April 26, 2010

A Life Ended Too Soon

I've started this post several times.  I've erased everything I've started wtih.  Multiple times.  I've sat and pondered how to begin.  I've stared at the screen.  How do you start the story about the end of a life?  Where do you begin- especially when it's a vibrant, energetic, beautiful 25 year old woman whose life was ended?  How do you begin the story when the whole thing probably happened in minutes, and may have taken less time that it's taken me to write about it already?

Sunday.  A day of rest.  A church day.  A family day.  Probably all the things Nick and Heidi expected when they went to bed on Saturday night.  But then all those things were shattered early Sunday morning.  The details are sketchy, and I've only heard bits and pieces and what the news has to say.  The Firkuses heard a noise in their house.  Nick went downstairs with a shotgun, Heidi followed.  They found a man attempting to break into their home.  That's the beginning of the story, but the middle is blurry, and the ending is clear.  Heidi was shot and died before the police arrived.  Nick was shot in the leg and has been released from the hospital.  

For Heidi, the day ended in perfection, and is just the beginning of an eternity of perfection.  She is now walking streets of gold with her Savior.  She may have anticipated praising him in worship on Sunday morning, but little did she now she would finish the day living in His arms and praising him forever.

For Nick and all those left behind, the day ended as the beginning of one long, horrible nightmare.  I have NO idea what he is feeling and experiencing right now.  I can't even begin to imagine how Nick goes on after April 25, 2010.  All I can do is pray, and ask that if you get a moment, that you do the same.  

Tim and I know Nick and Heidi from the church we went to in MN, Calvary.  They were a part of the youth group we worked with.  I spent A LOT of time with Heidi from the time she was in 7th grade all the way through 11th.  She was such a bright and beautiful girl.  She had a smile that can't be described.  I can't imagine how many lives she touched in her time here, and can't fathom how much she will be missed.

For those of you who don't live in MN, and haven't heard the story on the news, here's a link to the KARE 11 version of the story.

Learning to Ride

We went for a family walk tonight.  Let me tell you how family walks have changed over the years.  Tim and I used to walk for miles along the Highline Canal Trail just behind our house.  In fact, we did that for years, and it didn't change until Sophia was born.  While I was in labor with Sophia, we walked for miles along that trail.  And then she was born and she joined us on those walks.  We'd put her in the stroller and away we'd go.  Then we moved, Noah was born, we purchased a double stroller, and it still didn't change that much.  We might have shortened our distances just slightly.  Then Phoebe joined us, and our walks began to change.  Not so much because of Phoebe.  I wrap her up in the Moby wrap, and she's good to go for hours.  But more because of the two preschoolers we tow along with us.  Sophia and Noah are not as content to sit in the stroller for miles anymore.  In fact, this marks the first season that Sophia has taken to riding her bike along with us rather than riding in the stroller.  The problems with this are numerous.
1) Her little legs don't last as long as ours.  2) She's still learning to ride (even with the training wheels on) and her bike isn't that great, it has more than a slight lean to the right, and she's fairly slow.  3.) She is easily distracted by ALL things around us.  4.) She frequently spends more time looking at her feet pushing the pedals around than at the path in front of her.  How often do we tell her to look up so that she doesn't crash?  If it weren't for Tim or I reminding her to watch where she's going, she would most definitely ride her bike straight into whatever tree or obstacle should happen to jump in her path.

Tonight, as I walked along behind her, watching her head turn down to watch her feet pedal, I couldn't miss the analogy.  Watching her learn to ride first made me think of Peter stepping out of the boat towards Jesus.  And then I couldn't help continue on and personalize the analogy.  It reminded me so much of myself learning how to navigate this journey we call life.  How often am I so busy concentrating on what I am doing with my life that I take my eyes off of my Heavenly Father in front of me?  I get so absorbed in what I'm doing that I forget to keep my eyes on the Lord and what HE wants me to do.

I love how God can use even the every day moments of life to be such screaming reminders to not be distracted by the world around us and to take our eyes off ourselves and stay focused on what He has planned for us.  And I'm humbled to remember that even after all these years, I am still just learning to ride!

April 24, 2010

Minivan Mama

We said we'd NEVER own a minivan.  We hated minivans.  We weren't going there.  Not gonna happen, no way, not ever.

Then our family started growing.  We started realizing we needed a bigger vehicle.  SUVs are expensive.  And lots of them still only seat 5 people.  All our peers started driving minivans.  They kept telling us all the perks- more seating, sliding doors, more space, fair gas mileage, cheaper price tag.

And the next thing we knew, we were owners of a minivan.  How did that happen?  I'm still not sure.  But what's even worse is that my minivan is by far the greatest car I've ever owned!  And not only do I now drive a minivan, but I LOVE my minivan.  We (the kids and I) thank God regularly for our van.

So this week, my minivan has been in the shop.  (And I only have myself to blame for putting it there, as I rear-ended another minivan on Easter morning.)  Tim dropped it off early Tuesday morning, and by Wednesday I was loosing my mind!  I thought I was thankful for my van before, but there is nothing like being without it to remind me how grateful I am.  Tim had graciously attempted to work it out to leave the other car with me so that I wasn't stuck at home, but our other car doesn't accommodate 3 carseats across the back seat.

As a result, I've spent the better portion of the week hanging out at home with the kids.  I have quickly realized that I am not a stay-at-home kind of stay-home mom.  On the bright side, I have been thankful for the opportunity to slow down and cherish some quality time playing with the kids.  (If only the weather would have gotten the memo to cooperate and let us play outside more during our confinement.)  On the other hand, I LOVE my minivan!  And can't wait to have it back!

April 8, 2010

Crowns and Dresses

You may have heard me say that Noah needs a brother.  Watching him wrestle all through the church gym with a buddy of his may have helped convince me that his masculinity is not to be questioned, but it's conversations like the following that lead me to realize how influenced he is by his sister.

(After me singing "The Old Rugged Cross" at the kids' request for an Easter song at bedtime):
Sophia: Mommy, why is there a part about crowns in the song?
Me: Because God will give us crowns when we get to heaven.
Noah: Will God give me a dress, too?
Me: No, Noah, I don't think God will give you a dress.  Why?
Noah: Because you have to wear a dress with a crown.  Princesses wear crowns and dresses.

A Pause in the Day

Once upon a time, I considered myself a writer. Not a great writer, mind you, but one of the millions that would have categorized myself as an "aspiring writer." But then life happened. I fell in love and was distracted by a boy. That boy needed someone to put him through school, so I became very distracted by a job that surprisingly became my next love. When it became the boys turn to work, I became distracted by yet a new love- kids - of my own.

And now, after years of distractions, I find myself in a place where I need to spend some time doing some things just because I enjoy them. So I'm returning to writing. Let's see how long it takes me to return to form! I had forgotten how hard it is to sit down and write, even when you are not particularly finding yourself inspired.

So the first question is, "What should I write about?" And although I can't seem to think of anything extremely profound, I keep coming back to one particular moment in my day.

Approximately 4:00PM in the Nielson house on a Thursday afternoon:

The small people in the house were sleeping. I sat on the couch with my Bible open in front of me, although it was managing to inch it's way off my lap as my head was bobbing and I was half-heartedly fighting off sleep myself. The sun reflected off the spring snow that covered the ground outside the mammoth window that spans the back wall of our living room. All was as peaceful as a stay-home mother to three could ask for.

For a moment anyway. Until I heard Phoebe's newborn cries for attention coming from her temporary bed in my room. I gave her a few minutes to see if she would settle back to sleep on her own. No such luck, this time. I wasn't too disappointed. After all, it's only taken me three kids to learn to not just cherish and appreciate the opportunities to savor a moment with an 8 pound bundle of sweetness, but to also anticipate them.

As I sat in the midst of my only semi-clean living room feeding my daughter, I couldn't help reflecting on one thing: Blessings.  I have been abundantly blessed beyond measure.  My life is so full, and I feel like I could ask for nothing more.  I married the most wonderful man and father there is.  He has a job he loves, which I have come to realize is a blessing beyond compare in itself.  I have fulfilled my life time dream of being a stay home mom.  Most days, there is nothing I would rather do than spend the day with the 3 sweetest kids I know.

It wasn't a major moment.  Just a pause in my day to remind me that I really do love my life.  

Baseball Season

I grew up LOVING baseball. I feel like I have spent a better portion of my life on a ball field of one sort or another. My favorite diamonds are green. And I've probably spent more hours around those beautiful green diamonds than doing anything else in life. Between playing softball, tagging along with my dad while he was umpiring softball, watching one of my three brothers play baseball, or watching or listening to the Twins, summer meant only one thing. And April has been just as highly anticipated as Christmas for one reason: BASEBALL SEASON! (And that's a pretty big deal since my birthday is in April!)

So really, it couldn't be any surprise that I married a baseball player, right? Or that our first date was to a Twins game? Or that once we started dating, I just added his baseball games to squeeze into my summer baseball agenda? Or that one of our shared dreams is to visit every baseball stadium in the country?
 I've been living my dream.

Or have I?

I had no idea how much my husband loves baseball. Everyone else I know has grown out of their obsession with baseball. I have never met anyone else who has played baseball into adulthood. (Except is it any surprise that 2 of my 3 brothers have discovered that they can still play ball, and have re-introduced themselves into the sport? Do we have Tim to thank for
this?) I didn't know amateur men's leagues existed.

But they do! And did you know that their seasons can truly be as long as an MLB season? No joke! Smile if you will, but I am wondering if it's possible for me to join some kind of support network for the wives of pro players who single parent from April through October every year.

So I have found myself in this paradoxical love/hate relationship with baseball. Spring continues to be synonymous with baseball fever, the smell of the freshly cut grass of a ball field, the PING of aluminum on a ball from the Little League park across the street, the countdown to opening day. All things I love, including the fact that Tim gets to continue doing something he loves.

But, I have also discovered this ugly side of myself that has come to dread baseball season. I can't help being envious. I hate when Tim's gone for the better portion of a day or evening to play ball.   I hate putting the kids to bed by myself while he's playing ball.  I hate that Saturdays (usually a family day, right?) are consumed by baseball.  I hate buying contacts that Tim ONLY wears to play ball.  I find myself questioning where the equality is?  When is it my turn?  What's the trade-off for me?

Not a very sacrificial heart, I know.  What can I say?  I'm working on it! 
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