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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Good Stuff

Here we are in the middle of November already, the time when I find myself settling into the groove of the school year and planning what gifts might be nice for loved ones at Christmas.
It has been a mild Fall so far & the kids are getting bigger and more interactive every day!
Lauren, Tanner, Tyler & Hannah's "CHEESE" faces


 ~So much love!~

Before I go any further, you might think this post will be mushy and cute and borderline aw-ing my life.  While I have lots of pictures that do indeed show the good stuff in life, please hear me loud and clear:  I need to remind myself that this is indeed the good stuff.
Far too often I bumble through my days knowing deep down that my children are blessings, but feeling in the moment that they are more like burdens.  Parenting is NOT easy (can I get an amen?).  It's constantly serving others.  Serving other demanding, unsympathetic, messy & temperamental selfish little cherubs.  I'm just being honest.
Andy and I were just talking about this.  In those moments of "poor me", it is so easy to get frustrated and discouraged.  Trust me, that leads to not a good place.  I've been there more times than I can count- it's called Meville and no benefits come from there.  For you or anyone else.  Only by the grace of God, when I start heading in this direction a soft whisper tells me, "It's not about you."  That soft whisper reminds me to stop focusing my eyes on me and to turn my eyes up.  Up towards my family, my friends, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers, and God.  That soft whisper reminds me that on His last night before he was executed, Jesus decided to spend his precious last moments washing the feet of his friends, even the one He knew would betray Him (see John 13: 1-17; Matthew 26: 14-39).  He served others.  The Son of God, who could call down angels and perform miracles and do whatever he wanted, chose to simply and quietly and humbly serve others.

Taking advantage of the warm weather last week.

It's not about me.  Are they cute?  Absolutely.  But are they always un-doing what I am doing, pushing the rules, making messes the moment I clean up, giving me tantrums and sass and demonstrating little common sense at times?  Absolutely.  Is my chore list never-ending?  Always.  Do the little ones act 3?  Yep.  Does big sister sometimes act like a hormonal pre-tweenager?  Yup.  Do I sometimes lose it?  You betchya.  It's not about me.  Clearly.  It's just not.

I have these 2 sticky notes in my kitchen right now.  I need the reminders.  Daily.  I need to remember it's not about me.  I need to remember what an honor it is to be called "mom (even if I get called this 12,597 times/day).  I need to remember my goal is to raise 5 adults who love well, respect well, give lots of grace and mercy, forgive easily, fight for justice, and know God.  My biggest prayer is they choose to love God with all their hearts, all their souls, all their mind and all their strength, and I feel the best thing I can do is to demonstrate that for them and create an atmosphere of love, respect, grace, mercy, forgiveness, justice, knowledge, and love for God in the intimacy of our far from perfect family.  And.... by humbly serving them well.  That is much easier said than done.  

As I re-read the words above, I have a fear you might mistakingly think because I typed all this I do it.  I don't!  Sometimes I fail miserably.  Many times I want it to be ALL ABOUT ME.  I want a break.  And I get tiiiiiirrrrreeeed.  So dang tired.  Tired of always "serving" them.  Tired of it all.

But this is what I strive for.  I don't get there as often as i would like, but I strive for this.  I strive to serve them well.  I strive to raise them well.  I strive to love them well.
Most days.
This is what happens when Daddy comes home at night!
~Baking cookies~

For this post, I will celebrate my children & remember 
the giggles, the snuggles, the learning and the laughter...

The Good Stuff.  


Monday, November 2, 2015

The Season of Fall

~THIS is Fall~

Playing in the leavesCool crisp breeze

Soccer games & Learning classmate's names

Jenna playing goalie
Cheering on our favorite girls soccer team!

My cute little mouse!
Jenna's school had a great spooky season singing program.  The kids did great!
Heidi's doughnuts-- mmmmm!

Homemade soup n' bread, playing with corn & pumpkin heads

The fun of Halloween & Enjoying the snuggling scene...

Jenna snuggling on the sofa with me & making colorful bracelets

My favorite bunch of 50's kids! 

Folks, this is Fall!   Happy Autumn to you all.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The 6th Child

It was five years ago, almost to the day, when I lost my second child.  She would be 4 1/2 now.  The day I lost that child was October 18, 2010.

The one we don't really talk about, because why would we?  After all, I am the mom to 5 beautiful, healthy children!!!

The only one who was ever conceived naturally, without any doctors or medications or basal body temperature recordings... the way I felt it "should have been" month after month, year after year, of disappointing negative pregnancy tests.
I took such immense joy and pride over this accomplishment!  Oh, I had no control over it, I know that.  I savored that short lived pregnancy.  The child was God given, and God taken.

Please hear me loud and clear.  The loss of my child still stirs up emotions that are so strong, even now. 

I took such immense sorrow from this loss.  I was angry.  Hurt.  Disappointed.  Depressed.  All at God.  I cried out to Him and yelled at Him.  You need to know He is a very big God and can take that.  Amid my sorrow He led me to verses in the bible specifically about mourning.  I jotted them down on 3x5 index cards and for months would literally read my "mourning cards" out loud with tears streaming down my face.  They did not take the pain away, but they did remind me I was not the first, or last person to experience such searing loss.

I know God had a plan for taking this child back into His arms.  Perhaps it was so I could have a greater sense of empathy for those who are hurting.  Since my miscarriage, I have had the opportunity to cry with and pray for countless friends who sadly suffered a pregnancy or infant loss, and it is so different when you can relate.  It just is.
Perhaps it was because there were four other children He had planned for us.  Out of the blue the other day, Jenna said, "Mom, you are actually a mom of 6 kids, right?  Us and the baby that died in your belly?"  I had to chuckle because had this baby been born, our family would have been "complete".  Our plan was to have 2 kids.  There would have been no other procedure or pregnancy or plan to have more children.  We would have been your average, "normal" family of 4.  This blog would have never existed.  So many things would have been different, and not all for the better.  I would have never met such amazing people along our journey.  I would not have strengthened my faith as I did through the trial of a miscarriage.  And I would not have had the honor of getting to parent my sweet quadruplets, Lauren, Hannah, Tyler and Tanner.  So, actually, the loss of this child paved the way for so many blessings that I just couldn't see or grasp during that painful time.  Blessings truly do come from trials.  Beauty from ashes.

I have no clue as to the why, I can only guess at God's reasons.  Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither your ways My ways, declares the LORD.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."  And so they are.  We simply can't make sense of it all.  It is easy to side-eye God's intentions.  Easy to get angry, get mad, get bitter, or brush it aside.  It is much harder to "trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight (Jeremiah 29:11).  In the end, The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."  Job 1:21b

Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  
Statistics say that about 1/4 pregnancies result in a loss.  They also hint that number is larger.  If you are in this category, hugs to you.  Big Hugs.
For people that chose to abort a child-- while this may be a legal choice, I have a hunch many individuals suffer silently and perhaps with feelings of guilt, too.  I cannot relate.  Honestly, I can't even begin to, since pregnancy has always been so hard for me to attain.  Nonetheless, please know if this is you I offer hugs.  Big Hugs.  Loss is loss.

Perhaps you never experienced a pregnancy or infant loss.  Chances are, however, you know someone who has, whether they speak of it or not.  I caution you to think twice before you pretend it never happened or diminish the impact an infant or pregnancy loss has on people's lives.

It is my prayer that everyone who suffers such loss will ultimately choose trust.  Even if it is blind trust.  My life verse that I clung to throughout all my fertility struggles was Romans 15:13:

May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

He is a God of hope.  I love that word.   Hope brings shimmers of light to a dark perspective.  Hope gives you something to live for, something to reach out to, something to fight for.  Hope is what we yearn for.  It is a gift from God if we accept it.  It does not take the pain away, but it is the promise of something new just outside our grasp.  I love this verse because it wasn't just about my hope to get pregnant (although that was often my prayer).  It's much bigger than that.
If we have faith in Jesus Christ, there is the hope of salvation through Jesus and the hope of eternal life with Him despite all the crud we encounter in this lifetime.  Hope in Christ and because of Christ.  Hope that there is so much more to life than just this.  And, it is God's hope that we would choose Jesus as our Savior just as much as he chose us to be His creation. He created us for a reason.  He has a purpose in all of this, one we cannot even wrap our minds around.

The God of hope wants to fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him, even though we have no idea what is around the corner.  I firmly believe God honors our trust in Him.  His ways are not our ways, and his timeline is not ours.  He answers prayers with a "not yet", or worse, a "no" sometimes.  Infuriating, right?  But it has always been my experience that even a "no" is a yes to something else.

Hope.  Joy.  Peace.  I pray this for all of you reading this today.



Friday, September 18, 2015

Falling into Routines

As much as I love Summer, I really enjoy Fall for its 
crisp weather, pumpkins, and most of all,  return of routines!  All of us are keeping busy.

First of all, 
Jenna started 2nd grade this year!

She also is in our local LASSO soccer team sport this fall, so we go to practice twice a week and have games every Saturday.  It makes weekdays more busy, but Jenna really enjoys playing soccer & she is good at it!  Her whole team is fun to watch and the siblings love going to cheer on Sissy at games.

Andy is keeping busy with his business, Oak Meadow Tree Service.  He took a nearby tree down a few weeks ago and the kids loved watching daddy work.

I fully expect Andy to put a harness on Tyler next year as his young apprentice.
And I fully expect Tyler will LOVE IT!

I have had a change in my routine too!  I added another day of work, so now I work 2.5 days a week but in a different department:  My former department!  I still service the students of Grand Rapids, but have returned to my old position as an Itinerant Occupational Therapist (that means I travel building to building).  
My population is preschool and school aged children.  I really have enjoyed working with high school students & young adults with physical disabilities these last 2 years, and the staff & students have been wonderful to work with.  However, the extra day of work will be helpful and I love working with the younger population- not to mention my old group of colleagues!  

The biggest change I have saved for last: 
We now have 4 preschoolers in the house!  

I was not initially planning on enrolling the kids into preschool until they were 4, but early Spring I was encouraged to sign up and see if we would qualify for scholarships.  Which we did, x4!
The 3's preschool they will attend this year is 2 days a week, 2 hours each.
The program is a co-op, so the only downside is you need to volunteer-- (which I love to do)-- 7 times.  Per student.  

So I will become a frequent fixture in their classroom with my 28 volunteer opportunities, but no worries.  Like I said, I love this population and I do not have to be the teacher, just her assistant! :-)

 I did a dry run last week practicing getting the kids up, fed, dressed, out the door; taking Jenna to her school by 8:40 and then the preschool building by 9 am.  We did such a fantastic job I decided to let them play at McDonalds the next hour while I sipped coffee and munched on a muffin.  Because this mama was pooped.  These will be busy mornings, but hopefully I can stay on time most days!

First Day of Preschool!  
Hannah (having a diva moment), Lauren (excited to go in), Tyler (folding his hands in an I-do-it-not-gonna-hold-hands moment) & Tanner (running away over & over & over...)
What routines are you falling into this Fall?