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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!


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The Time I Almost Killed My Husband

Sometimes text messages can be a bit confusing and misconstrued.  A quick reply without an associated emoji can almost come across as being snippy. Wait too long to reply, and someone might think you’re purposefully ignoring them.  Reply too quickly, and it might arrive in the wrong order.  Like the time Matthew wrote: “I am so in love with you, Amy, and so very proud to know you as my bride!”  Which came through just as I was hitting “send”, in reply ANOTHER message which required me to apologize.  It read, “I know.  I’m sorry.”  And thus miscommunication is born.  Thankfully, we were able to laugh about that one, but there have definitely been times where miscommunication almost killed us.  Literally.

We were married for only a few months when the first instance occurred.  Matthew had been working so hard and was exhausted.  Naturally, he fell asleep at bedtime like any normal hard-working man would do.  I had been home by myself all day, rather hormonal, pregnant, and having loads of things to talk about.  (This was before texting, for all of you young readers out there).  He lay there next to me, his deep and steady breathing signaling to me that sleep had overtaken him.  I, on the other hand, just lay there wide awake.  I started to think things like this:

Doesn’t he KNOW I’m here?  Doesn’t he KNOW I want to talk to him?  Doesn’t he realize I have things on my mind?  I huffed and turned as noisily as I could, flopping this way and that, hoping my movement would make the point my thoughts were screaming.  He just lay there.  Breathing so peacefully.  Blissfully unaware of my needs.  The more I focused on how insensitive he was to fall asleep when I wanted to talk to him, the more angry I became.  Finally, I rolled out of bed, stormed out of the room and slammed our bedroom door as hard as I could.  I heard a huge crash and quickly turned around to open the door I had slammed.  Matthew was sitting up in our bed, looking dazed.  The gigantic bookshelf which had been above our bed, full of VERY HEAVY books, had fallen.  On his head.  Strong’s Concordance was laying on his pillow.  He looked at me and yelled: “Are you trying to KILL ME?!”  Immediately, I burst into tears.  Of course I wasn’t trying to do such a thing.  I just wanted him to wake up.  Well, he was awake.  And thus began lesson one of many called: My husband doesn’t know what I’m thinking unless I speak it out loud.

Then there was another time during the same first year of marriage when we were driving home at night in our white Subaru station wagon.  We lived in a tiny apartment in Northeast Philly.  We were both really tired, and Matthew was driving.  As we were approaching a stop sign, there was one person ahead of us.  At this point, Matthew closed his eyes for “just a few seconds”.  In those few seconds, our car drifted forward and hit the car ahead of us.  It wasn’t a huge accident, but it warranted pulling over to make sure the other car was fine.  I was about eight months pregnant at this point in time.  I remember looking over at him and probably saying something unkind.  Then, I opened the door, got out of the car, slammed the door (see a pattern?) and walked home.  Looking back, I can hardly believe I was so rude.  Matthew was left with the owner of the other car, dealing with the small fender bender, while his pregnant wife walked home in the dark to our apartment, a few blocks away.

There have been many miscommunications since then as well.  They have made us stronger and more determined than ever to be open and honest and gentle in sharing our hearts with each other.  It seems so simple, but the less time we spend on hoping the other person will catch our emotional drift, the more time we have to actually voice what we’re thinking.  Not assuming what the other person is thinking could actually save you from being hit on the head with a five-pound concordance.  And if all else fails, try yelling the word “Bubbles” in the angriest voice possible.  It’s impossible.  And you might just start laughing instead.  And the best part of every miscommunication, argument, or disagreement is making up again.

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Sometimes I’m Not Okay… and That’s Ok

Sometimes Friday comes around, and when Matthew gets home from work, we shake hands and introduce ourselves.  Does this ever happen to any other married couples?  It only takes a few days of work and collapsing into bed each night before the distance between our hearts starts to grow.  When we were dating, we could talk for hours on the phone.  Back then, we had to wait until 7 o’clock in the evening, when the “long distance” between Coatesville and Philadelphia was less expensive.  Yup.  When the time on the phone with him got excessive, my dad would highlight my conversations on our phone bill and I’d have to pay him back.   It was always worth it.  And it’s still worth the lack of sleep, to sit on the front porch to refill our emotional cups and reconnect again.  To get past the handshake stage and dig deeper.  If we only ever give each other the dregs of our day, this will eventually make us forget what it’s like to really know the other person.  Dregs are not as delicious or fulfilling as the freshly made batch of coffee or tea, or some freshly squeezed orange juice.  Allow your spouse more than just your dregs.

It’s been a tough couple of months for us.  I’ve actually been avoiding this blog.  Because I WANT everything to be okay.  I hate fake, so as to avoid writing truth, I don’t write anything at all.  But it’s been 11 doctor visits in 4 months and I completely broke down yesterday.  After our initial positive visit with Matthew’s specialist, things went slowly downhill.  He started to lose his voice and has had some sinus infections which have been incredibly persistent in nature.  Long story short, we are almost at a turning point.  Yesterday he had a biopsy taken of his sinus tissue to see if it is indeed Wegener’s flaring up again (bloodwork was iffy and inconclusive) or just a really bad infection.  Given the permanently scarred and damaged sinus cavity he has, from twelve years of surgeries and disease-damaged tissue, we know things will never be “normal” again.  It makes figuring out if a “stuffy nose” is something which warrants buying a box of tissues, or getting a round of blood work done.  I should call it LWW.  Life with Wegeners.  Remission is so fun, because this stupid disease is not the first thing people chatter to us about when they see us.  It’s awesome to feel “normal” and not like you’re wearing a t-shirt that says, “ask me how I’m feeling.”  Don’t get me wrong, we totally appreciate people’s concern for us, and how Matthew’s feeling.  But it’s so exhausting to be sick.  It’s lonely too, because you want to act like nothing is wrong, all while fighting something that is very wrong.  So I’ve somewhat angrily been avoiding this topic, because I’m so over it.  Wegeners took a back seat for two beautiful years.  It is never welcome, in my book.  Which is exactly why I’m not the one writing the story.

Someone close to us recently asked me how I was doing with Matthew being sick.  It kind of threw me for a bit, because I realized I’m not really okay.  I want to kick and scream and order a large pizza.  I’m jealous of people who can eat whatever they want and get a stinkin’ cold without worrying about it turning south.  I’m jealous of people who don’t have doctor visits flooding their calendar and drying up their bank accounts.  Then all of a sudden, I realize where I’ve gone wrong.  My eyes have completely turned from Jesus to the waves.  Like Peter, I’m sinking.  It’s not the first time.  These churning waves and I have met before.  They’re scary and ugly and as my focus turns to their depths, my faith gets lost in their darkness.

So our late night porch talk covered a lot of this, and Jesus has reminded me again of His faithfulness.  He hasn’t moved.  It’s okay to be weak, because then He is strong.  And believe me, we’re not weak in the sense of giving up.  That phrase doesn’t belong in our vocabulary: Give up.  We’re weak in our OWN strength to get through what this storm-filled life throws our way.  Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus.

When you pray for us, pray for our faith to be strengthened.  For Jesus to be glorified.  For us to be bold.  No fishy handshakes or wimpy hugs and sighs.  He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind!  Look us in the eye and remind us not to give up.  To rest, not quit.  You can ask God for healing if you want, but more importantly, please pray for our eyes to stay focused on Jesus, and our marriage to grow even deeper in love and grace.  We already know a day is coming very soon where we will be completely healed.

Now I need to go and enjoy a fresh cup of tea with my love.  It’s Saturday, and we have two full days together, and I still haven’t run out of things to talk about with him.  And there’s no long distance bill to worry about anymore.

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Milk and Algebra

Nursing a baby and helping with Algebra.  Two things I never thought I’d be doing at the same time.  Okay, I should be honest here and say I’m not actually the one helping with Algebra.  It’s super helpful to be married to a man who gets excited over lower case letters jammed between parentheses.  I thought math was about numbers?  Anyway.  My expertise is milk production.  I do love having teenagers in the house, though.  Nadine is awesome with Harry.  They have a ton of fun together.  She gets some great pictures of him, too.

Then there’s this teenage scientist.  When he’s not building legos or playing with his brother… he’s thinking about what else to build.  One day I came home and he had dyed his hair blue.  It was a fun experiment.  Very thankful for our fantastic hair stylist.  She always has fun with his hair and does something different.  Elijah also has a special bond with Harry.  There is a precious gentle side that exudes when he’s around him, and he can’t stand to hear him crying.  They look so much alike!  The other day we discovered that somehow he is about an inch from surpassing me in height.  Every hug feels more and more like I’m hugging a young man and not a little boy.

Jack is extremely excited to have mastered a standing back flip.  And a round-off back handspring.  He is completely self-taught, with just YouTube videos to help guide him.  The gumption to do it is all him and isn’t something that can be taught.  He turns 11 this month and though his hands have been bigger than mine for a year or two now, his body is also swiftly catching up.  Matthew’s family rented out an ice hockey rink last week, to celebrate the April birthdays. He and Harry have a unique bond as well.  Today he read stories to him on our bed, while Harry played with his feet and listened intently.  It was precious.

Elsie is a great big sister.  She and Betty are pretty much inseparable.  I love their bond.  They’re always into building forts and changing outfits and planning great adventures.  She loved the VR headset Elijah made out of an old cereal box and duct tape.

The other day Betty came up to me and asked me if I heard her whistle.  I said, yes.  “Then why didn’t you answer?!”  I had to laugh.  “Um.  I didn’t know you were calling me!”  She says the funniest things.  Like, “On it!” when I ask her to do something.  Or, “No can do!” when she knows she can’t or shouldn’t do something.  She’s reading up a storm, and it’s so much fun to see the lightbulbs going off in her head.  I asked her to please not read my text that had come through and she looked at me with a very straight face and said, “You want me to learn to read better, don’t you?”  She loves her baby brother.  This was a for real conversation: “His head is the most touchablest.  Mr. Harry, you are the most cutest baby I’ve ever seen.  You’re so heavy because of all your eats!”  Elijah put it very well when he said this about her: “I’m absolutely sure there is no one else on this earth like Betty.  I mean, she is so unique.”

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Then there’s Harry.  He makes us laugh with some of his non-facial expressions.  He can be so deadpan!  He can also be hilarious.

We can hardly imagine or remember life without him.  He’s starting to sleep 8-10 hours each night which has been fabulous.  In fact, I need to capitalize on that amazing fact right now and go to bed so I can enjoy some rest!  I will close with this meme which cracks us up all the time.

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Happy Spring!


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Island Love

It’s been really difficult to sit down and write about our island experience.  Words don’t seem capable of conveying or summarizing the depth of adventure it was for us.  I didn’t even wash my hair for a couple of days after we got home, because I didn’t want the sunshine and saltwater to disappear.  There is something magical about knowing the last thing to rinse through your hair is the crystal clear water of the Caribbean ocean.

We weren’t prepared for the wave of emotion hitting us in our gut as the airplane circled the island.

The tears were rolling down Matthew’s cheeks.  We both glanced around the airplane at the six beautiful bodies accompanying us on this epic adventure.  When I stepped out onto the tarmac and was met with the warm tropical breeze, the smell of jet fuel hugged me like an old friend, making me feel immediately at ease.

While getting our rental van sorted out, we saw a nice-looking young man who looked like he needed a ride.  After offering him a ride to wherever he was going, it turned out he was going to the same place we were going!  It later became very clear just how Providential a meeting this was when we arrived at our hotel.  For some reason, our reservation was coming up on their end for only one bedroom and they had no more rooms left.  Our new friend, Will, offered us his room and said he could easily find another room somewhere, but it would be pretty near impossible to find a place for 8 people for the next 10 days.  God bless Will.  2017-02-24 17.05.33The following days were spent playing “Where’s Will”, and we ran into him a couple times each day, somewhere on the island.

When we lived on Roatan thirteen years ago, we spent the majority of our time at the hotel where we stayed.  We visited a couple places, but didn’t play tourist very much.  This time we had a deep bucket list and hit just about everything on that list.  We reunited with old friends, went back to where we used to live, and took in gorgeous views of the island from our fantastic van.

One of my favorite parts was always being together.  Hot and sweaty and often sandy, but always together.

We absolutely adored being able to squeeze Harry’s chunky thighs as we ditched the winter garb for ten glorious days.2017-02-27 16.19.11Another one of my favorite parts of our time there was every morning.  We would wander downstairs to the cafeteria, which was under the hotel.  It faced the ocean, and we would order hot coffee or tea, a delicious breakfast, and simply be.  No agenda but to sip tea and snuggle a baby.DSC_0024

DSC_9884We really enjoyed going to a Gumbalimba Park one day, where we went zip-lining, held macaws, monkeys and more!  I was totally impressed by Betty, who fearlessly zipped her way through the canopy.

A huge highlight for the boys was swimming with the dolphins.  I learned that Matthew has always wanted to do this, so it was incredibly special to watch him fulfil that dream.

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The spaces of our days were spent in the sun, paddleboarding, cartwheeling, climbing, playing, snorkeling, eating, dreaming, talking, and enjoying every single moment to its fullest.

Never did we think this dream of returning to our Island home would come true.  But God knew we needed this time and provided incredibly for us to be here.  Many thanks to Matt’s employer, who made it possible to go.  So grateful, too, for my Plexus business which made it possible to buy passports for 8 and eat for 10 days!  Our trip home was bittersweet.

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Our not-so-comfortable layover in Texas

We now have our hearts all over the globe.

There is so much more I could write about, but it’s almost April, and I really need to hit “publish”.  We will treasure these memories and are blessed to be able to share a small bit of our adventure with you.

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Better Than a Box of Chocolates

Why are some days so hard?  This question was texted to me from the other room.  I sat upstairs feeding Harry, while a raucous crew finished their supper.  For various reasons, we both had an uphill day.  I woke up with the urge and desire to make our bedroom look cute and tidy.  But all I managed to do today in my room was eat chocolate.  Because even though the incredible supplements we use have taken away my cravings for donuts, candy, just about every cereal, and most things found in the center aisles of the grocery store… chocolate is still okay in my book.  In fact, today I did something I’ve always wanted to do.  A rather nicely sized box of mixed chocolates came into my possession this week, and I took a bite out of every single one.  Just to see what was inside it.  None of this dainty and mysterious picking out of what you really hope isn’t orange-cream-filled chocolate or weird chocolate liquor.  (At least that’s not my favorite.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.)  I bit into each one, leaving a tooth-marked morsel in its place.  It looks like an animal sniffed out and sampled the box of crack.  I mean chocolate.  Nope.  Just a mama of six who may have had one or more things overwhelm her slightly sleep-deprived mind.  I claim with Anne of Green Gables: “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.  Yet.”

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Betty decided today was a great day to pull out all of the summer clothes and try them on for size.  I suppose I forgot to mention where we are heading in twenty days.  Our entire family will be boarding a plane and flying to Roatan, Honduras!  2017-01-25-19-24-25-1It has been our dream to return, since Matthew and I lived there for six months when Nadine and Elijah were babies.  Now, thirteen years later, we are.

It’s hard to imagine Caribbean temperatures and bathing suits as I sit wrapped in my scarf, clutching yet another hot drink.  2017-02-01-18-11-07-1As Betty squealed with excitement over her shorts still fitting her, it slowly started to sink in today.  The last time we traveled outside of the country was to Belize, when Jack was Harry’s age.  I guess I should start thinking about fitting into my bathing suit.  Stupid chocolates.

So why are some days so hard?  I don’t have a solid answer, but my reply was: So we will long a bit more for Heaven.  Because as awesome and beautiful as our life is here, it’s covered in pain and sickness and brokenness and imperfection.  If you don’t know where you’re going when you die, this is as good as it gets.  But if you have peace in the finished work of Christ, then the best is yet to come!  Better than a box of chocolates.  With no mistakes in it.  Ever and for eternity.  Come, Lord Jesus.


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This is Not a Normal Life

“This is NOT a normal life!” she exclaimed from the back seat.  I glanced back at the stop sign to see what she was doing.  She had a small notebook and pencil.  Her legs were crossed, the tips of her fuzzy boots sticking up almost to her knees.  “This is NOT a normal life.”  She was playing MASH. With herself.  I laughed out loud while Betty told me how she was living in a mansion with THREE children and driving a Ford.  Oh, and she was married to Toby Mac.  When something is interesting or exciting for her and she wants me to listen she will say, “Hear this!”  Such a herald.  She is doing fabulously in school, reading sentences like, “The path led to the shed.”  She recently celebrated her 6th birthday.

Elsie is a great teacher and when she’s not DOING school, she is PLAYING school.  She has a vim and vigor for life.  A shaker and a mover.  Literally.  The other day she and Betty rearranged their room.  A girl after her mama’s own heart.  She is our pancake-maker, and does a fine job of it!

Jack is back into wrestling season full swing.  When he’s not wrestling, he is doing pushups.  Hundreds of pushups.  I’m excited when I do 30 in one day.  He’s not satisfied until he does 300.  We also recently discovered a Ninja Warrior gym not too far from us.  He conquered the warped wall the first day there, and loves to challenge himself with the other obstacles.

Elijah is my right-hand man in the kitchen.  We can throw together supper in less than half an hour.  I love teaching him stuff in the kitchen.  He gets my style of cooking, which doesn’t lean on recipes as much as a hunch on how different flavors will work together.  Having an instant pot has made dinner prep SO easy.  He is a geometry whiz, and we are looking in to some sort of coding class, as he is bent in this direction.  Sometimes he explains things to me and I have no clue what he’s talking about.  He’s also doing daily pushups and slowly inching closer to my height.

Nadine is our baby-whisperer.  Harry and her have a special bond.  She is convinced he can say her name, and it does sound pretty close.  I honestly don’t know how I could manage this house without her.

Harry adds the most perfect element of sweetness, joy and delight to our home.  When he starts to talk, everyone comes running.  He smiles and the sun comes out.  He is two months old already!  He is the king of expressions, and makes so many faces.  2017-01-12-10-21-55-2We’re slowly getting onto a sleeping schedule.

Though we often pass like ships in the night (literally), Matthew is my biggest support.  Between coaching, working, and being an amazing dad to these six… 2017-01-09-19-12-48
He is also the one whom my soul loves.  2017-01-21-15-35-34-1
It’s not hard to love him, but sometimes lack of sleep and the demands of being needed by 6 people can sometimes push me over the edge.  He is so patient with me.  It’s not tear-free, anger-free, frustration-free or hardship-free.  But it is full of joy, forgiveness, humor, and faith.  Had we been thrown the life we are living now, I might have also exclaimed: “This is NOT a normal life!”  But it’s the perfect life for me.
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