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The Day I Almost Sold It

Her stomach had knots in it as she strode down the street of Philadelphia.  She was alone, without her four children, and her husband was at work.  He worked so hard and so long without complaint.  Maybe what she was about to do would ease the burden just a little bit.  Her thumb impulsively twirled the diamond ring on her left hand, like it had done for the past ten years, and she remembered the day he proposed.  After a silly argument the previous night, they were standing on their special rock in the middle of a stream.  He had the ring in his pocket.  His plan of proposing on the rock was thwarted when it began to rain.  So they ran over slippery rocks to some shelter, where he popped the question.  The argument from the night before faded into forgetfulness.  Never had she seen anything so gorgeous.  So much hard work and saving had gone into it, and she wore it with an incredible sense of awe.  It was square, just like she had hoped it would be. The way it sparkled made her think of the brilliant stars in the African sky of her childhood.

She stepped into the doorway of the first shop on Jewelers Row.  It was where her ring was first bought.  She nervously took it off her finger and asked the jeweler if he would buy it back.  A feeling of relief swept over her when he said he wouldn’t.  Then just as quickly, the knot formed again when he pointed her to another shop that might.

She gulped past the lump which was forming in her throat now and walked back onto the city streets.  What would he say when she told him?  The man of her dreams, who worked so hard for their family.  She had already sold her favorite camera he had given her their first year of marriage.  And almost anything else she could get her hands on to help contribute to their ever growing family.  He wouldn’t yell at her, she knew.  He loved her far more than any material possession they owned.  Yet, what would be his reaction?  She had been thinking about this for a long time, and hated to think about how he might feel.  So she didn’t think.  She walked straight into the second shop and held up her ring.

How much is it worth? She asked, knowing the answer they gave her wouldn’t match what was her heart was screaming back in answer.  Three-hundred dollars, he was telling her, while her mind kept saying: Priceless.

Three hundred-dollar bills.  They would buy groceries for the next month.  They would take a small load from her husband’s shoulders.  But they would swiftly disappear, and she would stare at her naked finger for years to come.  She thanked the man and walked out onto the street.  Her heart was pounding.  She didn’t know how God would provide for them that week, but she knew she had made the right decision.  Tears streamed down her cheeks, as the glorious reminder of sacrificial love sparkled back at her from her left hand.

That young bride?  She still wears the ring with much gratefulness.  That young bride is me.

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Cheveux Blancs

Yesterday we went to an auction for the kids’ school.  It was full of incredible things to buy and I found myself more than once getting caught up in the heart-pounding adventure of raising my little number and making eye contact with the auctioneer.  A quick nod to stay in the running.  Swifter and less complicated than figuring out if a credit card is facing the right way and much faster than signing my name.  Then the words, “SOLD!” and a nod to my trembling little self as I REALLY hoped I followed the auctioneer’s sing-song voice correctly.  Yes, I paid twenty dollars for two homemade pizzas.  Not one-hundred and twenty.  Big sigh of relief.  A few times I wasn’t positive.  Or I was sure the number was at fifteen when it in fact had soared to FIFTY.  I didn’t walk away with a few of the items I had my eye on, but some delicious pizzas and a home-cooked chicken BBQ dinner to be picked up in a couple of weeks, were some of my claims.  Harry fell asleep on my chest, lulled by the smooth cadence of the auctioneer’s voice.  I found myself toe-tapping a few times because it was just that catchy.


Speaking of school, Nadine and Elijah absolutely love it.  They are making friends and growing deeper in their own personal ways.  It is a joy to watch.  Their teachers are incredible and it’s very evident they love what they do.  The bus comes bright and early for them, and that’s been a nice break for me to not have to drive them each morning, but I still pick them up occasionally, because it’s a consensus that the drive home is one of our favorite parts of school.  To hear about their day, talk about deep teenager things and debrief about life.  In a year someone will be practicing to get their driver’s license, and I know this job won’t be mine anymore.  My stomach kind of does a weird flip flop when I think about that.

Nadine is playing junior varsity soccer after school every day.  She is a fantastic babysitter on the weekends, and is an incredible big sister.  She knows how to make her little sisters feel loved, whether it means asking Elsie to help her with her homework (which is her cup of sweet tea!) or reading Betty a story.

Elijah has a natural bent towards photography, and is enjoying taking a class about it in school.  He is even acting as a pinch-hitter for the toothfairy… who kind of retired about five years ago.  And he’s much more creative too, leaving teeny tiny fairy-sized notes.  Last month we had the privilege of having my dear sweet childhood friend, Nadine, for a night.  It was a joy-filled 24 hours.2017-08-06 17.33.19

Jack practices his math skills, then works on flips.  He reads through his spelling list, then works on flips.  He plays with legos, then works on flips.  He eats an apple, then works on flips.  About half of his day is spent in flipping motion. IMG_4048[1] His hand is all healed from the last break, and he promptly did the trick which broke it in the first place.  A living breathing example of not letting our fears of past failures paralyze us from action.  Wrestling started up again, and it’s a privilege to have this one-on-one time with him when I drive him to practice.  He has a favorite play list of songs and I can guess which ones he will pick for our drive.  The other night he told me he wanted to treat me to a coffee after practice.  So we drove through Starbucks and he bought me a drink with his own money.  He’s practically my size, but how did it happen so fast?  I’m sitting here on our living room couch with his baby blanket wrapped around my legs.

Elsie had her hair cut this week for the first time in a long while.  She also got new specs, which make her look older.  It’s hard to believe in only 6 months we will have FOUR children in double digits.  Right now we’re sitting at half and half, but the ratios are changing and our tribe is maturing.  Elsie keeps me inspired.  She loves order and neatness and has always had an eye for design.  She rearranges furniture like a pro, and I’m not sure between the two of us, who is more excited for our living room renovation to be completed.  2017-09-21 22.30.51

Betty keeps our world going around, with her practical no-nonsense self and sage-like wisdom.  She can’t be intimidated by a messy diaper, a blood-gushing wound, or a stomach bug.  However, keep her up past her bedtime and things can unwind rather quickly.  2017-09-12 17.07.20-2She cracks us up with her dry sense of humor.  The other day I remarked about Elsie being my right hand girl, since she had been cleaning all day.  Betty replied in her dry way, “She’s a lefty.  I’m a righty.”  I about died.  She snaps her fingers too.  This morning she woke up with a smudged rainbow sneaking out from under her bangs from the fair yesterday at school.  She’s trying to “collect money” which is why she is “trying to loose teeth”.  2017-09-20 13.56.36

Harry.  Just saying his name makes me smile and chuckle and wonder what he will learn and pick up today.  Every day it’s something different.  He can communicate when he’s hungry, say please and thank you in sign language, and blows us kisses.  When he says thank you, he swings his arm vigorously against his cheek or ear.  He knows so many words!  Banana, bath, ball, bus, hot, and can mimic everyone’s names… although most of them sound like “Elijah”.  He is a huge fan of Alexa, the Amazon Bluetooth speaker.  Sometimes he yells at it with a smile: “A-le-le!” and when we tell it to say, “Hello, Harry,” he can hardly contain himself.  He loves to purse his lips and whistle.  I’ve never had a baby who can whistle, and he surprises himself every time.

He loves to eat everything.  Enchiladas, chili, curry, sweet potato pancakes, guacamole, African food, bagels, yogurt, kefir, crepes, fruit, peppers, lemons… he loves to eat.

And all the praise hands: he is sleeping through the night now, for about 11 hours.  Not exactly sure how it happened, but about a month ago he just did.  Right around the time when I started weaning him.  He nurses once a day now.

Matthew’s work is going very well.  He has had a lot of doctor’s visits as well.  We’re actually excited about having another surgery at the end of October to dilate his epiglottis which will hopefully help his breathing improve!  We had a lovely experience this month called Dîner en Blanc.  It was a magical night in a cleared out section of someone’s backyard forest, with long wooden tables and white lights strung throughout the trees.  Everyone brought a picnic supper and we shared our table with friends dressed in white.  2017-09-14 09.15.40That’s not the only thing that’s white around here.  As I type, Betty is brushing my hair.  She keeps me humble with her honest chatter: “I just saw a GREY HAIR!”
I asked her: “What do you think about it?”
“Weird.” Then she yelled across the room:  “Elsie! Mom’s growing white hair.  What if dad is??  You’re both getting OLD!”  It is our motto, after all. Grow old with me.  Old and white-haired and better by the day.  I’ll hold up my number to that every day, heart pounding, until my dying breath.


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Keeping it Sparky

Last night was kind of epic.  Thank you to everyone who was praying for Matthew to find the right truck.  He did!  It is exciting and we’re so thankful!
2017-09-01 21.25.44-2 Last night also brought some much-needed healing to a rough patch we were having.  I’ll be honest.  The last few months have held a boatload of challenges.  The last fourteen days alone have felt like a few months worth of struggles condensed into two weeks. There is a war going on, and we are being distracted to death to try and forget about it.  The enemy isn’t interested in messing with you if you don’t pose any threat to his agenda.  And his agenda is pretty simple really: to make us ineffective.  To get us to quit trying and to quit working hard on things which bring God glory.  When we no longer feel like something is worth fighting for, we quit.

So while every space of our day has been full of doing things which are expected of us, all of a sudden we were staring at each other yesterday as if we were complete strangers.  This has happened before, so we know the warning signs.  And knowing warning signs and heeding them is vital to having a healthy marriage.  We’re faced with two choices: sit back, relax, (or stay inanely busy), hope the other person will notice the distance you’re feeling, and just wait.  The longer you wait for the other person to act, the farther the distance grows.  The less keen it is felt, too, because eventually it feels normal to be living with a stranger.  We’re very adaptable as people, and we will adjust our thinking and calendars to make this way of living with our spouse feel normal.  Soon we’re desensitized to the fact that we are supposed to be lovers, not just co-inhabitants.

The second choice is to roll up your sleeves and fight.  More honestly, we should be doing a lot more than just rolling up our sleeves.  If you aren’t having sex with your spouse at least a couple times a week, this should be a warning sign.  I get it, there are times when that is impossible.  But those are the exceptions, not the norm.  We have had difficult pregnancies and much sickness in our almost 16 years of marriage.  I get it.  But I also know there is a huge white elephant in our bedrooms, and married folks aren’t having enough sex.  It’s all about NOT having sex before marriage (which is a whole ‘nother topic) but hardly anyone talks about the importance of having PLENTY of it WHEN married!

I’m not okay with fake plastic marriages.  God isn’t either.  Nothing is past His ability to heal, restore and revive.  If He can raise people from the dead, He can do the same for marriages too!  The thing about marriage is, it’s actual hard work.  We are so conditioned to shirk away from anything too hard or too challenging.  Yet every single thing which requires hard work to maintain or improve, is worth fighting for.  Marriage isn’t a disposable plate or a frozen dinner which leaves us feeling used or sick. (If this is you, please, please seek help!) It’s hand-made pottery with intricate painted designs and the most delicious homemade spread, leaving us feeling cherished and refreshed.  This is how God, who created marriage, designed it to be.

Matthew is an incredibly easy person to love.  Except when he isn’t.  And I’m super easy to love.  Except when I’m not.  If we only focus on the “when they’re not easy to love” moments… those moments start defining the other person.  I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but if you’re human, you’ve struggled or are struggling in your marriage right now.  Beg God to soften both of your hearts to see your spouse through new eyes.  Whatever you’re feeling is missing, they probably are feeling it too.  Whatever you wish they would do for you, they are probably wishing you would do for them.  If you’re lonely, they’re lonely too.  I realize some people might be truly in the trenches right now and I don’t want to sound like: one-two-three and it will all be fixed.  There are no quick abracadabra magical formulas to make everything all better.  But there is hope.

Another tactic the enemy uses a lot is this thought that we are the only ones struggling.  Everyone else looks fine, so we must be the only ones weathering this storm.  The truth is, we’ve all become much too good at chucking our umbrellas or stashing our life vests when people are looking at us.  Hiding anything that shows we are only surviving.  When we feel alone, we are in a very vulnerable place.  Be careful.  When God saw that Adam was alone, He said this was NOT good.  So if you’re married and feeling alone, something is not right.  You are not alone in the struggle.  Reach out for some help if you need to!

By God’s grace, we are where we are today.  I know chronic illness has been something which could have destroyed our marriage.  But God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.  He has used it to bring about so much good, even though it continues to be something that in and of itself is really very difficult.

This wasn’t easy to write.  I mean, first of all, my parents and in-laws usually read this, and why does that feel awkward?  Then I remember: they all know we do have six children.  Speaking of children, the second reason for this being difficult to write is: my kids read this.  But we’re pretty open about this topic and I know they feel secure that we fight for our marriage.  And maybe one of them reading this will remember where our bedroom door key is and return it.  Hmmm.  Lastly, because it is such a sensitive and prevalent issue, I know it’s going to cause some ripples.  I kinda feel like I’ve lit an explosive and am crouching in the corner, waiting for it to blow.  But the truth is, I haven’t lit something with the intent to cause damage.  A fire has been lit, yes.  But not all fires cause harm.  I pray the flame starts its journey towards many people’s hearts, because at the end are some of the most amazing fireworks you have ever seen.  Be ready.  Your marriage is about to explode.

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Six Dollar Car Wash and Shattered Glass

If you’ve ever wondered how many times you’re allowed to go through a carwash on one $6 purchase, the answer is at least four.  On Monday morning I drove the kids to school in my dad’s car.  So thankful we are able to borrow it while he and my mom are in Africa right now.  On Friday we had a glass shattering accident with Silver Belle (our van) which has left us without a vehicle.  More on that later. I can only fit 4 kids at a time in the car, so there is always a shuffling around to make it work.  After I dropped the older two off at school, I swung back home to pick up the middle crew since Jack had a dentist appointment.  Shortly after we arrived, some dear sweet friends we haven’t seen in much too long, started piling into the waiting room with us.  My entire weekend had been pretty shaken up with the accident and I was battling some discouraging thoughts.  You know how after being with certain friends for even five minutes changes your entire outlook on life?  That’s how this mama is to me.  You should check out her journey.  Between the two of us, we have 15 children.  We left the dentist office blessed and refreshed.  She even scheduled her follow up visit to match our follow up visit so we can hang out again in the waiting room together again in a few weeks.  Yeah.  She rocks!

From there, we headed over to the carwash, because my dad’s car needed a bath.  Plus, it’s fun.  We paid $6 for the express wash then drove into the tunnel, paying close attention to the traffic light telling me to “enter slowly”.  I drove ahead until it said “STOP”.  Then it told me to drive forward again.  Stop.  Drive forward.  Stop.  Then it started and soap sprayed all over the car, but the brushes only barely touched the back bumper.  A few seconds later, the light told me to exit slowly.  Say what?  I parked the rather soapy car in front of the gas station and stated my problem to the owners.  A very Italian man smiled and coached me on the skills of carwash etiquette, because how I described what happened must have sounded like I truly had never gone through a carwash before.  He walked out with me and told me to drive through again.  He gave me instructions on what each hand motion he would make, meant, and we tried again.  He stood at the end of the tunnel, like an air traffic controller about to land a jumbo jet.  Except he added another hand motion we didn’t go over in our briefing: “put the car in park”.  It looked a whole lot like “Back Up”, so I did.  Slowly, of course.  The loud “exit slowly” buzzer came on.  He shook his head and motioned for me to circle around again.  He typed another pass into the little computer thing while I drove to the entrance.  The second attempt was better.  Not correct, but better.  Something happened which forced me to circle yet again.  He certainly must have thought I was fresh out of drivers ed.  Or carwash ed.  This time we had all the details worked out and I was dying of laughter.  He put on his traffic controller hat again, and this time it worked.  Harry only cried a little as the gigantic brushes scrubbed Grandpa’s little red car, which is now sparkling again.

After the carwash, I had to run to the police station to pick up the police report from the accident.  Last Friday, we were two blocks from home, driving to school.  I maneuvered down the narrow city street, noticing someone was double parked on my left.  As I navigated between his car and the other cars parallel parked, a woman to my right opened her car door as I was passing her.  The crunch was loud and sickening.  Her door was stuck in the sliding door window of our van, and the entire window shattered into a spider web.
2017-08-25 08.10.56Thankfully no one was hurt, but I did start to cry.  The second day of school, and we would be late.  The van was a mess.  To make matters worse, the party involved refused to take responsibility and mouthed off to the police officers.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience.  Now the insurance companies have to figure out what really happened since it is now word against word.  At the police station, I obtained the report no problem.  Harry was totally enamored with the receptionist.  He is usually serious towards strangers, but something about her sweet face turned him into a sunbeam!  It was darling.  I think we will need to go back just to say hello.

Much happened during those first 3 hours on Monday.  Tuesday found us at the eye doctor.  Jack and Elsie both need new glasses.  More dentist appointments and doctor appointments coming up too.  Then we’re all caught up on WELL visits for at least 6 months.  ALL THE PRAISE HANDS!  Matthew still has regular checkups to keep tabs on what’s going on in his unique, anatomically incorrect sinuses.

Nadine and Elijah absolutely love school.  We had our first parent/teacher back to school night last night and got to meet each teacher and hear how God is blessing them there.  So thankful for the input of others into their lives.

Our other three students begin school next month here at home.  Harry blends into the mix in his own sweet way.  As Betty said while she helped me at the store yesterday: “You are just such a precious child!”  Yes, yes he is.

No dentists, doctors or grocery stores in the mix for today, but there is plenty of laundry to do.  I’m going to pretend my laundry detergent is like the widow’s oil which didn’t run out until she didn’t need it any more.  Because it looks like there is only one more load’s worth left in the container, but I have a few more loads to do than that.  And as trivial and trite a need that is (because I know the detergent I ordered is on its way soon, and hey… I’m cool not doing laundry for a few days) we do have a true and real need right now.  Matthew needs a work truck by this weekend, so we pray and look and wait and anticipate that answer to prayer!  And maybe we’ll celebrate its arrival by… a carwash or three!


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Scars That Change Us

Last night everything felt off.  A deep sadness overwhelmed me.  I couldn’t even explain the tears that welled up while I sat on the front porch, with my feet propped up on Matthew’s lap, my hand in his.  The day had not been a bad one.  It found me outside, staring into my empty cereal box, like the rest of America, to see as much of the solar eclipse as we were granted.  A 73% eclipse isn’t too bad, actually.  The crickets started chirping and the atmosphere got a bit cooler and almost orange, like when a thunderstorm is rolling through but it’s still sunny outside.  Harry busily put tiny rocks into his mouth and then spit them out every time I made a “blah” sound.2017-08-21 14.22.29

Yet I couldn’t shake this feeling.

Then this morning I woke up to a precious text from one of my best friends, reminding me what had happened four years ago.  When I had called her in the middle of the night to pray.  When I stared at the dark, stormy ocean I thought for sure would swallow life that night.  I clung to my Bible that night, tears wrinkling the pages of the Psalms I read, while I stared at Matthew in the hospital bed.  He was very still, struggling to breath, but the amount of steroids they gave him over the course of the night and into the morning saved his life, and he emerged smiling, yet with very little voice.  Subglottic stenosis.  His airway was but a pinhole the night before, which has altered his voice ever since.  Scars do that.  They change us.

Then another precious text from another dear friend.  She reminded me that it’s okay to both grieve and rejoice.  To lay my grief at one altar and my thanksgiving at another.  Thanksgiving, so I never become bitter, and grief, so I never make an idol out of the blessing and gifts God has given.  So, even though it’s been four years, I do touch that scar and let the tears flow a bit.  Feeling the gift that it is, because it is a rich reminder of His Presence which always goes before us.  He gathers our tears in a bottle, and knows which ones are from grief and which ones are from thankfulness.  Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits. Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases!

I asked Matthew how he feels today, and he simply said: “I feel amazed.”  He is playing soccer tonight and preaching the gospel!  There’s a WHOLE lot of thanksgiving about that!

Yesterday marked another momentous occasion as well.  Matthew officially began working for himself again.  Weldon Carpentry is back in business, and we are both excited for this new chapter.  We are praying for a work truck for him, so if anyone has any leads, we’re all ears!  We’re excited to see how God will provide!

Well, tomorrow is the first day of highschool for Nadine and Elijah.  We have an incredibly early start, and I’m a bundle of nerves for them.  I sense a whole lot of growth in the upcoming months.  As I have pondered the past 9 months, our family has experienced six huge NEW changes.  Yet nothing surprises the One who orchestrates the perfect alignment of the earth, moon, and sun.  Nothing is beyond His ability.  Nothing is impossible.  From solar eclipses to subglottic scars to unbelievable struggles which leave invisible marks… He is aware of it all and cares so very much about me and you.


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Three Cheers for Ear Tubes

Six kids in their beds at three thirty in the afternoon.  My cup of tea is steaming next to me and a cool breeze is blessing my shoulders.  I almost didn’t want to write all of that, and if I was superstitious, I would hunt down some wood to knock on right now.  Half an hour ago, it was pretty much the opposite!  Electric guitar blaring, tears, running in circles.  Hold on.  Scratch the “everyone being in their beds” part.  One just crawled out from underneath MY bed.  At least they’re quiet.  And that’s what mama needs right now.  2017-07-13 14.24.24It’s been a wonderful yet challenging summer for us!  Living in a half-torn-up living area, and lots of doctors visits for Matthew.  This morning was his 10th visit this year to his ENT’s.  It included another tube put in the one ear, which should provide some much-needed relief from a ton of pressure he’s been having!  In addition to the infusions last month, it’s been a lot.  Frankly, it stinks.  Because even though everything looks really clear (yay!) his entire ear nose and throat anatomy is not the way it was before Wegener’s.  It’s not even the same as it was a few years ago!  His body doesn’t have the ability to naturally move mucous from his nose and sinuses to his throat.  He rinses 3-4 times a day with saline just to keep it as clear as possible.  Even then, junk starts to collect, because there is only so much a couple pints of salt water can do.  We take stock in sea salt, and (next to me) the neti pot is his best friend.  We live in exciting times, where super smart people are inventing things and even surgeries he’s had done in the past are more laparoscopic than ten or two years ago!  So, perhaps something will become available in the future to help repair the scar tissue and missing parts in his upper respiratory system that have gone AWAL from this disease.  We are incredibly grateful for the good care of his doctors.  We have been encouraged by them to keep taking our favorite supplements, which target gut health, balance and inflammation, and to stay consistent with an anti-inflammatory diet.  What a gift to have doctors who have the incredible expertise and knowledge as they do, and who also encourage plant-based medicine as much as possible!

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Our attempt at a family “us-ie” was almost successful. Accidentally, Betty’s sweet face isn’t there… More practice is needed!

After many many late night classes and studying, I am now a Certified Natural Health Professional.  My goal is to continue to use what God has taught me and is continuing to teach me… through our own health journey, and being a CNHP, to educate and encourage others in their health journeys! 2017-07-26 15.09.47Our four oldest kiddos went to soccer camp last week.  It was wild being a mom of two again.  Betty couldn’t stop saying how “peaceful” it was.  She cracks me up every day!  Like yesterday, when I pulled up to the curb to park.  Parallel parking in Silver Belle is becoming more second nature, but it’s still challenging to line up a 12-passenger van on a city street.  As we got out she said, “Let’s see how you parked.”  Thankfully, I “passed”, because she gave me two thumbs up. “Pretty good!”

Harry continues to melt our hearts into puddles, all over, every day.  At 8 months, he has four teeth now and loves to eat absolutely everything.  Recent discoveries being fished out of his mouth include a mancala piece, legos, an ear bud, a bug, egg shells, rocks, drywall, and spackle.  This does not include the disgusting little bits of food that I never knew existed underneath the refrigerator and dishwasher… until a crawling baby whose favorite pastime is finding tiny chokable bits and pieces wherever his darling chubby fingers can reach!  He loves to wave “bye-bye”, drink out of a straw, make car sounds, bang things together, and call his favorite elephant “Bo-bo”.

Nadine & Elijah start high school in one month.  We all have an element of nervous excitement about this brand new experience!  Now that I’m able to take a break from my classes, it’s time to start school planning for the other three.  Elsie, my resident interior designer, has plans and ideas of making one of the bedrooms into a school room.  This idea is under discussion.  If baby brother would consistently sleep through the night, I would be much more inclined to the idea!  Stay tuned.

Well, my hour is up, and every. single. child. has come to my room.  Haha!  Time to get a celebratory dinner together!  Cheers to big dreams, becoming a CNHP, a new ear tube, and a beautiful life!


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Milk Bath

This morning I woke up a little after 4 o’clock, feeling very uncomfortable and wet.  “Oh no,” I said out loud, not really sure why I wanted sympathy, but just that I did.  Matthew was sleeping too soundly to hear me, though.  Yesterday I had washed and line-dried our sheets.  Of course.  This morning I woke up in a puddle of milk.  Which meant one thing: Harry had slept through the night for the first time in awhile.  He had been doing really well before we did our traveling to Nevada, then Tennessee.  So, I was glad for the sleep, but super uncomfortable.  Somehow I managed to go back to sleep for a couple more hours, and woke up to a chattering baby, who had happily slept 12 hours.  I had prayed the night before with the girls: “Father, please help Harry to just sleep.  He’s chubby enough and doesn’t need the milk.”  We all burst out laughing at the cute picture instantly painted in our mind’s eye: thighs for days that squish and squish.  He answered our prayer, though!

Harry is certainly chubby.  We squeal over him every day.  He is seven months old and loves to babble and crawl and get into everything everyone is doing.  He is a tiny human vacuum cleaner.  Whatever doesn’t stick to his onesie, gets put into his mouth.  Today alone I’ve fished out a tortilla chip, a rock, a dice, and a bug.  This morning he found an apple core and was like a puppy who had found a bone.  I watched him chomp on it for awhile, but once he started to bite off pretty substantial pieces, I had to take it away.  He did not like that.  He is a foodie through and through.  He eats and loves whatever you put in his mouth.  We do a little pureed baby food, but he would prefer small bites of chicken, or curry, or eggs, or chili, or lemons.  He loves them all!

This week the two oldest kiddos are away at teen camp.  It is so quiet!  Betty burst into tears yesterday because she missed Nadine so much.  It is SO much fun having teenagers.  There are stormy moments, but we are all learning this together.  We encourage communication, not stuffing of feelings.  If someone is being selfish, serving someone else is a wonderful antidote.  Late night porch talks are their favorite thing.  A big change is on the horizon this year.  Nadine and Elijah will both be going to Linville Hill Christian School this fall for high school.  It was a huge decision but one we are all excited about!

Jack had an acrobatic accident last month which landed him with a spiral fracture of three bones in his right hand.  Nadine recorded the flip before the flip that broke his hand.  It was impressive.  After a month in a cast, he has only one more week of a brace.  He is back to flips and tricks.  Can’t keep a strong young man down!  The only positive side to having his hand in a cast was that he was opted out of writing assignments the last month of school.

Elsie is my resident interior designer.  She rearranges their room almost weekly.  She actually rearranged the dining room last month with smashing success.  I came home to a new look and liked it even better than how it was before!  She has an eye for design with clothing too.  She is starting to bake more, though she prefers riding her bike or swimming.

Betty is a proud second grader.  She loves to read and reads well! Sometimes the words that pop out of her mouth surprise us with their seasoned-sounding wisdom.  Other times she just makes us laugh with her dry sense of humor.  The other day the girls were walking around with their clipboards taking orders and having us sign our names a hundred times for various reasons.  She came up to me and asked if they could have a bowl of pretzels.  “Sign ‘yes’ or ‘no’ next to your name.  Don’t write maybe.  This is a yes or no question.”  I about died.  Then she asked me, “Is your name Amy?  Can I call you Amy?”  This morning we were moving out a bookshelf I had sold online.  Betty took a look at it and said, “How old is that?  It looks like it’s from 1994!”  The laughing emoji face is constantly circling around my head when that girl talks.

This morning Matthew finished up with his third out of four infusions.  His voice seems to be a tad bit better, though we only have symptoms to base any improvements off of right now til he gets his next round of bloodwork done.  We sometimes battle discouragement, but we know that doesn’t get us anywhere.  Yesterday I read a familiar and comforting verse: “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”  It always pops into my daily reading at a time when something larger than I can comprehend is happening.  I remember when Matthew and I were dating and it seemed like we would never be able to get married.  He was, after all, a teenager.  It was one of the hardest waiting times of our life.  Each season is a stepping stone to the next.  Like trees coming to life in spring and then preparing themselves for fall and winter… each season has a purpose and a beauty all its own.  We can declare with surety and confidence that up until today, the Lord has helped us.  He will never quit being Who He is.  He is worthy of our trust and confidence.

We’ve done a lot of traveling already this year!  Matthew and I enjoyed traveling to Las Vegas for the annual Plexus convention.  I’m over halfway through my studies to become a CNHP (Certified Natural Health Professional).  Ever since highschool, I’ve been passionate about how our bodies work.  I’m absolutely thrilled to have this avenue of study to learn more and this area of work to help people with gut health!  It’s so exciting to hear all of the stories that come my way every single day.

Hopefully it won’t be so long between the next journal entry!  Here is a small camera dump of the past month!