Manna from Heaven

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Daily Bread. It’s a phrase I’ve heard so many times that I hardly think about it anymore. However, yesterday as I was reading to the girls, I was struck anew with an ancient truth.

So there we were, sitting around the breakfast table, when I pulled out the giant story Bible we’ve been reading. The title of the story for the day was “Manna from Heaven”. In case you don’t know, or don’t remember the story, you can look it up in Exodus 16. God’s people are wandering in the wilderness and they’re hungry. They complain and God gives Moses the plan for what’s to happen next. He sends bread from heaven with the morning dew. Each day the people are supposed to collect enough food for the day, no more and no less. The next day God sends the bread again. And again. On the sixth day, the people are told to gather twice as much as they need for one day, because the next day is a day of rest and there won’t be any new manna. Some people do as they are told, but some don’t trust God. They gather more than enough manna (or they gather just enough but don’t eat it all) and they save some for the next day. In the morning it stinks and it’s full of worms. Then Day Six rolls around and, again, some of the people do as they are supposed to and others disobey and only collect enough for one day. The seventh day comes and those who didn’t collect extra just don’t have any food. The ones who saved their extra overnight wake up to find it not stinking and not full of worms this time. When I read this story I often wonder if it’s the same people who disobey God in each incident or if it’s different people – the ones who don’t trust God to provide again, the ones who don’t trust God to keep His word, or maybe some who are just bad at listening to directions.

God still provides for His people. Sometimes it’s money. He provides enough for everything He wants us to have, no more, no less. When Dan was in school we didn’t have a lot of money. We lived on what we had and God took care of us. When He got his first “real” job, we were so excited about the huge increase in our income. Then we had to move out of cheap, subsidized, campus housing and into a condo in Ann Arbor. That hurt the freshly filled bank account. Then came medical bills with our second baby. That hurt too. For a while I was a little down about that.

“Just when we start making a little more, then all these bills come in and it’s all gone.”

But God showed me differently. He had provided two days worth of manna for the time when we would need it. “Just before the bills came in, God gave us more so that we would be able to pay them.”

It has happened again and again in our lives, and not just with money. Sometimes it’s other material things. Sometimes it’s feeling God’s presence or getting time alone with Dan or having some peace in our home before something crazy happens. No matter what, He just wants us to trust that He will provide what we need, when we need it, but no more and no less. And, at least in my experience, He tends to provide in such a way and in such timing that keep me dependent on Him.

If God is truly the God of our lives, our time, our bodies, and our bank accounts, it’s also important that we ask Him how to be spending these things.

A couple of months ago Paul was about to run out of clothes. He was getting bigger and we just didn’t have any bigger boy clothes. Most of our baby clothes (we have half a room full right now!) are pink and purple with bows and ruffles. We could have run straight to the store and picked out some really cute baseball-themed pajamas, but one of us had the idea to pray and ask God first. So we did, We prayed something like, “God, our money is yours. If you want us to go buy clothes for Paul we are happy to do so, but if you want us to use this money for something else, please provide the clothing he needs”. Then we waited.

A couple of weeks later we took a trip up North. Dan’s mom surprised us with a dozen like-new garage sale outfits for Paul, in the right sizes. My mom surprised me with a trip to Kohl’s and treated the kids and me to a new outfit each. On our way home, one of our dear friends handed over two diaper boxes full of little boy clothes. The picture up above is of Paul on our walk this morning, decked out entirely in clothing that was given to us by a family from church, my mom, Dan’s mom, and one of our friends.

I used to think that God only provided for people who didn’t have enough. I thought that anyone who had a large enough income was already provided for by their job, that they should thank God for their job and budget away. I have recently been realizing that there is far greater blessing in asking God how we should use our resources and then being obedient. Then He will provide the manna we need for one day, or two days, but no more and no less.

Two Foods, Two Teeth, Two Months

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In the midst of our vacation and other end-of-summer activities (and trying to keep up with my three busy little Munchkins) I missed Paul’s 6-month update.

But that is most certainly not because we were failing to enjoy Paul’s sixth month! Little Man is getting close to sitting up (already?!?) and can push himself up higher and higher with those arms. The most fun part of this month, though, was that Paul started learning to express his opinion.

One evening, I was sitting on the floor holding Paul in my lap and playing with a couple of baby toys. He’s learning to grab and he would reach out and try to get his fingers around the toys as I moved them around. Suddenly he started crying a little and I realized that I had set down one of the toys which he obviously preferred. It’s so fun to see him pick his favorites now and let his voice be heard. He especially likes things that crinkle and grabbing people’s feet.

I had gotten into the habit of letting Paul play in his exersaucer (we just call it the Standing Toy around here) during lunch. One day, without really thinking about it, I put him in his Bouncy Seat (it’s actually a rocking infant seat but we still call it the bouncy seat…even though it doesn’t bounce) and, to my surprise, he started crying. I was puzzled at first, but then wondered, “he couldn’t possibly want to be in his Standing Toy, could he?” Yes, he could. As soon as I moved him he smiled away and started playing. I guess you just don’t mess with the Big Guy’s routine.

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Paul is a little night-owl and, sadly, has started waking up during the nights again. It’s usually just once or twice, and we’re all surviving for now. He also doesn’t like to go to bed at night. Most evenings I’ll tuck him in and he’ll go to sleep only to wake up half an hour later. Dan will run upstairs to get him and come down with Paul, wide awake and smiling. He just loves to party with Mom and Dad after the girls go to bed. Some nights we find ourselves, tired and ready for bed, sitting up with a perky baby waiting and waiting for him to get sleepy enough to finally call it a night.

Oh, and for the record, Paul came in at 16 pounds and 3 ounces at six months old. Big Guy.

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By month seven, Paul was up to 17 pounds and 12 ounces (gotta keep these weights on here for the Baby book!). He’s huge. Also, he made this the most monumental month by far with two major achievements: first solid food and first two teeth!

Paul loves to eat. What he really wants is bacon, or at least a burger, but we haven’t introduced those just yet. 😉 Avocado and peas don’t quite do it for him, but he still slurps them down as well as a new eater can. He never looks particularly interested in the food at hand until we stop feeding it to him, then he whimpers like a puppy and pulls the bowl, our arm, the spoon, or anything else he can reach, toward his face. He will be a much more content little boy when he can figure out how to properly chew and swallow, or maybe more importantly, use his own fingers to put the food in his mouth.

Also, Paul got his first two teeth. He drools like a faucet and has for several weeks. We even invested in some better waterproof bibs that snap on so he can keep them on to catch all that drool anywhere we go. He loves to chew and suck, and so far teething hasn’t been a problem in any way (other than the endless drool).

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He’s sticking to his easy-baby reputation in the second half of his first year. Our only complaint is that it’s going by too fast. Many evenings I think or even tell Paul that I just want to hold him while he sleeps a few more times before he really gets squirmy. So far he’s been agreeable, often falling asleep in my arms at church or Bible study. So I snuggle him while I can and enjoy the not-quite-toothless grin whenever he is awake, even if it is late at night when we should really all be sleeping.

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Windy Sunsets

Ok. I finally finished going through pictures from our trip, but some of the best ones turned out terrible because I was using Dan’s phone. I’m including them anyway because the memories behind them are just too good to leave out.

Where to begin? The views, the views. I wouldn’t normally use the word “delicious” to describe a sight, but that’s what kept coming to my mind as we drove along the peninsula, stood outside our room to watch the whitecaps, or played on a playground overlooking the beach. The wind was cold, but we just soaked up the Northern Michigan beauty.

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On our first day up North someone mentioned something about apple cider and it became a quest throughout our week to buy some. Sadly, we were just a bit early for apple season and we couldn’t find the cider anywhere. Not a day went by when someone didn’t mention hot apple cider. And each day we failed to find any.

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I took Dan along one of my favorite trails in all of Northern Michigan, close to the house where I grew up. The girls were baffled as to why we wouldn’t let them in the freezing water, but we sat on a bench and enjoyed the view for a while despite their protests.

We didn’t actually get to Northport until Tuesday, although we enjoyed some visits on our way out for the first part of the week. Once we made it to our vacation-home, the fun really began.

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We packed most of our food for the trip, special meals we don’t get to eat very often. Then we splurged with little treats here and there.

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Wednesday morning we treated the girls to a normally against-the-rules sort of treat: doughnuts from the famous local bakery. If you ever make it up to Northport and you want a sugary treat, you must try a baked cinnamon twist from Barb’s. Take Abby’s word for it.

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A quick outing in the morning, and then we make our way back to home-base for lunch and naps. Yes, naps. Every day. It was one of my stipulations for making it a successful vacation. I insisted on naps; Dan insisted on treats, and the whole gang was happier than ever.

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In the afternoon we took it easy and played with bubbles. As simple as it may sound, bubbles really made the day with our munchkins.

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Then bath time, and another special treat: baseball in bed. After the kiddos were in their pajamas we snuggled together for a couple of innings on Lydia’s giant bed.

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Then it was early to bed for another early day. Dan tried sneaking Lydia off for a Daddy-Daughter doughnut date, but Abby woke up and Lydia invited the rest of us to come along too. Despite the very cold wind, we stuck to our plan to visit the marina. It was one of the things we just had to do so I could get a picture to go along with the one of us walking the marina on our honeymoon. 🙂 We walked the whole marina, although it wasn’t actually fun because it was so cold. We stubbornly enjoyed it anyway before rushing back to shore and letting the girls play on the playground for a while.

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We enjoyed another day of bubbles, yummy meals, traveling around Northport, enjoying the views, and naps. Yes, I loved nap time. Afterward I stayed in the warm room while the girls played outside with Dan.

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Our last night in Northport we came up with a Grand Finale activity. We ate an early dinner than bundled everyone up in their pajamas and drove to an overlook to watch the sunset. This turned out to be pretty hilarious. Everyone was freezing and it felt like the sun took forever to set. When it finally did there wasn’t much to it. No pretty colors, just a big, blinding ball of fire sinking below the horizon. But it made a great memory that we can already laugh about.

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Friday was the day we had to leave Northport, which was sad for everyone. But, not to rush things. We wanted to enjoy every moment of our trip so we planned a grand outing for Friday as well. We hung out in our old stomping grounds, letting the girls run around on the train playground at F and M park. Then we walked the downtown stretch, stopping to sample goodies at Cherry Republic (where we also received free apples in honor of “Apple Days” weekend, but alas, no cider), and stopping again to eat at the supposed best pizza place in town.

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As you can see, this was a special treat. Lydia was practically in awe of her own personal pizza which was twice as big as her stomach and much bigger than her face. Before the night was up we made one last grocery store stop to find…

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Apple Cider! And at that moment the trip officially became a success.

We had a wonderful week. Every memory is pleasant. We have never seen the girls, especially Abby, so happy ALL the time. Paul was as cooperative as ever. And Dan and I got to revisit our honeymoon location. As we were about to leave I was feeling a little sentimental as I looked out over the bay and thought about how crazy it is that we hadn’t been there in so long. Five years and three Munchkins later…Dan came up behind me and just started praying, thanking God for the past years and committing the next ones to Him again. Maybe that, and not the cider, was my favorite moment of the trip. 🙂