, 2008, a week after his due date. Truthfully, some of my fears did come to pass. I did end up having to have a csection. I did have a bad reaction to the anesthesia. I did have trouble breastfeeding at first. Elijah was jaundiced so we had a longer stay in the hospital. You really don’t want to know what this crazy is like on drugs.😉 But once again, the Father dealt w/ me gently and assured me in that still, soft voice and I got through it. I was a little crazy, but I got through it.

What He really showed me was what He had given me – a perfect, healthy, beautiful son and the all the time in the world to spend with him, getting to know him and marveling at him. Then it hit me. Thankfulness is the opposite of worry. You might be thinking, DUH! but really, that thought has not occurred to me. It was amazing! I now knew how to combat my worry! Count my blessings- 1 Thessalonians 5:18- “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the Lord’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Now, have I given up worrying? No, it is my demon to wrestle with, probably for life. My story could go on for days. Have I worried about all things Elijah and now my 9 month old, Xavier? You betcha! Xavier’s birth worries were even more ridiculous! But what I have learned is simple and I need simple. Don’t listen to that worrying voice. It doesn’t matter what happened to and for other people, those are their stories. Give thanks always and you can’t worry. Don’t allow yourself to be robbed of the joys of life by the what-ifs. And if you are continually thanking God, those things are seen for what they truly are, thieves.

9 months old today…

and I do not have the appropriate vocabulary to voice my love and delight in this child. He is sweetness, joy, fun, wonder and cuteness. He is his daddy in a mini size. He is my blue-eyed, blonde haired baby- I never saw that coming.

“You’re my squishy-wishy cheeks, My tickle toes, button-nose, My giggles, squeals and squeaks!!”

*You’re My Little Love Bug- Heidi Weimer