Tuesday, December 30, 2008

quiet moments

I've been enjoying the last few mornings with Willow, while Justin is still home from work and tucked in our dark, quiet bedroom sleeping, us girls start our day. I leave all the lights off except the Christmas tree, illuminating her sweet face with the holiday glow of pink, blue and orange. Barely awake from her night's slumber, she fades in and out of stirring, flashes of smiles and coos escape without her willing them. It's a sweet gift to start the day with; I'm so thankful I don't have to rush to get ready, to be at work by 6:30 am and miss these precious moments.

After she nurses and lulls back to sleep for her first morning nap, I drink in some inspiration and contemplation from a blog I happened across. It's called Holy Experience and the writer is Ann Voskamp. I've been inspired by her perspective and writing about relationship with God and her devotionals during the advent season. This as an archived post that I read this morning and wanted to share. I hope you peruse her blog-home and find enjoyment as I have.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


This was the sight we got to walk home to the other evening after a stroll. I dashed inside to grab my camera and just stood there giddy with delight at how amazing this was. Quite possibly the most beautiful sunset I'd ever seen and my pictures don't come close to doing it justice, but I thought I'd share anyway :)


It's a rare drizzly, cool day in California and I'm cozy inside, snug with my baby, sitting by the glow of our modest little Christmas tree. 
Christmas Eve day and not a present under the tree..... but I have mine in my arms and am quite content : ) Justin and I agreed to forgo presents this year since one, we had the huge expense of a new baby and two, we really couldn't think of a single thing we truly needed. 
What an amazing gift, in the current state of the world, to be in a place where we have no pressing, immediate needs. The reality of that is sincerely humbling and moves me to my knees in gratitude and praise. 
I've been listening to the CD, Sing over Me: Worship Songs And Lullabies  that my sister sent me when Willow was born. I played it to my tummy while she was still nestled inside. The other night she was unusually fussy, having a hard time getting back to sleep after her 1 a.m. feeding, so I turned on the CD. It was amazing to watch her get very still and calm, then slowly drift off. I pray that, even if she doesn't understand language yet, she internalizes the aspect of worship and comfort that it creates. There are several songs I love, but two stick out today as I reflect on the gift of Jesus Christ and the constant provision of the Father.

How Deep The Father's Love For Us
How deep the Father's love for us/ How vast beyond all measure/ That He should give His only Son/ To make a wretch His treasure/ How great the pain of searing loss/ The Father turns His face away/ As wounds which mar the Chosen One/ Bring many sons to glory/
Behold the Man upon the cross/ My sin upon His shoulder/ Ashamed I hear my mocking voice/ Call out among the scoffers/ It was my sin that held Him there/ Until it was accomplished/ His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished/
 I will not boast in anything/ No gifts, no power, no wisdom/ But I will boast in Jesus Christ/ His death and resurrection/ Why should I gain from His reward/ I cannot give an answer/ But this I know with all my heart/ His wounds have paid my ransom
(written by Stuart Townend)

You Are Good
When the sun starts to rise and I open my eyes/ You are good, so good/ In the heat of the day, with each stone that I lay/ You are good
 With every breath I take in/ I'll tell You I'm grateful again/ When the moon climbs high before each kiss goodnight/ You are good/ When the road starts to turn around each bend I've learned/ You are good, so good/ And when somebody's hand holds me up, helps me stand/ You are so good/
With every breath I take in/ I'll tell you I'm grateful again/ 'casue it's more than enough just to know I am loved/ And you are good/
So, how can I thank You/ What can I bring/ What can these poor hands lay at the feet of the King/ I'll sing You a love song/ It's all that I have/ To tell You I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands/
When it's dark and it's cold and I can't feel my soul/ You are good/ When the world is gone gray and the rain is here to stay/ You are still good/ So with every breath I take in/ I'll tell You I am grateful again/ And the storm may swell even then/ It is well and You are good/
So, how can I thank You/ What can I bring/ What can these poor hands lay at the feet of the King/ I'll sing You a love song/ It's all that I have/ To tell You I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands/
(written by Nichole Nordeman and Clint Lagerberg)

Having an infant is such a clear reminder of what relationship with the Heavenly Father should, and can, be like. Willow is dependent on me to meet all her needs, and seems quite content to be so. After she fills her little belly, she nestles herself against my chest with the most satisfied expression and quickly drifts of to sleep without worry. I hope to convey that to her as she grows older and more independent. I hope she recognizes that contentment in her parents as we lean our heads against the Heavenly Father, that we will be able to close our eyes without worry, knowing that Christ has fulfilled both promise and provision for us.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

YAY!!! This morning, before Justin left for work, I was making his lunch and he was visiting with Willow. He was chatting to her while holding her, and she had the most serious, contemplative look on her face (which is her usual expression). Suddenly she gave the biggest grin while looking directly at his face. Of course I wanted one too, so I stood by his shoulder and started coaxing her and again, she had on her serious face. Then I got one! Of course I didn't get a picture for proof, but I promise it happened. It was a big morning at our house, all before 6:30 a.m. :-)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Family Tree

1.Uncle Junior (in blue) and Uncle Conrado 2.Nana (in black/white) 3.Auntie Lydia (in red/white stripe)  4.Auntie Carmelita (in brown/black)  

Justin's Great Aunts and Uncles (his maternal grandmother's siblings) live in Southern CA. Even though he didn't grow up close in proximity to them or know them well before we moved out here, they have been incredibly welcoming and generous whenever we do spend time with them. Justin's Mom Lee (now "Lola".....Filipino for grandmother) and his Nana were able to come out to meet Willow this past week and we squeezed in a few visits with the relatives, Nana's brothers and sisters. Most of them are in their 70's and don't look a day over 50, incredibly energetic, vibrant and full of good humor. It was fun to watch them "Oooo andAhhhh" over my precious baby girl and talk to her in their Tagalog/English mix. 
One of the highlights for me was sitting in our living room, listening to Uncle Conrado (a spry 82 who goes dancing frequently) recount fleeing from Manila in the Philippines when he was 13, as the Japanese were attacking the island. Listening to the stories of hiding out in the mountains, traveling on foot, hearing the sounds of constant air raids overhead made me more aware of the tremendously rich history that Willow has running through her veins from all sides of our families.  From the Philippines to Puerto Rico, from hot, humid South Carolina to the Northwest snowy corner of Illinois, from Texas to Georgia and too many places to count in between, she has a legacy of hard workers, innovators, dreamers, travelers, justice-seekers, believers and inspirers to collectively learn from and grow into her own little uniquely colorful individual.
 I am so excited to watch and encourage her as she unfolds.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


willow's funky hair after her bath
Nana and Willow
Thanksgiving preparations 
Strolling the Seal Beach Pier
Enjoying some sweet time

Willow and I survived day one with just the two of us.... which included 4 wardrobe changes on her part and two on mine, two projectile spit-up covered pillow cases, spit-up on the sheets on Justin's side (I was tempted to not change them and keep my mouth shut), 4 loads of laundry (how is this possible???), initiation of the cloth baby wipes, vacuuming in 2 minute increments so I could check if she was crying, partially putting up Christmas decorations (I should be done by New Year's at this pace!), watching snippets of White Christmas....I do still have my priorities in line, cooking a REAL dinner that actually involved chopping stuff (mostly because I felt guilty that Justin was on his ump-teenth night of leftover Turkey sandwiches), and essentially running around like a sleep-deprived chicken with it's head cut off. I am officially a Mommy!!!!

I also had a healthy dose of wonderfully sitting and rocking, laying and watching and just marveling at this precious little creature that has "poofed" into my life and totally re-orchestrated my days without even knowing it.  I just ache for the Mom's who have little option and have to return to work for one reason or another. I can't imagine missing one poopy diaper. 

My Mom, Dad, sister Beck and her family were all able to journey from their respective far away places to spend Thanksgiving here and meet the new addition to our family. It was a wonderful gift to have them in my home for about a week and celebrate this season of thankfulness. My Mom posted a list of "Thanksgivings" on our family blog and I am prompted to do the same; even though the actual holiday has passed, the truth and sentiment remain the same.
I'm so very thankful for...
-a healthy pregnancy and baby, a miracle and blessing that is not lost on me.
-a loving, supportive, patient, encouraging, understanding husband who doesn't mind when I dance in the grocery store aisles or do a little shimmy down the sidewalk.
-the incredibly rich legacy of faith in my family from which to learn, grow and draw encouragement.
-my Southern roots
-the music of Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin
-a cup of coffee when it's still dark outside
-the ritual of  having a "proper pot of tea"
-Palm Trees decorated for Christmas
-the ability to mix and match colors and textures as I please!
-the fact that there is no REAL Fashion Police
-the "underbelly" of trees when you stand under the branches and look to the sun
-being able to look heavenward in the face of a broken world
-Salvation that I could never fully comprehend
-the Dick Van Dyke Show
-my nursing degree
-the change of seasons on the East Coast
-my smelly, strange, quirky dog Zoey
-the luxury and comforts of my home
-Sprouts farmer's market and Trader Joe's
-our apartment maintenance guy, Juan
-generous strangers
-the sheer delight that colored christmas lights provide
-a church to collectively worship with other christians
-the sacrifices made for freedom
-discoveries & revelations made on road trips
-friendships across miles
-the complex, wise, unique, beautiful individuals the make up my family
... and immeasurably more!