Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lessons in Grace

Shame on me. Almost nine whole months since my last post.

We are on Christmas break. I have a few seconds more in my day than I usually do.
Which means that the random ramblings which roll through my mind during the day can find their way to this little blog.

Let's see, since my last post in April, I've given birth to my sixth baby, my fourth girl. Eleanor Mae arrived mid-May and has stolen the heart of every member of this family.

We have returned to homeschooling. My, what a challenge it has been. Mostly because I am selfish and I want a clean house and to teach my kids without interruption. That will never happen as my head says it shall, and the sooner I get over it, the better off we will be.

Having six kids has humbled me. Oh, how it has humbled me. I need God's grace.
Finding a daily groove is hard. But I can do it. I will get through that part. But the weight of the responsibility for six lives, six souls, is what is often too much for me to bear. It crushes me and keeps me awake at night.

I want what is best for my children. Who doesn't? I want them to eat well and to grow with strong bodies and sound minds. I want them to love each other, and respect me their whole life long. I want them to find the one that was created for them, to love them and cherish them, and to become parents themselves.
But mostly, more than anything, I want them to love Jesus.

And the lesson has been that my job, my biggest job, is to show them what that's like. To show them what a blessing it is to love Jesus. To be so deeply in love with Him myself that they can't help but want Him.

Help me, Jesus!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


above pic: just beyond the finish line

Saturday morning, I jogged through my first 10K. I know that there are women out there that run marathons while pregnant, and the 6.2 miles that I got through would be nothing for them. But it was far from nothing for me. At 35 weeks pregnant, it was one of the greatest physical challenges I've ever experienced. I loved/hated every second of it.
When it was over, I compared the mental challenge of finishing to that of labor. It was such a mind game, and I moved much slower than I would have in a non-pregnant state. But I finished it.

I prayed through much of the race. There was a man that we passed at around mile 1 and then again at around mile 5, a Christian R & B singer/rapper, singing and preaching to the crowd. When we passed him at mile 5, he was shouting, "the joy of the Lord is your strength", over and over. Thank you, God, for that man!
There is something divine about the fact that Friday was one of those, "I give up; I can't do this" days in which Greg came home to a crying wife. God knows. Because Saturday, as I crossed the finish line, I was close to tears. I did it. I can do it. Thank you, Jesus!

I'm not sure what meant the most...
that I finished it at all, baby lodged between my hips the whole time,
that one of our closest friends drove an hour to be a good sport & run along with us,
that Greg (a total non-runner, always hated it) remained at my side the whole time, even though, after weeks of training, he could have left me in his dust,
or that my Emily, 10, ran it and totally kicked my butt, beating me by seven minutes. *so proud*

I'm just happy to relive those last ten seconds of sprinting (as close to sprinting as I can) to the finish line, feeling Greg slip behind me on purpose to let me cross first. And then his arm around me...
We did it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Greatest Challenge

Goodness, it's been a while since my last post. A whole trimester, technically. (You know you've been pregnant a lot when you base time on "trimesters".)

I watched a show recently where there was a woman about to have her seventh child. She was begging the doctor to make sure this baby was her last. She pleaded, explaining that she had been hospitalized in the past because she was dehydrated, too busy to drink a sip of water for three days.

Now, really, it was a bit ridiculous to hear, but something about seeing this fictitious woman whine about her life allowed my heart to go to a very tempting place: the abyss of self-pity.
I'm tired.
I have a lot on my plate.
I'm having a hard time juggling.

I don't think that there has ever been a period of time when I've told my husband more often how exhausted I am, or cried to God that I needed strength. But there is a strange pattern in this house where, by God's grace, a bad day is always followed by a good day. So we roll up our sleeves and press on, praying that we don't mess up these little lives we've been entrusted with.

It works. Sometimes it's hard...REALLY hard...but we're okay. We are blessed.

"Be content with what you have, for I will never leave you or forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

It's no coincidence that this quote came to me recently:
"Not a morbid martyr complex but a peaceful and happy contentment in the assurance that goodness and mercy follow all the days of our lives. Wouldn't our children learn godliness if they saw the example of contentment instead of complaint? Acceptance instead of rebellion? Peace instead of frustration?"
Elizabeth Elliott, "Keep A Quiet Heart"

Am I the character on the TV show, needing sympathy, full of frustration? Do my children see me that way? Do I see myself that way? God, help me when I do.

It's not easy to be full of contentment. On the way to the Promised Land, how many times were the Israelites chastised for murmuring? On the way to the Promised Land!?

I'm 34 weeks pregnant. I'm tired. I'm feeling like the cup is always half-empty lately.
But I have much to be grateful for. I am on my way to the Promised Land. God has been good. I pray that my husband and children find me full of contentment and not self-pity.

I can. I will. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience His grace for another day.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Stuart Townend

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tiny Dancer


We saw baby #6 dance across the ultrasound screen today. Just as much as with the first, I was amazed at how the tiny little taps I feel in my belly become so real after seeing baby's face. This little person will one day smile at me, reach for me, tell me their dreams...and I got to see the first glimpses of them today.

My heart is overwhelmed. Christmas, though difficult with a husband with the flu, was beautiful. God's grace is so real right now. I've lost my dad, tried to grow up too fast, had marriage struggles, dealt with insecurity as a mom, but in the end, He has given much, and I am undeserving. Because of His grace, I have more than I could ever ask for. And nothing else matters. Truly, nothing else matters.

With each little blessing that He's given me (and by that, I mean child), He has melted me more & more. Where I was once cold and angry, I am content. I am learning how to trust and love my Heavenly Father, my husband, and my role as a mother. For those three things, I am most grateful.

Now, each of my pregnancies have been quite predictable. I feel exactly the same with each girl baby, and exactly the same with each boy baby.
But this little one threw me for a loop. I was SURE it was a boy...
But, in May, we will welcome our fourth baby girl.

And, for the first time, today, I saw her dance.

"now she's in me, always with me,
tiny dancer in my hands...

But, oh, how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you, and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly...

Hold me closer, tiny dancer... had a busy day today..."

-elton john

See you soon, little one...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gone so long...

Today is my dad's 57th birthday. His last birthday celebrated on earth was his 44th.

I miss him. I miss him. I miss him.

The worst part about missing him these days is that I'm starting to realize that, what I knew was inevitable, is happening. It has been SO long that he's been gone. I know life without him far better than I remember life with him. And I remember that first year, realizing that I'd feel that way some day. It stinks.

He wasn't there when I came home, ready to show off my new engagement ring on my 20th birthday. I didn't walk him through my first home as I awaited my wedding. And, as blessed as I was to have my brother walk me down the aisle, I remember waiting at the back of the church, aching for my dad's arm to grab on to.
Those events were SO long ago...and it's been all this time, all this life lived, without him here.

I can't imagine the thrill I'd feel to watch him with my Emily, his first grandchild. Or hear him teach Kaleb and Levi everything there is to know about every major league baseball player that's ever played. And, oh, man...he'd love Avery's quirky, pretty personality. And my sweet Nadie would love his singing. He had the sweetest voice.

As I await the arrival of this baby, I also anticipate the bittersweet moments that follow the birth of each of my babies. Because, every single time, my first thought is, "Thank God you are OUT!" My second thought is, "You are beautiful and we are blessed."

And my third, "I wonder if Dad can see..."

Happy birthday, Dad. I carry you with me always.

*photo above: me & my dad, 1982? with a little added design from one of my kids

Monday, November 1, 2010

Better every day...

Sweet baby, I am glad you're there. And I'm glad you're growing. You are officially the size of a Nutter Butter, one of my favorite treats.

I'm especially glad that we are getting out of our first trimester together. We passed the 13-week mark this past weekend.
It has been rough.

I spent three weeks feeling like I was on another planet, overwhelmed with my household and taken over by fatigue and nausea. I finally figured out my biggest problem: I was drugging myself. Yes, this pregnant mama was taking Unisom (doctor's orders!) for nausea, and it took me three weeks to figure out that a sleeping pill just might be making me sleepy.

The day I stopped taking it, my world changed. I wanted to be a part of life again. I started to grow more excited about all that we need to do to prepare for this baby.

Top two on our priority list:
1. Rotate most of the kids to different bedrooms (redecorating two of them) to make room for another little guy. (Yes, I think it's a boy!)
2. Get an 8-passenger vehicle.

I am looking forward to both. Especially the redecorating part.
Here we go, baby...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love BEFORE first sight...again

That's right...I get to do it again.

If you follow me, you know that we have felt quite blessed and quite satisfied with our house full 'o five kiddos. Our fifth was a surprise that took some getting used to. But, my oh my, were we ever in love with her by the time she arrived!
We learned a lot.

That's how we know that we can rest and feel secure at our latest bit of news:
Yes, we are growing. This spring, we will welcome baby #6 to our brood.

If you follow me, you also know that I am obsessed with pregnancy & childbirth. I am in training to become a doula (and yes, I am still following through with the training).
I love the process of falling in love with a person before you ever even see his/her face. I love knowing that person is always with me, growing inside of me. And I love, love, love that moment when we meet.

And I am blessed, thankful, humbled to say, we are doing it again.

God is good.

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us, no one can recount to you. Were I to speak of them, they would be too many for me to declare. Ps. 40:5