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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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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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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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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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Bananas Foster & Gasoline

I was kind of intending to savor those bananas foster for the entire duration of me sitting down and writing tonight.  But, there they are.  All gone.  And I haven’t even written a word yet.  For some reason I had a strong urge for the buttery sweetness of bananas foster, minus the rum, and they were absolutely delicious.  Maple syrup, real butter, raw walnuts, and a dash of cinnimon.  Yes, please.
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This morning began bright and early, or rather dark and early.  It’s been lovely to get up before anyone else and have some quiet time and prayer time and business time before delving into my mama-ing duties.  Thankful for the inspiration and nudge of my friend to get up and pray together, via technology, before anything else.

Once everyone got up and we started our day, it sort of morphed into a home-ec morning of scrubbing the kitchen and preparing dinner together.  I knew our afternoon was going to be very full and we would come home hungry, and I was determined NOT to start cooking dinner at 5 or 6 o’clock like I’ve done way too many times.  So, into my handy-dandy instant pot (insert choir singing) went the sumptuous ingredients for beef stew.  We read about Esau trading his birthright for a bowl of stew, and wondered if this stew would taste anything like Jacob’s of old.

At exactly the time we were hoping to leave, we got into the van and made our way an hour West to the new holistic dentist we found a few months ago.  We had such a great experience with him when Elsie had a dental emergency… which turned out to be not as big of a deal as I thought.  We were a few hundred yards away from the office, making a left turn at a light, when Oceanus sputtered and felt like she’d stall out.  It was a busy enough intersection I didn’t want to risk trying to pull out and get broadsided if we didn’t make it the whole way through.  Instinct told me to not even try, and to hop out and ask the person behind me to please push us through at the next green light.  I’m not even sure he spoke English, but I guess he got the gist when Nadine and Elijah hopped out and took their stance behind the van.  Reason 1,567 I love having a stick shift.  Makes situations like this so much easier!  And yes, I’ve been in this situation a few times.  We had just the right amount of downhill, so it wasn’t difficult to make it through and down the street towards the office.  At that point, the kids were running behind the van while I steered it towards the building.  With an ever-s0-slight uphill into the parking lot, I barely had enough oomph to land, right in-between two parking spots.  I looked like the obsessive owner of a very old Eurovan, with many scratches, but not willing to have anyone park near me in case of one more.  It was raining.

Our time in the office was great. All three hours.  The one hygienist was so sweet and drove me over to a gas station so I could get some gasoline in a can to bring back.  So yes, I left four children in the waiting room and one in the cleaning chair to drive with a stranger to get some gas.  I’m so glad to add to our growing collection of gas cans.  I think we have six now.

As I got a small shower in the rain, I was able to give Oceanus what she was dying to have, and she started right up.  The reason this has happened more than twice, is because of a broken gas gauge.  I do zero it out each time she is filled up, but for some reason I didn’t pay attention that the mileage was way over 400, which is my signal: It’s time to Fill.  Her. Up.  Back into the office I went, reeking like a gas pump.  2016-09-28-16-56-47
No cavities for anyone, which was a huge exclamation point in an afternoon which seemed to want to rain sad-face emojis all over the place.  Yet, I wasn’t sad one bit.  Kind of exhilarated and thankful.  Thankful we ran out of gas in a safe place within walking distance to our destination.  Thankful for kind people.  Thankful for strong kiddos.  Thankful for gas money.  Thankful it was indeed just running out of gas, and nothing more serious.  When one fills their tank, and the total amount pumped reads 21 gallons, in a 21-gallon tank… one is thankful. 2016-09-28-17-09-35
I’m so thankful to have made it home safely.  To a clean kitchen and hot supper.  The consensus is still out as to whether it was birthright-tradable, but everyone agrees it was pretty smackingly delicious.  2016-09-28-18-39-55
Baby Chip is doing his nightly antics in my belly.  I think he enjoyed the bananas foster just as much as I did.  The lady at the gas station took one look at me and said: “You’re having a boy, right?”  She was so very confident.  I told her yes, and how did she know?  She just smiled and said it was the way I was carrying him.  A couple of weeks ago another friend’s two-year-old son pointed at my belly and said, “Ball!”  Thirty-three weeks tomorrow, and oh-so-thankful for the ability to carry another child into this world.  It is not something I take for granted.

Now I’m excited to lay down in one of my two comfortable positions and rest.  There are so many more things to remember and write, but they will have to wait.  Tonight I was pondering the motto of my life.  A motto given to me by the Lord when I was just a teenager.  Life is beautiful.  This is what I look for in every circumstance, every day.  I don’t have to pretend.  My life truly is beautiful. Empty gas tanks and all.

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A Permanent Paint Job in My Hair

“Is that paint in your hair?”  He grinned.  I think I glared.  He knows perfectly well that even though I am the one to get paint in my hair while painting, that none of this has been going on for a few months. He kept grinning and then said, “I LOVE your grey hairs.”  He actually gets kind of giddy about them.  I guess they are factual of our journey from teenagers to pushing forty.  It is a beautiful thing to grow old with someone and know your grey hair makes them excited.  He’s actually getting a tiny swath of grey himself, which I find very attractive.
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I could name a handful of reasons for a few extras which may have popped up this month.

Earlier in July, Nadine came downstairs one morning with an incredibly stiff neck.  We had done massage, chiropractor, essential oils, and more, but she steadily got worse.  More sore, feverish, and absolutely exhausted.  A few doctor’s visits later and bloodwork drawn, I noticed a nice red circle on her leg.  And her shoulder.  And her arm, and torso and so on.  The number hit 17 bullseye rashes.  Her body felt and looked like it was shutting down.  We had spent so much time in prayer over her and Lymes kept running through my head.  As horrible as those bullseyes were, at least they showed up to confirm my thinking and get us on a path of treatment for her.  Just 24 hours later of being on strong antibiotics, she was sitting, standing up, and walking without having to collapse into bed.  She even swept the floor!  If people think I am anti-medicine because I’m a crunchy-granola-Plexus-mama, then they’re misinformed.  There is a time and there is a place, and I thank God for the ability to research and choose and make informed decisions.  I do not take antibiotics lightly.  So thankful too to have a quality probiotic to counter the nasty effects it will have on her good gut flora!

A few days after she started feeling nasty, I was grabbing some groceries and meeting my mother-in-law to pick up the youngest two who had been having a week at grandma’s.  We were waving goodbye as we backed out of our parking spot when all of a sudden the gear shift popped out of place and the whole gear shaft just started spinning around.  Thankfully, Linda hadn’t driven away yet, so we pushed the van into a safe spot and we all piled into her car where she drove us home!  Thankfully, it was not a huge fix!  Yesterday something else happened and we had to tow it again, but it’s fixed already.  We’re getting to know our local tow-truck drivers!
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I spent a lot of time sitting still and being quiet that first week of July.  Not my strong point.  Our front porch is my summer haven, and it gets a lot of love.  Between a broken arm, a broken vehicle, and a broken down body… I was pretty broken myself.  But God.  He’s in the business of fixing and providing and healing.
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One of the biggest blessings of this trial was seeing the rest of the kiddos rise to the challenge of taking over Nadine’s chores and jobs and serving her in many different ways.  From getting her icewater, to cleaning the kitchen, to hanging out with her while she couldn’t do anything but lay there.  It was refining for us all!  We also saw her faith grow in Jesus by leaps and bounds, as she audibly thanked Him for the sickness, and acknowledged He knows what’s best for her.  Do you know how hard that is to do?2016-07-13 14.19.53
As her body started to heal, God did another amazing thing for our family.  Because of the many broken things which needed money to fix them, we had to tell the kids they weren’t going to be able to go to soccer camp this year.  It was super difficult to tell them that, but we reminded them how God had the power and ability and means to provide for them if He wanted them to go.  So we laid it before the Lord without telling anyone else about the need.  On Saturday, one week before the camp would be starting, Elijah said to me, “Mom, camp starts in 7 days.”  I told him to keep praying and trusting God would provide if they were to go.  The next day, we recieved a phone call from someone who wanted to pay for our kids to go to camp if that was something they were wanting to do.  Seeing their faith grow when we told them the news was incredible.  At that point we weren’t even sure if Nadine could go!  We didn’t shop for her, until two days before they had to leave, when she was showing signs of having enough strength to handle a week at camp.  God provided in more ways than we could imagine!
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Now camp is over, and we are on our second day of school!

We are still celebrating summer, with later nights and a bit of sleeping in, but I always need a week or two of slowly easing into what our year will be looking like for the next ten months.  This gentle beginning also gives me room to purge from last year.  The last couple of days have seen six trash bags exit our house, lockers cleaned out, shelves re-organized, new books introduced, and a general feeling of newness and anticipation for the year ahead.
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I’m incredibly thankful for these amazing blessings entrusted to us for a time.  For the five independent ones downstairs eating icecream, and the one who is sending me love kicks from my womb.  We actually decided to find out whether “Baby Chip” is a boy or girl.  Here is the video of the kids’ reaction to the news:

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There is so much more I could write, but I have a few things left to do with my quiet evening, which my greying husband gifted to me tonight.  Thank you, love!


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Saying Goodbye to Try

The other day Betty said to me, “I want to do something I’ve NEVER done before!”  I literally blinked my eyes and stared at her in wonder.  Not for the first time, either.  This girl seems to say things which I feel like have come from somewhere deep inside my own heart.  Unspoken.  Then they find words  and come out of her mouth.  “Really?”  I answered, playing with her hair.  She’s been on big rollercoasters and flown inside a cessna airplane.  I could tell in her eyes she had a hunger to experience the thrill of something new.  Just like her mama.  So, even though she’s done it before, it had been a long, long time.  We decided to take a walk around the neighborhood and she asked to bring her bike.  It’s been about a year since she rode it, and she was nervous about falling down.  My favorite thing about our time together, wasn’t the fact that she did in fact ride the bike without me holding on.  No, my favorite thing was how she talked to herself while she rode.  “I can do this!  I can do this!  I can do this!” she breathed over and over while I slowly let go and ran beside her.  Cheering her on.  Watching her fly alone.  In her hounds-tooth dress and polka dot rain boots.  Her fear lay in a pothole somewhere between our house and 8th Ave.IMG_8061There’s something incredible about what we say to ourselves.  I dare you to listen to yourself when you’re thinking.  It’s incredibly enlightening.  Do you say things to yourself that you would never allow someone to say to your child?  Or to you?  Changing negative thinking has totally transformed my life and is transforming the lives of our children.

Interestingly, Paul didn’t say, “I think I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Nope.  We should never say we will try to do this or that.  Every time we try, we make a small exception for ourselves to fail.  And you know what?  You might mess up and fail.  But that should never keep us from picking ourselves back up and getting stronger.  I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I am so proud of these kiddos.  We completed our school year a couple weeks ago.  They have all grown and accomplished so much!  2016-05-06 14.08.57
Being out of school has been just what we all needed.  There has been a lot of imagination and rearranging and purging that comes when Mommy’s brain is free from thinking of school for a couple of weeks.  We started our vacation out right with a broken arm.  Broken in three places, no less.  That girl is incredibly tough. This is the second time this has happened in her short little life.    She doesn’t complain, and she really hasn’t let it stop her from doing anything.  When I told her to be careful on the playground, Betty piped up: “At least I can jump!  Because I have two arms and two thumbs and two elbows!”

New neighbors just moved in next door, and the boys had no qualms about asking them if they could have a bunch of their huge furniture boxes to make a small town with them.  The rest of the day was spent cutting and creating tiny houses.

Earlier this week, Elsie let out a big sigh in front of me and said,”I just want to run a business or something!”  She kept persisting, and finally her dream became a reality.  Older sister and a friend all chipped in to squeeze lemons and taste test the perfect lemonade.  We had some very enthusiastic salesmen and women, who were not afraid to ask the UPS man, the neighbors, and any passersby’s to buy a cup of refreshing lemonade.  Why?  Elsie, broken arm and all, determined it was to raise money for gymnastics.  This has been a huge dream of hers, and I’m so proud of her for looking ahead, past the “impossible” and seeing her arm healed enough to take gymnastics. IMG_8156
Many days are spent gardening and cutting fresh flowers, enjoying delicious berries, and being amazed at how my belly has popped out with pride and joy.  At 17 weeks, baby Chip is kicking and loving the berries I’m eating.  Most recently, Matthew put up a new fence on the one side of our yard.  It was an exhausting day.  But one of my favorite kinds of tired.

So very thankful and daily more in love with this guy.  He takes good care of us.  He feels great, which is something we never ever take for granted.  Once your health has been on the edge of survival wondering at the surety  of your next breath, you never go a day without praising God for one more day to enjoy this thing called life.  Every day my passion grows to help others who are hurting and sick and tired of being sick and tired.

For the next coupe of days I need to get my game on and face my least favorite past-time: packing.  The motivation of having five whole days with Matthew by my side, along with some of the most motivating, loving, encouraging people… I’m not going to TRY.  I will take a lesson from my sweet Betty and whisper: “I can do this.  I can do this.”  I can confidently face my suitcase and smile.