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Keeping it Sparky

Last night was kind of epic.  Thank you to everyone who was praying for Matthew to find the right truck.  He did!  It is exciting and we’re so thankful!
2017-09-01 21.25.44-2 Last night also brought some much-needed healing to a rough patch we were having.  I’ll be honest.  The last few months have held a boatload of challenges.  The last fourteen days alone have felt like a few months worth of struggles condensed into two weeks. There is a war going on, and we are being distracted to death to try and forget about it.  The enemy isn’t interested in messing with you if you don’t pose any threat to his agenda.  And his agenda is pretty simple really: to make us ineffective.  To get us to quit trying and to quit working hard on things which bring God glory.  When we no longer feel like something is worth fighting for, we quit.

So while every space of our day has been full of doing things which are expected of us, all of a sudden we were staring at each other yesterday as if we were complete strangers.  This has happened before, so we know the warning signs.  And knowing warning signs and heeding them is vital to having a healthy marriage.  We’re faced with two choices: sit back, relax, (or stay inanely busy), hope the other person will notice the distance you’re feeling, and just wait.  The longer you wait for the other person to act, the farther the distance grows.  The less keen it is felt, too, because eventually it feels normal to be living with a stranger.  We’re very adaptable as people, and we will adjust our thinking and calendars to make this way of living with our spouse feel normal.  Soon we’re desensitized to the fact that we are supposed to be lovers, not just co-inhabitants.

The second choice is to roll up your sleeves and fight.  More honestly, we should be doing a lot more than just rolling up our sleeves.  If you aren’t having sex with your spouse at least a couple times a week, this should be a warning sign.  I get it, there are times when that is impossible.  But those are the exceptions, not the norm.  We have had difficult pregnancies and much sickness in our almost 16 years of marriage.  I get it.  But I also know there is a huge white elephant in our bedrooms, and married folks aren’t having enough sex.  It’s all about NOT having sex before marriage (which is a whole ‘nother topic) but hardly anyone talks about the importance of having PLENTY of it WHEN married!

I’m not okay with fake plastic marriages.  God isn’t either.  Nothing is past His ability to heal, restore and revive.  If He can raise people from the dead, He can do the same for marriages too!  The thing about marriage is, it’s actual hard work.  We are so conditioned to shirk away from anything too hard or too challenging.  Yet every single thing which requires hard work to maintain or improve, is worth fighting for.  Marriage isn’t a disposable plate or a frozen dinner which leaves us feeling used or sick. (If this is you, please, please seek help!) It’s hand-made pottery with intricate painted designs and the most delicious homemade spread, leaving us feeling cherished and refreshed.  This is how God, who created marriage, designed it to be.

Matthew is an incredibly easy person to love.  Except when he isn’t.  And I’m super easy to love.  Except when I’m not.  If we only focus on the “when they’re not easy to love” moments… those moments start defining the other person.  I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but if you’re human, you’ve struggled or are struggling in your marriage right now.  Beg God to soften both of your hearts to see your spouse through new eyes.  Whatever you’re feeling is missing, they probably are feeling it too.  Whatever you wish they would do for you, they are probably wishing you would do for them.  If you’re lonely, they’re lonely too.  I realize some people might be truly in the trenches right now and I don’t want to sound like: one-two-three and it will all be fixed.  There are no quick abracadabra magical formulas to make everything all better.  But there is hope.

Another tactic the enemy uses a lot is this thought that we are the only ones struggling.  Everyone else looks fine, so we must be the only ones weathering this storm.  The truth is, we’ve all become much too good at chucking our umbrellas or stashing our life vests when people are looking at us.  Hiding anything that shows we are only surviving.  When we feel alone, we are in a very vulnerable place.  Be careful.  When God saw that Adam was alone, He said this was NOT good.  So if you’re married and feeling alone, something is not right.  You are not alone in the struggle.  Reach out for some help if you need to!

By God’s grace, we are where we are today.  I know chronic illness has been something which could have destroyed our marriage.  But God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.  He has used it to bring about so much good, even though it continues to be something that in and of itself is really very difficult.

This wasn’t easy to write.  I mean, first of all, my parents and in-laws usually read this, and why does that feel awkward?  Then I remember: they all know we do have six children.  Speaking of children, the second reason for this being difficult to write is: my kids read this.  But we’re pretty open about this topic and I know they feel secure that we fight for our marriage.  And maybe one of them reading this will remember where our bedroom door key is and return it.  Hmmm.  Lastly, because it is such a sensitive and prevalent issue, I know it’s going to cause some ripples.  I kinda feel like I’ve lit an explosive and am crouching in the corner, waiting for it to blow.  But the truth is, I haven’t lit something with the intent to cause damage.  A fire has been lit, yes.  But not all fires cause harm.  I pray the flame starts its journey towards many people’s hearts, because at the end are some of the most amazing fireworks you have ever seen.  Be ready.  Your marriage is about to explode.

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Six Dollar Car Wash and Shattered Glass

If you’ve ever wondered how many times you’re allowed to go through a carwash on one $6 purchase, the answer is at least four.  On Monday morning I drove the kids to school in my dad’s car.  So thankful we are able to borrow it while he and my mom are in Africa right now.  On Friday we had a glass shattering accident with Silver Belle (our van) which has left us without a vehicle.  More on that later. I can only fit 4 kids at a time in the car, so there is always a shuffling around to make it work.  After I dropped the older two off at school, I swung back home to pick up the middle crew since Jack had a dentist appointment.  Shortly after we arrived, some dear sweet friends we haven’t seen in much too long, started piling into the waiting room with us.  My entire weekend had been pretty shaken up with the accident and I was battling some discouraging thoughts.  You know how after being with certain friends for even five minutes changes your entire outlook on life?  That’s how this mama is to me.  You should check out her journey.  Between the two of us, we have 15 children.  We left the dentist office blessed and refreshed.  She even scheduled her follow up visit to match our follow up visit so we can hang out again in the waiting room together again in a few weeks.  Yeah.  She rocks!

From there, we headed over to the carwash, because my dad’s car needed a bath.  Plus, it’s fun.  We paid $6 for the express wash then drove into the tunnel, paying close attention to the traffic light telling me to “enter slowly”.  I drove ahead until it said “STOP”.  Then it told me to drive forward again.  Stop.  Drive forward.  Stop.  Then it started and soap sprayed all over the car, but the brushes only barely touched the back bumper.  A few seconds later, the light told me to exit slowly.  Say what?  I parked the rather soapy car in front of the gas station and stated my problem to the owners.  A very Italian man smiled and coached me on the skills of carwash etiquette, because how I described what happened must have sounded like I truly had never gone through a carwash before.  He walked out with me and told me to drive through again.  He gave me instructions on what each hand motion he would make, meant, and we tried again.  He stood at the end of the tunnel, like an air traffic controller about to land a jumbo jet.  Except he added another hand motion we didn’t go over in our briefing: “put the car in park”.  It looked a whole lot like “Back Up”, so I did.  Slowly, of course.  The loud “exit slowly” buzzer came on.  He shook his head and motioned for me to circle around again.  He typed another pass into the little computer thing while I drove to the entrance.  The second attempt was better.  Not correct, but better.  Something happened which forced me to circle yet again.  He certainly must have thought I was fresh out of drivers ed.  Or carwash ed.  This time we had all the details worked out and I was dying of laughter.  He put on his traffic controller hat again, and this time it worked.  Harry only cried a little as the gigantic brushes scrubbed Grandpa’s little red car, which is now sparkling again.

After the carwash, I had to run to the police station to pick up the police report from the accident.  Last Friday, we were two blocks from home, driving to school.  I maneuvered down the narrow city street, noticing someone was double parked on my left.  As I navigated between his car and the other cars parallel parked, a woman to my right opened her car door as I was passing her.  The crunch was loud and sickening.  Her door was stuck in the sliding door window of our van, and the entire window shattered into a spider web.
2017-08-25 08.10.56Thankfully no one was hurt, but I did start to cry.  The second day of school, and we would be late.  The van was a mess.  To make matters worse, the party involved refused to take responsibility and mouthed off to the police officers.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience.  Now the insurance companies have to figure out what really happened since it is now word against word.  At the police station, I obtained the report no problem.  Harry was totally enamored with the receptionist.  He is usually serious towards strangers, but something about her sweet face turned him into a sunbeam!  It was darling.  I think we will need to go back just to say hello.

Much happened during those first 3 hours on Monday.  Tuesday found us at the eye doctor.  Jack and Elsie both need new glasses.  More dentist appointments and doctor appointments coming up too.  Then we’re all caught up on WELL visits for at least 6 months.  ALL THE PRAISE HANDS!  Matthew still has regular checkups to keep tabs on what’s going on in his unique, anatomically incorrect sinuses.

Nadine and Elijah absolutely love school.  We had our first parent/teacher back to school night last night and got to meet each teacher and hear how God is blessing them there.  So thankful for the input of others into their lives.

Our other three students begin school next month here at home.  Harry blends into the mix in his own sweet way.  As Betty said while she helped me at the store yesterday: “You are just such a precious child!”  Yes, yes he is.

No dentists, doctors or grocery stores in the mix for today, but there is plenty of laundry to do.  I’m going to pretend my laundry detergent is like the widow’s oil which didn’t run out until she didn’t need it any more.  Because it looks like there is only one more load’s worth left in the container, but I have a few more loads to do than that.  And as trivial and trite a need that is (because I know the detergent I ordered is on its way soon, and hey… I’m cool not doing laundry for a few days) we do have a true and real need right now.  Matthew needs a work truck by this weekend, so we pray and look and wait and anticipate that answer to prayer!  And maybe we’ll celebrate its arrival by… a carwash or three!


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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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Sometimes I’m Not Okay… and That’s Ok

Sometimes Friday comes around, and when Matthew gets home from work, we shake hands and introduce ourselves.  Does this ever happen to any other married couples?  It only takes a few days of work and collapsing into bed each night before the distance between our hearts starts to grow.  When we were dating, we could talk for hours on the phone.  Back then, we had to wait until 7 o’clock in the evening, when the “long distance” between Coatesville and Philadelphia was less expensive.  Yup.  When the time on the phone with him got excessive, my dad would highlight my conversations on our phone bill and I’d have to pay him back.   It was always worth it.  And it’s still worth the lack of sleep, to sit on the front porch to refill our emotional cups and reconnect again.  To get past the handshake stage and dig deeper.  If we only ever give each other the dregs of our day, this will eventually make us forget what it’s like to really know the other person.  Dregs are not as delicious or fulfilling as the freshly made batch of coffee or tea, or some freshly squeezed orange juice.  Allow your spouse more than just your dregs.

It’s been a tough couple of months for us.  I’ve actually been avoiding this blog.  Because I WANT everything to be okay.  I hate fake, so as to avoid writing truth, I don’t write anything at all.  But it’s been 11 doctor visits in 4 months and I completely broke down yesterday.  After our initial positive visit with Matthew’s specialist, things went slowly downhill.  He started to lose his voice and has had some sinus infections which have been incredibly persistent in nature.  Long story short, we are almost at a turning point.  Yesterday he had a biopsy taken of his sinus tissue to see if it is indeed Wegener’s flaring up again (bloodwork was iffy and inconclusive) or just a really bad infection.  Given the permanently scarred and damaged sinus cavity he has, from twelve years of surgeries and disease-damaged tissue, we know things will never be “normal” again.  It makes figuring out if a “stuffy nose” is something which warrants buying a box of tissues, or getting a round of blood work done.  I should call it LWW.  Life with Wegeners.  Remission is so fun, because this stupid disease is not the first thing people chatter to us about when they see us.  It’s awesome to feel “normal” and not like you’re wearing a t-shirt that says, “ask me how I’m feeling.”  Don’t get me wrong, we totally appreciate people’s concern for us, and how Matthew’s feeling.  But it’s so exhausting to be sick.  It’s lonely too, because you want to act like nothing is wrong, all while fighting something that is very wrong.  So I’ve somewhat angrily been avoiding this topic, because I’m so over it.  Wegeners took a back seat for two beautiful years.  It is never welcome, in my book.  Which is exactly why I’m not the one writing the story.

Someone close to us recently asked me how I was doing with Matthew being sick.  It kind of threw me for a bit, because I realized I’m not really okay.  I want to kick and scream and order a large pizza.  I’m jealous of people who can eat whatever they want and get a stinkin’ cold without worrying about it turning south.  I’m jealous of people who don’t have doctor visits flooding their calendar and drying up their bank accounts.  Then all of a sudden, I realize where I’ve gone wrong.  My eyes have completely turned from Jesus to the waves.  Like Peter, I’m sinking.  It’s not the first time.  These churning waves and I have met before.  They’re scary and ugly and as my focus turns to their depths, my faith gets lost in their darkness.

So our late night porch talk covered a lot of this, and Jesus has reminded me again of His faithfulness.  He hasn’t moved.  It’s okay to be weak, because then He is strong.  And believe me, we’re not weak in the sense of giving up.  That phrase doesn’t belong in our vocabulary: Give up.  We’re weak in our OWN strength to get through what this storm-filled life throws our way.  Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus.

When you pray for us, pray for our faith to be strengthened.  For Jesus to be glorified.  For us to be bold.  No fishy handshakes or wimpy hugs and sighs.  He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind!  Look us in the eye and remind us not to give up.  To rest, not quit.  You can ask God for healing if you want, but more importantly, please pray for our eyes to stay focused on Jesus, and our marriage to grow even deeper in love and grace.  We already know a day is coming very soon where we will be completely healed.

Now I need to go and enjoy a fresh cup of tea with my love.  It’s Saturday, and we have two full days together, and I still haven’t run out of things to talk about with him.  And there’s no long distance bill to worry about anymore.

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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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Finishing With A Smile

The weekend has come and gone.  Hours of preparation, driven into the pavement, mile by mile.  The weather this year was amazing.  I even had to wear a jacket through the night to ward off feeling chilly.

On Friday evening, we delivered the three youngest to my in-laws and picked up Matthew’s race packet.  He got checked out by the race doctors, and then we went home to rest.  I barely slept, full of excitement and wonder for the following two days.  On Saturday morning I drove to Philly to drop him off at the start line, with his cooler of food and drinks, and said good-bye.  Then I drove with a friend to drop Nadine off at girl’s camp for the week!    Elijah went with my mom where he then was driven to soccer camp on Sunday.  What a crazy, emotional day of saying goodbye!

By the time I finished dropping her off and made my way back to Philly, it was about 7:30 pm.  I drove the race loop where Matthew was running, in hopes of seeing him.  I found him around mile 3 of 8.  He was with his buddy from high-school.  What a blessing, since the previous few hours he had been struggling with some major stomach discomfort.  When he made it back to the start/finish line, he lay down on the ground and said he felt like throwing up.  His stomach was not happy.  At this point in time, a slew of friends and family had arrived, and we chatting around him, some praying, some just talking.  We waited it out for an hour or so before he finally sat up and ate something that agreed with him.

The next two loops were run with different friends.  I was able to pray and see the lights of Philadelphia in the middle of the night.   Then two girl friends of mine came to sit with me through the night.  I never felt alone, which had been one of my anxieties.  I didn’t realize how much this had been weighing on me until I sat there with them.  It was pretty special.  How important it is to be there for one another!

Once 4 am rolled around, my half-marathon buddy, Gail, and I fast-walked with Matthew through the dawn.  It was incredible starting off at night and ending in day.  We met a fellow lone ranger on the path who was pretty discouraged, and he started to keep pace with Matthew.  Once we finished that loop, it was already 6 am, and so Matthew started out for his 10th loop and then some, alone.  The total mileage he logged was 88.5.  His goals were to finish at 10am, have fun, finish with a smile, and be able to walk to the car unassisted.  He did all these things, and I couldn’t be more proud.

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1- Our last time all together for a week!
2- One last nap, storing up reserves
3,4- Getting all checked in for race day!
5- Lots of melon for the runner
6- When I first spotted Matthew, 9 hours into the race.  I beeped my horn like a crazy woman and cried a bit too.
7- A four-year tradition of sidewalk chalk
8- Servant-friends, helping Matthew through the hardest part of the night
9- An art museum steps walk/talk/prayer time
10- Hot tea, words of encouragement and lots of love
11- Almost there
12- Sleep for a long time
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He ended with a smile.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7