2 Comments

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.”

2017-01-17-14-14-34
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.


Leave a comment

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.
2017-01-25-21-30-49-1


Leave a comment

Harry’s Birth Story

The week before he arrived was a big one for our family.  Right before we found out we were pregnant, we had started the ball rolling on buying the home we have been living in for the past 6 years.  Little did we know how closely it would coincide with the birth of our 6th child!  So many huge changes, all within a week’s time.  Even though I was anxious to have this sweet baby, I was glad he decided not to come on the day we closed on the house.

Not a huge fan of due dates, I surprised myself about how disappointed I was when the 17th came and went with nary a contraction on the day.  His sweet little bed sat empty.  And we waited.2016-11-14-10-02-36
I decided to tackle “small” projects, like painting the kitchen white.  On Friday, I had some feelings of things starting to happen, so we got the kids squared away for a weekend at Grandma’s.  Matthew and I went down to the city and walked a LOT.  We got my engagement ring cleaned along jewelers row in Philly, and somehow knew it was the last date before baby was born.  Saturday and Sunday came and went and I was a heap of emotions on Monday when things still hadn’t started.

But then my water broke Monday morning.  I went the entire day without any contractions, but that night headed over to the birth center with Matthew to make sure baby was fine, since it had been 12 hours.  Chip was strong, there were no signs of distress or infection, so they gave me another 24 hours to see if labor would start.  I headed home with pretty strong contractions after she stripped my membranes, and my body was showing plenty of signs of being ready to start labor.  In hand, was a little brown bag with castor oil in it. If labor wasn’t in full swing by morning, I was going to give that a go.  Having never done any kind of induction, natural or not, I was really nervous.  But I was even more nervous about arriving at 36 hours of having my water broken with no signs of labor.  I slept uncomfortably, but woke up NOT in labor.  With a big sigh, I cracked open my paper bag and chugged the first dose of castor oil.  It is actually tasteless, and mixed in a little juice, went down the hatch pretty easily.  A couple of hours later, I took the second and final dose.  My stomach was already starting to protest.  The idea behind castor oil is that you will have enough bowel movements to stimulate the uterus into contracting, and hopefully kick it into gear.  By mid morning it seemed like this is what was happening, but my contractions were not painful or consistent.  Just annoying bouts that sent my hopes falling each time.2016-11-22-10-13-52
The Holy Spirit had prompted me to do two things on Tuesday morning: to play worship music all day and to text my good friend, Janice, and ask her if she was available to come over and do some CFT on me.  Craniosacral Fascia Therapy releases the fascia strain in one’s body, allowing it to relax and unwind.  Janice arrived mid morning and worked on me for a few hours.  We took a couple of walks around the neighborhood as well, and I tried not to be disappointed when I walked a whole mile and only experienced one contraction.

Matthew was home, but doing work and taking care of the children, who had all never been a part of mom being in labor before.  I decided to take a hot shower, and let the tears flow a bit, begging God to allow my body to relax and start the process of delivering this baby from my body.  Music constantly filled my ears and slayed many fearful thoughts.

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone

When I got out of the shower, something had changed.  I came downstairs to find Matthew and talk to him.  He took one look at me, leaning on the table during a contraction and said, “It’s time we think about going.”  Nadine and Janice were washing dishes, and I started making sure we had everything we needed.  One moment that stands out in my mind is when Jack came over to me, looked at my face and said, “This is it, isn’t it?” I nodded and he burst into tears and hugged me so tightly.  I don’t think I realize even now how much patience and delayed hope they had each experienced in their own way the last few weeks.  Right before we left, everyone circled around me and prayed.  While walking with Janice, I had mentioned that I had always wanted to have a baby in the daytime, before the sun went down.  As everyone prayed, Janice boldly asked that this baby would be born with the sunshine.

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again
Into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

We got in the van, and the entire way to the birth center, the sunshine was in my face as we drove towards the West.  It was like a kiss from God.  The intensity of the contractions picked up considerably as well.  We arrived around 4:30.

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

I was almost 5cm, which from my history doesn’t mean a whole lot, because once things picked up, I knew it could go pretty quickly.  Yet way back in my head I kept pulling out doubtful thoughts and laying them on the table.  Fears of the impossibility that lay ahead of me.  I did this already.  I remembered the pain now.  How would it be possible to do it again?  Nadine was in charge of music, and I told her to quickly turn it back on.

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

Half an hour later, I crawled into the tub at the birth center, and fought with two voices for the next hour.  One voice that tormented and taunted me and told me I couldn’t do this.  Then one Voice that always rose a little higher and held me up through the incredibly intense waves.  Janice was behind me, supporting my body as it moved to make room for delivery.  I knew this was happening, but still kept fighting the fears.

I am surrounded
By the arms of the father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance

Matthew and my mom were perched in front of me, each holding my hands and encouraging me.  I wanted so badly to scream the words, “I CAN’T!” but the steady strength of my Father, played out through the hands of my mom, Matthew and Janice, kept the words from actually coming out of my mouth.  I knew the moment they did, everything would take longer.

The music had stopped and between contractions I told Nadine to start playing “Baby Chip’s Playlist”.  It started right up, and I knew one of the songs on there would be the right one in which for him to enter the world.

We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom

The all-too-familiar feeling of needing to push flooded over me like a wave.

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I could stand and sing
I am a child of God…

I remember calling out those words during a wave: I am a child of God.  Speaking truth over myself, which is one of the biggest things God has taught me this year.  This was the song that was playing when he came.

Yes, I am
I am a child of God
Full of faith
Yes, I am a child of God

There is a moment of time when a baby enters the world that is so holy, so indescribable, that I can’t even write about it.  When his sweet little body was brought up to my chest, I kept saying, “Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”  This gift.  This son.  Longed and waited for, I felt like I had fought through so many battles to hold him at last.  It was 5:58pm.

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

None of us know the answers to “what if” questions.  All I can say is, I know the promptings of the Holy Spirit who lives in me.  He knew what I needed that day.  To be surrounded by songs of deliverance.  I know there was a fight, and I don’t know why it unfolded the way it did.  Harry was born with the cord wrapped around his neck three times, and there were two knots in the cord as well.  Once I was back on the bed and delivered the placenta, things kind of went into high-speed.  My body started to hemorrhage and I just remember wanting to take a nap.  Matthew’s voice in my face asking me if I was alright.  I felt just fine, only tired.  They gave me three medications to stop the bleeding.  It worked, and though I never felt fear, it was tiptoeing around the room, ready to pounce again.

2016-11-22-18-07-28
Harry’s breathing was concerning to the midwives.  His little chest was retracting a bit, and I started having a fever.  Even though I was sure it was because of the medicine, because I tend to get every side effect possible, they were concerned enough to transfer us both to the hospital.  So it was a really rough transition, but ten minutes later, I found myself in one ambulance and Matthew and Harry were in the other.  The whole way to the hospital, I started to feel more and more like myself.  My fever was going down, and an hour later, was gone.  I said no thank you to an IV and to antibiotics, and waited for the doctor to see me.  He saw my bleeding was normal, my temperature was gone, and discharged me right away.  Then the NICU doctor came and told us they found a pneumothorax on Harry’s lung.  It was super small, and they were hopeful it would resolve itself.

After two unexpected days in the NICU, we were grateful for the news that Harry did not have any infection and the pneumothorax did indeed resolve itself.  It was the strangest and humanly very lonliest Thanksgiving I’ve ever experienced.  Yet it was full of the peace and grace that can only be experience when you are a child of God.  Matthew brought me tons of food from the grocery store and my mom’s Thanksgiving dinner for my voracious appetite.

Again, we can never live in the land of “what if”, so even though the first couple of days were not in any way what I had imagined, it is what it was.
2016-11-23-14-35-05

We are home now.  Harry Charles is two weeks old.
2016-11-26-09-36-22Processed with MOLDIV
His furrowed brow is lightening up a bit, and he’s opening his eyes to the world more and more each day.  We all absolutely love him.  He is named after Matthew’s Pop Pop who went to be with Jesus earlier this year.  He was a tall, handsome, incredibly loving man.  We think Harry already has some of his charm.  His name means “Warrior”, “Leader in War”, “Manly” and “Free Man”.  God knew the ferocious world he would be born into.  Our prayer is that he would be a warrior and leader.  A man who fearlessly fights for the freedom of souls, both physically and eternally.
2016-12-06-11-00-13


1 Comment

Thirty-four Week Reality

I tried to bend over.  My shoelaces felt like they were a mile away, and I sat back down on the couch, defeated.  My sweet baby girl, who is no longer a baby, knelt down in front of me.  Her own sneakers neatly tied, warm winter coat covering her little body.  It was so chilly this morning.  She deftly took my shoelaces in her pinkies and tied my shoes in her own special Betty way.  Unique like her.  Her helpful servant’s heart overflowed through her fingers to make a perfect bow.  It was a soft moment in a rather rushed and not so gentle morning.

2016-10-11-08-10-03-1My day began around 3 o’clock this morning when a noise woke me up.  Which in turn led my bladder to wake up and I shuffled out of bed to the bathroom.  It’s a dangerous journey these days, down the hall and through the bathroom doors.  As we’ve been painting baby Chip’s room, there are extra things tucked along the edges, making it very tricky for a balance-challenged-half-asleep-pregnant woman.  Often I can fall right back asleep, but this morning my body felt VERY awake, despite the long day of painting before.  I read for a little while, then dozed off right about when Matthew was getting up for work.  The next thing I remember is being fully awakened by a phone call from Matthew, at work, to make sure I was awake.  Only then did I remember hitting my snooze button.  Oops.  So, we had 45 minutes to ALL wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and pack lunches for their day at camp.  Insert my shoes getting tied here, after an incredibly rushed and harried morning.

We did make it in time.  After I dropped them off, I had the entire day alone.  This is both therapeaudic and eery for me.  To not talk to anyone, or hear my name being called for the thousandth time, can actually be a bit lonely.  Right around 1 o’clock I somewhat lost it.  I had many hopes and expectations for my day, and about the only thing I accomplished was putting away the groceries I got and washing the dishes from our incredibly crazy morning.  Something about the water rushing over my hands, and the quiet of the house, made the tears fall freely.

There are other things at play, I’m sure.  Something like pregnancy hormones, and all the changes going on in our family right now.  For the past fourteen years, each and every pregnancy has been coupled together with major changes, as if having a baby isn’t change enough.  Yet their births have been like exciting exclamation points, accentuating God’s blessing on our family.  When we found out we were expecting mid-November, I knew God had something huge in store for us at the end of this year.  We’re still unsure of what that is, but we feel the crescendo of God’s masterful handiwork, as November swiftly approaches.  Stay tuned.
photo-sep-29-7-44-04-am


Leave a comment

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.
2016-07-14 19.35.00
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!
2016-07-08 18.07.52
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.
2016-07-29 09.32.34
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!
2016-07-17 16.28.05

Processed with MOLDIV
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.
2016-08-02 12.48.142016-08-02 12.01.422016-08-02 17.23.15-22016-08-02 10.00.09
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:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgrowoldwithme%2Fvideos%2F10154821482927971%2F&show_text=0&width=400

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!


1 Comment

What to Do with Fear

On Saturday, I experienced something I have never experienced before.  A couple of weeks ago, I heard that a friend from our church who is a part of a ski club, needed someone to climb to the top of a pyramid.  I honestly had no clue what that meant, but I called her to ask for more details.  Basically the criteria was: they had to be under 100 pounds, not afraid of heights, kind of a risk-taker, and able to climb.  Since Jack enjoys jumping off great heights and reminds me of a cross between a cheetah and a jack-rabbit, I thought it was the perfect fit and volunteered him for the task. We told him about it the night he got home from soccer camp.  He practiced the next day by doing a dry run, with no water, and learned how to climb.
2016-07-24 10.54.31
The following week there was rain off and on, but he managed to practice once in the water before the actual performance day.  Stacy is an incredible teacher, and instilled a lot of confidence in Jack, who had shown a bit of uncertainty to us the day before.  On Saturday, a few things happened which made it so he never was able to climb during practice that morning.  The pyramid was the last act of the day.  We sat on the side of the river, praying the rain would hold off and for a small window of sunshine and calm so they could do the show.  God answered affirmatively.  When it got to be his turn, my stomach started doing all sorts of flips.  There was no doubt in my mind that he could do it.  Yet, there was an undeniable trepidation at the thought of what he was about to do!  2016-07-30 14.47.03
The team took off, Jack on the shoulders of the middle man.  2016-07-30 14.59.11
The boat cruised down the river,  way beyond where we could see them.  As it turned and came back into view, we saw the two girls had already climbed onto the three guys’ shoulders.  I was filming and nervously talking to Matthew at the same time.  When I saw this little figure, climbing up these bodies, I lost it.  It was almost like he was created to do it.  Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.  Right as they passed where we were yelling and screaming from the bank of the river, he confidently made it to the top of the girls’ shoulders, stood tall, turned his head to the crowd and smiled.  I could NOT stop screaming.  I didn’t even KNOW I was screaming until I watched the video later.  One-hundred or more times.  The epitome of freedom right there.  Literally staring fear in the face.  Because I’m quite sure fear lives at the top of a swiftly moving human pyramid on water.  He didn’t fall down.  He climbed down.  They finished the run, and we learned later,  it had been 15 years since they had last done a 3-tiered pyramid.

We all face fear.  It’s what you DO with fear that’s the key.  Fear is not from God, so if you know you’re supposed to do something and don’t because you’re afraid… then fear won.  Fear cripples and freezes us.  Fear clouds our thinking.  Not letting fear win, sets us free!  Free to change, free to grow, free to step out of our comfort zones.

We don’t all have to stand fifteen feet in the air, balanced on someone’s shoulders who is water-skiing, to prove fear no longer has a hold of us.  But you might have to quit your job, or move to another country, or step into that gym, or birth a baby, or make that phone call, or make some dramatic changes in your life.  You might have to ask for help, or admit you’re wrong, or stare blankly at an unknown future.  And you know what?  You will most likely still be afraid!  But if fear is no longer keeping you from acting, moving, changing or growing, then you will become stronger and reach higher.  Even higher than fifteen feet.

By the way, if you want to hear this mama’s reaction to seeing her little boy flying down a river on top of everyone’s shoulders, check out the live video on my facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgrowoldwithme%2Fvideos%2F10154825972462971%2F&show_text=0&width=400

If you want to see the filmed version of the entire act, from the perspective of the boat, here it is: 


Leave a comment

Let Freedom Grow

A word which has shaped and defined this year is freedom.  I’m seeing it played out in so many ways throughout my every day.  For instance.  Today my skirt fell off.  Under many circumstances, this would have been categorized as one of my most embarrassing moments.  Thankfully, I was *only* outside in the front yard, having just walked out to our van to grab something and bring it inside.  The mailman wasn’t there.  No one was walking by.  The neighbors weren’t mowing their lawn.  I speedily pulled it together and ran inside.  This can be categorized as freedom, though not exactly what I had in mind on January 1st.  My box of wrap skirts have taken center stage in my wardrobe.  And I will not let a small setback, such as one falling off of me, deter me from wearing them.  My twenty-week-belly loves the wrap skirt idea.  2016-06-30 17.31.40This week the kids have been able to feel baby Chip move so much.  Their faces are priceless!  Jack sat there with his hand on my tummy for a couple of minutes when all of a sudden his hand shot back and he looked at me with his eyes and mouth about the same width.  It was great!  As I sit on the front porch this evening after a busy day of mommy-ing, attacking the weeds in my garden, and doing the regular mounds of laundry, I feel some kicking.  Baby Chip most certainly had a growth spurt this week, because all of a sudden I make a funny noise when I bend over, forgetting my front has expanded into my ribcage when in that position.  That, and I keep stubbing my toes when I walk upstairs.  I think it’s because I don’t lift my legs as high right before I take a step.  Pretty much on the dot, every night around 11pm the gymnastics starts, and I sit with my hand on my belly, in wonderment at another life bursting with joy inside of me.  Freedom.
IMG_8608[1]
For the past six weeks, Elsie has had a cast on her right arm.  After about a day of figuring out how to do stuff with a perpetually bent arm, she quickly resumed life with a cast, almost as if she had none.  She literally lets nothing hold her back.  Even without the use of her thumb, she figured out how to tie her shoes, do monkey bars, climb, ride a bike and even play baseball!
2016-07-01 22.40.29.png
Monday was a big day for her, when she was liberated from its confines.  Freedom.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words:
IMG_8590[1]This week I had to say goodbye to a dear, sweet friend.  Our husbands met at a spin class about 8 years ago, which was definitely a God-ordained meeting, since I don’t think either of them have been to a spin class ever since.  Our kids are the same age, and we’ve watched and prayed eachother through some mutually serious health issues.  She is the friend who introduced Plexus to me, and after watching her journey to health and freedom, jumped in to join her.  She has been an incredible source of joy and encouragement and wisdom to me the past few years.  I love how in Heaven others will truly find out how much impact they’ve had on your life.  Thankfully Tennessee isn’t too far, but knowing I can’t just pop over makes me get a little teary.  Letting loved ones go and be and do what they’ve been called to is one of the hardest things on earth, I believe.  Yet, letting them go gives you more freedom to love stronger and deeper and further than before.
2016-06-26 13.47.01
Once a week Nadine has been getting back into the saddle.  It’s the highlight of her week.  She gets to ride with one of her best friends as well, which adds all sorts of amazingness to her week.  To me, it’s scary.  To her, it’s freedom.  She continues to be a huge source of help to me around the house and is growing in her babysitting abilities.  nrw
Today our not-so-bitty-Betty lost her first tooth!  She is growing up, embracing her big sister role already, and is somwhat of an old soul.  Sometimes I look at her and wonder on what wavelength she communicates to God.  He must tell her things I can’t quite fathom.  If you’ve ever had a conversation with her, you might understand what I’m having a hard time putting in to words.  Growing up requires a little bit of pain, which usually results in more freedom.
2016-07-01 13.09.59-2.jpg
Speaking of growing up.  There are these two characters who live in the attic, who often sound like a small herd of elephants when they come down the stairs.  But they are in actuality, boy-men.  Boys trapped in bodies which are swiftly becoming men.  Boys who dream of motorcycles and ammunition and muscles and big stuff like jobs.  Jobs that pay money so Elijah can get his pilot’s license and fly his friends wherever they want to go.  It’s fun to listen to their dreams and know that many of them will come true if we never plant seeds of doubt into their fertile minds.  Freedom.
2016-06-21 14.07.13.jpg
Apparently there is a “look back and compare an old picture of you and your spouse to now” thing going on over on facebook.  So, for fun I decided to do just that.  I practically died when I pulled out this doozy of a photo from nine years ago!  Matthew had been sick for about a year and a half, was on high doses of toxic meds, and I was barely surviving as a mom of three.  How incredibly blessed and grateful I am for the road we have traveled, and for the way the Lord has helped us navigate the stormy path.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Processed with MOLDIV
We don’t even know how many prayers have gone up for us on Matthew’s behalf.  So many.  There were times we literally felt like there was no way to go on.  We praise the Lord for the gift of health.  We know we are never guaranteed another breath.  But for every breath we are given, we praise Him!  Matthew is out running right now, his reflective vest on, heart pumping, lungs breathing, windpipe open.  Not something we would have thought about before.  It is the storm which has made our love so strong.  It is being in the pit which has made the air above so clean and worth savoring.  2016-06-28 23.14.09
We pray for open hands to receive both the sickness and the health.  The richer and the poorer.  Til death do us part.  In doing this, there is great freedom.