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This is Not a Normal Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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The Best Chocolate Chip

The sound never grows old.  A faint, steady rhythm.  So tiny, yet so strong.  We call him “Chip”, because at one point, baby was the size of a chocolate chip. The name stuck.  Now Chip is bigger, and his heart is definitely beating.  Life.  Hidden and mysterious, but unmistakably there.  On Monday I had my first midwife appointment and got to meet Chip in a super special way, as the tears pooled in my eyes and his heartbeat met my ears.  Every morning for the past couple of weeks I’ve sighed a great hallelujah that my pants still button.  But thirteen weeks into this journey, and it’s time to expand my wardrobe for my expanding wasitline!  I’m definitely tired of sweat pants and feeling frumpy.
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The second highlight of our week was Tuesday.  Hearing a solid “well done” from the kids’ evaluator, marked another year in the books for the Weldon Academy of Natural Studies.  We now officially have one 1st grader, one 3rd grader, one 5th grader and two 8th graders.  Good thing I’m sitting down right now.  It’s been a huge year, full of much learning and growing.  We celebrated with lunch at the Green Street Grille.  What a HUGE accomplishment!  They’re growing up so fast.  In fact, the other day Jack asked Betty how old she wants to be when she grows up.  She thought for a moment and said, “Seventeen.”2016-05-10 13.20.18-1Last month, I had the incredible privilege of flying out to Portland to visit my dear friend, April.  We grew up together for a few years in the middle of Africa.  Her house was just a shout away.  In fact, we would often stand at the bottom of their hill and yell, “Do you have a roll of toilet paper we could borrow?!”  Or “Do you have butter?!”  You know, the essential things.  This is probably one huge reason I love my neighbor, Jen, so much.  I don’t think a week goes by without borrowing something from her… and it is often ONE egg, or TWO INCHES of butter, please.  Having someone who loves you and doesn’t think any less of you because you fail to figure out just how many eggs you’ll need each week… on a weekly basis… is pretty grand.

April and I have been friends for almost thirty years.  I don’t even FEEL like I’m 30 yet, so this is pretty wild for me to comprehend even still.  But we have, because Math doesn’t lie, or something like that.  She is one of the most genuine people I know.  I love her courage and gusto in life.  I love that she doesn’t let fear hold her down from following God’s leading.  That leading happens to be into the middle of the jungle of Papua, Indonesia.  I am so thankful I got to squeeze her and even run a mini “Amazing Race Portland” with her and a friend before she flew back across a HUGE ocean to her home.  As we prayed before she dropped me off at the airport, I was absolutely floored by the goodness and grace of God to weave and keep tight the bond of this friendship which has spanned more time and miles than I can comprehend.

As things grow and change in our family, this guy remains constant and steady.  2016-04-08 07.10.53-1We have had such fun dreaming together.  He is such an encouragement to me every day.  I don’t often feel what he sees, but I choose to believe him, because he’s never lied to me yet.  We are so excited to see how the Lord is going to work out the details of our future.  We sense His stirring in our lives and know He has something amazing in store.

Baby Chip is proof of that.