Twelve years ago. I had a little baby boy growing inside me. But for seven months my body wasn’t acting how it should. Abnormal bleeding and on bed-rest, I spent most of my days doing absolutely nothing. Looking back, I regret not using that time for reading piles of books and crafting great and glorious quilts or blankets. But that’s the thing with age. We grow and hopefully become wiser and use our time more productively because we see how precious it is. I remember moving into Matt’s parent’s house so they could help care for Nadine. She turned one, and I didn’t get to take walks around the neighborhood with her, or chase her in the leaves. It was bumpy chapter in our life. For almost seven months I woke up every day wondering if I would ever be able to hold, snuggle, and watch this boy grow. Then, at 31 weeks, my water broke. Matthew rushed me to the hospital, and we were even more aware of how possible it was to lose this wee boy. I was given shots to help develop his lungs and there was a whir of activity in the hospital room. I don’t remember much of that week in the hospital. Nadine learned to walk that week, and I remember her walking into that room in shiny black patent leather shoes, white stockings and a sweet corduroy dress. My mom brought me a bisccotti container to decorate my room. She also brought a boombox, because I didn’t have things like ipods or iphones or even a portable CD player. There was this CD I listened to over and over, and whenever I hear this song, I am transported back to that hospital bed, hand on my belly, praying over this boy. My prayer was always that he would be a man of prayer and faith, like Elijah in the Bible. Tomorrow the next chapter of his life began, on the day he was born. Early to us, but to God: right on time.
There’s a bowl of pretty-well-licked-out melted chocolate chips next to me. I’m on my third cup of hot tea for the evening (decaf of course) and my head has a slight ache (chocolate helps that, right?). It’s been one of THOSE days. It began well. Very well, in fact. I came downstairs to find the children playing school. I mean, we homeschool, so I thought the possibility of PLAYING school was out of the realm of possibility. It helps that as of yesterday evening, after finishing our first term of school without one, we finally have an actual school table.
A new table apparently makes doing school super exciting. I even overheard the teacher telling her students: “That test is going to be very severely graded!” It was all fun and games, but then I turned my body and saw a huge pile of STUFF in the corner. Something went off in my head, and picking EVERYTHING UP OFF THE FLOOR THAT ISN’T FURNITURE became top priority. (That is my favorite thing to say, by the way.) I may have gone a bit crazy. End result: full trashcan, clean floor, settled mama.
Somehow in there, the clock decided to jump ahead a few hours to it being the time we were supposed to be headed out the door for Elijah’s guitar lesson. Thankfully, his teacher is super flexible, and we were able to scoot out the door a couple hours later. Meanwhile, because time likes to be ornery, I couldn’t figure out why everyone was yelling and crying and not getting their math problems… until I actually looked at the clock and saw it was way past noon. Everything stopped. Eggs were cracked into frying pans. Sriracha sauce was uncapped. Avocados were cut. Bread was toasted. Bellies were filled. Math made sense again.
I do love how every day is different. Though there are some things that happen almost every day. Like, a cup of hot tea in the morning. And Nadine cleaning up the kitchen every night. She has become quite proficient at it. I encourage all you mamas of pre-teens… get them started! Nadine has been hard at work doing this job for over a year, but has it down to a perfected science. I am usually at my most exhausted, and she somehow almost always gets a second wind around 9:00. Win, win! I found that she does a much better job when I leave the room and don’t micromanage how she does it… because, surprise of all surprises… we have VERY different approaches when it comes to how we get it clean. The end result is pretty much the same, however. Thank you, darling! (She can read this… because she’s a teenager now and subscribes to her mama’s blog… I am BEYOND touched and love her so much!)
In the midst of the chaos that was today, I did chisel out thirty minutes of quiet, alone time with the Maker of the Universe. How’s that for a date? I think sometimes I only see Him as that and get all nervous to lay my requests before Him and wait in expectation. So, today I did just that. The peace which overwhelmed my soul was indescribable. Before, the sky was cloudy and cold. After, the clouds were stunning with glimpses of sunshine pouring out like beams of pure gold. He has a way of reminding me of how close He really is, even though my heart strives constantly to do and go and accomplish. He says to just be.
A few other chaotic things happened today after that peace, but isn’t that life on this side of Heaven? One of them was disagreeing strongly with the man at Goodwill that the pants I was buying for Elsie were in fact for a child and not for an adult as he was ringing them up to be. I even took them from his hand, held them up to my body and told him that there was no way on earth I would ever fit in these pants which clearly fit on my daughter… and I held them up to her. He didn’t budge. My blood was boiling inside because it was very clear who was right and who wasn’t. There was a long line and so I chose… peace. I mean, I wasn’t really upset that I was getting them for $2 instead of $1; I was just upset because I was right and he was wrong. Yeah. That’s super. Anyway, I didn’t blow up and I even made out with an amazing $2 necklace… which goes great with my plaid, don’t you think?
By the time we arrived home, supper was zero percent away from being started, I was hangry, and it was 5:30 and dark outside. I threw ROCK HARD FROZEN chicken into a pan with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and miraculously didn’t burn it. Matthew always can tell when I don’t cook with a little bit of love poured into the food. I think it’s because my dear friend, with her beautiful smile and loving self, walked into my kitchen at that exact moment and the love started seeping out my pores and into the pan of chicken. It didn’t burn, and tasted amazingly delicious all chopped up in our salad. The evening was spent with my friend, dreaming and building our business together.
Now my third cup of tea is cold. Time is playing tricks on me again, because it keeps telling me hours have passed since I last looked at the clock. My children keep getting taller and making food non-existent in our refrigerator and cupboards. Betty said the funniest thing the other day. I have no idea what was going on, but she told me: I have a feeling of myself.
Really? What do you feel?
Like Jack and Elsie are going to find a real mouse. I have a bad feeling.
Then, the other day Elsie and Betty were playing house, complete with pretend money, and I overheard this very upset showdown between mother and daughter:
You bought a dog?! You just wasted all our money!– Elsie
But she gave me a change! said Betty cheerfully.
It’s still not enough! -Elsie
Now my fourth cup of tea is hot, because my intuitive husband just came and gave me a refill. I’m excited to snuggle up with him tonight. I’m so thankful I am his and he is mine. Elsie just came and asked if she can listen to jazz music to fall asleep. Every day is so full of moments of gratefulness and awe. I’m so thankful for many things, but mostly I’m thankful for God’s grace, and that my life is not a test to be severely graded, because it would be an utter failure!
I was walking in between them, my arms interwoven with theirs, strong and beautiful, like a perfect piece of tapestry. We laughed as the leaves fell around us, and I looked at them both and said, “I remember pushing you two in a double baby stroller!” And here we are now, leaning on eachother, laughing at jokes everyone understands, and these babies are growing up faster than I can catch my breath. We’ve always been held together by love, but now it’s not just me giving all of my strength to keeping them alive and nourished. Now they are also supporting me with their love and wisdom and bodily presence. I don’t want them to stop growing up, because I love each stage they’re experiencing. Yet I want it to freeze sometimes, like a perfect ray of sunshine which captures a moment before winking at you and disappearing forever. Time keeps winking at me. Having the last say. Making these babies taller than me, stronger than me. Their hearts aren’t so grown up yet, and I relish their simplicity of thought. I am humbled by their generous thinking well of everyone. I love this time of shaping and molding and letting them sprout their wings a bit more and dream big dreams.
This girl. She is so becoming and growing responsible. This month she turned thirteen. How is it possible? A couple of weeks ago we couldn’t use water inside our house, and she washed all of the dishes with boiled water in a big bowl outside on the patio. She’s a hard worker and loves challenges. She always has room in her heart for one more person to love and makes them feel as if they’re the most important person in the world. She is stronger than impenetrable circles, also known as cliques, because she has the courage to talk to the ones on the outside of them. Things are not important to her. Only hearts.
This young man. He is different these days. Thinking deeper thoughts and dreaming bigger dreams. If you are a close friend, then he has probably cried for you as he lifts you in prayer, because his heart is softer than any boy I’ve ever known. He has been working so hard lately to be stronger in some areas. Elijah also has the gift of music and making taste-buds sing. He’s turning into quite the chef, and has made some pretty mouth-watering meals for us recently! He made up a song for Nadine’s birthday, and had us roaring with laughter as he made up a verse for everyone in our family.
Then there’s this other young man. He gets through his schoolwork so he can hammer more nails to his fort, or create some inventory for his newest business venture. On Saturday, he forgot to eat lunch because he was so intent on getting his business underway: selling homemade wooden toys! Matthew was able to take him to work one day this week, which made our house a lot quieter. The best part of the day, though, was when he came home, and everyone ran out to Matt’s truck to welcome him home, and swap stories around the dinner table. Jack has a pretty dry sense of humor that is starting to develop more as he matures. He isn’t afraid of throwing a dance party in our front yard, choreographed to whatever music is playing in someone’s car going down the street.
Number four is as industrious as a worker bee, making our world much sweeter with all of her buzzing. She loves to read and dance and do cartwheels. She often prances around and says, “I’m SO happy!” She loves life with every ounce of her being. Whenever she receives good news larger than her heart can bear, she starts to cry and laugh all at the same time. She is such a sweet big sister to Betty, and the two stick together like glue. The other day, I had the ironing board out in our room. Not one, but two of our children came in with wonder and curiosity on their faces. Elsie stared wide-eyed and gasped, “What IS that thingy?” I guess it doesn’t see the light of day much.
Our sweet number five keeps us smiling and laughing all day long. The other morning she walked into our room and woke me up by saying, “Mommy?” Once I answered her she said, “I think I’m going back to bed now.” And tiptoed back to bed. I lay with sleepy-dust and laughter both tickling my eyes. When we were at the farm, feeding the animals, she exclaimed about the pigs: “They’re STARVING!” and gleefully gave the famished pigs more food. She loves to help. In the kitchen, around the house, if someone is sick or hurt. She adores school and wants to “read” everything and paint every day.
This past week was spent recuperating from a long weekend away last week. What a blessing to have earned a trip to Washington DC with the company I work for, and have so many amazing memories tucked away from our time there. Hanging out with good friends, meeting new friends, a concert by Jewel, being inspired by the humorous Rita Davenport, delicious food, and quality time with Matthew.
Yesterday, we experienced Wyebrook Farm for the first time. What a gorgeous fall day to be together and be spoiled by stunning scenery and delicious food!
This guy. He is so incredibly hard-working without complaint. I love dreaming big with him by my side.
Happy fall, from our family to you!
Today held one of those moments in life which freeze a forever picture onto your mind’s eye. Matthew had a follow-up doctor’s appointment with a couple of his ENT specialists down at Jefferson. All the kids came along, and we maneuvered the parking garage, elevators, city blocks and waiting room chairs. The first doctor took a look down his throat, through his nose. I have been to every appointment where he has been scoped, and have seen enough inflammation to know the moment the picture came on the screen, that this was “normal”. I videoed the procedure and now have something with which to compare it. These are screen shots of a cell phone video… but if you have any sort of medical background you’ll probably be able to see the difference between the two:
His first doctor said, “What are you doing?” Matthew told him he’s been keeping a pretty strict diet, exercising, plus added some supplements which have been really helping. “Well, whatever you’re doing, keep doing!” were his instructions. He said he had never seen his throat and nose look that good. In his words: “I see no evidence of disease at all. There is no inflammation.” He was so pleased. The second doctor was even more flabbergasted. Especially when he learned Matthew is no longer on any prescription meds. “There is no crusting in your sinuses whatsoever. Not even a bit. It looks completely clean as a whistle. What are you doing differently?” he asked. So Matthew told him about Plexus and how we’ve been taking supplements which target gut health, inflammation and balancing blood sugar. He was super interested and wanted to know a bit more about it. Then he said, “Keep doing what you’re doing!” and asked for more information. This journey of a decade has seen us sitting in MANY waiting room chairs. More doctor dates than I can count. I am so thankful for the many people who have prayed and supported us through this journey. It feels like the end of a really difficult race, yet I know it’s actually the beginning of a new lap in life. One of the hardest turns was two years ago. These verses spoke into the darkness which threatened to swallow us in that hospital room:
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1)
Today I feel like the last part of those verses has come to a sort of fruition. We know there has been much glory and praise given to our GREAT God and deliverer today. Because of what He has done through our circumstances, we are unable to keep our mouths shut.
I want to take it a step further here. We feel like nothing which has happened to us has been for nothing. If our story helps one person, it has been worth it. Yet, we don’t want to just be an encouraging story you read. We want our story to stir you into action. Yeah, it’s not easy to change your lifestyle, eat a whole new way and exercise when it’s almost never convenient. And if I used strong language I would insert it here. It also SURE ISN’T EASY to sit in a hospital and wonder if your life will be taken away or spared. That changes you. It changed us to action, research, questioning everything, and trying new things. Our story is not over, but it’s been an incredible page-turner so far. Everyone’s health journey is SO personal and intimate to them. But if I could look you straight in the eye and beg you not to wait until it’s too late to get a hold of your health, I would.
We’ve been trudging through a pile of puzzle pieces for so long, and both feel that Plexus has been that last missing piece, bringing everything together. Because his gut is healing, other things are happening. In four months, Matthew feels better than he ever has on any prescription meds. The amount of reading and research I’ve done has solidified my belief. Now to have two elite specialists giving us their thumbs up: incredible.
I love this picture of Betty and him counting to 100 while they waited for the doctor to come. I get choked up in humble thanksgiving that our children are blessed with such an amazing dad. His faith, endurance, and gentleness stand out to me the most.
Thank you for praising with us together tonight!
This week in school has been busy! We made gliders in Science class one day to learn about drag and experiment with a long skinny wing vs a short and wide wing… which flies further? It’s always fun when school can be brought outside.
Our sidewalk always needs a sweep, and we have a few kids who adore sweeping. I love her joy and I also love her outfit… which has been going strong for three days now. I think it’s one of her favorites too!
I’m thankful for homeschooling, but by three o’clock my brain is toast and I need a few minutes of alone time. The other day Betty, who’s middle name is shadow, said, “I really want to follow you because I have a lot of stuff to say to you!” I mean, really. How do you not squeeze someone like that? She’s also very perceptive of when I need a break. A couple days ago, she happened to be walking up the stairs behind me as I retreated to my room for a few minutes of silence. She immediately said, “I’m not following you, mom.” I laughed on the inside, and her wit started the process of melting away the stress of that day. She is loving Kindergarten. She constantly wants to do more and learn more.
Elijah continues to invent, experiment and build. He got over his fear and mastered a front flip off the diving board this summer. He almost made me dive headfirst into our grill while I was flipping hamburgers the other night, when he snuck up behind me and scared the living daylights out of me! He’s a great big brother. He loves music and his guitar lesson is the highlight of his week.
Nadine is doing great in school. She loves her time with her rabbits. Yes, Oreo is really jumping into the air. He races around our front porch and Nadine says he’s happy when he does that. I don’t speak bunny, but she does. She occasionally babysits now, which she enjoys very much! She is super into coloring to de-stress, and continues to be the best letter-writer in the County!
Jack keeps improving on his reading. He is strong and a perfectionist. He enjoys competing with Matthew and one day he will beat him, I’m sure! He totally beats me in pull-ups, push-ups and the like. He loves to play with coins and carry them around in a sock.
Elsie is a great big sister. She and Betty still enjoy twinning some days. She is very much into gymnastics, even though not officially taking lessons. She watched some YouTube videos and learned how to do a back bend, and how to do a back pullover on the bars! She has turned into a bookworm, and I love that her favorite book right now was one of my favorite books when I was her age: Annie Oakley! She constantly is tidying up around the house, and more than a few times I have come upstairs at the end of the day to find the bathroom scrubbed, or my bed made. She is a strong girl with a lot of determination!
In a few weeks Matthew & I will be running the Ragnar relay again. So I’ve been running a lot. Since we started taking Plexus and my blood sugar has been stabilizing, I actually sweat now. I never used to sweat, and so this is a new phenomenon for me and I text way too many pictures of my sweaty face to Matthew because it tickles me… literally! When I’m not running or teaching school, I’m IN school or in our kitchen. Things I study: I’m still studying to become a certified aromatherapist, which I love and dive into when there’s a free evening. Also, constantly researching gut health. My favorite beverage is a tumeric latte, which helps with inflammation. It’s a sad evening when the whole thing spills all over the table and dyes the floor yellow. It’s amazing stuff.
Time with Matthew is incredibly precious. The other night we were able to slip away for a little date. I pulled out some shoes I haven’t worn since I was a teenager. Fun times!
In closing, I’ll attach a video we made yesterday. In science we decided to conduct a little experiment about a product in our house we generally think is “healthy”. But is it? Check it out to see our amateur video attempts. This was our first run through, and the kids thought the humor was fun so here it is. First cut. Enjoy!
We were created to be free. One of my favorite things about being a child of God is the freedom we have in Christ. Why has Christ set us free from sin and death? For the incredible and awesome status of “free”. Free to love beyond ourselves. Free to truly live and not just exist. We were on those slave blocks. Half-naked, humiliated, alone. Sin had us bought and mocked and tortured some more. Deep inside all of us is this yearning for freedom. Real freedom. Not the freedom from our own procuring, like sneaking out the house at night in search of exhilarating freedom, yet being burdened with guilt instead. Not like a runaway slave who is constantly looking over their shoulder in fear. Freedom in Christ is freedom FROM guilt and fear. It is living truly free. Free to be at peace with our life today and eternally.
My heart hurts when I see God’s children becoming slaves all over again to fear and guilt. The very reason our freedom was bought at such a cost was so we wouldn’t have to be burdened ever again. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Did you hear that? It’s like a slave being bought from the tortured life of slavery, being given every privilege of a free man, yet still beating themselves every night for old times’ sake. It’s a mockery of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. And it’s exactly where our enemy wants us to be. If we aren’t taking full advantage of our freedom in Christ, he wins. Because his tactics are to lure us into self-made cages of fear and guilt. As long as we’re in bondage again to fear, we are powerless. Scared stiff.
I’ve been really convicted about being unafraid of doing hard things. We all have hard things. Everyone’s story is different. We simply can not compare each other’s journeys. We’re all running the race, and it’s a good thing we’re not all the same pace. Just like running, though, the goal is not to quit. On our journey, we’ve had some hard stuff. Our hard has often revolved around health and money. In fact, last month, the two year anniversary of our hardest battle yet, came and went without me even thinking about it! I praise the Lord for a healthy marriage, despite unhealthy bodies. More recently, our hard has been the climbing out of the pit we’ve been diving in and out of for the past ten years. It’s because of the freedom we have in Christ we have been able to keep going.
Maybe Paul was a runner too, because he often referenced our life to a race. In a race, you’re exhausted, sometimes unsure of how to make the next step, and usually right about the time you feel like quitting, someone with a cup of cold water or a really encouraging word yelled in your direction puts a new strength to your legs and a renewed desire to finish well.
We all have stories. I actually made a short video about our journey so far. I call it ten years condensed into less than five minutes. Consider it a cup of cold water if perhaps you are going through a hard mile. We’re not there yet, but I can fully and earnestly say, thus far the Lord has helped us!
School has started in full swing this week. We’re reading, incorporating more fun, and lessons are shorter and more varied than previous years. It’s pretty exciting to be coloring a map and have to say, “Ok, put your map away until next week!” and hear groans all around the table. Today in school, besides reading about the Oregon Trail and decimals, Elijah made this fabulous K’Nex slap shot set-up and we had fun filming our version of Dude Perfect.
In science we learned all about air pressure. The moving air across the top of the straw could not press down as hard on the water in the straw. Since the water inside the straw wasn’t being pushed down as hard as the water in the cup, it was pushed out of the straw! The spray surprised us all!
Reading, writing, drawing, coloring, making movies, and much more have been scattered across the hours. Right now our house looks like a whole lot of action has been had inside its walls. Canning and running and sweating were all a part of our day, and my body is aching to fall into bed.
A little chalkboard fun; making a movie about The Enlarging Machine, Jack is a master builder with pennies; Betty was proud of her sunshines she made out of K’Nex; coloring, sword drills, and a little Pink Drink make our mornings fun.