The Exchanged Life.

Truth be told, I’m not much of a reader. I really enjoy reading when I find something that sparks my interest, but otherwise, my motivation to read on a consistent basis is low. Very, very low. So when I told Brian last night that I wanted to read our respective books together in the living room (as opposed to watching theΒ House season 5 finale on Netflix…gasp!), he about fell off his chair.

It was a good rainy night. The kind that made me want to curl up on the couch with a good book and listen to the raindrops fall on the pavement outside. Those nights don’t come often.

So, I picked up a book I’ve been working my way through for 8 months now:Β Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. I was about 2/3 of the way through–all of which I had read in about two sittings total. It’s a fantastic book, but for some reason I would read 70 pages in one sitting and then put it down for 4 months. Well, last night I was determined to finish it. And finish I did.

And what a blessing! I mean, the first two-thirds of the book are great, but the last third–it’s “holy cow, rock my world, thanks be to God” awesome. It reminded me of why we chose Hudson as our son’s middle name.

I had known snippets of information about Hudson Taylor prior to naming Levi (Brian knew a lot more), but what an incredible follower of Christ he was.Β God placed a heavy burden on his heart in his teenage years–to bring the good news of the Gospel to the unreached peoples of inland China.Β His perseverance and steadfast faith as the pioneer missionary to China was remarkable! After 50+ years, filled with famine, sickness, death of his wife and children, plus countless financial obstacles, Hudson Taylor was finally able to see that vision come to full light.

Here is an excerpt regarding the character and spirituality of Hudson Taylor:

It was the exchanged life that had come to him–the life that is indeed “No longer I.” Six months earlier he had written, “I have continually to mourn that I follow at such a distance and learn so slowly to imitate my precious Master.” There was no thought of imitation now! It was in blessed reality “Christ liveth in me.” And how great the difference!–instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another. So great was the deliverance, that from that time onward Mr. Taylor could never do enough to help make this precious secret plain to hungry hearts wherever he might be.

Not only did this biography spark within me a reignited call to mission, it did something more powerful. It reignited within me a call to Christ. It reminded me that despite my shortcomings and my doubts on a daily basis, my God is ever-present and He longs for me to know more deeply, more fully, and more joyfully the secret that can never stay hidden. Hudson Taylor explains how true communion with God comes from resting in Him:

But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One…”Ah, there is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in him. I’ll strive no more. For has not he promised to abide with me–never to leave me, never to fail me?” And…he never will.

I can never work hard enough, read my Bible enough, or pray earnestly enough to be considered faithful. I don’t have it in me. No one does–for none is righteous and none is able to cling to Christ 100% of all time. Thankfully, my God abides with me. He came down from the glory of heaven to dwell in me. Truly, we can rest on this promise today.

Summer Bucket List.

My sweet friend, Brigette, is a fantastic graphic designer and the inspiration for this little post of mine. She, her husband and her beautiful little girl, Ella, live in New Orleans, where they are currently working their way through seminary (sound familiar?). Ella and Levi were born just 2 weeks apart, so besides both being USF alumni and having husbands in seminary, Brigette and I have a lot in common!

Recently, Brigette shared this printable Summer Bucket List, so I decided to create one of my own. I used her design (cute, right?!), but just digitally edited it instead of printing it. Check out the other adorable designs in her Etsy shop as well!

So, without further delay, here is my list of things to do on my own or as a family this Summer:

I have a hard time motivating myself to read. To be honest, I’m still working through some of the books from my reading list LAST Summer. So, I felt like one book per month was more manageable and less overwhelming.

I’ve been wanting to start a 365 project for months–since I got my DSLR for Christmas. I need to just do it already.

We’re thinking about taking a one-night trip to St. Louis or Indianapolis in late July or early August! Get some good family time in before the busyness of the Fall semester hits us hard like it does every year.

I may start Couch to 5K again…or I may try a new aerobic routine I found recently (Bikini Body Mommy). The name sounds really silly, but it’s really appealing because I don’t have to leave my house to do the workout. That hinders me from working out a lot of the time, especially with a little guy to take care of!

We are loving the SBTS Pool, Louisville Zoo and Shelby Park these days! A major perk is they are all “free” to use (since we bought a zoo annual pass this year).

Sometime this Summer, I am determined to finally hang our missionary prayer cards on our hallway wall. Just gotta get the supplies and set the date!

Dairy Kastle soft serve sprinkle cone. Enough said.

I want to start implementing some of the principles of the “100 Days of Real Food” challenge in our household. We don’t eat a ton of processed food, but I would like to cut back what we do eat even more. Clearly, trips to Dairy Kastle will be omitted from this challenge.

U of L Baseball games are FREE to the public! No reason not to check one out.

Maybe sometime this Summer, Levi will finally start to walk! We are going to help him in whatever way we can…even if that means hosting the “baby Olympics” every evening in our home (a.k.a. helping him walk up and down the length of our house 5-10 times).

I’ve heard the Louisville Science Center is fun! I would love to take Levi there one day, after he learns to walk, so he can explore at his own will.

We’ll be in Florida in TWO WEEKS. So much excitement about that!! Most of our time there, we’ll be at the beach, so I really want to teach Levi the art of building (or smashing) sand castles.

4th of July BBQ’s make me so happy. Nothing like some burgers, corn on the cob, and fireworks to bring out the patriots.

I have to remember to water my flowers everyday. If I do well with that, I may plant some herbs in a month or so.

We have met several more of our neighbors within the last two weeks! It is amazing how some nice weather can bring everyone out of their homes. I want to be more intentional this Summer about connecting with even more of our neighborhood.

So that’s my list! Brian is taking his last exam of the semester as we speak, so once he gets home, it’s GO time. Oh, Summer, how we love you.

Levi: 17 Months

It has been a great month for Levi–especially compared to last month. I’ll delve right in…

EATING
No change in the amount or frequency of his milk drinking. About 5-6 oz every 4 hours.

Levi didn’t try too many new foods this month, if any. He continues to be a great eater! He’ll at least try just about anything. One thing that he did really love eating this month was anything including rice. He also really started liking broccoli florets, which surprised me. He still refuses to eat almost any type of sandwich–he doesn’t like the bread or lunch meat at all. Even PB&J, which he loved the first time I offered it to him, he pretty much refuses now. But, if sandwiches is the only “pickiness” we’re dealing with, I can definitely handle that!

Our big boy still devours smoothies for breakfast or his afternoon snack. I started sitting him on the counter so we can make the smoothies “together” and he is loving it! I’ll hand him the ice cubes to throw in the blender, let him add the spinach leaves, and he even knows which button to press to start it! We are having a lot of fun with that.

SLEEPING
Not too much of a change here either! Levi still goes to bed at 7 PM, but has been sleeping until anywhere between 7:45 and 8:15 AM. He sure does love his sleep!

The beginning half of the month, he did have some napping trouble because we had some company in town. But the last half, he has been napping really well–usually 1-2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. That makes me think he probably isn’t ready to drop his first nap quite yet, which is totally fine with me.

WAKE TIME
Levi has been LOVING time outside this past month. It has been warm enough for him to sit outside and explore! Since he still doesn’t walk, he mostly likes to stand while holding onto a flower box that we have. He’ll just walk around and around that thing, playing with his sticks and trucks in the dirt.

A couple of times per week, we have also been walking to the park, swimming in the seminary pool, or heading to the zoo! The weather has been so beautiful and Levi has been loving these little field trips. He is much more aware of what is happening around him (as opposed to last Spring)–saying “doggy” when he hears a dog barking or looking up into the sky when he hears an airplane overhead. This has been tons of fun!

Throughout the day, I usually clean up Levi’s toys as he is finished playing with them or before his naps, to prevent our house from being an absolute wreck come dinnertime. I have been including him more in this, so he learns how to clean up. He is doing SO well with it! I sing the “clean up” song as we go and he knows to throw his toys back in the baskets or put all of our cosmetic items back under our bathroom sink (he takes everything out of the cabinet while I’m showering and getting dressed in the morning…sigh). I’ve actually been including him in the “clean up” for months now, but this month I definitely saw him catch on, so I wanted to note it!

MOTOR SKILLS
Still not walking, goodness gracious! He just sees no need for it whatsoever. I feel differently about it, obviously–I’m tired of carrying him. We are trying so hard not to carry him much anymore and to help him walk to wherever we are heading. Sometimes, he is enthusiastic about it and will walk like a champ (while we hold his hands), but other times, he will have a fit and literally throw himself on the ground.

He does use his walker a lot more now! He’ll actually get it out of his room all by himself and walk up and down our long hallway with it. So that is encouraging, at least. We are also trying to only hold one hand when we walk with him now, to get him more used to balancing himself. Most of the time, he is still very nervous when we do this–like he wants the extra hand for support.

Levi figured out how to climb stairs this month! It all started when we visited the mall playground a few weeks back. He learned how to climb the stairs to the slide while we were there. Now, he is working on figuring out our spiral staircase…which makes me just a bit nervous.

COMMUNICATION
Levi learned a few new words this month, including:

“Baby”
“Doggy”
“Daddy” (he says it perfectly now)
“More”
“Yes” and “No” (he’ll also shakes his head for these now)
“Side” (for “outside”)
“Lion” (mostly just sounds like “Zi-uhh”)
“Cheese”
“Yay!” (he says this in the most unenthusiastic voice. it’s hilarious)
and “Ma-ma”

Yes! He has said ma-ma. Only like 5 times, not on a regular basis by any means. And most of the time it’s when he is mad about something or in a voice that sounds like he is dying–but it’s progress, right? He also knows a lot of words, but just can’t say them yet. Most of them are food-related (I’ll ask him if he wants some strawberries, and he’ll say “yes” or shake his head, etc.).

We’re still working on the screaming I talked about last month. He doesn’t usually wake up like that anymore, but he does have screaming fits throughout the day–most of the time when I need to change his diaper. Grr. He’ll now throw himself on the ground or bury his face in the floor and scream if something isn’t going his way. Currently trying to figure out how to discipline in this area! He is completely stubborn. Levi does understand when I tell him to “look at me” and he’ll look me square in the eye. At that point, he knows he has done something wrong. I try to stay as calm as possible with him, because if I yell, it really just escalates things and doesn’t teach him that he shouldn’t yell.

Lastly, our big guy learned a few new “tricks” this month! He has mastered high fives, fist bumps, head butts, lip smacking, kissing, saying “ahh” after drinking something, and mimicking several other sounds. Writing that just made me so appreciative that I have a boy. We are working on animal sounds as well!

DIAPERING
The hemp inserts are working great! His diapers are still sopping wet every morning, but leaks are pretty rare (unless he had a lot to drink right before bedtime). Yay!

TEETHING
Last week, Levi was stirring throughout the night much more than usual. He also was in a super grumpy mood for a few days, but I just assumed it was because we were out a few nights past his bedtime. I just so happened to stick my finger in his mouth to feel around for teeth and lo and behold, he already had two new top molars! They had already broken through.

This week, he has been a little more picky with his eating–he mostly wants softer foods. And one molar was bleeding a bit the other day, so my guess is they are giving him some pain now. I just give him 1-2 teething tablets throughout the day, and he is usually back to his old self. Total teeth count: 12.

SCHEDULE
Earlier this month, I was getting super stressed because Levi was not napping as well–therefore, I wasn’t able to work as much as I need to. But halfway through the month, everything changed when he put himself on this schedule. It has been the weirdest thing. He has been napping well and actually wanting more sleep. So here’s what the last few weeks have looked like for us. I am definitely not planning to wean him from his morning nap anytime soon. In my opinion, if he still sleeps for at least 1.5 hours every morning, he still needs that nap.

8:00 AM- Wake up, milk, breakfast
9:15 AM- Nap
11:00 AM- Wake up, get dressed, playtime
12:00 PM- Milk, lunch
1:00 PM- Nap
3:00 PM- Wake up, run errands or do something fun
4:00 PM- Milk, snack
5:00 PM- Levi plays in the yard or takes a bath while I get dinner started (we switched to daily nighttime baths, since he is outside a lot more now)
6:00 PM- Milk, dinner
6:30 PM- PJ’s and wind down
7:00 PM- Bedtime

EVENTS
Whew, this has been a long post! Here are a few highlights of Levi’s 16th month of life.

We celebrated Brian’s 27th birthday! What an oldie he is πŸ˜‰ We went to the mall to try to find him a bathing suit (and didn’t end up finding one…bummer). We found Levi a mini-skateboard while at Tilly’s and he thought it was the best thing ever. So did Brian. They were both in heaven, my little skater dudes. And then we looked at the price tag…and put the $125 tiny skateboard back on the shelf. We closed out the night by eating at El Taco Luchador for dinner. Yum!

The Crowders came to KY for the Together for the Gospel conference! They stayed with us for a few days and we had such a great time together. Levi and Norah really hit it off this time around! They had lots of fun adventures, including a trip to the zoo.

 

My 23rd birthday was this month! We didn’t do too much, since we already had a packed week. Just went to the park and relaxed at home.
We celebrated Easter as well this month! Levi helped with dyeing his first Easter eggs (he LOVED it!) and then we made Easter bread together. I gave him some raw dough to play with/roll out…pretty sure he ate about half of it. Oops. He also loved to watch the breads bake in the oven!

 

 

The day before Easter, Brian ran the Derby Half Marathon! He finished within the pace he wanted and Levi and I had a wonderful time cheering him on. It was a gorgeous day for the race!
Lastly, Easter was on April 20th of this month. It was a beautiful day with family and friends, celebrating the life of Christ and his fulfilled promises to us. We started the day with Levi opening his Easter backpack, filled with all sorts of goodies. He received the backpack and bathing suit from us, a toy camera and Jesus Calling Bible from his Grammy and Papi (my parents) as well as an early Easter present of two adorable outfits from his Grandma and Grandpa (Brian’s parents). It was such a treat for him!
We spent the rest of the afternoon watching babies in the nursery and then heading to our CG dinner, where the kids had an egg hunt.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading up on our Levi, friends! Until next month.