Monday, April 22, 2013

March and April Madness

Today is the first day in at least 6 weeks that I haven't had some enormous impending project or event hanging over my head...and I feel great!!! I even dusted all my ceiling fans this morning! And now that Jadon is down for his nap, I might as well catch up on blogging since it's one of many items on my catch-up to-do list.

*Sleep training has officially become a success. Jadon "easily" falls asleep by himself every nap and night, minus a few crazy days.
He still insists, however, that we leave his and our bedroom doors open a crack, a sad reminder to me of when we had to "lock" him in his bedroom those two times. It hurts me that we scarred him in this way, and I wish I could've figured out another way to do it. Several times since then he has accidentally closed the door on himself at the doctor's office and other random public places, and it always ends up with him in hysterical tears, sobbing in my arms that "you locked me!" *sigh*
However, one of the good things that has stuck with him from that same traumatic period is that Jesus is with him "in his heart." Maybe not theologically correct, yet, but I love that he's thinking that way. Now, whenever he sees anyone sad or lonely for any reason, whether at the store or in a movie or at church or at the park or wherever, he will either tell them or me, "It's okay, Jesus in your heart." It is SO cute. I love that in his own way, Jadon is already telling people about Jesus! On our GOAL mission trip with the youth group, we watched Wreck It Ralph one night, and when Ralph was sad and lonely, Jadon yelled it out to him. Our teenagers thought it was hilarious. We are starting to tell Jadon that not everyone does have Jesus in their heart, but are treading lightly on that theological detail. :)

*Sarah and Greg's visit!
One of the most exciting parts of March was the arrival of my sister and her husband for a 2 week visit. It was so amazing to see her growing baby bump and to be able to include them in a ton of our family festivities. We all were crazy busy, but it was such a blessing to be with them.

Within days of Sarah and Greg's arrival, we celebrated Passover. I can't remember if this was our 5th or 6th year in a row hosting it, but this year we had another 75 people celebrate a Passover Seder dinner with us at church the Thursday before Easter. It is such a great way to enter the Good Friday/Resurrection Sunday weekend, observing the "Last Supper" the way Jesus did with his disciples. The traditions Jews have been following for years are so rich with symbolism pointing to Jesus, it just puts a smile on my face to go through them, and I love being able to share them with others. This year, as always, was stressful and hectic and exhausting, but it was my most enjoyable one yet, thanks to delegating more of the food prep to friends and the leading of the Seder to my sister and Greg.

(Setting up for 100 people, using all the table cloths and dishes from my sister's wedding)

 Greg and Sarah explaining the significance of Passover
 We grew Jadon's hair for this event ;)
 Fallon lights the candles at our table, using a napkin and a sweater as a makeshift scarf :), while Pastor Hal and Amy encourage her
 My sister prepares to say the blessing over the lighted candles. Her Hebrew is so great! I am so proud of her!

 Jadon did great, but he could only take so much of the sitting down...and the curls
 Probably my favorite part is bringing all the kids up to "experience" the 10 plagues. They got to throw "lice" confetti on the adults, stick sticker "boils" on them, throw pompom "hail" at them, and wear sunglasses for the darkness, among other things...We thought it wise to skip the 10th plague, however. How do you make "death of the firstborn" fun?
 And then there was the cleanup...Ugh!

Of course, when your husband is a pastor, Easter is inevitably a busy, hectic time of year. We had an early Easter service/kids' carnival on Wednesday night, the Seder dinner on Thursday night, an Easter party with my MOPS group on Friday morning, Good Friday service on Friday night, Easter service on Saturday night, and three services on Sunday.
THEN we finally got to do the family stuff Sunday afternoon and evening.
Jadon is definitely getting to a fun age with holiday traditions...and it was even more fun to have my sister and Greg join in on the festivities.
In Jadon's Easter basket, among other things he (and Jim) got awesome remote controlled cars that twist and spin and light up...and rarely get stuck.!

Jadon also got a pretty awesome basketball bunny. Unlike 98% of humans who go for the ears first, Jadon went for the nose...the basketball...the tail...the feet...and THEN the ears. He was pretty stoked to get so much candy, but was surprisingly disciplined. After a few bites of the chocolate, he'd give it back to me to save until later. He definitely doesn't take after his mama on that!
 I know Easter egg hunts come from pagan fertility rituals...but Jadon loves looking for treasures, so we did one anyway. As he gets older, I'll try to weave in the story of Jesus better, but for this year, I just filled the eggs with candy and cars and coins...and playdoh. Jim and Sarah and Greg got in on the action, too, and it was so cute to see Jadon trying to help them and share with them as much as they were trying to help him. It made me really happy to see that Jadon wasn't at all greedy. After a few eggs he was content...and couldn't wait to get to the treats inside!

After all this fun, my parents cooked an amazing prime rib roast dinner. I think this was my favorite adult Easter so far, and it gave me hope that in spite of being in ministry, we can still carve out time for our own family traditions. 
It was also exciting to see Jadon just starting to get the concept of Jesus dying on the cross for him. We bought two simple books telling the story and read them almost every night in March, and Jadon totally seemed to connect when I explained the pictures of the "mean" men who were "pushing" and "hitting" Jesus. He still doesn't seem to comprehend death...or crucifixion for that matter!...but now, every time he sees a cross anywhere, he says, "That's where Jesus born!" Not quite...but that's what Jesus was born for, after all!

*Sarah's shower
The weekend after Easter, I cohosted a baby shower for my sister up in Orange County with her dear friend Janna. We spent the morning at Sarah's messianic fellowship Adat HaMashiach, where Jadon got to try out Israeli dance worship and Greg gave the sermon. 

Then we had a fun time celebrating Wee Williams. Sarah has a ton of wonderful friends who came and showered her with love, but I was especially grateful for my friend Kristen coming up from Oceanside.

*GOAL Missions Trip
Before the dishes were all washed and put away from the Seder and Easter and shower, it was time to gear up for our annual youth missions trip. For the past several years we have forgone trips to Mexico in exchange for a trip with more tangible and long-lasting impact to our military base next door, Camp Pendleton. Without a language barrier and long distance, our teens are able to do the same Kids' Camp and service project ministry that they would do in Mexico...but better. Several families started coming to New Song as a result of their kids' lives being impacted by our teens, and it really teaches our students the lifelong lesson of evangelism and outreach WHEREVER life takes them. Also, it costs a lot less, so we are then able to send the surplus money to Children's Hunger Fund, an amazing ministry that conscientiously works through local churches in impoverished communities around the world to feed the hungry physically AND spiritually.
My roll on this trip for the past few years has been cook, and as usual, it was absolutely exhausting! (as evidenced by this horrific picture Jim got of me!)
$2,000 in groceries and my dad's full truck later, my living room was full of a week's worth of food for 75. That chaos eventually settled into about 20-25 labeled boxes, and another truckload of ice chests and tables and propane griddle and huge pots and pans and water coolers, etc. My brain was spinning for days trying to get it all organized!
 BUT, thanks to simplified meals and preplanned menus and shopping lists, it definitely is getting "easier." I even had time to go for a run three days during the week!
And...for the second year, we were able to borrow an AMAZING RV from our AMAZING friends the Walkers. Seriously, this thing is almost nicer than my house...and it even has Direct TV! I gotta admit, I definitely appreciated the Disney channel when I was trying to get dinner ready. That and the blow-up pool were lifesavers!

 (Jadon watching Cars with a friend)
That was another thing that made it easier this year: Jadon hung out with our students a ton. They loved taking him to the park (they weren't allowed to go unless they had him with them) and playing with him and watching movies with them, etc...and he had a blast being the center of their attention.

It was cute watching him get involved at the different kids' camps, too. He thinks he's one of the teenagers, and he loves getting on stage and leading the scream-team (worship) with them, or getting right in the mix during game time.

 All in all, the week was a huge success, with a lot of significant spiritual moments for our students. I never look forward to the week, but I'm always glad I was part of it.

After GOAL, Austin went back to live with his mom, who is currently living in a good apartment and seems to be pretty stable. Please pray for this transition for him. We think it is for the best, but change is never fun, and sometimes "the best" isn't necessarily the easiest.

After Austin moved out, I had a few days to deep clean the house, put away all the Seder/Easter/Shower/GOAL stuff, and get ready for Ragnar So Cal (this past weekend). Let's just say that in a week where I should have been getting as much rest as I could, I ended up with 3-5 hours a night...But more on Ragnar in my next post...

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