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Scars That Change Us

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

Yet I couldn’t shake this feeling.

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

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

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

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

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

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Three Cheers for Ear Tubes

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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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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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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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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.

 


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Fingerless Gloves & Papaya

It’s 8am and only the sound of batter sizzling in the waffle iron is hitting my ears.  Snow fell rather silently all night long, accompanied by vicious wind, which uncharacteristically woke me up several times throughout the night.  We even ended up with a small little darling in our bed, half-way through the night.  Nadine is getting snowed in at a friend’s house, which caused Elsie to abandon her usual spot with Betty, and snuggle instead in big sister’s bed.  This in turn caused Betty to find her way to our room in the middle of the howling night with some howling of her own, begging us to bring Elsie back to her bed so she could sleep.  It’s sisterly love at its finest.  Just not at 3am, please.  Snuggling in our bed was certainly only second best.  I was reminded once again just how much room one tiny body can take, and by 7:00 I found myself more than ready to abandon my swiftly shrinking cacoon and make for the kitchen.  With snow piling up outside, I decided to do what any snowstorm calls one to do: make cinnamon rolls and waffles.  Carb overload for survival.  So, with the dough proofing in the oven, waffles sizzling away, and snow falling, my half-gloved fingers are enjoying what my African heart is craving: papaya.  2016-01-23 08.03.47And a hot mug of tea.  2016-01-23 08.28.17Matthew comes downstairs, with his slippered feet shuffling across the kitchen to me.  By now, everyone has emerged from their beds.  2016-01-23 08.35.34He gives me a big kiss, which gets a full evaluation by our eager observers.  “Eeew!  That’s gross!”  “Oh, man.  They’re kissing on the lips!”  “I’m just looking at my plate.”  “How do you breathe for that long?!”  “Doesn’t your air go into his nose?”  Yep.  It’s always preeetttty romantic having a running commentary while exchanging  a kiss.  But that’s okay.  I love that he’s not ashamed to show how much he loves me in front of eager eyes.

Here’s to a snow day full of cinnamon rolls, a turkey dinner and each other!

That’s right.  A turkey dinner is on our list.  We thought since we never had a white Christmas, we will extend our celebrations to mid-January.  So if you happen to find yourself craving a turkey dinner, we’ll carve a spot out on our street for you and you can join us at our table.