Another Day in Paradise

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The New Blog

The big reveal was going to be New Years Day. But my Dad's Christmas letter hit the presses and unveiled the new blog a little early. For the new year, I started a new blog--the same stuff, just a new look. This blog will remain here. But starting tomorrow I will be posting daily at--

jodylanders.wordpress.com


(Don't get too excited. I know it's hard. It's not really that big of a deal...)

More...

OK, so between baseball games in the backyard, baking Nana's birthday cake, laundry, and grocery shopping, I have had a couple minutes to pick up the stack of books in "my room". It seems there is a common theme in the things that are stirring my heart lately...
"Looking at he millions of boneded child laborers in India or the thousands of child prostitutes in Asia or the thousands of torure victims twisting and bleeding in the world's forgotten jail cells, we cay say to God, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for the power, protection, freedom, and justice you have granted us in sparing us from such fates. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Or we can ask, "What have you given me, Father, that I might help those who don't have power, who don't have protection, who don't have freedom, who don't have justice?" (Gary Haugen)

Reading in yet another book about a young African mother who prays that her 3 children will die before she does. She fears what will happen to them, who will care for them if she dies first. OK, mothers, that is very, very wrong. Can you even imagine being so desperate that you pray for your children to die before you?!! Those mothers across the ocean, our sisters, love their children as much as we love ours. Their suffering, their poverty, their starvation is not OK. And you know what else is not OK--for me to say "Thank you, God for the safety of my own children" or "Wow, that is very sad." Not OK. How serious am I about being His hands and feet? I hope 2007 will tell...and I am praying for the courage to step up and jump...

Saved For

In a current read, the authors of "Living a Life on Loan" begin to explore our stories and how they intersect with God's plan. Swanson and Rusaw mention how we often focus our testimonies on what God saved us 'from.' But that is only one aspect of our testimony, our story. The second is what God saved us 'for.' "This is the portion you share with others about how knowing Christ can help make this world a better place." It's about where your passion and God's purposes collide and you feel God's pleasure.
I love that. It has challenged me to think hard these past couple days about the second aspect of my story. What will I contribute? What was I saved for? How grateful I am for the grace that saved me and now how can I extend it to help bring glimpses of the kingdom of heaven to earth?

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"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life from aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin up to his nest again, I shall not live in vain." (Emily Dickinson)

Friday, December 29, 2006

I'll Start Here

Here's a man who was attempting to go over his week-end music, but ended up patiently singing "Jingle Bells" several hundred times...




Quite possibly the best father on the planet.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Not Good

"home is the most important place for a man to be affirmed. If a man knows that his wife believes in him, he is empowered to do better in every area of his life. A man tends to think of life as a competition and a battle, and he can energetically go duke it out if he can come home to someone who supports him unconditionally." (Shaunti Feldhahn)

Andy sometimes jokes that I think my job is to keep him humble. But I'm ashamed to think that he probably feels that way often. Not good. No one's fault but my own.

What Good?

"The noblest question in the world is: "What good may I do in it?" (Benjamen Franklin)

We are back to the "moment by moment choices that make up a life."

The boys are happily searching for the 'woods monster' and digging for worms. Laundry is calling my name today and home feels very good.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

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"Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man's starving." (O. Henry)

Wishful Thinking

Why do I bring my book bag on family getaways? I have a nice little bag full of books that I am anxious to read--sitting unopened by the bed. Wishful thinking I guess.


The boys have been very good on this trip. We have been very proud of them. But we're not quite at the stage where Mom's book bag is appropriate I guess...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One More Night

Dinner at Rain Forest Cafe--

(precisely why I hate pictures...seriously, I'd like to think it is my bad side, but the other one looks just like it.)

complete with a birthday dessert for Nana


(This whole crew in Chicago sends all our love, our prayers and many hugs to our missing parts--Aunt Randie and Uncle Tim who are awaiting the arrival of their first child and our first Landers neice. Miss you!!! We hope she comes tonight...)

The Day in Chicago--

This morning we found Santa Clause made out of legos and a Thomas the Train store complete with $3 rides around the store.

(We really don't love Max the most, he is just the most willing to pose for the camera).

Big boys are at a movie with Dad and Nana this afternoon. Quincy and I are "resting."


I'm quite sure I would have died from heart failure if I lived here with my four little people...too many fast moving cars, crowds of people, and breakable things. :-) It would require much "training" at least and I can't even get them to sit still in church...so back to our corn fields and wide open spaces we will go.

But we are having a grand time and will return with special memories...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Chicago

So we left town for a little Landers getaway to Chicago...
Ten minutes after arriving at the hotel, the boys looked like this--

so we did this--



then set out to find a restaurnt open on Christmas night. It ended being a harder task than we imagined, but finally found a little Irish pub and we crammed 11 people into a 6 person booth. A fun memory, and Dawson commented that, "This is the best night in the whole world."

Christmas Morning 2007

The first couple kids were up at 5:15. We sent them back to bed screaming.
We gave in completely at 7:00

(Thanks Aunt Randie and Uncle Tim for the shirts!)


Gabe opening up a St. Louis Cardinals clock for their room (Thanks Jon and Kari!)

Complete set of 4 walkie talkies from Jess and Nate--also a big hit. Quincy has been playing with his new truck all by himself all morning.

Andy not well with stones. Every time I blink my eyes I see that woman's disapproving and disgusted face. Not quite over it yet.

I'm praying this morning for a softened heart, a forgiving spirit, and the endurance to withstand probably a number more of those looks. I don't answer to them...I don't know why it hurts me so much.

But we are so very thankful for our family this morning and a Savior who came so that all people, good moms and bad, abnoxious kids and all, could have Redemption. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Blogging to Heal

OK, so it happened.

It's Christmas Eve and I am forced to sit in a church service alone with my children. I choose not to take them to the weekly services very often--mostly because I am selfish with my worship time. I don't like to chase crayons, and pass out gum and paper, and keep the brothers from touching each other while I'm in church. I like to worship uninterrupted. I like the silence. I like the time it gives me to connect with God alone. When they do come with me, the boys know their Dad is on stage and there is no way he can get to them. That being said, we have not done a lot of "training" in the way of sitting through church.

So I dragged my crew of little boys into the service tonight. They were not being still. They were not being very quiet. Crayons were rolling everywhere... And then it happened. The woman in front of me turned around and gave me "the look." "The look" that says so clearly, "You are quite possibly the worst mother I have ever seen. Do you mind getting a handle on your abnoxious children so me and my two perfect children can enjoy the service. Thank you."
OK, so I hate that look. I've gotten it a couple times before (I know, shocking) in the grocery store or the mall or in church. But it literally knocks the breath out of me every time. I can feel my spirit sink and my confidence deflate.
The truth is--I probably deserved it. I am not very good at getting my boys to sit still during church. For Andy, I'm quite sure, they would be angelic...but well, that's just not an option.
(But if you ever come to our church with a handful of little ones whose behavior cannot be guaranteed...sit by me. You're safe there. Sometimes I think my job is simply to make all other parents feel superior. Job well done tonight.)

So tonight, I kissed the faces of my abnoxious children. And now I am blogging to heal from the wounds of "the look". It's really either this or cry.

Christmas with The Landers



Let the Parties Begin...





Saturday, December 23, 2006

This is New

This is the first Saturday in 5 years that my husband has been HOME. I'm so happy. (church services come with amazing regularity...except at Christmas. :-)).

Friday, December 22, 2006

Be A Better Mom Today

We have a chalkboard right next to our kitchen table where I have been keeping a running list of the most important things to accomplish for the day. Well, after some comtemplation and conviction last night, I dedicated today to being "Reclaim Your Family Day". After several weeks of stress and selfishness, I needed to connect again with the kids, to romance their hearts again, to listen, to play, to sit with them. So I crossed off the list and wrote "Be a Better Mom Today." Sometimes it's that simple.

We played dress up (in a house full of boys that consists of putting on Dad's clothes), played games, made special projects, made a couple deliveries, ate all together, got a visit from Santa (who the boys all believe is "dead," but they still love it), snuggled up to watch a Christmas movie, read stories, and went peacefully to bed. I don't intend to keep up that pace every day, but every now and then, that's what it takes to reconnect, to remember, and remind the boys that they are my greatest privilege and treasure.



And now I am going to curl up in bed with a stack of books and call it a day. A good day.

Posted Below is the 2006 Christmas Letter and Picture (for my own record keeping purposes).


Things change. At the grocery store, I only buy one size of diapers. I completely pass by the aisle with those pureed green peas in little jars. I traded in our sippy cups and bouncy seats for soccer cleats and book bags. 3 out of the 4 boys buckle themselves into seatbelts. All can walk now---or more accurately---run now. (Unfortunately, never in the same direction.) I no longer spend my evenings rocking babies while Andy sings lullabies. I now review spelling words and Andy throws baseballs. Fortunately, we now sleep seven consecutive hours. And with much excitement, we traded in our smaller older house in the city for a bigger newer one in the country—where our babies, now boys—can now run freer.
Dawson (7), bless his first- born heart, paves the way through each new change. Making sure we don’t mess him up, Dawson recently pointed out I had allowed Gabe a privilege I had denied him. “Mom,” he scolded, ”that is not very good parenting.” For Dawson, the new house represents a unique opportunity to catch snakes, frogs and those creepy and crawly things that only true boys of adventure and conquest could love. Trying to keep all four, six, and twelve-legged animals outside, I am standing firm on the rule: You can have a pet when you stop fighting with your brothers. I think I’m safe.
Gabe (6) remains our “eye of the hurricane.” When we moved to the country, he demanded his own quiet room. He likes to hide stashes of coins, cards, and candy from his brothers in top secret places. His brothers in turn feel obligated to discover those stashes. As the eye of the hurricane passes, Gabe will pick up Andy’s old electric guitar and contribute to the chaos. Even as a kindergartener, Gabe remains sensitive and kind, yet daring and tough. He and some buddies recently dressed up as superheroes. They rode their bikes through a local neighborhood, knocking on the doors of strangers and asking: “Do you have any crime here?”
Max (4) was born a free-ranger. He does not like any type of boundary or fence. Now that we’re in the country, we’re constantly asking, “Where’s Max?” No acreage can squelch his curiosity. Max’s drumming also knows no limit, especially if they are on the big stage. Max lives in opposites. When I told him to go to the potty before he went to bed, he turned on me and said, “You are the baddest Mom I ever had.” All the boys now gladly critique our parenting. Max soon returns however and looks for those comforting hugs and words. His embraces can melt even a hardened mom’s resolve.
John Piper says “There are rare and wonderful species of joy that flourish only in the rainy atmosphere of suffering.” Quincy (2) taught us that. After so many anxious days, what joy we now experience watching him grow strong and healthy and happy. The doctors quit their probing and prodding this year, telling us to come back in 2007. We’ll see then what surgeries may loom ahead. For now, Quinc makes his own contribution to the collective chaos. Determined and persistent, he expresses his frustration with our parenting by exclaiming “ohhh mannn!!” Gentle and unafraid, he’s still so blindingly cute--- especially when he “sings”. Quinc matched our move into a new house with a move into a big boy bed—signifying so clearly a little boy that is growing up all too fast for his mother.
With a nice amount of little boy still in him, Andy must use all his self-control to allow his sons to win games of driveway basketball. PlayStation competitions are no less furious. In the same way, however, Andy is the ever-constant guide for our men in the making. He combines beautifully the childlike love of the Father and the grownup sacrifice and passion of the Son. Andy’s music, like himself, refuses to be defined by any genre or setting. Saturday nights, he’ll often be found leading the early worship service before heading to play in Davenport’s leading music clubs. All that he does, all his music, overflows from a heart that bleeds for people, all people. I am the first among many who are inspired and challenged by him.
I’m not sure I can change though into a very good “country” mother. Accompanying the unnatural “no animals” rule, my cooking is rather pathetic; I can hardly sew a button, much less a quilt; and “homeschooling” is not in my vocabulary. I began the new move by painting the sunroom pink and declaring it mine. Anyone who can pee standing up is not allowed in. I will read, I will blog, I will drink hot coffee, and I will reflect. And I won’t complain when I’m interrupted every 34 seconds. Nor will I complain about the constant chaos, the noise of little boy wars, the never-ending laundry, the endless trips to the kitchen for apple juice and crackers, the muddy footgear and dirty floors, the pencil drawings on freshly painted walls, or the toothpaste covered sinks. Because each interruption offers evidence that 4 growing boys live here. And one day, not far off, I will no longer be the mother of boys, but the mother of men.
So with very grateful hearts for another little boy who grew up wise and obedient enough to make the ultimate sacrifice, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Jody Landers for all

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Maybe What is On The Heart of God Should Be On Ours As Well

“I doubt that God went to bed last night thinking about how many people you had in your church. Most likely he went to bed last night thinking about the two billion people that live on less than a dollar a day or the 30,000 people who died because they didn’t have clean water or about human traficking or the genocide in Africa.” (Reggie McNeal)

Little Boys and Puppy Dog Tails

I have a strict "no pet" rule at our house right now. Andy said it was cruel to take the boys to play with a litter of 10 Golden Retriever puppies today. I did it anyway. They're cute and they make for good pictures. The boys endured a long, long lecture about "don't even dare ask me to bring one of them home..blah, blah, blah." They handled everything beautifully and I was the one who weakened....





Almost caved when I met this little "special needs" puppy...the runt who is about 1/5 the size of the other puppies.

Almost...almost...but not ready yet...(she's sweet, right?)

Through the Years Via The Annual Christmas Letter

(A couple lines chosen from our Christmas letters from the past 8 years):

1998--"Andy and I are happily settled here in Heartland, USA. Off the beaten track, Muscatine has all the benefits of small town America.....I am looking forward to my new, unexpected role as mother."

1999--"Andy and I slept little since our last Christmas letter...The culprit of our restless nights became the cause of our deepest joy and love...We also understand how Mary might of looked adoringly at her infant child and prayed "sleep in (and give us some) heavenly peace." "

2000--"At the years beginning, we realized things were changing when my "flu" never went away. The flu had a name--Gabe Weston Landers. Underneath the endless piles of dishes, laundry and diapers, a little girls dream has come true."

2001--Today Andy and I launced an all-out search for evidence of life without kids. So far, no luck....Kids and chaos seem to reign here at the Landers house....When I stop throwing up, we'll start preparing for baby #3."

2002--"Boys rolls through my hallways like a herd of wild horses...{Andy} would accept a lot more invitations to lead and write music but for the challenges of our home life. I'm so glad he prefers the sound of "dad" from three little boys."

2003--"It's not exactly how I pictured it...Our frantic trips to the supermarkets, restaurants, and church provide me weekly lessons in humility. The church nursery area now offers self-defense classes to all other children--who find themselves in class with one of the Landers' boys...Andy--completely to blame for the personalities of our boys--continues to lead our crew with great courage and strength."

2004--"Does prayer work?" As Andy and I sat down to evaluate our year, we concluded, "No, it doesn't work." The joy and pain, the delight and sorrow seemed too haphazard; nights spent in anguish wrestling with God led into days spent in exuberant worship. A bout with Bells Palsey, we welcomed a beautiful child with a severe birth defect and by November, we mourned the unexpected loss of a best friend. Throw in several kidney stone attacks and in in the normal pressures of work and a growing family and pretty soon you have the formula for sheer physical and emotional exhaustion."

2005--"Mom," Max said pointing at Andy, "Do you see that guy in the white shirt? That's my Dad. He's a really good singer and a really good mower." Yes, he is....Like tonight, I am exhausted at day's end, yet somehow still fulfilled...as I close the door to the boys' room, I say a quick prayer, "I hope they know how much I love them. I hope they know how much You love them."



As I glanced through the letters from years past, these things I know:
-I have done a lot of laundry over the years
-My husband has made countless sacrifices on the altar of his family.
-God has been so very good and so very faithful to me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

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I do not think I exaggerate when I say that some of us put our
offering in the plate with a kind of triumphant bounce as much as to
say: "There - now God will feel better!" I am obliged to tell you
that God does not need anything you have. He does not need a dime of
your money. It is your own spiritual welfare at stake in such
matters as these. You have the right to keep what you have all to
yourself - but it will rust and decay, and ultimately ruin you.

... A. W. Tozer

It's the End of the Year and I No Longer Can Come Up with Titles For These Posts.

the obligatory preschool Christmas program photo--and a camera whose zoom is NOT so good.
"the little brothers"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

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"How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." (Anne Frank)

Monday, December 18, 2006

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"A pessimist, they say, sees a glass or water as being half empty; an optimist sees the same glass as half full. But a giving person sees a glass of water and starts looking for someone who might be thirsty." (G. Donald Gale)

A picture and a quote


(there is a long story to all the "wife-beater" shirts, but cute pictures nonetheless)

Completely unrelated quote follows (but I like it so I'm posting it.):

"...the soul rejoices in hearing what it already knows. And so you pay attention...
First find a path and a little light to see by. Then push up your sleeves and start helping..." (Anne Lamott)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

In The End, Boys Will Be Boys, Part 2. (Actually, it is the story of my life and could be the title for nearly every entry...)


Made the kids put on something other than jeans, gave them long lectures about behaving themselves in a nice restaurant, took them to lunch at the country club with some friends to hear Andy play. They did OK, but it was killing them...
Oh so happy, they were to get home and do this--