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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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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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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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Like Arrows

Sometimes when I look around our table, it feels like someone is missing.  Then, a few weeks ago my heart skipped a beat.  Two blue lines.  DSC_1277
It would be an understatement to say the big kids are excited to have another baby in the house.  DSC_1312
Despite the look on Matthew’s face here, he is truly excited.  I’m thrilled beyond words, which is why it’s taken me precisely two hours to even write the last two sentences.  We know this blessing is from our Father above, Who is aware of every detail of our lives.  We know He will show His faithfulness and provision in new and exciting ways this year.  Elijah is especially thrilled to have another buddy to keep him company in his birthday month of November.  DSC_1302
Rejoice with us!

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.

Psalm 127:3-5


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Oh I Would Run 3 Miles or More Just To See You Walk Right Through That Door

Today was our “official” first day of school.  Everyone dove in excitedly, and we got everything done that was on our schedule!  We waited all day for Matthew to come home, because we knew he was driving home in something pretty special.  If you heard the screaming from the West End, those were our children excitedly welcoming their Daddy home from his first day of work at Rittenhouse Builder’s.  In his “new” truck, no less.
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A few weeks ago, he was offered the position of a project manager at Rittenhouse, and after praying about it the Lord confirmed that this was the right next step to take!  He even provided a much-needed new truck for Matthew, and medical benefits.  We are incredibly thankful.  We were not looking for a new job, but God fit Matthew for this perfectly.  I’m so proud of him!  Elijah is too, but he was just tired of smiling into the sun.
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As for the teacher of those wild and amazing children… she needed to pound out some miles tonight.  So, this is me, after running practically all uphill for 3 miles to go fetch Matthew’s old truck and drive it home.  Because that is just something we like to do.  Or, it might have something to do with the fact that I’m training for a relay race taking place in three weeks.  I am slotted for 15 miles, split into 3 runs over the weekend.  I’m pretty excited since Matthew and I will be doing it together with a team from Rittenhouse.
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So, that was our day in a nutshell!  I’m excited for new beginnings, overcoming challenges, and a gracious Heavenly Father who is holding us through it all.  The Lord has done great things for us and we are glad!  (Psalm 126:3)


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Three-Four, Open The Door

March has a tendency to speed right along, almost as if it’s anticipating spring as much as the rest of us are.  It’s been a super fun-filled month so far.  Exactly three weeks until race day, the trail has seen a lot of my old sneakers.  Between miles there has been much chocolate, a medieval feast with friends (we are studying that period of history together), an Ikea trip with my sister and nieces, furniture painting, cute kids, field trips and birthday celebrations with friends.  There is much between the lines, many memories and blessings.  Lots of words are flying about in my  brain, unsettled as of yet; waiting for the unseen breeze to stop their spinning.  
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But right now, today, thirty-four is shaping up to be fabulous.  


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We Are Glad

Sitting in the hospital gives you a lot of time to think.  Matthew has had a pretty good day, after a more scary evening yesterday.  Every moment is such a gift!  Finding joy in God’s word, humor in little things, and I did some push-ups and squats for Matthew.  Not exactly what the cardiac floor is used to, I suppose.  (By the way, his heart is great, it just helps them monitor him better by being on this floor.)
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We miss our babies, but are so thankful for family close by who are taking such good care of them for us.  We love flipping out the nurses by telling them we have five kids.  The boys made cards for Matthew and Elijah’s said, Be brave.

I jotted some funnies down from the past two weeks.

After explaining something to Jack, he said to me, I’ve been growing, and…I have listening ears now… Finally.

 

Betty is becoming more and more vocal.  A few weeks ago we were looking at the birthmark on the back of her arm and she said, I have a birk!  She loves to say, Hey, Mommy!  Hey, Mommy!  Over and over until I respond.  And then she’ll say it again.  She had an awful virus the past 10 days that affected her mouth, but I hear from Grandma that she is eating and talking just like herself now.

Elsie dreams of being a ballerina.  As she donned her ratty tutu and sparkly hello kitty shoes she told me how it all could go: You can put pony tails in my hair, go to the store, get ballerina shoes, and take me to ballerina class!  

As we were driving, I asked her to pray.  So she started praying and it went something like this:  Thank you for this day, thank you for our car… punch-buggy white!  And please help us drive safely…  I love her thought process!  She also is the best at playing punch-buggy!  A very observant little girl.

As we hang out, I’ve reflected over the past couple of weeks in pictures.

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Left to Right, starting from the top, here are some of my favorite memories of the past two weeks:

Reading Pat the Bunny on the front porch five times in a row.  Betty would always kiss the page with Daddy’s scratchy face.
Matthew fixed the over-heating problem we were having with the van!  After hours of grease and sweat, he beat the heat.
Our neighbor gave us their old queen-sized bed.  Around 10 PM the men got stuck half way up the stairs with the box spring.  Not only did they sawzall it to make it work, but then Matthew reconstructed it so we could sleep there that night.  It is SO comfortable and makes me feel like a queen!
Sick little Betty snuggling in aforementioned bed with sick daddy.
On good days, Matthew had been working on our backyard shed!  It looks so nice, and is almost finished!
Mint tea from our garden and God’s word is always a good way to start ones day.
Betty started to feel better and we had a fun little time on the trampoline while we watched Daddy work.
The older 3 kids were at Grandma Weldon’s for a couple of days.  When we went to pick them up, Elsie started laughing and crying all at once with the sheer joy of seeing them again!
Paleo fudge shaped like a heart.  What’s not to love?
Jack and Elsie comparing loose teeth in the car.
Being sick is no fun, but when you can lean on each other, it makes it a bit easier to bear.
A diet of applesauce and yogurt is made more fun when you can eat yogurt with your fingertips.
Free ice-cream and brothers.
Earning free ice-cream from the library for doing many hours of reading!
Riding the tricycle at Grandma’s house is better together!
Jack loves the color orange and his giant Tigger!  He strapped him into a car seat and everything!

My friend came by today and blessed me with this mug.  When I finished drinking my tea, there was my favorite verse written on the bottom of the cup: The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!  Psalm 126:3  He has indeed!

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