Monday, June 25, 2012

This is Love.

Love is continuing to date a girl who will wear overalls.  On a date.

Love is cropping Fritz out of this picture and keeping it on my
bedside table for 13 years.
Even when we weren't dating.

Love is dating a girl who didn't know she needed to pluck her eyebrows.

Thursday is mine and Clay's fourth anniversary.  I know there are some people who read this blog who have celebrated many more years of marriage than we have, and maybe some people who read this blog who are not yet married.  I remember when we got married, Andy, Clay's youth pastor growing up, was giving the homily, and he said something that has resonated with me since that day.  He said (and I paraphrase), that the only thing that is sweeter than young love, is old love.  This gave us something to look forward to on our wedding day, when I truly did not think life could get any better than that moment.

When Clay proposed, he gave me a wooden box that he made for me.  Inside the box he had carved 1 John 4:10-12:
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us."

Clay, when we got married, I was absolutely convinced that the Lord created you to be a husband.  You protect me.  You pray with and for me.  You absolutely cover me with your love.  You are the man I dreamed of marrying, but never thought I would ever deserve.  And I know I don't deserve you apart from God's mercy.

But then we had George.  And now I know not only were you created to be a husband, because you are still unbelievable at that.  But you were equally created to be a dad.  So a few nights before our anniversary, I am sitting here thinking, 'Our life cannot possibly get any better than this moment right now.'  I know it can.  I know it will.  I know, because of the way you pursue me, and pursue George, that the love our little family experiences on a daily basis will grow deeper and richer.  

Thank you for the way you seek out a relationship daily with me, and with George.  Thank you that even when I am unloveable- which can happen often- you love me in that moment in a way that shows me more of Christ.  Clay, you are a man among men.  You lead our family in such a way that it has changed me from the inside out.

Happy Fourth Anniversary, Clay!  I love you so, so much.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nine Months!

How are you nine months old, George?!

Let's take an inventory.
4 haircuts.
8 teeth.
2 daycares.
3 bruises across your forehead right now.
and over 2,000 pictures!

I'd like to meet another 9 month old who has had 4 haircuts in his life.
If there was one word to describe you, George, it would be fearless.  
If you see a kid doing something, you absolutely believe you can do it, too.
I hope this will be an attribute you will use to your advantage.
Your big interest now is standing and cruising around on your feet.
However, the 'Curse of the Howell Chicken Legs' causes your little legs to give out before you're done playing.  Hence, the three bruises.
Those eight teeth made for some fun days, and even more fun nights.
But it sure does make the cutest smile on the planet.

You love to pull up on things!

Your favorite things to pull up on are your parents.

But really, you'll pull up on anything, anywhere, anytime.

I know this picture is blurry, but you also love that you've found the full use of your tongue.

Clay has said that nine months is the first true 'age' milestone for you, George, because now you've been in our world for as long as you were in my belly.  I wholeheartedly agree with this, because now I am seeing signs of you being an actual person, rather than just a baby.  I see strokes of independence in you, and your need for me to let you do things on your own-
even if that means taking a fall or two.
Or three or four.
This is a hard lesson for me to learn.  Being a teacher, it frustrated me to no end to meet parents who never wanted their children to experience pain, failure, or any type of struggle.  But now I know exactly how those parents feel.
But I know that struggle, in the end, will be what teaches you how to persevere.
Your failures will be what teaches you how to succeed.
Ultimately, with the grace of God, your sin will be what teaches you about Jesus.

So while it may take you 45 minutes to eat three bites of a banana, when I could have easily fed you the entire thing in 15 minutes, it's time for me to let you be the little boy you're becoming.

I've said it once, and I'll say it a million times over.
George, you are so so loved.
Happy Nine Months!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dear Clay,

Dear Clay,
I know everyone truly believes that their husband is the best dad in the world.  And there are a lot of great dads out there, who are all being celebrated this weekend.  Both of our dads would top that list, for sure.  But everyday, when you whisk George into the back of the house while I cook dinner and I hear you talk to him and, in return, he belly laughs until he gets the hiccups, I know that you are the best dad around.

The other night I was singing George to sleep, and I am singing these songs from camp, it takes me back to the days when we were 17 years old, and just starting to date.  And now we've been married for almost four years, and I am rocking our baby to sleep.  When did we grow up?!  What a sweet, sweet life we have made for ourselves.  

One of my favorite things I've ever heard said about you, mainly because it is so true, was penned for you inside a book.
"Daddy is one of my favorite words.  You wear it well."

Clay, the way you father George is a direct blessing to me.
Thank you for the way you cover our family in prayer and love each and every day.
Happy Father's Day!

Love, Julie and George

Saturday, June 9, 2012

On the Go

Now that we have a mobile (almost) nine-month-old, I find that I never have time to grab my real camera.
I've resorted to only taking pictures with the camera on my phone.

Now that school is out, George is home with me all day, everyday.
While our days are busy, they are never stressful.

Last Sunday we decided to fill our planter outside with some 
impatiens, hosta, and jasmine.

George looked on from his new favorite spot.

...and then a thunderstorm rolled in.  It was the perfect Sunday.

Then Clay went out of town for the week on Monday.
While I am inexpressibly thankful for Clay's job on so many levels,
we miss him so much when he is away.

So here's what we did to keep busy:
 We went to the zoo with our friends.

 We had the same friends over for dinner and bathtime!

We learned how to play in our crib during naptime and not make a peep.
The only way Mom finds out is by looking at the monitor.

 We went on walks.  Lots of walks.

We had lunch with fun friends!

 Have I mentioned that George is crawling everywhere?

Plus, he's learned to climb up on things.

Clay came home on Thursday night, and we have had a fun, low-key weekend.
I went to get a pedicure, and came home to George and Clay watching the UEFA Soccer Tournament.
Germany was playing Portugal, and Clay had George decked out for the event.
"Viva la Deutschland!"

Tonight we even built a fire, and George was enthralled.

Hope you're having a great weekend!