Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fancy Fingernails...One Way or Another

Brooke missed her nap she had a meltdown while grocery shopping because I would not buy her "princess fake nails" that were strategically hanging down one of the food aisles (I'm convinced they are there to make Moms have an even more difficult time getting out of the store with children in one piece!) The meltdown began about 1/2 way through our shopping experience and lasted until we got in the car. The decision was made...NAP TIME as soon as you are done eating lunch!

While Brooke was supposedly napping, I decided to use up some old bananas and bake some muffins. I heard her rustling around for a bit (which is not uncommon). Once the muffins were in the oven baking I decided to go upstairs to check on her. The sweet aroma of banana muffins downstairs quickly changed into the sweet aroma of nail polish once I found my way upstairs. And, there in the hall bathroom, the evidence was before me...
Yes, she got into this all by herself and became very brave.
I found her laying in her bed...with freshly painted fingernails.
Aren't they fancy? She even managed a second coat of sparkles.
I guess she thought that when Mommy said "no" it was time to take matters into her own hands (literally).
One way or another...this girl got her fancy fingernails.
(but that wasn't the only thing fancy she was given!)

Sweet Dreams Brooke.
Whoever said girls are easier than boys is sorely mistaken.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Everyone Has a "Look-A-Like"...

Saturday started with a lot of excitement as we packed our bags and prepared to make the trip out to Tecumseh for my niece and nephew's (Natalie and Wyatt's) "bowling" birthday party. Afterwards, the family was going to spend the night at my sister's house and just enjoy some time together. I don't get to see them nearly as much as I'd like, and I was really looking forward to some downtime with my sister and her family.

Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us, and after venturing out for almost 45 minutes on the icy, wet, messy roads, we made the decision to cancel our trip and stay home. Let me just say that the kids were not the only ones crying and disappointed. It took me a long time to shake it off and to try to enjoy the day (I'm blaming the pregnancy hormones for that.)

Once the disappointment wore off a bit, there was little family fun in store for us. With all the newly dropped snow, we played outside and made a "Look-A-Like" snowman family. Daddy's is spruced up in a tie, Mommy's snowman even has earrings, Brayden's is sportin' a ball cap, and Brooke's is donning a pink feather boa. (and baby snowman is all "nat-u-ral"...newly formed)

Brooke was not happy until she could hold the "baby snowman."
(the smiles return)

After quite some time playing in the frigid cold, we took the kids swimming at the gym (brayden loves the water slide and the newfound freedom it brings) And then we went out to eat...the kids were so tired after all that fresh air and swimming. Brayden actually fell asleep (for the night) at the restaurant dinner table! (wished I had my camera for that one)
Sometimes you've got to make the best out of Plan B. When life brings you lemons, you gotta make lemonade. And when life brings you snow, go do something with it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Scissors and a 3 Year Old...

Yesterday is one of our long days where Brooke does not get a nap. Around 5ish she was so tired and whiny that she eagerly agreed to lay on my bed and watch "NOGGIN" while I started to get dinner prepared. Some time passed by; I was cooking and talking to a friend on the phone when Brooke came up behind me in the kitchen and plopped this onto the counter...
It is a bulletin she had pulled out of my Bible or one of the books on my nightstand. She must have gotten ahold of a pair of scissors in my bathroom (the same pair that mysteriously opened a Valentine candy a few weeks back). And her gesture of "plopping the pile" in front of me is a bit like her tattling on herself. She knows she should not be playing with scissors.

After the kids were in bed sleeping, I went up to my bathroom to get on my cozies and to wash my face. I opened up one of my bathroom drawers and found this...

Look closely...the hair on top of the scissors is not "left-over" hair from the hairbrush...

No....these are fresh locks here! That little vixen not only cut up a bulletin, she decided to get brave and give herself a little haircut too! (I think the "pile of paper" she left me on the kitchen counter was actually a little guilty clue that there was something a bit more naughty I would soon discover)
Here is Little Miss with her new and improved look (which thankfully is not very noticeable and could have been a lot worse...but I have been waiting and waiting for the sides of her hair to completely grow out so that she could wear a ponytail without it falling into her face...looks like we have some more waiting to do). And as an optimist, I should see potential...Perhaps she wants to take after her Aunt Bear and become a stylist?Until that day arrives...NOTE TO SELF:
1.) Unsupervised three year olds and scissors do not mix!
2.) Remove all scissors in home that are within a 3 year-old's reach!

Oh...another day in the life of the Schrieber home

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day

Sometimes God brings me back to a place where I am completely humbled and reminded that I am nothing without Him...I had a "remove the plank from your own eye" moment this week...and several other moments where my heart felt tweaked a bit in subtle ways and has left me feeling more centered and true...
I am grateful for this because it causes me to feel closer to my true self, my identity, and it puts me back where I am supposed to be. At the same time, it also puts me in a place where I feel closer to God and have Him back in His rightful place.
Makes me want to surrender my entirety to Him (once again) and to be emptied of myself and filled with Him. I am learning this is something I must continuously do.
Today is a great day to remember all that was given and sacrificed -
A perfect example of LOVE was displayed in nail-pierced hands and wounded side.

"For God so loVed the world,
.........That He gAve
...................His onLy
....................................That whosoever
.......................Believeth In Him
.............................Should Not perish,
............................But have Everlasting Life."
~John 3:16

Brennan Manning writes: "What is indiscriminate compassion? Take a look at a rose. It is impossible for the rose to say 'I'll offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people'? Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light? It could do that only by ceasing to be a lamp. And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low, to animals and humans and every living creature- even to the one who seeks to cut it down. This is the first quality of compassion- its indiscriminate character."

We've been shown this indiscriminate compassion by a merciful God who defines LOVE. Today's' a great day to love on our spouses, our children and our family. That's easy. But what about the ones who are a bit more difficult to love, friends or family that we struggle with, the strangers we encounter daily? We've been given a perfect example of how to do this this through JESUS.

Love truly takes no less than everything. Happy Valentine's Day to you all...Love on!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Giver of LIFE

If you read the previous post, you may understand this one more fully. Today is the one year anniversary of my Grandpa's death. I was driving to my doctor's appointment this morning, eager to see the baby again and hear the heartbeat for the first time and I started to reflect on the truth that God is the ultimate Giver of LIFE...LIFE that is new and developing and at the earliest of stages, Abundant LIFE for us in the here and now, and eternal LIFE (of which my grandpa has experienced for a year now). Much to be thankful for today.

On my way to my appointment, I tried to call my Grandma to see how she was doing today, my thoughts very much consumed with the occasion. As I am driving alone, I am listening to the radio and the song "I'm In Better Hands Now" comes on (significance in previous post). I honestly haven't heard this song in months. I couldn't believe it was playing, today, at that moment. I sang along and wept and thanked God for giving me that song...a simple and small gift just for me today. I will savor this small and personal blessing. And as I am driving, crying and thanking God for this smallest gift, I think to myself "God doesn't touch my life." There's so much more to it than that. "He holds my life. He truly holds it in the palm of His hand." Moments later, as I am reflecting on this, a Newsboys song comes on that I have never heard before called "In the Hands of God." I know this, too, is not a coincidence.

I could never doubt that there is a God. He is so very much alive, present, and real. He speaks to a loud voice and in a quiet whisper. Any listening ear and seeking heart will find Him.

Wise God, Loving Father...You're amazing; You are.

A Legacy of Faith

Today, February 4, 2009, marks the one year anniversary since we lost my Grandpa (in an earthly sense) and heaven gained him for eternity. This time in my life was sprinkled with gifts and blessings and profoundly covered with God's presence, provision and His peace.

It's hard to believe a whole year has gone by. I distinctly remember receiving the call from my mom in the early morning hours of February 3rd, 2008 saying my grandpa had suffered a massive stroke and had bleeding in his brain. That morning, Super Bowl Sunday, we drove out to the hospital in Ann Arbor to see him.

Gramps had lived with congestive heart failure and kidney failure for some time. We had made several other trips in the past visiting him during brief hospital stays. In fact, just the week prior he was in the hospital. It was he and my Grandma's 60th wedding anniversary and the nursing staff and family threw them a big anniversary party. I took the kids up to visit and celebrate with them during this time. But, Gramps was always "the comeback kid" when he was released from the hospital this time, I was expecting another full recovery. I didn't know that was going to be the last time I would actually have a conversation with him and see him smile. I believe it was his first night back home, after being released from the hospital, that he had the massive stroke.

I remember arriving at the hospital and asking several questions in regards to "What will the Doctors do next?" The weight of the answer fell on my heart heavily, "Nothing, there is nothing they will do except try to make him more comfortable." That's when an inner struggle pursued...being caught between HOLDING ON and LETTING GO. At this time, Gramps was unresponsive and his body was quickly shutting down.

My family of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, my mom and grandma and all of our spouses and children (some trickling in and out) huddled in that hospital room around grandpa all day long. We reminisced, recalled our favorite memories with Grandpa, the things we loved about him, his quirks and strengths. We prayed together, laughed together, and shed countless tears together. God gave us the beautiful gift of time to say goodbye to him.

At one point, Grandpa's breathing became more labored and we all circled around his bed wondering and worrying that these may be his last breaths. We held hands and began singing hymns and songs of praise ("Amazing Grace," "It is Well with My Soul," "How Great though Art," even "Jesus Loves Me" and many others... we even had the nurses print out the lyrics to "I Can Only Imagine" and we all sang that together). Our voices were cracked and broken- faltering between moments of laughing and crying- but we sang on. Let me remind you that Grandpa was still unresponsive during this time. There was a moment when singing, when a tear rolled from Grandpa's left eye. I can barely type now just recalling this divine experience. It was if God was letting us know that Grandpa heard us and loved us and that he was OK. The presence of God and the beauty of family make this memory one of the most bittersweet, endearing and glorious moments of my life.

We stayed with Gramps the entire day and finally left the hospital around 10:30pm. By 11pm I was in bed at my sister's house in Saline. I don't remember what time it was, because I was sleeping, but I vividly remember having a dream in which I saw my Grandpa's face. His eyes were closed and then all of a sudden he opened them. The chorus of the song "I'm in Better Hands Now" played over and over again in my mind. I tried falling back asleep and again, these lyrics just echoed through my mind. I didn't think much of it and eventually fell back asleep. Shortly after midnight, I received a call from my mom who was still at the hospital. She said that Gramps had finally passed away... I don't believe that my dream and my waking up to the lyrics of "I'm in Better Hands Now" was a coincidence. While I can't be certain my dream occurred the moment Gramps was welcomed into heaven, I do believe that this was a divine experience...a message from the Lord assuring me that Gramps indeed was in better hands...he was HOME. I struggle with adequately putting into words and expressing this entire experience, but it is something I will always treasure up and ponder in my heart.

The days following Grandpa's death were filled with more tears, joy and unsurpassing peace. This bittersweet time in my life was also one of the most beautiful times in my life. I witnessed and shared in the beauty of family unity, genuine friendship, and God's favor and blessing on those who love Him and seek Him with their all.

Now that I've shared my experience, I'd like to close with a reflection of my Grandpa, his life, and what he meant to us.


Even though Grandpa was a man of few words, it is impossible to sum up his life in just that. He had 3 daughters, 13 grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren...and he left a mark on each and every one of our lives.

Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it." This is exactly what Grandma and Grandpa have done. Alton Ealy was not just a grandpa, father, or husband. He wasn't just a good man- he was a godly man. He walked a life loving God and loving people every step of the way. As his grandkids, we always knew what our parents expected of us, but we also knew what our grandparents expected of us, and we did not want to disappoint them.

Grandpa was a good example of a father's love. He was a role model and in many ways, the cornerstone of our family. Many of us have experienced times of instability and grandpa and grandma have always been that constant, that stability, that pillar that represents strength and faithfulness. Through 60 years of marriage they have been an example to all of their lives devoted to one another and devoted to the Lord.

No matter where we were in our spiritual lives, Grandpa was always loving and accepting of us. He didn't judge or condemn. He remained humble and kind and loving, and was full of wit and good humor along the way. He always made us laugh. How many other 80 year old die-hard Michigan State fans do you know? Such a lover of the Spartans, he even had a U of M wolverine doll hanging from a noose in his backyard and taped a Sparty bobble-head doll to the front of his walker he used to get around.

Grandpa enjoyed life. He was actively involved in our lives- whether it be attending a game, concert, recital, birthday party, wedding, or birth of a child- he was there supporting and encouraging us through life's big and small moments.

Even with his health declining, he never complained- but kept a fun-loving attitude and joyful spirit. He still found such joy and delight being entertained by his grandkids and great grandkids. Although it had been years since "the death grip" (one of grandpa's favorite games he used to play with all of us grandkids), his eyes lit up when he was around us and we always felt that we were loved.

Grandpa instilled many values in us. A teacher for 34 years---he instilled the value of education and wisdom. He was wise with how he spent his time and resources, putting his family first and taking time to travel, explore, and enjoy the world God gave us. He was also a great example of being active in the community and serving others. He served his community through volunteer work with Kiwanis, the Saline Hospital Auxiliary, the Rentschler Farm Museum, Habitat for Humanity and as a devoted member of Saline Baptist Church.

The values he instilled and his example are great gifts...but perhaps the greatest gift he could have given us is a heritage of faith. His children and grandchildren have seen the sincerity of his faith...we saw his faith in action in the way he lived his life. Our family tree is full of generations of believers and Grandpa has been a spiritual father to many of us.

There is a beautiful song by the Christian artist, Nicole C. Mullen, called Sharecropper's Seed. She wrote the song about her own Grandfather and explains that:

"Much of who we become is shaped by the people God places in our lives. We are all a product of the love and wisdom we glean from family and friends who sow into us. They guide and teach us, leaving an indelible impression not just on our hearts and minds, but on future generations as well.

We all come from someone else's toil. They've prayed for us or planted seeds on our behalf or encouraged us along the way. We all have somebody who's responsible for the great harvest that we might receive in life. Most of the good crops today that we are reaping, were sown in love by those before us."

Deuteronomy 7:9 says "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands." Exodus 20:6 speaks of God showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. -Love and faith affects generations.

Grandpa's faithfulness had and will continue to have an overwhelming impact on the heritage of his children. And now we must think about the impact our own faith has on our children's future. What we do with a seed has power for generations to come. If you bless the seed and nurture it just the right way, then the seed can rise up.

We have much to be thankful for on this day. Grandpa is now in heaven with the Lord. By honoring and remembering him, we are also honoring Jesus because Jesus shined through his life for all of us to see. There will be generations of Ealy descendants in heaven because of the foundation Grandpa and Grandma have laid before us. Let's praise God for this harvest. This heritage of faith is a priceless legacy.

Only God knows when we will draw our last breath. Grandpa is in better hands now. We look forward to the day when he will greet us at heaven's doorstep...and I wouldn't be surprised to see him laughing, smiling, and dancing around in a hula skirt.

Love you Gramps and miss you so much!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Feeling WORN OUT and BLUE...

Brayden came home from school today bringing with him ANOTHER hole in his jeans! This marks the 5th pair of jeans since September with a hole in the RIGHT knee.
Lonely HOLE 1

Tired and Blue HOLE 2

Worn Out HOLE 3
Battered & Bruised HOLE 4
Defeated HOLE 5

And below you'll find:
Either summer needs to arrive quickly or
it's fine time I invested in some patches.
Oh...the JOYS of BOYS!