this old house.

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We closed on our house in Ohio a week ago. We are no longer home owners… Livin’ large without a mortgage… foot loose and fancy free. Or something like that. Seven weeks ago we packed up our old house in Ohio and moved to Oregon. We left our un-sold house with a few random things in our garage, for friends who felt like coming to pick them up. We prayed our house would sell. We left ‘on faith’ knowing God was calling us to GO, to pack our boxes, load the truck and move. People thought we were slightly crazy and perhaps a little irresponsible, walking away from our un-sold home. But we knew what God had asked us to do, and we trusted Him.

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We played the sell-our-house game while moving across the country… we received an offer, gave a counter offer, it was accepted, check. mate. Now the dust has settled, closing papers have been signed, and we have officially sold our first home. We’re rrriiiiich!!! Not really, but that would’ve been cool. Oh well.

Reflecting on the last eight and a half years of the bank owning this old house… memories abound. Bittersweet feelings have engulfed us. We are so thankful for the moments had in this old house… we’ve spent time reminiscing with our kids… so much family time was built in this old house…

Our kitchen ~ We created meals together, inspired by ideas and the desire to try new recipes. We engaged in deep coffee conversations. A space where I spent much of my time, where God met me at the kitchen sink ~ cleaning dishes, enjoying the sunshine pouring thru our cedar windows, He spoke to my heart. Our kitchen was a place to set up “store” and play “cafe”~ an ice skating rink, the girls slipped on their socks and set foot onto the slippery floor, gliding across pretending to be ice skaters.

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Our Dining Room ~ The gathering place, where we nourished and fed our family. A cafe of cozy meals and stories shared around our old table. The dining table served many areas, a place to work on homework, play games, table top ping-pong, Uno and puzzles, play with play dough, or play kitchen.

Our Living Room ~ A dance floor for family dance parties, free to be yourself, to make messes, clean up, relax, take a nap, read stories, share couch cuddles, watch movies. We loved eating ethnic foods on our living room floor, experiencing the dinners of another culture inside our old house. Our living room was a space to worship and learn to play instruments. A jungle gym space to bounce on the couches and climb on the furniture. Explore. Create. Mess up. Clean. Repeat. 

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Our bedrooms, our laundry room, our basement, our deck, our backyard, heck >>> even our bathrooms… The moments we have shared in this old house will forever remain in our hearts ~ Our family grew, our babies grew into kids, our marriage grew deeper. We miss our yard, especially our deck. We loved eating outside, as long as it wasn’t storming and above 30 degrees. Winter, spring, summer or fall we enjoyed this old house. In spite of the work it required, we loved this old house. We will miss this old house and will treasure the stories it has told. But we are ready for the new stories, yet to be written… Our hearts swell with memories, thankfulness and anticipation.

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After 7 weeks of living with our parents, *this weekend* we are moving into our rental house ~ Eeeek!!! Stay tuned for the next story of finding this rental in a crazy housing market. Our story rages on… In Him, Leslie

my dumb blog

Dear 5 faithful readers of my blog… or perhaps I should re-phrase… Dear mom,

I have had this dumb blog for a few years now. We’re going on 2.5 years of blog blissfulness, actually. Wow time really flies when you’re writing a dumb blog. I have changed the blog appearance, theme, pictures, layout and design several times. I grow bored quite easily. I started blogging on WordPress… then had a little blog affair over at google on blogger, and now I’m back. Fully committed to my marriage with WordPress. Although, I must be honest with you, I am not fully committed to the blog title – thebabsfam – but that will be another dumb blog for another time.

Now, for clarification purposes, let me clarify I do not think my blog is really dumb, just sorta dumb. Much of the time – okay ALL of the time – I second guess what I am writing / have written, therefore leading me to the conclusion that what I have written is mostly dumb. Although…, the fact that I typically write between the hours of 1 and 2am -after several rounds of coffee and sugary cinnamon coated monkey bread- could perhaps, possibly, maybe just maaaaybe, have a slight impact on my second guessing what I’ve written. Here is what typically happens: I write something amazing at 1am, publish at 2am, and wake up at 7am with a double minded hazy hangover, feeling like everything I wrote was dumb…or at least sorta dumb.  If I sound like I’m upset about my dumb blog – the big elephant on the internet would be … why do I keep writing?

I have over 125 drafted blogs in my ‘draft box’. And within those drafted… yet to be published blogs… I have drafts within the drafts… all Half written. Stories that constantly swirl inside my brain just waiting for a chance to explode on paper, or rather, onto the internet. Stories that taunt me from the deep desire within me to write. them. out. Stories God placed within my heart soul and mind from the time I was born… I learned how to write around age 4.5, right mom? I’m pretty certain I have been writing for 32 years… but the internet can be a dark, scary place to publish your stories… why do I keep writing?

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a few of my journals…

I am a writer. It is a truth nestled deep within my bones. And although I will still second guess my dumb blog, I can not help but write. I am a writerIt is a truth nestled deep within many pagesI have volumes of journals filled with stories to tell. Stories you 5 faithful readers, need to know! Stories my mom already knows! Stories of God -me- and God. Everything I write begins -and ends- with Him. My life and all of my stories, published, drafted and half written, begin and end with Him. Thankfully, God still uses me, even when I write dumb blogs.

So this dumb blog is full. honest. disclosure. Much of the time, I will second guess what I publish, but I have been trying to live a #NoRegretNewYear …That sounds dumb. What does that even mean? It means, I don’t care if it’s already halfway thru the month of April, I am living the rest of this year with #NoRegrets. God has written the stories of my life I desire to write. He is in charge of my life… therefore, He should be in charge of my blog, even when I feel like it’s dumb… I know my dumb blog has a purpose.

I am grateful to live my life with minimal regrets. I am grateful to have the opportunity to write a dumb blog. I am grateful for the physical ability to type, for the computer I type on, WordPress and the internet I publish on… and most importantly – I am grateful to God for the stories He gives me.  It is never too late to be grateful. And, It is never to late to start writing and publishing a blog… even if you feel like it is a dumb blog.

Thanks for reading my dumb blog! In Him ~ Leslie

Seeing without Pictures

These are my random thoughts from Tuesday, March 4th ~ read at your own risk.

It is 1am. I have recently consumed a pot of coffee and several tablespoons of sugar biscuits in the form of monkey bread, so there is no telling what might funnel out of my mind and onto the keyboard. I should probably go to bed, because in approximately 8 hours, 10 women and their children will walk up my front steps, knock on my front door and enter my home. How do I know this? Am I physic? No. I have Bible study at my house tomorrow… err… today.

Alas, I am not going to bed yet. I am writing what you are now reading. This was the only time for me to write. Earlier today, I opened up my trusty ol’ Mac. Apple. Tosh. laptop. We’ve been in each others lives for 10 years now… we’ve shared many memories, stories and photos. It’s been a good relationship overall, but today my Mac failed me. The screen was black. I was growing anxious. I really wanted to write this morning… About my thoughts from Monday, because my Tuesday thoughts hadn’t happened yet… So I re-started, I tried, I prayed, I cried… and darkness. The screen was still black. I knew this day was coming. The dinosaur Macbook was going to expire sooner or later.

I stared at a black screen. Wishing, hoping, praying it would come back to life. Panicking over the memories stored on its hard drive, I grew increasingly frustrated as the moments ticked by. I only care about my photos. Nothing else on the laptop matters. We talked with the Apple store and there is a good chance they can recover the data. There’s still hope. Yet I was past the point of recovering from my anxiety. I was so caught up in recovering the past. I must have my photos, to preserve the memories! My mind swirled with thoughts of frustration and anxiety. There was nothing I could do to change the black screen. I was wasting time fretting, worrying over saving the past, while ignoring the memories to be made right in front of me.

My youngest daughter was playing happily in our living room, while her brother and sister were in school, and I was internally freaking out, sitting a few feet from her. What’s wrong with this picture?! Me. I was missing a myriad of moments to be cherished with her. I was missing her hugs. her questions. her stories. her laughter. her toothless smile. My heart was convicted. The cloud of anguish over (possibly – hopefully not) losing our family photos lifted. The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to close the black screen and let. it. go.

So I did. We played and talked and ate lunch together. We created memories. I didn’t need to take a picture to be saved on my phone, transferred to my laptop, or uploaded onto social media. My heart preserved the moment. 

I really really really -did I say really- hope our photos will be recovered. I love taking pictures. I love looking at old photos. The kids and I love looking at pictures from when ‘they were babies’. They are still -and always will- be my babies. Everyday I have to hold them is a gift. I don’t want to miss these gifts, because I am staring at a screen.

There are still future stories I hope to capture in photos to be saved and shared. In the meantime, I am coming out from behind the dark screen, into the light, where I can see. I can see without pictures. My children before me. My husband beside me. My friends around me. My life ahead of me. I see. And I really need to go to bed now, so I can see the women who are coming to my house for Bible study in the morning. After they leave, I will definitely be taking a nap. Amen.

hahahahaha

february was a rough month for us…
wrapped up in our family and life circumstances, stress abounded, fighting resounded and weaved into all of the frustration, i have not stopped coughing like gollum.

nothing unusual.
nothing earth shattering.
just life.
tough circumstances visit everyone on this planet. stress makes itself at home in our houses. disappointments knock on our doors. frustrations take root in our backyards. no one is immune.
we all view what makes up stress, frustrations, disappointments and tough circumstances differently.
we see from the lens of the life we live. our perspective.
how we choose to react is what makes us unique.

we have chosen to wallow in our self pity. we have allowed it to suck our life away, steal our joy and frustrate our spirits…but not for long!

in the past month of coughing like gollum, i’ve been talking about being sick and how i wish i was feeling better and woa is me and blah blah blah. and it hate talking about sickness. and adam hates listening to me talk about it .
one night i could not stop coughing, adam was laughing at me and suggested i try laughing when i felt a cough coming. and it worked. HA! each time i felt the need to cough, i would yell HA instead. yep. i sounded crazy, but i didn’t cough the rest of that evening. for that one night, i was cough free. if you have a lingering cough, you should try it sometime. my joy returned.

in the past month, selah has been refusing to go into her children’s ministry class. this may sound like no big deal for some…*but for a pastor and his wife leading worship, it can be a big deal to have their three year old sitting contentedly thru a church service for approximately 100 minutes.  
this past sunday, she was unusually feisty, refusing to go into class. she laid in the hallway while every one else, including our children’s director, walked around her. no one was shocked by her antics.
i had to leave her there to begin the service with worship. my stress rose up and my attitude went downhill. adam went to check on selah as we began service almost ten minutes late. during that first song, my heart began to change. i see adam bringing selah into the sanctuary. my frustration with her was gone. she wanted to be with us and in worship. my joy restored.
then during adams sermon, she sat with me, quiet… until she hit a point of boredom. i was ready to take her out of the service… she yells out ‘i’m tired!’ and in the middle of his sermon, adam responds to her, “i’m tired of you crying.” it was hilarious. we all started laughing. she quieted down a few minutes later and fell asleep beside me for the rest of the service. whew.

our kids argue and fight, which i know might be hard for you to believe. yes. they do. they are not ‘perfect pastors kids’. those don’t even exist, btw. and when they do, my emotions can snowball into getting upset right along with them. but those times when i am full of joy, i respond differently. i start laughing, which immediately makes the tension lighter. they look at me for my response… “just take it outside, go ahead, beat each other up.” then they look at me like i’m crazy because they know i’m not being serious. suddenly, whatever was frustrating them melts away.  sometimes, we make them hug it out as their punishment. and other times, if i sense attitudes rising, i just smile and say “you betta check yo’ self!” that’s always a good one 😉 oh and we adults are not exempt. a pastor and his wife can argue too. we get so upset with each other over the silliest things. thankfully, we insist on always communicating and won’t stay mad at one another for long. laughter breaks up the arguments. joy replaces the anger.

these are just a few life circumstances we try and eventually laugh about. they seem trivial after we ‘check ourselves’. they aren’t life or death situations or anything… but we have experienced deep pain and chosen joy. we have lost our jobs, struggled thru deep disappointments, felt wounding rejection in relationships, experienced the loss of a child thru miscarriage, and just a few weeks ago, we said our earthly goodbyes to my grandpa.

we chose joy when we almost lost salem at three months old. that night he was sleeping in his crib and adam felt the Holy Spirit prompt him to check on our little ‘bubs’. he was barely breathing and turning blue. we called the squad and the next thing i know, we were in the back of an ambulance being rushed to children’s hospital. he had every medical test known to man done to him. he was poked, prodded and prayed for. at the hospital we called our families and church for prayer support. after we knew salem was out of immediate danger and stabilized, i reverted to making jokes. it was my coping mechanism. we were under such stress. we were in the hospital for five long days and celebrated our christmas that year in salem’s hospital room. upon his release from the hospital, he was perfectly healthy. the doctors had speculation, but after all the test results were in, there was never a finite answer for the cause of his almost death experience. he was released from the hospital: cause unknown. 




we know prayer can change anything. we trust that God is in control of all circumstances. we chose joy in that stressful time of our lives. upon returning home, we watched salem every night for several months, worried it might happen again. we are so grateful that now he is a healthy amazing six year old boy!

this might all sound like silliness and simplicity. but we choose to laugh in the face of stress and frustrations. smile in the face of our disappointments. and choose joy in the midst of our all circumstances.
hahahahaha!
we will put our hope in Christ and choose joy!

the apostle paul is one of my heros when it comes to having joy in all circumstances. he was shipwrecked, hungry, tired, imprisoned, and lived with a thorn in his flesh. he suffered adverse circumstances and severe persecution, and he maintained joy at all times ~ all for Christ.
paul talked about his suffering. he never pretended it didn’t exist. i don’t know why – in the american church – we ever started doing that! keeping silent or pretending about what your circumstances are is the worst way to handle things. it will isolate you from the community Christ has called us all to. and the enemy can more easily discourage and defeat those who isolate themselves. God Himself was three-in-one {Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit}.
paul remained in community whenever he could. he was authentic with what was going on in his life. he was honest about his aches and pains. but he didn’t dwell on them. he didn’t stay in the pit of despair. he relied on the community he was called to serve for their support. he gave thanks in all circumstances and encouraged them to do the same.
one of my favorite books in the Bible about maintaining joy in all circumstances is Philippians, especially chapter 4.

if you are discouraged or despair in your circumstances, reach out to Jesus, to others, find a healthy church community and read Philippians.
then take time to laugh loudly {LOL!} in the face of your distress and give thanks in all circumstances.
hahahahaha!!!

just George…

a few weeks ago, my sweet grandpa passed away… he was 85 years old.

I traveled to oklahoma to celebrate his life with my family.
a friend of mine who is a flight attendant gave me a pass to fly on Southwest – for free. score. {seriously, such a blessing!}
i knew my grandpa’s health was declining and that his time was coming for a few months. so we drove to oklahoma over thanksgiving and christmas to spend time with my family and grandparents. we were crazy enough to travel those 4,000 miles mostly because we knew it was important to see my grandpa. the night before he died, i sensed it was going to be soon. i am grateful that the Lord prepared my heart for his death and made a way for my journey to honor my grandpa’s life and say good-bye. and though i miss him greatly, i have peace knowing he is with Jesus now… {for we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens~2 Corinthians 5:1}

my grandpa was very well known in the community where i grew up ~ edmond, oklahoma. with a doctorate in education from oklahoma state university (osu)… cowboy fans, anyone?… he served as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent of schools all over oklahoma for a total of 39 years, the last 15 years of his career as superintendent for edmond public schools. he received many honors and accolades during his career, including induction into the osu college of education hall of fame. as i was growing up, every time we were out with my grandparents, they would inevitably run into someone they knew.
but rather than being called Dr. Rowley, he always prefered just George…

and to me, he was always just Grandpa…

rather than talking about himself or boasting about his distinguished career, my grandpa was a kind hearted, humble man who loved serving his family and others.
most of all, he loved his ‘doll’, my grandma ~ alice fern doll. he always put her first, even until the end. pushing the button for the elevator and waiting patiently behind his walker for her to enter the elevator first.
they met at age five, were high school sweet hearts and were married for 66 years. they were best friends, deeply in love, complete with their license plate: ‘HAD2BU’.

my grandparents in their silly ‘shot gun wedding’ picture 🙂

my grandpa was a generous man. he gave love effortlessly, with hugs, kisses, words of affirmation and genuine care about my life. how is school going? how are you doing with your homework? when is your next vocal music concert? how are your friendships?

he was my first valentine. i dated very little in high school and i never had a boyfriend on valentines day. but every february 14th, i got a chocolate heart from my grandpa ~ even my first valentines day with adam in 1996 ~ i still got a heart from grandpa.

he was a hard worker even beyond his career. when we were kids, my grandparents owned an 84 acre farm with cattle and a few horses. my brother and i loved going to the farm, being outdoors, riding the horses, fishing, searching for snakes and other critters 😉 so many memories built on the farm soil…wrapped up in the hay…which we will always cherish with our grandparents and entire rowley family.

he loved to explore the world…and take his grand kids with him. full of vision and an adventurous spirit, my grandparents loved to travel. they were always wise with their money and were able to travel extensively throughout the united states and abroad. sometimes, they took my brother and i with them. one of our favorite trips was to san fransisco when we were eleven and thirteen years old. yes. our grandparents were brave enough to take two teenagers on a trip from oklahoma to san fran. wow! and we had an amazing time. our grandparents rock. 
after retirement, our grandparents rented a condo for several summers in gunnison, colorado to escape the oklahoma heat. here we are together outside of the condo.
he was an educator in every area of life. he was an example of giving, saving and using money wisely. grandpa always paid for dinner…and he gave me a tip card to carry in my own wallet, so i would always know the right amount to give a server. my grandparents would pay me to do chores around their house, like mowing the lawn, removing stains on their carpet with a q-tip and vinegar cleaning solution… and vacuuming their shoe boxes. i was paid the ‘grandkid’ rate of $20 an hour to do these simple chores. they loved having me over to visit and the money was just an added bonus. on my sixteenth birthday, my grandparents let me drive their truck -my first time truly driving- to our family dinner. i was so nervous, but they trusted me, and i succeeded. my grandma was also an educator and completed her masters degree while raising four kids. she taught as an elementary music teacher and taught me piano. one of my grandpa’s favorite songs was ‘the rose’. growing up, i would sit by grandpa on grandma’s piano bench and sing it for the family. and i was honored to recently sing it for his funeral. aaaand… at every family gathering, my dad and his two brothers would play guitar, serenading the rest of us in song and laughter…. the gift of music truly runs in our family. 
starting young, singing on grandma’s piano bench
singing ‘the rose’
my parents and grandparents at one of my high school vocal music concerts. they never missed a performance 🙂

he had a heart full of love. more than anything, my grandpa loved his family. i am blessed with having such amazing grandparents and cherish the memories of us sitting around their dining room table, laughing and sharing life together. the joy our family had grew even more when i met adam, and the rowley and babcock families intertwined.

i go from being a rowley to a babcock ~ here we are with my family and Adam’s not long after our engagement. my grandpa’s big toothy smile ~ it’s a ‘rowley’ trait which i inherited as “horse teeth” 🙂 

over the holidays, when we saw my grandpa i took time to hold his hand and just sit with him. we didn’t say much… few words were exchanged except, “i love you, i miss you”… and we continued holding hands as the hustle and bustle of 50 family members gather for a thanksgiving feast surrounded us. during our christmas visit, my brother and i took a walk down the hallways of their building with them, and then took a picture together…i treasure this last picture we have.

my grandpa was a wonderful man. i am so grateful for these 35 years i have had the privilege of being one of his beloved granddaughters. his amazing life has shaped my life and for this i am so blessed. you can read more about his life and all his accolades here.

take time with the ones you love.
slow down.
be still.
sit with someone.
hold hands.
whisper i love you.
we are not promised tomorrow…
love. well. now. 

my grandma ~ keep her in prayer ~ she really misses her best friend.
my grandma said it would have been better if grandpa had been a horses butt. joking, of course.. but the pain of missing him wouldn’t be so great, if he had not been so lovable. but he was…
he was joy filled.
he was kind hearted.
he was generous.
he was wise.
he was easy to love.
to so many he was known as just George… but to me…. just Grandpa