Dearest Benjamin,

I thought we'd reached the pinnacle of our love on this day, three years ago... but since then, you've taken me from the mountain top up into the clouds! Darling, I love you more today than ever before. 

Sure, we worked through our squabbles and disagreements, like anyone else. But because of your meekness and gentleness in the midst of trials, I always come out loving you even more. 

 God is constantly opening my eyes to the many blessings, big and small, that I've received through you...and my heart overflows with gratefulness. 

The greatest blessing is the visible evidence that Christ is truly your treasure. When I wake in the wee hours of the morning to tend to Henry and you're not beside me in bed, I know that you're already up reading and studying your bible. 

Many a time I have walked into the spare bedroom and discovered you there, kneeling beside the bed, in prayer... and it's brought tears to my eyes. 

I have loved our recently developing family devotions, as you lead us in prayer and reading the word. And though I laughed a bit and felt a teeny bit awkward at first, I'm now especially loving the aspect of singing together, with the boys, in family worship. 

You have a love for learning, and your ever-expanding library makes this quite evident. When an Amazon prime package shows up on the doorstep, it's almost always another book. I love that you share what you're learning with me, whether it's an excerpt from one of 9Marks new books or a link to a DesiringGod article. I love it when we break out into theological discussions and the back and forth of opinion that follows. Your words are engaging, and you draw out my perspective on things. 

You have a discipling mindset-- one that wants to see fellow believers grow and flourish in their relationship with Christ.  Conversations with you are spiritually driven and exhorting in nature. I love listening in. You're so passionate about the gospel. 

You are my calm when things are going haywire. Over and over, I've heard you say, "It'll be ok, Babe, just take a deep breath." And it's just what I've needed at that very moment. You know when I'm stressed you do whatever to help lighten my load.  

You're a very detailed person, and your work is very meticulous--no matter what you're doing. For instance, you iron, I don't... ok, maybe I do, like twice a year.   

Ok, can I brag on your cooking skills for a min? How is it that you can think up recipes off the top of your head, and they actually taste good? I, on the other hand, try to be a cool chef... so I substitute sour cream when we run out of milk for the pancakes. It's dairy, right? No, that was not ok. You love the challenge of making a complicated recipe. I don't. I dump dressing on greens, and that's my salad. You gather 14 ingredients and spend 20 min throwing together an amazing Greek salad that tops any Mediterranean restaurant around. 

You're my motivator for lifestyle habits such as healthy eating and working out. I definitely eat wayyy less McDonalds french fries and cheeseburgers now. Haha! They just taste so good! Hey, and you even gave up our original steakhouse idea and treated me to whopper from Burger King on last year's anniversary... because I hadn't had one in years, and it was a "pregnancy craving". 

Dinner dates with you are great, and I love that you get me out of my comfort zone and encourage me to try new things. I am a creature of habit, but you rarely ever order the same thing twice. I remember one dinner date early in our marriage, finishing my food quickly... because I eat rather fast. And then I looked over, and there you are, taking your time. You told me "I like to really enjoy my food--savor the flavors." Seeing your food there, I felt I had room for a few more bites, so I grabbed my fork and took a few nibbles.

You: "Uhh Babe, are you still hungry, 'cause we can order you some more food?"

Me: "No, not much. It's just sorta romantic to snatch bites of food from your plate, ya know? I don't do this to anyone else!" 

You were so kind to oblige. 

"Aww, well you take as much as you want, Lovey." And you still offer me bites of your food to this day! I know it may sound dumb, but that really makes me feel loved. This is one of those little things that I just love about you. The underlying reality is bigger than a bite of your steak or sip of your Mocha latte. Maybe it's connected to the feeling a girl gets when she wears her guy's t-shirts, or when he offers her his jacket on a cold day. Thanks for these little selfless expressions of love. 

You're one of the most down-to-earth and humble people I know. I love that we have fun and laugh together. I love your made-up jokes and your cheesy play on words. You have me laughing out loud all the time. I genuinely love your sense of humor. 

The list of the things I love about you is endless. I am forever being reminded of just how incredibly blessed I am to call you mine. 

Happy anniversary, Benjamin. 

I think the world of you!

Love,

Jes

The photos below are considered the property of the Seewald Family and may only be used with their written permission.  To request permission to use the photos please click here

Henry is a growing boy! He is already 8 months old and we just love everything about him!! 

To view the rest of the album, click here

Our precious Henry is nearly 20lbs and only half a year old already! He is hitting so many new milestones-- he loves rolling all over the place, sitting up, and passing toys from hand to hand. He's such a sweet, smiley little guy! We're so thankful to God for the blessing he is to our family!

To see the rest of this photo album please click here.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

June 18, 2017

To My Dad: 101 Things I Am Most Thankful For:

I realize that God is the ultimate giver of every good gift (James 1:17), but for these things specifically, you have been God's channel of blessing to me! It’s not in any certain order, and this is in no way a conclusive list of everything I love about you… but I just started writing…and kept writing, and writing… and by the time I finished and decided to count. It literally just so happened to come out to 101! So here it is!

 

Happy Father’s Day, and “Thank you…”

 

-for praying for all of us kids by name;

-for praying with us;

-for teaching us the scriptures from a young age, leading us in family worship and faithfully reading the Bible to us;

-for the Bible stories growing up that had us on the edge of our seats, and the times when we thought we'd die of suspense because you'd say "Do you know what happened next? Well, I guess we'll just have to wait till tomorrow night to find out!" And we'd all exclaim "Daddyyyyy!!! You HAVE to tell us!!!!";

-for all the life stories and practical analogies growing up that brought big concepts down to my age level;

-for being real, and in humility asking forgiveness for wrong attitudes, mistakes and failures;

-for trusting in God's Sovereignty, that He is in control and that even in the hard times He is working every situation for our ultimate Good;

-for your example of praising God in all things, even when the road is rocky;

-for choosing Sunday worship in a family-integrated church;

-for being patient and teaching me consistently to do what's right;

-for relating with us in every stage of life-- remembering the challenges of the tween/teen/young adult life and giving stories from your own life that we can identify with and learn from;

-for unconditional love;

-for telling me time and again that the Bible is the "Owners Manual for Life," and that it contains all the answers to life's problems, and encouraging/helping me to search them out;

-for teaching me that God's ways of doing things are often just the opposite of our natural inclinations;

-for recounting to us the stories of answered prayers in your life, from childhood and on;

-for teaching us that although people will let us down, God is a faithful friend;

-for teaching us by example that meekness isn't weakness, but rather great strength under control;

-for family vacations and road trips of the past, and for continuing to invite your married kids to join in when they can;

-for prioritizing our favorite family camp that we still look forward to every year, and all the spiritual growth and commitments I have made to God during those special times;

-for purposing to speak with soft words even when you're upset, and asking forgiveness if you spoke with harshness;

-for special birthday lunches at the restaurant of our choice;

-for family bike rides;

-for encouraging us to pursue the areas in which we are individually gifted;

-for letting us use your tools to be creative and build things;

-for giving us chores and working along side us to show us how to do them right;

-for wanting us to do our best, but not being a perfectionist;

-for all the injuries you sustained at night by stepping barefoot on a stray Lego or a Hot wheels car left upside-down on your floor;

-for all the times you let us "help" you with projects, even when it took 2x as long and sometimes made more of a mess than if you'd done it by yourself;

-for being our taxi service before we could drive;

-for giving me the keys on my 14th birthday and enduring with much long suffering the sudden "rocket-launching" accelerations and "brick-wall" braking of the learner's permit days... (Now 13x over!);

-for caring about my opinions and for taking them into consideration when making decisions;

-for all the fun day-trips to Silver Dollar City;

-for family meetings;

-for teaching me that God always answers prayers, but doesn't always say "yes"..sometimes He says "no", sometimes He says "wait";

-for reminding me that God is "painting the canvas" of my life and He sees the bigger picture, and He does all things well. We don't always understand this in the moment, but God is working all things together for good of his children.

-for always looking for the good that God can bring out of a tough situation;

-for recounting to us the miracles God has done for you;

-for the example of being open about your Faith in Jesus Christ and sharing the good news with others;

-for realizing that when it comes to parenting, more is caught than taught;

-for forgoing hobbies that could consume your free time and pull you away, and choosing instead to do things together as a family;

-for being ministry-minded, even when we were all young, and thinking of creative ways for us to catch a vision for serving others (raking leaves/stacking firewood for the elderly, singing in nursing homes);

-for teaching us about political activism from a young age, by letting us be involved in your runs for political office, passing out flyers door-to-door, campaign rallies, taking us to the polls to see the voting process, hanging out at election night watch-parties, and taking us to the capital during your time as a State Representative;

-for taking us with you to Lincoln Day dinners;

-for prioritizing sticking together as a family, even when that meant uprooting life in our hometown and moving halfway across the state of Arkansas to live in a rental home during your times of serving in the state legislature, and then doing it all over again during Josie's 6-month stay in Children's Hospital;

-for homeschool field trips and hands-on learning experience;

-for reminding us that life is the greatest classroom of all;

-for reminding us siblings in the midst of squabbles that we are each others best friends, and to "treat others how you'd like to be treated";

-for praising character you see in us to us personally, and sharing those positive things with family and friends;

-for bringing words of correction to us in private with an attitude of restoration, but avoiding open criticism which demeans;

-for not arguing as a couple in front of us kids, but choosing to work out and discuss conflicts in private;

-for being an example of a godly marriage-- we have always been confident of your love for one another, and it is evidenced to us daily by the words you speak and your endearing affections;

-for taking a date night each week, and prioritizing your marriage;

-for forgoing the common holiday focal points and making Christ's birth the center of our Christmas, and His life, death and resurrection the summation of our "Easter" celebration;

-for your thriftiness and teaching us to bargain hunt (pawn shops, auctions, clearance racks), and modeling to us wise use of the resources God has given you;

-for teaching us the value of hard work;

-for years and years of food, room and board!

-for the cell phone you got me on my 16th birthday, and for paying the accompanying phone bills!

-for the hours and hours of late-night talks, gaining wisdom for life;

-for teaching us to lay tile, frame a wall, paint, wire an electrical outlet, change the oil, change a tire, and so much more!

-for pre-marriage counseling;

-for financially covering so many of my wedding expenses;

-for time and effort put into helping us remodel our home;

-for making 7 trips from the car to the house carrying in "sleeping" children after a long road trip (even though you knew half of us were probably just pretending, so we didn't have to get up and walk in on our own two feet!);

-for 100s of family basketball & kickball tournaments;

-for the years and years of Thursday & Friday nights that you spent playing broomball with us, and then the trip to Braums for ice cream afterwards!

-for paying the bills for dental cleanings (and for the threat of making us pay you back if the dentist found any cavities!);

-for the special exception to the "no climbing on the dining room table" rule, because you always let the birthday kid sit in that very prominent place when it was time to open gifts;

-for dealing with stomach bugs and flus, even in the middle of the night, and hugging and kissing the sick ones knowing that increased your chance of coming down with it yourself;

-for comforting me during a thunderstorm, telling me not to be afraid, and explaining to me that this magnificent sight was "God's firework show";

-for hotdogs, s'mores & tent camping with us in the backyard, even when half of us didn't stick it out all night and went back inside to our beds;

-for 100s of games of hide and seek (We never did find your special hiding spot, btw! Often, you'd still be hidden out long after we got tired of searching and gave up!);

-for teaching me how to roll my socks into a donut and fire them at my brothers and sisters (lol! Then Mom would have us all come to the laundry room for a sock unwading party before she could throw them in the wash!);

-for changing hundreds of diapers;

-for eventually buying a toilet auger and DIY so you didn't have to keep calling the plumber, and you could extract the apple, toothbrush, matchbox car and poopy undies (flushed by an embarrassed potty-trainer trying to hide evidence), all by yourself!

-for the special times when we went out to eat (yes, we most definitely took advantage of kids-eat-free, the modern day policies of "2 children per paying adult" probably happened because of us ??)

-for the CASES of Children's Ibuprofen you had to buy when we’d get the stomach bug… and the disbelief on the cashiers face when you’d say"I've got a dozen sick kids at home."

-for inventing your Gourmet Barbecued Tuna recipe, and feeding us cold butterbeans with ketchup while Mom was away at a women's conference (first was a big hit, but just the thought of the latter still makes me gag);

-for trying to no avail to scrub mine and Jinger's Sharpie art off our white kitchen cabinets (that happened under your watch while mom was out grocery shopping)!

-for hours at the park playing freeze tag, riding scooters, and even getting on the see-saw with us!

-for teaching us how to build "Eskimo" forts (by packing snow into 5-gallon buckets), building super-sized snowmen with us, and driving us around the town to find the best hill for sledding;

-for buying a fixer upper house with a ton of fruit trees in the back yard! Hours of summer fun!

-for horse trough "swimming pools," and sprinklers to run through;

-for learners'-permit tests in a 15-passenger van!

-for limiting time spent playing video games and watching movies;

-for helping me get my first car;

-for the experience of remodeling houses with you;

-for believing in us and encouraging us to give 100% for God;

-for the example of how you've reached out and invested into the lives of others, from the beginning of your marriage and still continuing till this day (opening your home to homeless, church bus ministry, personally bringing people to church, leading bible studies, hospitality, love, giving financially, spiritual encouragement);

-for being cautious of the influences you allowed into our young, tender lives (movies, music, friends);

-for walking the walk you desired for us walk;

-for not making light of sacred and holy things;

-for not allowing put-downs in your relationship as a couple, or amongst us as siblings;

-for explaining the "still, small voice" of God which, though not audible, speaks to the heart;

-for loving to eat straight from a can! (cream corn, peas, pineapple, olives, & "ABC soup");

-for financially investing into family pets and teaching us responsibility in caring for them;

-for 13 years of music lessons, buying me a violin and a mandolin;

BUT MOST OF ALL, THANK YOU…

-for showing me Jesus Christ;

-for teaching me often that reaching Heaven cannot happen as a result of my good deeds outweighing my bad deeds;

-for teaching me that the free gift of God's Grace is Eternal Life through faith in Jesus Christ (the only perfect person who ever lived and walked this earth);

-for showing me that Jesus could forgive me for everything I've ever done wrong, and give me a clean slate to start over again;

-for leading me to the Cross where the innocent God-Man Jesus was put to death, not for sins of His own, but to pay the debt for all of mankind, and offer forgiveness to all who repent of their sins and trust in Him for their soul's salvation.

 

I love you so much!

I am so blessed to call you my Daddy!