Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Dreamin'

I love summer.  I always have and it seems like I just always will.  I thought it was just because I liked being out of school and then because I liked having the summer off from college.  But now, five years out from graduation, I still love it just the same.  Last week I went to my hometown and spent time with my family and friends there.  It was great!  I love that I can work from wherever I am most of the time and still get out and stretch my legs a little bit.  I don't know what I'll do if I'm ever back at a desk full time again.  Thankfully, I don't have to think about that now.  Last week, on the way to Newton, my nephew and two nieces riding along with me and my two little monkeys, I had a funny thought.  As the kids were talking about how much they like our minivan, Seth said something profound.  "Do the seats all fold down in here?"  I told him that they do.  "Wow," he said, "If I had this van I could build a whole Lego city back there."  This got me to thinking about how unfortunate it is that children don't have money.  I remember that when I was a kid I had so many ideas for money that I would one day have.  I would buy a farm with Melissa and we would have all sorts of animals.  We wouldn't get married though; we would just grow old as farming sisters.  She didn't like that part of the story and so I conceded that she could bring her husband if she had to.  We are grown now and neither of us live on a farm and certainly not together.  Too bad.  Maybe one day we'll have to work this out, because it really does still sound fun.  As a little schemer, I would always think of ways to make enough money to buy things like candy or snow cones.  It seems like every summer my friends and I would come up with some way or another, selling lemonade, dewberries, collecting change from around the house, to get a little something that we wanted.  We would hustle up a few dollars and then proceed to the gas station or snow cone stand to procure that thing for which we had worked so hard.  And then, bliss.  Could you imagine what joy there would have been if we had had ten dollars, twenty dollars, fifty dollars?  Those times were saved for birthdays.  Fortunately for my weight and health, I didn't have a lot of money as a kid. My sweet tooth would have gotten the better of me and I would have squandered it all on Long Johns, root beer barrels and green apple syrup and ice. These days money goes toward electricity, diapers, shampoo. These are much less glamorous choices, but definitely more responsible.  Even though those days of dreaming "farm" or "Lego city" dreams are over, I'm still glad it's summer.  When it comes to seasons, summer is "just what I've always wanted." 

And by the way..thank you to my sweet husband for posting last week.  Great job at making the whole world cry.  lol.  I missed this guy terribly and almost didn't let him go back to work this morning.  Couldn't you just stay home and hold my hand all day instead?  Okaayyy.. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

I think "Kitties, Cookies, Puppies, and Cake!" are gone.

 As a dad (obviously this is not Lauren) I have found that I don't always get the chance to see the little things that go on with our children. Lauren and sometimes Quinn, will tell me about them, but it's just not the same as being there first hand. So when I do get to be part of a habit or ongoing story or an everyday event in our kids lives, I do my best to never miss it. Those things are special little pieces of who Quinn and Judah (to a lesser degree, he's only 10 mths old) are, they are their own people and do their own things. So when one of everyday special moments comes to an abrupt halt, I take notice. Even if I didn't want to notice, and most of the time I don't want to, I don't have a choice. It's in those moments that you realize, she/he is getting bigger, I'm never going to have this time back with them.
 So that brings me to the title of this post, "Kitties, Cookies, Puppies, and Cake!". One of the things I look forward to the most, are the days where I get to either wake Quinn up, or get her out of bed after she wakes up. There is just something so sweet and innocent about a child waking up. They always seem to be expecting to see something amazing when they open their eyes, and if that "something" they see happens to be you, that is one of the best feelings in the world! Those are moments that I try my best to make special and to remember. When I was riding to work with pastor Jerry, he would tell me to make "kodak" moments with my kids, and I try my best to take his advice. This is one of those moments. So I have made a point to always ask Quinn what she dreamed about while she was asleep, and for as long as she has been able to hold a conversation (which if you know her has been a LONG time) she has given me the EXACT same answer. "Kitties, Cookies, Puppies, and Cake!" I always knew those words were coming no matter if she were crying, or smiling, or jumping around on the bed. The answer was always the same, until a few days ago. I asked the same question I have for months on end, "What did you dream about when you were asleep Quinny?" and the reply was not what I expected "I didn't dream daddy". Maybe it was just a fluke, maybe she was just still a little sleepy. The next day I asked the same question and I got the same reply "I didn't dream daddy". It was not a fluke, she was not just sleepy, I believe those "kodak" moments are now "kodak" memories.
 This is no surprise, we know that children are only children for a while. We know that God has not given them to us as ours, but has given them to us to watch over for Him. We know that memories are called memories for a reason, and that something has to end for it to be a memory. It would be easy to be sad about this, and sometimes I am, but God is full of blessings. There are still so many moments that I have with Q and J! I am grateful for those moments! I still greet Quinny the same way I always have anytime I walk into some place she is, with a loud (sometimes too loud) "Quinnyyyy". And almost every night after we eat together, I still lay on the floor with Q on my arm, and do absolutely nothing. And I love it! And who knows whats in store for me and baby J, my little man? I can only imagine what two Swonke boys living in the same house can come up with! So I will continue to make those "kodak" moments that turn to "kodak" memories, and I will love EVERY second of it!
 So what about you guys? What are some special moments you had with your kids? Feel free to share them in the comments section, I'm sure people would love to read them. I encourage you, if you still have your kids at home, write this stuff down because it is to easy to forget. Lauren and I have notes all over the place, although we have a hard time finding them sometimes, of things that we want to remember. And we will make it a priority to make moments to remember.

P.S. Thank you to my sweet wife for letting me guest post on her blog!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Emptied.

A few weeks ago in children's church I told the children that I wanted to be poured out in this life, to be emptied.  I don't remember why we were talking about this.  It seems deep to talk about with 5-12 year-olds.  I guess maybe we were talking about God's plans for our lives.  I told them that I didn't want to end my days with anything left undone. I said that I want to make sure to use everything that God has put in me for his glory.  Since then I've thought of those words several times.  Do I really want to be poured out?  Do I really even know what that means?  Every once in a while I'll think of a random chapter and verse in the Bible and then go and look it up.  Today I thought of Exodus 3:10.  Exodus, huh?  I was sure that it must have been just my own thoughts leading me to this passage.  It would probably be some kind of genealogy or something.  I would read it and then close the book and go on about my day.  It's funny though.  I think it means something for me, like right now.  Crazy thought, huh?  That God's Word could be ALIVE and relevant for me right this very moment.  Carry on.  So, I read the scripture and here's what it said; "So now, go.  I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."  I think God was wanting Moses to be poured out.  I think He wanted to use the things that He had put in Moses and the things that He would put into Moses for this very task.  A huge task, by the way.  Setting free a nation is no small feat.  Moses answered back with a list of reasons why he would not be able to complete the task. God simply blew back his hair with this response, "I AM WHO I AM.  Tell them, I am has sent you."  Even now the remembrance of this scene in The Prince of Egypt makes me tingle.  Being poured out or used up for the sake of God's purposes is not easy.  It sounds really good.  It sounds like, "Hey, yeah. I'll be poured out for something important.  I want to make my life count.  I want for God to use me."  It's more like, "I'll give my everything.  I'll take up my bloody, heavy, splinter-laced, sin-laden cross and follow you daily.  I'll carry the burdens that you carry.  I'll walk the way that you walked.  I'll love people who are mean. I'll give up my days to do what you want me to do.  I'll get hot and sweaty, when it's easier to stay cool and clean.  I'll pack my babies around on my hip, doing whatever in the world you want me to do.  Because... I love you.  I just want to show how much I love you."  Jesus gave it all.  He was 100% poured out on my behalf.  And as I sit here thinking about how selfish I can be, I'm challenged again.  Do I really want to be poured out for Jesus?  DO I?  I think that I do.  I want to live life fleshing out what that really means.  I'll continue to work to determine if what I told the kids that day, that I wanted to be poured out, really is "just what I've always wanted."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lead me and I'll come runnin'.

(Cute, huh?  Corny, yes.  But cute too.)
Chris and I just celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary last month.  That makes five years since Chris and I became an "item".  Ya' know what?  We're still learning. In the intelligent words of Nacho Libre, "every day."  I guess this will continue until we depart from this earth either by death or the return of Jesus.  Oh, help us Lord.  Just tonight I fully realized something about myself and about our relationship.  I really WANT to be led.  If my 26-year-old self would have told my 18-year-old self this, I would have thought I'd lost it.  Before I grew up (a little bit), I thought that I wanted a guy that I could lead. I was wrong.  Last night we had a wedding for which we were the photographers.  It was a beautiful wedding and we both enjoyed it a lot.  Chris knows about cameras.  He knows about light and technical stuff like ISO and shudder speed and...now I'm drifting off.  Back to the story.  He is the boss when it comes to Bliss Photography.  I am his assistant.  Within the last six months I've picked up a camera on shoots too.  He has to lead me around like a little blind mouse when it comes to the technical side.  Creatively, I can hold my own.  Technically, "Daddy, help me." So, last night, as I was meandering around, taking pictures of every pretty detail and bobble I could find, I would find myself in a pickle.  How do I get this machine to do what I want it to do? How DO I master the camera?  Ask Chris.  And so I would.  And he would fix it and everything would be back up and running.  Security.  That's what I feel when he leads.  I feel secure when he leads me in just about every area of our life together.  This is shocking to my system somewhat because I am normally 100% comfortable with leading.  And I still am, I suppose.  However, I am finding more and more that when I humble myself and ALLOW Chris to lead me, there's a sweet feeling of safety in my heart.  Please don't misunderstand.  I am still learning this thing.  For every one time that I succeed at being led, there are 1,000 times that I jump up and try to run the show in our life.  God is teaching me "every day" to settle down and let Chris be the leader in our marriage, our home, our life.  And it's so much better this way.  He's great at it.  When I quit trying to arm wrestle the reins from him he does a phenomenal job.  Hmm..  The crazy thing is that I guess this is "just what I always wanted".  And I didn't even know it.