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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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Silver Belle

This past month has been absolutely overflowing.  We bought a house.  We had a baby.  He is one month old.

Oh, and one more big thing happened too.

Matthew told me he would be a little bit late coming home from work on Wednesday night, because of some Christmasy errands he had to do.  No questions asked on my part, because I LOVE surprises.  He came home with a small box in hand and a note rolled up.  I expected him to put it under the tree, but he went into the kitchen (looking back, it was probably to try to calm himself down) then came back into the living room where I was holding Harry on the couch.  He sat down next to me, took Harry, and gave me the box.  Nadine was standing next to me, recording on her phone.  I tilted my head and asked if that was really necessary.  Yes.  Yes, it was.  He told me to read the note first.

My beautiful Amy Lyn,
Just about 15 years ago you married a teenager.  What a journey it has been so far!  You have had to wait a little while as the boy you married became a man.  Haha!  You have lovingly stood with me through the most difficult and uncertain times of my life and for that I am extremely thankful.  I know I have not always considered the full weight of the responsibility that I have as your husband.  There have been times that I have not stepped up as I wish I would have.  This Christmas, this anniversary I want to renew my love for you, my commitment to you and express the overwhelming joy that I have each day to work hard for you!  With this ring, I want to express my unending love for you and resolve to always consider you.  Each time you see it, if we are apart, remember that I am working hard to come home.  I love you more than words could ever express.  The greatest blessing in my life is the prospect of growing old with you, my bride.  Merry Christmas!  
I love you!
Matthew

The entire note was interrupted by many sniffles on my part and more snippets of, “Does she really have to be recording this?” And, “Do I really have to read this out loud?” because I kept choking up.  When I read, “with this ring,” I got a bit fluttery inside.  We had talked about maybe getting a wrap for my engagement ring, to celebrate our anniversary in a couple of weeks.  But I knew there were other more pressing needs, so I was NOT expecting that.  I gulped and opened the box.  There was a silver ring, threaded through a gold-trimmed red ribbon.  Underneath all the ribbon, attached to the ring, was a key fob.  I just stared at it.  “Matthew!” is my favorite thing to exclaim when I’m a bit overcome or excited.  He told me to look out the window.  This is when the recording by Nadine starts to have a lot of excited movement as everyone rushed to the window.  There, on the street, with a big white bow on the hood, was parked a new van.

We had started talking and praying about this need a few months ago.  Well, pretty much the day we found out we were having another baby.  Oceanus only seats 7.  We had more recently been doing a lot of research on this particular make and model.  I had spent many hours reading and sending Matthew photos of different vans, all while he worked secretly behind my back to settle on this one.  So patient.

The kids immediately settled on naming her “Silver Belle”.  We all hopped in and drove to my parents to surprise them.

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We are all completely blown away.  Such a lot of change this year.  God gave me the word “Freedom” at the beginning of the year, and it has truly been a year of freedom for us.  He has set us free from many fears, unhealthy mindsets, and doubts.  He has restored things which were broken, and given us courage to ask, knock and seek.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

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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.

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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.
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We are home now.  Harry Charles is two weeks old.
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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.
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Sixth Annual Kids Day plus

Today I left the farm with two bushels of tomatoes, and lots of onions, garlic and peppers.  There is something incredibly rewarding and delicious about canning our own tomato sauce each summer.  Nadine was a wonderful help, as she always has been in the kitchen.  We got through one bushel together before I sat down, put my feet up with a cold dandyblend beverage, and let her finish the second bushel.  We chatted about life.  It was a special time together, and I appreciate her youth and helpfulness!  Having teenagers is great!  The entire process took about 8 hours, but we now have tons of delicious roasted tomato sauce canned for the winter.  Not exactly the most convenient day to can and get the kitchen as dirty as can be.  Matthew is busy installing a new hot water heater in the basement, which means we temporarily have no water.  I’m soooooo excited to have hot water again!  Our tank has been leaking for a while, and he is replacing it with a tankless water heater, which confuses me to no end.  Which is why I can the tomatoes and he installs the water heater!  Yes, we did about forty jars, and yes, that one green-lidded fella bothers me too.  It’s the Where’s Waldo of my canning jars.

Processed with MOLDIVYesterday we celebrated Kids’ Day.  This is our sixth year doing it, and it is never a specific date… just someplace in August when the time is right.  The inspiration of this day is due to my sweet friend Ruthie.

It was a rather scattered morning, in which we found out the coupons we had been saving for this specific date were expired.  But we still ended up driving to New Jersey to venture around Six Flags Great Adventure for the day.  It was so fun that we never even got a picture of the kids on their special day.  Most of the day was spent in two groups: the three oldest, who were tall enough for all the rides, and the short crowd who wished they were, but made the most of as many rides as they could.  Each group was accompanied by either a parent who doesn’t really care for rollercoasters because it makes them somewhat sick, or a parent who adores rollercoasters, but happens to be growing another human being and wasn’t able to do any of them.  I’ll let you take a stab at who’s who there.  We shut the place down, and made many memories in the process.

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The Ferris Wheel was the only ride Mom could do, which was fun with the little girls. We started school, and much is done around our table. Elijah had a sweet tea time with the girls to make up for a friend who was unable to come. My diligent artist, learning how to create 3D drawings and illusions.

As the month comes to a close, I relish how beautiful it was.  Playing.  Splashing.  Growing things.  Experiencing imncredible heights.  Being with friends.

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There were a lot of super difficult days, to be honest.  A few in particular which threatened to unravel me for no apparent reason except to remind me that this is not my home.  I’ve also been remembering how different our life was three years ago, when Matthew’s life was hanging between life and death.  It’s not fun to go back to that place, even though somewhere in my deep subconscious I know that this week was the week.  As hard as it all was, it was what God used and is using to bring Him much glory and many people to a place of freedom in their health.  We’re so excited for the stories emerging about how God is changing lives through Plexus!  We share our story, never knowing what He will do!
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Baby “Chip” is growing so much!  I’m twenty-eight weeks along already, and have only begun to realize that we should start getting ready to welcome a baby into our busy little home!  I feel great, though huge, and am enjoying his antics which go on every night around the time I’m crawling into bed.  He is so loved.
2016-08-02 09.59.18-2Have a delightful last few weeks of warmth and summer!


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


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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.