Sunday, December 3, 2017

Where is your God?

Things sort of came to a head last night.  There have been several trials in my life recently that have been testing me to show where I put my faith. I have failed each one, and been shown that my faith was in myself.  God used my husband to point these things out to me, and while it is never easy to confront or point out someone else's sin, praise God Josh did it anyway.

Last night we went to Chick-fil-a for dinner with our kids.  We were supposed to have had a date, but Eden woke up that morning with a cold, and we couldn't subject the babysitter to that.  So there we were as a family, the boys fighting about ev.er.y.thing, snotty-nosed Eden on my left, who was also grabbing for my salad and threatening to spill it everywhere, and Seth on my right, who was complaining of stomach discomfort.  Great.  Me in the middle with stomach pain of my own (I've been struggling with daily stomach pain).  Finally, it had gotten to be too much.  "It."  The idol of my own comfort, the idol of contrived peace.  I grabbed my salad, and announced I was going to eat the rest of it in the car.  Oh yes, I did.  I flounced out of the restaurant and ate the rest of my salad in the peace of my own creation.  My own peace, which didn't include any squabbling kids, one-year-old shenanigans, or sickly stomachs.  The trouble was, what I was requiring to maintain peace was not the same thing that God was giving me.

Fast forward to late o'clock that night.  Saturday is my night to put the kids to bed (Josh and I do it jointly during the weekdays, and then we each take a weekend night, giving the other one a night "off").  After finally getting the boys in bed (at 10:00!!), I was washing my face in preparation for my own bedtime when I heard, "Mommy."  Pep. At my elbow, tattling on Noah who had allegedly hit him.  Ugh.  Almost every night we go through this same routine: send the boys to bed, a fight breaks out, discipline one or both of them, send them back to bed.  It happens with exhausting regularity. I. Had. Had. It.  I stormed out and basically told Josh he was going to have to handle this situation because I was going to hurt somebody if I had to do it.  So Josh dealt with it, and I climbed wearily into bed.

When Josh came in to tuck me in, I began ranting about how late it was, and that I was sick of being the "nice guy" who had let them stay up so late in the first place.  Not that the late night was what caused the fight, but that these fights have become so typical that we need to allow time to deal with them on a nightly basis.

Then Josh surprised me.

He said, "You know, what's really sad is that God is not big enough for you." (He said it nicer than that, but I'm trying to save time and space on here.)  I had bailed on him at the restaurant earlier that night, and I had bailed on him again when it was clearly time for me to handle the problem.  He said that lately he has noticed that I heat up really fast, then blow a gasket, and leave him to pick up the pieces of situations I don't want to handle.  Though these things hurt to hear, they were just what I needed.  He was right, and all he was doing was holding up a mirror to my ugly heart.  My mind started playing back for me in startling detail all the ways that I was giving up when things get hard, instead of leaning harder on God.

Where is my God when I face daily stomach pain? I have been popping antacids and lying down when it gets bad.
Where is God when my kids are disobedient?  I deflect, dodge, and delay dealing biblically with these issues. ("You go sit over there, and you over there, and nobody talks. Got it?")
Where is God when Eden is being a normal one-year-old?  I wish fervently for nap time, and groan and complain and roll my eyes when she is awake. Or demand some time out to go shopping.
Where is God when I'm tired in the middle of the day?  I go brew a cup of coffee.
Where is God when I'm angry?  I can't see Him, I'm too busy blowing up.
Where is God when I fear sickness?  I wouldn't know, I left the room already.
Where is God when I face unfamiliar territory in parenting?  I just give up.
Where is God when I won't travel or do anything that makes me uncomfortable?  I really don't need Him then, do I?
Where is God when I realize I can't keep a house clean?  I explode at everyone, and threaten to throw all their stuff away. How mature of me.
Where is God when I'm too tired to get up and exercise in the morning? I go back to sleep.
Where is God when I feel jealousy over some privilege belonging to someone else?

It goes on and on.  Is God enough for me? Is He sufficient?  I have been living in denial that He is.

But thank God for His forgiveness!  Thank God that I can repent and return to Him.  May I rely on God.  May I remember that He is more than enough for me.  May I trust Him to be faithful, and find His yoke to be easy and His burden light.  God's way brings the true peace. It is good to stop wandering in the wilderness of my own devices.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ups

Not U-P-S as in, United Parcel Service, but "ups" as in the plural form of "up". Ups and Downs, but in this case I want to write about the Ups.

Ahem. Anyway...

God is slowly but surely pulling me out of the perpetual funk I was in.  I'm telling you, for a while there it was looking pretty dark.  Not that what I was going through was especially challenging or monumental, just that it felt that way. Life was overwhelming me.  I felt like I was suffocating, had no way to get help, and no one noticed. Every obstacle was insurmountable, every daily detail was too much.  It was oppressive.

But God.

God, who promises to be faithful, IS. I'm so thankful that He loves me and that He pulls believers out of pits, even pits of their own making.  I've been studying Exodus with the ladies in our church, and it is such a blessing to see God working on behalf of His people.  He hears them when they sigh and when they cry out to Him.  He works on their behalf, even when they can't see it.  He is so good! I'm going to share one teensy little thing that stuck out to me in the study lately.  I can't get it out of my mind, and that is this: Those victories that God gives, those times when He delivers us, He wants us to remember them.

You all know I'm a time person, right?  I love time, I'm driven by time.  It's probably one of my chief strengths AND one of my chief weaknesses.  While I'm incredibly punctual, I'm incredibly inflexible.  Anyway, I'm digressing...  When God released Israel from Egypt, He said of the Passover night, "This month shall be a beginning of months for you; it is to be the first of the month of the year to you."  In other words, Israel was to start a whole new calendar based on this one pivotal fact that God had redeemed them. 

When we count time, we say something like, "It was two years ago in November; I remember because xyz happened then."  When Israel counted time, it was to be always with that Passover in view, always remembering, always using that as their reference point.  The beginning of months for them.  When their children asked about Passover, they were to say, "It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes...With a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery." (Ex 12:27, 13:14)

I want to remember like that too.  I want to remember the bitter months so that the rescue from them is all the sweeter.  God is so good, I am so weak, and God is still faithful. Praise the Lord!


Eden's First Birthday



This is Eden at breakfast time on her birthday.  We don't have a cute cake smash photo yet because I haven't made her cake yet!  Josh and the boys were supposed to fly out on Friday evening (E's birthday), so it made birthday-celebrating a little harder.  I thought about making a cake, but I knew we'd eat part of it and then they'd fly out of town and leave me face-to-face with a cake. That I would eat. All. By. Myself.  In the interest of self-control, I decided not to give myself that temptation, and we waited to celebrate.  Eden didn't know the difference anyway, and this way we'll combine her birthday with Seth's next week, Lord-willing.

Here are some fun facts about Eden at one year old:
  • We call her "E" most of the time
  • She says 4 words, "Uh-oh," "Bubbye," "Ball," and "Mama"
  • She takes 2 naps and sleeps usually 11 hours at night. :)
  • Her favorite foods are fruits; pears, bananas, oranges, grapes, raisins, and blueberries
  • She started walking at 11 months
  • She loves to carry small, random items in her hands; chapstick, pens, q-tips, marbles, crayons. (Seth did too at that age!)
  • We praised her once for throwing away her used diaper and, because she has no discretion, she now likes to throw everything away.  We have lost a few sippy cups and who-really-knows-what-all because she loves the trash can
  • She cracks up at just about everything Seth does
Happy Birthday, E!



Monday, October 16, 2017

Burdens to Cast

I've been feeling overwhelmed with life lately.  It's been hard to find my joy in the Lord, and I've just noticed a dark cloud kind of hanging over me.  It's hard to fully explain, but I believe there are several contributors:

My back and neck still have not completely healed.  I have been to the chiropractor once a week for the last 3 weeks, and it has not made a noticeable difference.  Every morning I wake up very sore, and though it gets better throughout the day, it is uncomfortable and I notice it.

I have had a UTI for going on three weeks now, and I don't think it has gone away.  I think it's the same one that keeps resurfacing.  It usually gets bad on Sundays and then better through the week.  My only explanation is that maybe I don't drink enough on the weekends, and then I tend to go a little sugar crazy (more chocolate cake, please!), and it exacerbates the problem.  Last night it was so painfully uncomfortable that I almost didn't go to Bible study.  I don't want to go to the doctor to get antibiotics, because those usually cause a host of other problems for me that I'd rather not deal with.  You can self-handle a UTI, right?

I go to bed tired and I wake up tired.  Just always so tired.  I daydream about coffee and naps.  I crave ice, so these two things make me think I'm probably still anemic.  I haven't had my levels checked, but all signs point that way.  I know I should be exercising for my general health, but I can't seem to get out of bed in the morning.  To fit exercise into my schedule, I would need to get up at 6:15.

There has been a moral dilemma that Josh and I have been working through, that is not fully resolved yet.  I may post about that on its own, but for now, it's giving me lots to think about.  What would God have me do?  Have we done enough?  Is He pleased with us?

There are the usual parenting issues.  Sometimes it seems as if the kids run the place.  For example, Seth will forage for food anytime he wants to.  This morning I had 6 raspberries on the counter, waiting to put them in my oatmeal.  They were our last 6 berries, and the last of our fresh fruit (I need to go grocery shopping), and they were pretty limp looking, but they were mine, and I was going to put them in my oatmeal.  Oatmeal is pretty sad if you don't have some fruit to put in it (I'm trying to steer clear of sugar).  Pep walked into the kitchen, found the plumpest raspberry, and popped it into his mouth! Without asking!  Yesterday Noah asked if he could look on ebay at some Lego sets, and before I knew it, he had bid on two--one of which was charging more than $9 in shipping! I'm all for teaching independence, but I don't want them to be so comfortable that they do whatever they please.

I'm burdened about our church.  It is not growing, though we've been at this 8 years already. I pray and pray for a change, but so far God has not done anything that I can see.  I've been studying Exodus as part of our ladies' Bible study, and it is encouraging to know that God works even when we can't see what He is doing, and sometimes even when there is opposition and things fail, He's behind it, always working His plan.

My house seems to be in a constant state of mess.  I had forgotten--how, I don't know--that children who are Eden's age are equivalent to tornadoes.  The amount of devastation they can inflict on a single room in a single minute is breathtaking.  The amount of potential harm they can inflict on themselves in a single minute is terrifying.  All of this requires constant supervision, and I'm just exhausted by it.  I had forgotten how much I look forward to naptime, and how desperately I guard that naptime.  With three kids and homeschooling, I constantly feel like I'm trying to brush my teeth while eating Oreos.  Futility.

In November, Josh is taking Noah to Scotland (yes, you read that right), and Seth to Connecticut, leaving me with Eden for almost a week.  Part of me yearns to go with him to Scotland, but...see above paragraphs.  I literally don't know how I would survive, having to bring Eden and being so tired.  Add to that the jet lag?  I might just die, and so I am staying here.  Not minding, and yet minding.

These are some of the burdens on my heart lately.  I hope I haven't depressed you, but these are very real concerns to me, and so I felt I had to share them.  Life can't always be rosy, and I want to document it all.  Someday I hope to look back on this post and see God's hand in each of these situations, even though I'm hard-pressed to see it now...

 


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Weirdest Feeling Ever

So I went to the chiropractor on Wednesday, mostly in hopes of being adjusted back to normalcy, and partly because I didn't want this pain in my neck/back to become chronic.  I had never been to a chiropractor before, so I didn't know what to expect.  I thought I'd have to get undressed, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I didn't, but nothing--and I do mean nothing--could have prepared me for the weirdness that is being adjusted.  Come along with me for this experience:

You lie face down on a cushy table and put your face into a slot.  Then, the chiropractor pushes around your back and proceeds to tell you where your back hurts.  Surprisingly, he is eerily accurate, down to the square inch.  How he can tell all of that is beyond you, and you're busy pondering that thought when he suddenly pushes hard in the center of your back and you simultaneously hear and feel your back loudly pop multiple times, all in the matter of about a second.  It was so weird that I burst out laughing and resisted my urge to ask if he had just broken my back.  Not because it hurt, but because I was unaware that my back could make a noise like that and still be intact.  I remember thinking, "So THAT'S why he walked in and said, 'Let's get crack-a-lackin!' "  He wasn't kidding.

I was hoping that it would be one and done; that after that one visit I'd feel back to my old self, but alas, it wasn't that easy.  I'm supposed to go back tomorrow for another adjustment, and then maybe once a week for up to 10 weeks!  I'm praying it doesn't take that long to be healed from my back pain.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

My Extroverted Week

Surprise! I'm an introvert. Bet you didn't know that! (She said sarcastically.)  Usually I'm a stay-at-home type of person, loving nothing more than the comfort and privacy of my own home in my comfortable clothes, not talking.  But sometimes I make exceptions, and this week was full of those!

On Thursday evening I was invited to an essential oils party (think Tupperware or Pampered Chef, but for DoTerra Oils instead).  I don't normally attend these things, because they are typically full of people I don't know, and full of pressure to buy things I don't really need or want at prices I don't want to afford, but I made an exception this time.  The party was hosted by our babysitter, Cherie, and I thought I might actually like to try oils.  At the very least I have a lot of questions about them, so I found myself at 6:30pm Thursday evening at an oils class.  It was very informative, and I'm praying about whether to order some and give them a try.  Josh really dislikes the smells of most of them, which has always been a big factor in why I haven't used them.  Something to think about...

On Friday the ladies in our church went out for dinner at The Loop, just for fun.  And it was!  Here's a photo of our time there:

I think we determined we need to do this more often. :)

And today, we attended a birthday party for Makayla, a little girl in our church, who turned 3.  Like I said before, my weeks don't usually end up so busy, but it was a good one and I enjoyed each event.

Next week, I'll probably add Seeing a Chiropractor to my list of accomplishments, because my back and neck are still hurting.  Whatever damage I did to myself while I was sleeping Monday night really was significant.  More on that to come, I guess.  In the meantime, this is me over here moving like a robot, and rapidly sucking in air each time I feel a tweak in my back or neck.  Gettin' old!


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Just a Vapor

I woke up at 2:30 this morning in excruciating pain.  Sometime in the 4 hours I had been asleep, I must have slept wrong.  That sounds so mellow and, well, painless: "I slept wrong." This morning the fact is that I cannot turn my head to either side, or even hold my head up in proper alignment without feeling something akin to a sharp electric shock which radiates down from my neck to my left shoulder blade. Driving Seth to VPK this morning brought me home in tears.  Picking Eden up is enough to make me shriek.  Josh hugged me, and I died a little, or so it felt.

Does it surprise you how frail the body is?  That what you do in 4 hours of just sleeping can cause days of incessant pain?  This was my first (okay, maybe 3rd) thought I had when I realized my life was going to be altered today.  How dependent on God we are!  How very un-I AM are we!

Some Scripture I'm dwelling on this morning, as I struggle to even sit up straight:

" And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [c]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with [d]insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor 12:9-10

"13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 [g]Yet you do not know [h]what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 [i]Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your [j]arrogance; all such boasting is evil."  James 4:13-16

It is so true that I do not know what my life will be like tomorrow.  I am just a vapor, borrowing time from a God who is Almighty, Unchangeable, and infinitely kind.  That's the blessing of constant pain; it gives me constant opportunity to remember my God and His grace! 

Family visit!


My sister Lori and her husband Greg came to see us unexpectedly last week!  Earlier in the week, Lori emailed me, asking if we would like a visit.  They work closely with a group called Church Army, which was trying to help victims of Hurricane Irma.  They wanted Greg to come down on a survey trip to help them determine how Church Army could be used to help out. Boots on the ground, that kind of thing. So here they are!  Their schedule has not allowed for very much time to visit, but we're thankful for what we can get.  I'm so thankful that they were here!  It's so rare that my family is able to come down and see us.

Josh, the kids, and I went to an RV exhibition at the Towns Center on Saturday night.  Though we arrived after they had closed (oops!), we were still able to view quite a number of RVs.  We aren't interested in buying one yet (no place to store it, expensive to maintain, no time to use it, etc), it's my dream to take a month or two off and go tour the country in one.  Hopefully one day we will be able to.

Another dream of mine has been to spend more time doing art projects.  I actually put it in my prayer journal a few months ago: "time to do things that I enjoy, such as art, blogging, etc."  Jehovah Jireh!  Giving up facebook and most tv has enabled me to blog, and teaching our co-op art class has enabled me to work on art sometimes. It has been encouraging to see God answer this seemingly inconsequential request.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Bit of Real Life

In this post, I'm going to show you 3 photos that were taken today (actually, by now it was yesterday), which may or may not sum up a normal day for us.  

Today in Chemistry and Physics class (did you ever in your life think I would teach Chemistry and Physics???) we were studying the different states of matter.  One of Noah's favorite parts of the Apologia curriculum is all the experiments and hands-on activities that are suggested and embedded in the reading assignments.  Today one of our experiments was to make sorbet out of fruit juice, using a couple of ziploc bags, ice, and a boatload of salt.  It turned out great, and Noah loved it!

Now, as a side note, the above is one of those pictures (actually all three of these are) that people post on Facebook, and then everyone and their brother looks at that and says, "Oh, what a nice day they had homeschooling.  I wish we did fun projects like that. He looks so happy and content.  Why is my homeschooling effort drudgery and theirs is so rosy?"  And that, friends, is exactly why I have mostly quit checking Facebook.  It's just not good for people to do all that comparing among themselves, especially without all the facts.  Like the fact that later in the day, I laid into Noah about wasting his time.  He wasted 40 minutes of homework time and had next to nothing to show for it at the end.  We had to deal with that, and then I told him he had 30 minutes to get his Math homework done, or I was charging him $1 for every problem not completed in that time.  So there!  We have our share of the un-fun too; I just don't take pictures of it. Disclaimer; I'm not saying my way of handling the above scenario was the best, but it's what I did. (It worked! He had his work done in 20 mins)


And then we have Eden.  Eden the Everywhere.  Isn't she cute, trying to play the piano? Aww, how sweet.  What you can't see in this picture is that the entire office behind me has been rifled through, pulled out, and redeposited in no particular order on the floor.  She's at that fun and BUSY inquisitive age, which is mostly like having a blender with no lid.


Oh, how sweet.  The three cherubs reading.  But...this was 2 seconds before Eden had had enough, and Noah went into his crazy reading voice, and Seth demanded that Noah read it normally, and we basically had pandemonium.  But it's a cute picture nonetheless.

So, see?  Don't be so quick to judge a peaceful photo and think a person's whole life is like that.  Photos are generally the "best of"s, and that adorable one you just saw of all 6 of someone's kids smiling in their matching clothes may just have been that mom's 2,568th try.  Chances are, their life is just like yours: blessed, yes, but also filled with moments that just aren't captured by adorable photos.

The truth is, whether my life is full of sweet, picture-worthy moments or moments where I just want to turn in my badge, it's all from God, and all designed to bring me closer to Him.  Have a great day!

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Crazy Long Week

Well, since I posted about the lack of damage from Hurricane Irma, Josh has had no less than 5 phone calls about ceilings falling down and failing roofs.  Strangely, they don't necessarily seem like they're tied to the hurricane.  Whatever the cause though, it has meant that Josh is gone more hours during each day so that he can in some cases replace entire roofs.

There's something about your husband being gone over the supper hour when you have small children that makes a day seem really long. (I understand there are tougher circumstances to live through, such as a deployment, but what I said is no less true.)  I usually look forward to Josh being home by 5, so that there's some relief for me during The Witching Hour (any mom of young kids knows what that is; it's the hour you're trying to get supper on the table.  It turns normally mild-mannered kids into whinier, clingier versions of themselves).  And then feeding them dinner all by myself makes me feel like I need a week-long vacation in some deserted place with lots of chocolate and coffee. And no. noise. This kind of a week also drives me to rely on the Lord more, which is not a bad thing.

We got back to our school work, thankfully, on Thursday.  We had taken effectively a week off due to the hurricane, and it felt good to get back to normal.  Seth also was able to go back to his preschool, and that helped as well.

Eden is starting to get into everything! She is pulling up and cruising along the furniture, and I bought her a little push cart toy so that she could walk around holding on to something.  I don't think it will be much longer until she walks on her own.

That's about all I have to say for now.  I like that I can just record random thoughts if I want to.  It's very freeing.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hurricane Irma

This is a view from our front yard into the street where we live, or rather, the lake that the street became.  This was Monday afternoon, after the storm had passed through in the wee hours of the morning.

In one of my favorite movies, there's this line, "I've just sucked one year of your life away....Tell me, how do you feel?" (Extra points for you if you can name that movie.)  That's how I feel in the wake of Hurricane Irma; like it just sucked a week and a half of my life away.  From the way-in-advance notice and hype and predictions of the storm, to the actual event, to the subsequent cleanup and waiting for power to be restored, I just spent the last week and a half in an eerie other world.  Truthfully, I'm ready to come back to my life and never hear the name "Irma" again, but before I do, I need to stop and remember the many blessings and faithfulnesses (is that a word?) of God through the storm.

1. Protection from major damage.  My husband owns somewhere around 50 different properties here in Jacksonville, which we're very thankful for, but in the face of something like Irma, we realized that we could end up like Job in the matter of a day.  One storm of that magnitude could impoverish us literally overnight.  Praise the Lord, only a few trees fell in yards (not on buildings). The only significant damage was to the roof of his rooming house on Myrtle Ave, which was peeled back sardine-can-style in a tornado. (Since we saw the right side of the hurricane, we were in the tornado alley because of the direction of the wind.) Considering all the properties and the potential for damage, we are thanking God that this was the only major problem!

2.  Protection from flooding in our own house.  The back of our house is about 4.5 feet higher than sea level, and the storm surge was predicted to be 3-5 feet. And did I mention we live on a creek which is fed by the St. Johns River? Do you know, that water came up and touched the back of our house, but did not come in?  (see pics below) Another inch of water, and we would have had a flood in our schoolroom. It made me think of that passage from Job,

 "Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 And I [b]placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
11 And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther;


And here shall your proud waves stop’?"  Job 38:8-11


The water came right up to the back of our house! That wall on the right is the outside of our school room.  We had boarded up the window to protect it from possible flying debris


And this was our back yard!  Our shed (left) was flooded, and normally the grass in our yard extends to just beyond those two forked-looking trees in the background!


3.  Cooler weather after the storm, so the fact that we were without a/c for 3 days was bearable.

4.  Help from neighbors to remove a tree that had fallen from across the street, and was blocking our driveway and the road.  Josh went out there with a chainsaw, and within seconds it seemed, there were 5 neighbors helping us clear the debris so the road was passable again.

5.  Wisdom to see that a tree in our backyard needed to be removed, and that it didn't fall on our house in the storm.  After the storm had passed, Matt and Jen came over to see how we were, and we were all talking in the backyard.  Matt pointed out that the roots around one tree were a little soft.  We had tried to open our shed door earlier in the day, and couldn't because those roots were in the way.  At the time we didn't think any more about it, but when he pointed out the roots were soft, we realized that the whole root ball was coming up, which was why we couldn't open the shed door.  We have a baby swing suspended in that tree, and I noticed it was tilting lower to the ground as well.  That tree was about to fall!  Had it fallen in the storm, it would have hit our house for sure.  God protected us, and allowed us time to see the problem in advance.  Josh and Matt got out a chainsaw and ladder and took down the heaviest part of the tree right then and there.  Now we have some time to get it removed.  What a blessing!




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Preparing for Hurricane Irma

So apparently there's this storm...

Hurricane Irma is on the horizon to possibly hit Florida this weekend, and everyone is preparing.  Gas stations had lines and in some cases were running out of regular and mid-grade fuel.  Wal-mart's bread aisle was empty, as was the canned food and bottled water aisles.  Candles and batteries were also gone.  Thankfully I was able to find what we needed at Publix, and hopefully they will be restocking shelves in the next couple of days.  I thought today was a little early to prepare, considering the meteorologists don't even know yet if we will be affected.  It turns out, people were starting to stock up on these things last Friday, so I'm actually late to the party.

Josh is not planning to evacuate, and I am still undecided.  We stayed around when Hurricane Matthew came though here last year, but that one ended up being just a category 1 and wasn't a direct hit.  A category 5 would be a different story to me.  We'll see.  I could go see my mom, or Josh's brother in SC, or just go stay with Matt and Jen because they're not in a flood zone.  A lot will depend on the forecast as the days go by.  For now I'm praying that God turns the storm out to sea.  God could speak the word and that storm would dissipate completely.  
      "...And clouds arise and tempests blow by order from Thy throne."  (name that song)

I've also been singing a newer song, 

"To live or die it's all the same
For Christ consumes me either way!
If I should live, I'll live for Him,
And if I die, I'll live again!

Trusting that God will direct us and give us wisdom to know what we should do as the storm progresses.  In the meantime, we pray and keep on plugging away at our school work.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Day Redeemed and Our Daily Schedule

I had every intention of getting up to exercise this morning, but when it was actually time to do it, I laid in bed 5 more minutes.  And then 5 more. And then 5 more.  And....you get the idea.  Then it was time for my shower, and as much as I don't normally put stock in the idea of "me time," this getting ready in the morning is my final taste of silence and Thinking My Own Thoughts that I have until the kids go to bed at night.  I cherish it a lot.  And so, when Seth knocked on my door while I was drying my hair to tell me that Noah had eaten a potato chip (he makes Josh's lunch every day, and grazes on lunch food as he goes) and he wouldn't give Seth one.  Tattling, my pet peeve. And meanness, my other pet peeve.  I didn't handle it well.  To my shame, I burst out of my room yelling something about Never Being Allowed To Eat Chips While You Make Lunch Again (yeah, that sounds logical and mature! Way to go!) and then slammed my way back into the bathroom muttering words like, "unbelievable" and "can't even leave me alone for 5 minutes" and other such paragons of fleshly outbursts....

All that to say that I usually start the day with good intentions.  I had read my Bible in Proverbs the day before and was stocked up on verses about kindness and gentle speech.  I had listened to a sermon the night before on the power of a godly life.  And then a morning like that happens, and it's almost like all that spiritual stuff flies out the window in the face of my nasty side.  THANKFULLY I do have God's forgiveness and His abundant grace.  He uses truckloads of grace on me every day, and I can always use more.  And praise the Lord, we overcame my fleshly morning and went on to have a pretty good day.  God is so good, and freely offers new beginnings.

We had a pretty typical school day, and I thought I'd include our schedule here for future reference.  We've been following it for a couple of weeks, and it seems to work pretty well so far.

6:15am  Jo exercise
7:00       shower/dress, Noah wake/read Bible/make Josh's lunch
7:30       nurse Eden, Noah do History class (online), Seth wake/make bed
7:45       make breakfast, Seth feed cat/daily chore
8:00       Breakfast
8:30       drop off Seth at pre-k, Noah dress/make bed/teeth
8:45       send off Josh, Noah morning chore
9:00       morning chores, Noah practice piano
9:30       put Eden down for nap
9:45       Handwriting class
10:00     Chemistry/Physics class
10:30    Jo read Bible, Noah do Reading class (online)
11:00    English class (online)
11:45    Pick up Seth, Noah start making lunch
12:00    make lunch, kids outside play
12:15    Lunch
12:45    Outside play
1:00      Jo lesson planning, Noah Math class (online), Seth & Eden play
2:00      Jo read to kids
2:30      Rest/nap time for Jo/Seth/Eden, Noah homework

After that, we have free playtime for the kids, I straighten the house and make dinner, and we don't really stick to a schedule.



Monday, September 4, 2017

5th Grade!

Sometimes I look over at Noah and cannot believe he's 10.  When I cut his hair and I see his shoulders, broader than ever.  He's growing up (this sounds trite) right before my eyes. We began 5th grade last Monday, on the 28th of August.  Fifth. Grade.  Lord, I pray for grace to continue to mold this boy into the man You'd desire him to be!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

9/3/17

Today I woke up 25 minutes late, which is a problem on a Sunday. (I make it my policy to only set an alarm on weekdays, so that I have 2 days in the week to sleep past 6:15 am.) I somehow got everyone out the door in time for church, but it wasn't pretty.  It seems like our fuses are extra short on Sundays. Maybe it's just us...  It does give me the opportunity to rely on God's grace more, and to confess that we are weak people in need of constant mercy.

We taught junior church and had charge of the nursery (which was just Eden) during the main service, and tonight the ladies started a new Bible study group on the book of Exodus. I think it will be a great study if I can find the time to complete the homework each day.  After church, we took a new guy and his sister out to Wendy's for a little extra fellowship.  They are young (early 20's), originally from Hong Kong, and just getting started here in Jacksonville with new jobs.  We enjoyed getting to know them a little better.  

Josh and I are working at trying to be more hospitable, which quite honestly is a challenge for us.  I don't know if it's our personality types or what, but we both struggle with being willing to be flexible enough to enjoy outside friendships. We value our own schedules probably to a fault, and it is stretching us to ask people over to our house or out to eat.  We both know that we need to do better in this area, and by God's grace are working at it.

First Oreo


This photo is pure gold to me!  Eden had her first taste of an Oreo cookie the other night, and this was her face as she was eating it.  Does this not just perfectly express all that girls feel when they eat chocolate?  Is there any more contented expression?  I have felt this exact emotion each and every time I have ever put chocolate into my mouth.  She gets it; I just love having a girl!

Vanishing American Adults

Confession: Last week I subscribed to the newspaper, and read all the pages for the first time in my life.  For someone who normally lives under a rock, and had been for the most part content to do so, this was a big step.  It all started with a book I read on recommendation from Josh's family, The Vanishing American Adult, by Ben Sasse.  It was an excellent read, and I found myself alternately saying, "That's right!" and getting nervous about where the author projects the country is going on its present trajectory.

Some of my take-aways:

1.  While I don't normally identify myself as a millennial (I was born in 1980, right on the tail end of generation X), I saw some of the same mindsets in myself that were shown in a negative light in this book.  Namely, that adults of this age have had easier lives than any generation in history, and that that comes with a price.  To put it bluntly, we are wimps.  This is not complimentary, but highly accurate.  I don't do well without air conditioning.  I hate camping. I don't know if I could actually handle a war in my own country. I have had little exposure to death.  I have never known need.  While these on the surface look like incredible blessings, the fetid underside of this is that I would be the last person to rely on in an actual emergency, or to patiently endure prolonged suffering.

2.  I was reminded and chagrined that I have no idea about how history affects today. My History teachers throughout the years would be appalled at how little I have retained (sorry!).  I have no concept of current events that are shaping the world now.  As I said earlier, I live under a rock.  I hole myself up in my house and teach my kids, and do my housework, and have no clue about anything actually happening in the world.  This is a bad thing, hence the newspaper subscription.  Even just 3 days of the newspaper have opened my eyes to a lot that I was previously ignorant to.

3.  I was relieved to know that Josh and I are not crazy, and we do not expect too much work out of our kids.  They need it, it's good for them, and good for the whole family.  I will not be made to feel that I expect too much out of them!

4.  My kids need exposure to a wide variety of age groups. It is healthy for them to be friends with older people and younger people; to be taught how to interact with everyone.  The current trend to segregate all the age groups is historically weird and proving to be unhealthy.  This was an encouraging thought to me, because my kids don't interact with tons of kids who are their same ages.  It will be okay!  We just need to work on cultivating good, kind, respectful relationships with those that we do interact with.

5.  Reading (and being widely read) is very important.  I knew this already, but this was another take away that I, well, took away.  This encouraged me to reserve some books at the library that I would never have chosen for myself, but that my anemic mind needs to soak up.  I reserved, for example, Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America.  I am ashamed to admit that I had never heard of him before reading this book.  See #2.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nothing Earthshattering

I have about a dozen blog posts sitting partially written in the no-man's-land of my drafts.  They're not "good" enough for me to post. Not upbeat enough or pithy enough or coherent enough to hit the publish button, and so they sit and I forget all about the events that were going on at the time.  I've been thinking about this fact; that I feel a certain obligation to entertain you or inspire you when I write, to make it worth your while to come read what's on my mind.  The truth is though, that that's not really the point of this blog.  I need to be remembering my daily life so that I can see (even if it's in retrospect) the Lord's working.  I think instead of viewing this blog as a place where I write these really cool Mom Blog posts worthy of re-sharing on Facebook ("Ten Reasons I Gave Myself Permission to Relax" or "Stop Being So Hard on Yourself" or some other such popular mom mantra these days), it needs to be boring sometimes.  It needs to be "Today I did such and such and went here and said that, and God was faithful."  I won't win any awards in the blog world, but I already don't, so what's the big deal?  And so, without further ado, my actual life:

I recently quit going to Facebook.  I had been checking it several times a day, or more if I actually posted something.  I am one of those vain types that likes for people to "like" my posts.  I really like it.  I also compare how many people liked/commented/whatnot my posts with how many people did so on So-and-So's post.  It's an anxiety causer, a humiliation, and a jealousy-causer all wrapped into one time-sucking package.  I had to be stopped.

After reading a book on friendship with the ladies in our church, I was convicted about my (mis)use of Facebook, and I quit.  Except for one pic I had to post of Eden's first Oreo experience, I have stopped posting and checking Facebook.  It has freed up a bit more time and I'm also SO much happier and more content.  I don't get constant reminders that this person's husband is the most thoughtful one EVER, and that this other person is having the time of her life with her husband in Cancun without her kids for a whole week while I have had it up to here with my kids' bickering and would love a vacation.....and other such joy stealers.

We started a new year of school last Monday. Noah is in 5th grade, Seth started VPK at a church 5 minutes from here, and Eden is my constant sidekick.  She naps still in the mornings, thankfully, so we actually have a window of time to accomplish the school day that I am responsible for. I am thankful to have some online/video classes for Noah to take, as that frees me up some from actual teaching.  He is doing distance learning videos for History, Reading, and English, and Math is online with Josh's mom.  That leaves Handwriting and Chemistry/Physics (yikes!) for me to teach.

Today was Saturday.  I made waffles for breakfast, and then did the rest of the laundry that I hadn't finished from yesterday.  Josh took Seth with him to meet a tenant, check on another property, and collect rent from another one.  I kept Noah and Eden here and tried to enforce chores.  Piano practice, lawn mowing, and Math corrections from yesterday.  We had lunch, a pretty uneventful afternoon, and then we went out to Chick-fil-a for dinner.  When Josh and I don't have a babysitter scheduled, Chick-fil-a makes for an almost date because the kids go to the play area after they eat, leaving Josh and me (and Eden) alone to talk for a few minutes.

I'm kind of tired at this point--it's been a long day of trying to get to the bottom of endless arguments, and housework.  I'm thankful I have given myself permission to turn this blog into more of a narrative of what is happening, rather than a place where I feel I have to wax eloquent all the time.  I feel much lighter about it, and hopefully that will mean that I post a whole lot more!



Monday, May 22, 2017

In the Weeds

Admittedly not the most flattering picture of anyone or anything, but you'll see why I chose it

The baby is fussing fitfully as I change her diaper, rubbing her eyes with the backs of her chubby, dimpled fists.  She's ready for a nap, if I can just get her changed.  I hear some sort of large liquid spill transpire in the dining room, and simultaneously a fight breaks out among the older two kids over whose fault it was.  My husband is in our bedroom, calling out to see if I know where any clean work shorts are because he's trying to leave like 5 minutes ago.  I glance up and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror above the changing table; hair a mess, glasses on, no makeup, rocking the I've-been-up-for-three-hours-and-I-haven't-had-a-shower-yet look. And I need to use the bathroom.  I close my eyes and sigh. I'm in the weeds.

This may sound like hyperbole to you, but it's a reality more often than I'd like to admit.  I feel like so much of my life right now is about putting out the most urgent fire, and most of the time I don't even know which one that is. Nothing seems efficient.  Nothing fits neatly into my ready-made boxes on my OCD labeled shelves. My life is messy...

But I've been encouraged lately in my Bible reading, as I slog through the Old Testament.  Maybe "slog" is not the right word.  I just know that my peppy sounding "Read Your Bible Through In A Year" plan is turning out to be more like "Or Three Years." Anyway.  I like to try to make my life the most efficient it can be; multitasking as much as possible and finding ways to do more in less time. Barreling through life in a desperate race to get the most done. But is that really the point? Is that God's goal for me?  

Over and over I see in the books of the Law, direct commands of God that the people stop and celebrate Him for days at a time, or that they get up and leave camp when His cloud moved.  Have you ever stopped to consider that these commands were not efficient or convenient?  That the mother who just got her baby to sleep after a crazy long night of teething, might have to wake that baby again because it's time to load up and move to a new location? And that it was GOD'S PLAN?  And God knew every hair on that exhausted mom's head, and had grace ready at the asking for her.  I read in Numbers 29:1 about God commanding that a certain day "be to you a day for blowing trumpets."  I haven't had one of those in, well um, ever.  Maybe it's about time.

I spend my life trying to get out of the weeds in the most efficient manner possible, when I think sometimes God wants to remind me of Himself.  That He's there, and worth celebrating.  That His plan is best.  Because I can't get the baby down for a nap, clean up a spill, break up a fight, find the shorts, take a shower, and use the restroom all at the same time.  God knows that.  And God has grace for me, even In the Weeds.  Look up!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Love Hate

I'm 9 days into a Whole 30 .  You can click that link if you want to know more about it.  Meanwhile, this is me, desperately craving bread/chocolate/cheese/coffee creamer, and not getting any of it.  Hating my life and loving it all at the same time.  Because, while I can't have any of my usual favorites, I do get to eat healthy food like this:  

Grilled Citrus Chicken with Cauliflower Mash and a salad with homemade Ranch dressing.  And almondmilk to drink.  So there.  It was all delicious, but an hour later I was staring into my cookie cupboard, mouth watering.  I've even stooped so low as to open a bread bag or a cookie jar and smell the inside. Free smells, right? 

Why do I do this to myself?

Once upon a time there was a girl who had health problems even though she was only 36.  Her hormones were messed up, her iron was way low, and she was tired.  Dead dog tired.  All. The. Time.  Not to mention the fact that 6 months after her last baby was born, she still looked lumpy in all her clothes.

So 9 days in and I do still crave sugar in a bad way, but here's what's getting better so far (the Whole 30 calls these "Non-scale victories"):

1. I'm just now beginning to get some energy back, and I hope it gets better and better. My family will thank me.  I get 8 hours of sleep at night (thank you, Lord!), and yet I was still thinking about napping almost constantly.  I wake up exhausted, and I go to bed exhausted, and there's pretty much just exhaustion all day.  It's been pretty bad, y'all.  Hopefully we're on the up-swing.

2.  I'm learning to cook.  REALLY.  I'm ashamed to say that since Eden was born, "cooking" had diminished to the point that I would maybe grill some chicken with bottled bbq sauce on it, make a package of blue box mac & cheese, and dump out a bag of pre-made salad.  Folks, that's not cooking.  On a program like Whole 30, none of those foods are compliant.  And so you relearn how to really cook real food with real ingredients and NO ADDED SUGAR. As you may be able to guess, cooking like this takes T-I-M-E. And planning. And actual ingredients, like fresh parsley and lemons.  It's been good for me.

I'll let you know at the end of this how it went! 21 more days to go...



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Girly


I absolutely LOVE dressing a girl! This was Eden and me, just before we left for church one Wed night.

Fortune Teller


(It has taken me weeks to write this post! As a result, some of it is old news by now.)

On Fridays, Josh takes Noah with him to work. He's been doing this since Eden was born partly to give me a break, and partly because it is so good for Noah to learn things about Josh's business and how to deal with a variety of people and problems.  Noah gets one-on-one time with his dad, learns (hopefully) how to work hard, and I get some time with just Pep (aka Seth) and Eden.  There is zero fighting from the kids all day long when Noah is gone, which is a great reprieve for this mom-turned-referee.

Last Sunday we had some missionaries at church who are trying to raise support to go to Japan.  They brought with them several origami cranes, as well as other paper crafts, including something like what is pictured above.  From way back in the recesses of my mind, a memory surfaced.  When I was in fourth grade, when my friends and I weren't busy trading funky-shaped erasers, fluorescent stickers, and other such trinkets, we would make these "fortune tellers."  I *guess* these things are also popular in Japan, because there were a few of them being passed around at church.

I sat down with Seth one Friday to see if I could make one for old times' sake.  To my amazement, my mad fortune teller folding skills came right back to me!  I made this one, which has created much entertainment.  Noah was shocked when he came home and found out *I* had made it.  He never knew his mom was so cool.  *Ahem*

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Life With Three Kids


Well, here I am again!  Every so often I get the urge to write; usually when I've just read something I wrote about in the past and thus remember something I would have otherwise completely forgotten. Also, it turns out that writing has a similar affect on me as eating chocolate does, without all the extra calories and guilt. Win-win.

My life has drastically changed in the last three months.  I now homeschool a fourth grader, try to entertain my four-year-old while sneaking in some preschool work when he's not looking (he gets suspicious if he thinks he's actually learning), and somehow balance the needs of a 3-month-old. Plus the other housework and wife stuff added in for good measure around the edges. I'm not bored fo' sho!

Here are some highlights of what thrills me these days:

I'm so thankful that Eden sleeps through the night now! My sanity has returned, and with it some semblance of clear thinking. I still have moments where I lock myself in the bathroom, shovel Hershey's kisses into my mouth, and wonder what on earth I got myself into with these kids, but for the most part I'm able to deal.  Thanks to large doses of God's Word and seven-ish hours of sleep at night. And coffee. 

The boys will start a new soccer season, Lord-willing, next week.  Seth can hardly contain himself--he gets to play this season!!  He has spent the better part of his life being carted to Noah's soccer practices and games where he had to sit on the sidelines, and now it's finally his turn.  The league was short on coaches, so it looked like Seth wouldn't get to play unless some brave soul stepped forward to volunteer.  We prayed about this, and still no coach surfaced, so Josh took pity and stepped up.  I am so thankful he did!  Makes me proud of him to see a need and a desire in his little boy and sacrifice his time to meet the need.

This winter has been more like spring than usual.  We've been enjoying beautiful days with temps in the 70's. It's weather like this that reminds me what a blessing it is to live in Florida.  

God has been very real to me over the last few months.  Nothing like having a baby to make me remember where my strength is, and it's not in me!  Three kids, all at very different stages of life, is a challenge!  Noah needs constant (like daily, hourly, and minute-ly) reminders of what he should be doing at any given moment ("But I practiced the piano yesterday!").  His homework needs to be checked, he desperately needs handwriting help, and sometimes he could teach a mule a thing or two about stubbornness.  How can I help him without blowing a gasket unless God is helping me? God has reminded me that I need constant intervention and correction too (Didn't He just show me yesterday that yelling is wrong? And here I am doing it again!), and yet He is so patient with me. And Seth: lost somewhere in the middle between Noah's academic progress and Eden's next feeding.  Often I feel like I'm neglecting him.  And Eden, who is a very sweet baby, but comes with the requisite frequent feedings and blowout diaper changes.  God is in it all, from the big life-changer moments to the mundane dailies.  It's all a big deal to Him, and He's helping me see He's there with me, giving me grace at every turn.

As usual, I would say I hope from now on to be more regular in my blog posting.  Also as usual, I am realistic enough to know that life doesn't always lend itself to sitting down to quietly type out my thoughts.  At least not during this stage of life!  So while I would love to blog, bake, have people over for coffee, clean my house, work on art projects, read fiction, crochet, exercise off these last 8 pounds of baby weight, and keep a lovely yard, how about I just start by being thankful that this blog post got written?  Baby steps.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Eden Annelise

This is a short version of Eden's birth story, a little of my recovery, and how we chose her name.

Birth Story and Recovery (the rosy, less messy version):

We had planned a c-section for November 15, due to my having had 2 prior c-sections--the magic number when it comes to the possibility of natural birth, at least with my set of doctors.  During the final weeks of pregnancy I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and ready to give birth, so I started praying that I'd go into labor on my own.  I didn't really think it would happen, in part because Noah and Seth were both born on their due dates, and my c-section was scheduled for the 15th, two days prior to my due date.

Thursday, November 10 started out normally. I did a major grocery shopping trip, cleaned out and vacuumed our car, put away clutter, and mopped the kitchen floor (nesting much?).  I then laid down propped myself up for a short nap.  When I woke up at 3pm, I felt a little crampy, so I decided to have a snack. Hey, it made sense to me at the time. :)  As I was heading to the kitchen, my water broke.  Quick change of plans!  No snack for me, because I knew I would be having a c-section and the doctors (and my stomach) like you to avoid eating for 8 hours prior to surgery.  I casually texted Josh, "Water broke. No rush. I'll be packing and taking a shower."

I hopped in the shower (that sounds so limber of me, doesn't it? Don't be fooled. It wasn't.) and then tried to pack. Tried being the operative word.

A word to the wise: DON'T be like me and save your hospital packing for when you are in active labor.  Just. Don't.  You will be utterly useless.  Josh came home around 4:30pm to find me alternately grabbing random mismatched pajamas and toiletries, and breathing through some painful contractions, which were 2-4 minutes apart by this time.  Bless him, he helped me get my stuff into a suitcase, pack the boys' overnight bag, and then we headed out to Matt and Jen's to drop our kids off (thanks, guys!), and finally to go to the hospital. It was somewhat of a hectic ride, because Josh decided to stop at Wendy's first (REALLY?) and then during one particularly heinous contraction, the kids decided to have a fight in the backseat about which half of a burger they should get (again, REALLY?).  I may or may not have yelled pretty loudly that they BETTER. STOP. FIGHTING.  And then we hit some heavy rush hour traffic that made me want to scream.  Anyways...

I will spare you the messy details of checking in at the hospital (except WHY do they insist on checking to make sure your water has broken?  I promise you, it did.  I would know.  And WHY do they ask you 359 questions while you are contracting about stuff that should already be in your chart?).

After a bit more mild moaning (okay, maybe it bordered on yelling) on my part, they prepped me for my c-section and by 7:30pm were ready to begin.  Eden Annelise was born at 7:58pm.  She weighed 9lb 9oz, was 22.5 inches long, had a full head of jet black hair, and she set up shop immediately screaming; screaming like birth was the most offensive, unjust thing that she could imagine, which it probably was. :)  I didn't get to see her until after they stitched me back up, and by then I was feeling very ill from the anesthesia and couldn't hold her.  One of my "perks" for having most types of anesthesia is how nauseous it makes me.  I've come to realize there just isn't anything they can do for it either, because no matter the precautions they take, I always end up sick as a dog in the end.  This was no exception.  Again, I will spare the messy details.

Moving on...

My hospital stay went by in a daze, but with several unpleasant memories.  I was sick all night following the surgery, then the next day my iron levels were discovered to be alarmingly low, requiring a blood transfusion.  The iv port in my hand became overwhelmed from all the extra fluid and swelled up and bruised horrifically.  (A week later, and it is black and blue and still really hurts!)  I had to wear a catheter for 3 days to facilitate healing of my incision (don't ask).  Thankfully God is good, I am home, and we are doing much better!  Every day I am able to do a little bit more, and it has been a blessing to have Josh's mom here helping out tremendously with meals and cleaning.

How we chose the name Eden Annelise:
You may know that our whole marriage we have struggled with infertility.  All three of our children have been the result of many people praying for us, much medical intervention, and God's miraculous power.  Early in this pregnancy I came across the following passage in the Bible:

Isaiah 51:1-3
"'Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
Who seek the LORD;
Look to the rock from which you were hewn
And to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain;
When he was but one I called him,
Then I blessed him and multiplied him.'

Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the LORD;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody."

I was struck with the fact that the Lord had done just this in our lives; He had sent us comfort in the form of this final baby.  I was finally at peace with the size of our family, and could rejoice with thanksgiving in God's provision.  He had truly made my "wilderness" and my "desert" of infertility into a beautiful thing, like the garden of Eden.

Annelise means "graced with God's bounty."  Which we have been.  Abundantly, bountifully blessed.  We praise the Lord for our little girl!






Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Quiver Full

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:4-5

I used to wonder how a person could know when their quiver was full.  I'd overhear moms conversing at the park. Always nonchalant, but always adamant, as if the choice were really up to them; "Oh, we are so done.  No more kids for us."

I'd puzzle over that for a while because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't relate.  All I've ever known through my married life is the pining after children.  One, then two, then a third.  I thought I would never be satisfied, like the barren womb in Proverbs which never cries, "Enough!"  I thought that I'd always want one more.  Even when I was pregnant with Noah and then with Seth, I'd feel pangs of heartache at the thought that this could be the last time I'd get to experience pregnancy and have a little baby to snuggle.  If you can believe it, I was actually disappointed when I went into labor because it meant pregnancy was over, possibly for good.

But you know what?  This time I'm at peace.  This time I'm able to say that I'm perfectly content if this is my last pregnancy, the last time I'll give birth, my last experience with an infant.  Now, I fully realize that this could be due to many factors such as:

I was sicker longer with this pregnancy than with either of my previous ones.
I am more uncomfortable, and feel more acutely the aches, pains, and discomforts of pregnancy than ever before.
We are having a girl after having two boys.
I am 36. Thirty. Six.  That's 10 years older than I was when I was pregnant with Noah.  Trust me, a lot changes in a body in 10 years' time.

However, I don't think these are the only reasons I'm fine with this being our last baby (Lord-willing).  I think it is honestly true that some people's quivers are larger than others, and that God can give full and perfect peace when one reaches capacity.  I would say we are at capacity after this little girl comes. :)  If I'm wrong, I know the Lord will give grace, but I'm just saying that it is a wonderful feeling to be at peace with 3 children, when I thought all my life I'd keep wanting "just one more."

God is so good to give me the desires of my heart and to make me satisfied with Him and His good gifts!




Friday, September 2, 2016

And Then She Was Silent

Way to leave a blog mid-story and go dark for 6 months, right?

I have no excuse for myself except to say let's just pick up and move on, shall we?  It would help me if I didn't have to recap all of what has happened in the last half year.

The Lord answered those prayers way back in March, and I'm now almost 7 months pregnant with...a baby GIRL!  I can't begin to tell you how excited we are to welcome a girl into our family in mid-November, Lord-willing.

And now, let's get back to what this blog has been about: sharing my thoughts, events, and lessons learned.

Stay tuned!


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Our Big God

This is a story all about the miraculous power of our God.  I've been dwelling on Psalm 104 some lately, and yesterday I saw it played out in real life.

"[Man and the animals] all wait for You to give them their food in due season.
You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their spirit, they expire and return to the dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground."  Ps. 104:27-30

Yesterday I had my embryo transfer.  It did not start out on a good note.  Dr. W. pulled us into his office for the usual pre-transfer briefing, and before we had even sat down, he matter-of-factly stated that we only had one remaining embryo out of my 4 that were doing well last Friday. 

"So, Joanna, we'll just transfer the one today, Joanna."  He likes to use my name copiously in every conversation.  Josh and I joke about it sometimes, but really it's what makes him so endearing.  And comical, when the news he bears isn't so sad.  Anyway, something in me withered, and I got up deflatedly (spell-checker is telling me that's not a word, but I want it to be; so there) to follow the nurse down the hall to the transfer room.  I gave Josh a quick kiss and left him in the waiting room, the whole time reeling from the thought that 3 of our embryos hadn't made it.  Just one left.  I've not had a transfer be successful with just one before.

I donned the enormous hospital gown, the purple rubber-bottomed socks, and the fetching blue shower cap (really!?) and sat down to wait my turn.  While I waited there, I poured out my heart to the Lord, unloading all my disappointment and casting my fragile longings on Him.  I begged for a miracle. I asked Him to please help me trust Him. I thought of dear Mary from our church, who is praying that we have twin girls (!!) and briefly thought about texting her not to get her hopes up.  

Suddenly it was my turn.  I climbed onto the table and they started an ultrasound.  Immediately the nurse said "Your bladder is too full." On my way back from the restroom, the embryologist was standing there waiting for me with the nurse.  My nurse beamed at me and said, "Would you like to transfer one or two embryos today?"

"I'm sorry?" I said, "I only have one."  The embryologist piped up from behind her mask and said, "That report Dr. W. was reading was from this morning. Early this morning, one of your embryos had stopped developing and wasn't mature enough for a transfer.  But we have been watching it, and in the last few hours, it has amazingly started growing again, and is actually now a better quality than the first one! It's rare, but sometimes these things happen." 

Psalm 104: 29-30 came to mind almost immediately. "You take away their spirit, they expire and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created."  Even on an embryonic level.  My heart almost burst with thanksgiving to God as I hopped back on the table and proceeded with the transfer, which wasn't entirely uneventful. At the end, Dr. W. told me that if I ever have any more transfers, to make sure I bring him a Valium. I, however, was floating on the awareness of the mind-boggling miracle God had done for me, and hardly noticed the difficulties we had.

So it's done now.  I have my TWO embryos safely where they belong, and now I just have to trust the Lord and try not to think about all the what-ifs.  I am trying to make the Lord God my trust and my hope.  If you see me between now and testing time, remind me of that!   

We had so many people praying for us, and I know God answered with a miracle yesterday!  If you are one of those praying for us, thank you!  God does hear and answer prayer.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

God's Perspective

As of this morning we were in the middle of an IVF cycle, and then, like a really good dream, it was cancelled this afternoon just when it was getting to the good part. I was already prepared for everything we needed to do next; miraculously I was even mentally ready to give myself the monster shots they call progesterone, and then to eagerly await Monday's transfer and the long-awaited PUPO (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise) status.

I knew when I saw the nurse's number pop up on my phone that this would not be a good call.  I was right. "Your progesterone levels are already too high," she said.  Her voice was lacking its familiar cheerful sound. "I"m very sorry. We're going to have to cancel this cycle."

She began telling me what to do next, which surprisingly still included giving myself those dreadful shots.  I was in a fog.  Surely she didn't just tell me to start the shots tomorrow!  But she did. All so we can clean the slate and start all over next month, this time adding another shot which (if you ask me) they should have included in this round in the first place.

This news was too much.  All at once I wanted to eat all the desserts.  Or cry.  I did both.  What was there to say? To do?  I texted several people and asked them to pray for me, as I was so disappointed that I couldn't really even pray for myself.  I mopped the floor sort of numbly, and then while it was drying, I sat down in the living room to read my Bible.  By then the Lord was beginning to speak truth into my spinning heart.  I find it fitting that God spoke to Job "out of the whirlwind."  He spoke to me out of there too.

I read Matthew chapter 2, just simply because it was where I had left off this morning. I'm glad I did, because I was reminded that God fulfilled so many prophecies in the birth and early life of Jesus.  He orchestrated so many events; including what I'm sure were confusing and inconvenient household moves for Joseph and Mary.  It was all because He was working His perfect plan. What sounded like "Get up...flee to Egypt" (Matt 2:13) was really a master-organized protection plan for His Son, whom Herod was seeking to murder, and at the same time it perfectly fulfilled a prophecy of old which said, "Out of Egypt I called my Son." (Hos 11:1)

So God always has a plan. The plan.  If I can just trust Him that He does the same in my life.  There is some reason I suffer inconveniences, delays, and dashing of hopes, and I just don't see it right now.  But that doesn't mean it isn't best or that God isn't using this very frustrating turn of events to accomplish His will!  Though I could have said, "Amen" and stopped there, instead I flipped on over to Job because I always do, and well, you already know what I found there. Job chapters 38-41 always stop my mouth just as they did Job's.

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements? Since you know...  Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb...And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop?  Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place... Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? Or do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?"

I got up from my couch at peace again, giving thanks and rejoicing in God's perspective on my earthly disappointment.