"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ryley Turns Six

Ryley's birthday was a perfect day -- the first that Ryan and I have both had off of work since Father's Day.

Sometimes it's hard to take time off, especially when you know that you're going to walk into a mess on your first day back, have to work twice as hard to make up for being gone, and so forth.

But for that brief moment in time -- that lovely afternoon -- working in the warm, sunny kitchen together to create the perfect tea party for our six-year-old princess, we finally felt the reprieve and joy that we feel we have very much earned these past few weeks. We celebrated an even six years of parenthood by donning our aprons, polishing the tea kettle, and getting creative with the likes of peanut butter and tuna.

And in our opinion, there's not a better girl in the world for which to go to all the trouble. We're pretty smitten with our Ryley Elisabeth...all six years of her.

So we started the day with a "special morning" at Village Inn.

Then it was time to set up the tea party. I let Ryley use the tea set I bought in England many years ago. Would you believe I don't think I've ever used it?? But what better way to break it in?? :-)

Ryley planned most of the menu. She requested ants on a log...

And we had cheese cubes...

fruit skewers...

deviled eggs and crescent rolls...

and butterfly-shaped tuna sandwiches. Ryan was amazing at getting it all together! That food service/presentation experience comes in handy!

Ryan and I played the parts of chefs and waiters.

The girls had so much fun!

Breaktime for "the help"!

We took them all to the little water play area up the street...

then returned home for pinata, presents, and cake.

It was so pleasant -- exactly what we had imagined! We are thankful everything went so smoothly. So, tired and exhausted, we were delighted with Ryley's dinner choice of Texas Roadhouse!!! We went with my aunt and uncle, as well as Ryley's closest friend, and we had a wonderful time!

And now, thanks to Coleen and Paul, the Precious Moments birthday train has another link...a giraffe. :-)

This is all going by way too fast! And we soak in every single moment. :-) Happy birthday, sweet Ryley. We love you with all our hearts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Days of Summer

I watched Ryley run around the backyard tonight with the two little kids who live next door. I've felt a little shorted in my amount of Ryley-time recently, so it was tempting to call her inside just so she could be with me. But watching her swing on the swingset, I realized that she was happy right where she was, not a care in the world. She and her friends chased Juliet around the yard, and Juliet chased them. Ryley fell, but she bounced right back up without whining. Then they all sat on the grass, as darkness closed in around them, and talked about what only children talk about.

When I picked up Ryley from her babysitter today, she showed me her "Outside Soup"...a big bowl full of water, dirt, leaves, weeds, bark, and bugs. She stirred it, and I marveled at her creativity.

It reminded me of another big bowl in another backyard 20 summers ago. Has it really been that long? And when Christie and I stirred our outdoor concoction, our parents probably wondered if it had really been 20 summers since their own. Time is certainly a funny thing, much shorter than we think.

Here are some pictures chronicling our mid-summer days and nights. I wanted to make sure and squeeze this post in because, come Thursday, I'm sure I will have a full-fledged picture-by-picture tribute to the birthday princess tea party of the century. :-)

Time with Friends

Vacation Bible School Finale

The Scottsbluff Zoo (actually pretty cute!)

Fourth of July Weekend with Family

80 Candles on My Grandma's Cake!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do....

There simply aren't words for the amount of pressure I've been under at work recently. I know. I work for a roofing company...a line of work not necessarily known for stressful times. But nonetheless, as a result of our consistently tumultuous hail season and the fact that our office moved locations right in the middle of it, I would say that the last three to four weeks have been the most insane that I've ever endured in my career.

I've vented to Ryan, to my parents, and to God. Time and time again, words fail me, and the words I am speaking when I attempt to describe my frustrations do not accurately represent or express the terror I feel when I sit at my desk, drowning.

I have always been good at putting things in perspective. Last week, Leahh and I both went home in tears after putting in long hours. The next night, as we locked up the office, I turned to her and said, "Remember. No crying tonight. They're just roofs." In light of eternity, in light of the fact that God is aware of every molecule in the universe, in the insignificant happenings within the lives of each sparrow and minnow, the issues we deal with are fairly small. A 30-square roof is a small thing in comparison to how big my God is. I know this.

Even so, the problems don't disappear. The work still has to be done/squeezed in within the allotted time. The issues and difficult people still have to be dealt with. The balance between having a demanding career and being a good mom still has to be struck somehow. Even now, as I write, I feel like I am not fully capturing the depth and intensity of the amount of work to be accomplished, the need for my mind to be multi-faceted every given second of the day, or of the pressure on me alone to oversee it and make this all happen successfully. There are no words.

I've started trying to get to the office a bit earlier, before anybody else is there, just so I can pray....so I can ask God to fill that place with His Spirit and with His presence...to help each of us with our attitudes...to help each of us have wisdom when prioritizing so we are able to work efficiently. I put on the Armor of God. I pray, pray, and pray.

And (probably) to the disagreement of my co-workers, I play my Kari Jobe and Leeland CDs, over and over and over again. Because God inhabits the praises of His people. And more than anything, I need to keep praising God in the midst of my circumstances. I need His presence with me, minute after minute.

I am thankful for my job. I am thankful that, in this economy, we both have incomes that pay our bills. Ryan and I were discussing the other night how we rarely make the connection that the ability to sit here in a comfy home and type on my nice laptop and the ability to go to our cushy bed at night (complaining about our stressful days, on our way!) is a direct result of the hard work we put in during the daytime. I can pay for dinner at Noodles and Co. because I worked nine hours today. If we did away with the work, we'd have to do away with the comfort.

I also realize that it is all due to the extreme goodness of God, who blesses us and provides for us, even when we least deserve it.

So last night, after our walk, Ryan and I collapsed on the couch. We had both put in full, hard days, taken Ryley to swimming lessons, and I had taught three piano lessons in the evening as well. We each vented (as best as we could) to the best friend/partner God has so graciously given each of us, in good times and in bad. And then, in a salute to the old, carefree Ryan-and-Joy days, we pulled out a couple of board games and played...our child snug in her bed, our puppy content at our feet, our clean laundry still in baskets, our families safe and healthy, our God securely on His throne.

And it was absolutely wonderful.