Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Shade...

know there are people in this world who love the mornings. 

I'm just not one of them! LOL;-)

I've always been a night-owl who would much prefer to get things done in the wee hours of the night, and even if I am able to conquer my insomnia and get to bed at a decent hour, I still just do not like waking up early in the morning. 

Now, that doesn't mean that I CAN'T get up early...When I was 16, I consistently had to get up around 5AM each day. I was a nanny for a precious family with four kids, and I would watch them in the morning for a bit before piling them all into my 1983 maroon mustang ("Marcy") to take them to school. And while I really enjoyed that particular job, that doesn't mean I enjoyed waking up so early!

All of that to say, my fellow friends who enjoy working out tend to thrive with 6AM boot camps, but me? I'd much rather work out in the heat of day than have to get up with the sun to do my workout. This means I've made some pretty stupid (Don't tell Lucy I used that word!) workout decisions in my day, and this past weekend was one of them...

They say you should get new running shoes every 6 months or every 200-300 miles. Well, my last pair of running shoes was purchased in June...of 2013!
In my defense, I got pregnant shortly after I purchased them, so my running days have been far from consistent. Even so, they paid their dues LONG ago, and with a hip flexor injury that keeps reappearing, shin splints literally screaming at me after a week of Vacation Bible School last month
I knew it was time to budget new shoes in. There are plenty of other things we need to spend money on right now, but I knew I truly needed shoes (everyone woman's dream, right?!;-)  so I stuck my piano teaching money in my wallet, knowing it wasn't near enough for a decent pair of running shoes, and I prayed the Lord would allow me to find an amazing sale somehow. 

Why am I so surprised that He did?

I wear a pretty popular size shoe (any fellow 8.5's wanna give me a shout out?) and this store *just happened* to have one pair of sale Nike's left that I literally had EXACT CHANGE for after the cashier rang them up. 

EXACT change, down to the pennies.

So what's a girl to do when she comes home to napping kids and a new pair of running shoes?? Who cares that it's 2pm...in the middle of July...in TEXAS?! Off my determined self went in my snazzy and comfy new shoes...I was feeling pretty good after mile 1 and thought, hey! I'll go to the park so I can run on the trail. I was obviously only thinking with my fashion-friendly feet though, because what I failed to recognize is the fact that once I run all the way to the park, I also have to run all of the way BACK...

Oops.

I got 1/2 mile into the park trail and was completely parched. The wind was no longer blowing in my favor, and I could feel the sun baking my skin. I took a walking break for a bit and told myself to push ahead...but, I.just.couldn't. Just then, as I drug my feet around the corner, I saw a large tree hovering over some grass. I stepped off the hot pavement and felt the wind blow through my hair, and I realized I woud be okay, because I had found a place that I could rest. You see, it wasn't enough for me to just stop in the middle of the pavement, because the sun was still beating down on me.  But, when I found an area covered from the sun in the shade, I found the ability to truly rest. 

Psalm 121:5 says this: 
"The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade."

Sometimes, it's not just our bodies that need physical rest, but our souls need spiritual rest, and the Lord is waiting to cover us, to protect us, and to either strengthen us or just hold us from whatever "elements" may be beating down upon us.  The question is, are we willing to step away from our chosen path and step off into His shade and wait for Him?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blue...

I'm sure I'm not alone in my nightly mommy-routine of carefully sneaking up the stairs before I head to bed to check on my babies.  I make sure they aren't too hot or too cold, I lightly brush their hair out of their face, and I whisper to them, "Momma loves you..." and then sometimes I just watch them for a few moments. I watch their peaceful expressions as they dream and rest, I smile at the joy they have brought me from the day, and I find my heart filled with thankfulness that I get to be their momma. And then sometimes, I can't help but want to bottle up that moment and snap a picture. Tonight was one of those nights...


See poor Pluto over there? He's not completely out of the picture, because Pluto and Gabriel are BIG time pals. Gabriel "can't" sleep without Pluto at naps or bedtimes, and ONLY this specific Pluto will do. (I tried taking him to the Disney store for a new Pluto, and his response to me was, "That's not funny!") Now, Gabriel is very particular in that he likes ALL of his stuffies in his bed with him (we have to have Pluto, other Pluto, and OTHER Pluto, plus three different puppies, Captain America, Scout, and the most recent addition, Blue.) He's recently taken a huge liking to Iron Man (DH couldn't be prouder that his son loves super heroes!), but we decided that a plastic boy barbie (um, excuse me, "ACTION figure") wasn't the safest thing to cuddle with at bedtime, so the heroes have been moved to the table across the room and they keep an eye on GP;-)
 All of this being said,  I've never seen Gabriel snuggle up asleep to another stuffie other than Pluto, so when I walked in tonight to find him snuggled up with Blue, I just had to snap a picture of it.

My mom purchased Blue for Gabriel the night before he had his second tubes surgery last month. Gabriel has always loved puppies, and we thought it would be special for him to have a new friend to take with him to the hospital.
 He instantly took a liking to him and when we tried to figure out what to call him, I think it was Mom who blurted out "Blue." I didn't think much about the name at the time--it rang a bell to me, but it mostly just seemed to fit since the dog does happen to be, well, BLUE. Anyway, after I came downstairs tonight, I was editing the picture and decided to caption it "Gabriel and Blue," and that's when it hit me...

I remembered another dog by the name of Blue. I'm sure it's what my mother was thinking when she blurted out the stuffie's name, and I'm not sure how I could have forgotten it then, but I remember it now: Blue was the name of Will Stockdale's dog in the Andy Griffith movie, "No Time for Sergeants." My entire family has this movie memorized, because it was my daddy's very favorite movie, and we watched it all.the.time! 

If you don't know, my Daddy passed away 8 years ago this week. The anniversary of his death usually strikes me pretty hard, and so this week is just an emotional week over all for me. And while I know it may sound kind of silly, I can't tell you how comforting it was to see Gabriel snuggled up next to Blue on this particular night. It felt like a special hug from my Daddy-God saying, "I know you miss him," and then giving me a sweet reminder of my daddy. I mentioned on facebook earlier this week how one of the things I miss most about him is his laugh. He had such a unique and hearty chuckle that was so inviting.
He loved to tell jokes and quote lines from his favorite movies. I've said many times in these past eight years how I wish I could hear his voice just one more time. And tonight, as I looked at that sweet image of Gabriel and Blue, I felt like I could almost hear my Daddy in his thick, southern drawl, imitating Will Stockdale saying, "Bluuuue! Bluuuuue! C'mon, Bluuuuue!"

I've cried a lot of tears this week over many different things. In fact, you could easily say I've been pretty "blue." And while feeling the "blues" often is a marker of sadness, I'm also reminded that the color blue represents other things, too, like blue skies that appear after a storm. My daddy's death has always been a very hard thing for me to swallow, but I know my Daddy-GOD wants to remind me that there are blue skies after the storm. And just like Will Stockdale urged his lazy dog along, the Lord is urging me along to look for the blue skies after life's storms. 

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."  Psalm 30:5

Oh, how I long for the day when I can see those blue skies, but in the mean time, my Daddy-God gave me a pretty special glimpse of some blue in my night...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Today...

There are days when the beds get made and non-workout clothes or pajamas get put on as soon as everyone wakes up. 

There are days when the kitchen and living room are tidy and untouched with the first light of day. 

There are days when I get to drink my coffee while it's still hot. 

There are days when I write special notes to my DH on his coffee mug and put funny jokes on Lucy's orange in her lunch box. 

There are days when I get dinner started at lunch time and have it setting out on the table as soon as DH gets home. 

(Ok...maybe that last one doesn't happen hardly ever these days!)

There are days when diapers get changed before blowouts happen, and nobody throws a fit over having to lay still long enough so that the contents don't go flying out over the sheets you just changed yesterday. 

There are days when bed time happens at a decent hour and kids fall asleep with no fuss, where DH and I have a few moment together to discuss our day and pray together and dream together. 

And then there are days like today.

Days when not one single bed in the entire house get made, including the self-made ones on the couch from a big sister who was sick all day...

Days when you spend almost every free moment you have washing dishes and picking up toys and yet the kitchen and living room are still a disaster when everyone goes to bed... 

Days when you find your 3/4 full cup of coffee still sitting at the breakfast table at dinner time...

Days when you'd love to take a moment to do something special for each member of your family, but you're pulled in so many different directions that you can't even find a moment to think anything other than what time which person got what medicine and when do they need another dose, and was it Tylenol or ibuprofen that you last gave, and did Gabriel get both doses of his antibiotic and did Lucy eat before hers and did Annie still have fever or was it DH, and where did Gabriel hide the thermometer...

Days when dinner is re-heated leftover soup or microwaved hot dogs, or waffles-gone-wrong, and the fizz from DH's ice drink explodes out all over the sink when you try to help him with it...

Days when the dirty diapers seems endless because of side effects from antibiotics, and your babies are crying because they hurt, and everyone is screaming for your attention at the same time, and there's just not enough of you to go around...

Days when bedtime isn't anywhere near when it's supposed to be because nap times were all over the place and sick children are fussy, and instead of having time to talk with DH you just collapse into  your recliner to stare mindlessly at a game on your phone to try and turn your brain off from reminding you of all the ways you could have been a better mommy today, a better wife, a better friend, a better daughter...and just as you get ready to drift off to sleep, DH's cough reverberates through the house up into the girls' room, jolting a scared Annie Beth from her sleep. (And you certainly aren't mad at DH for coughing-you want to cry that he's hurting and now she's hurting, too...) So you pick up your baby and rock her, and your heart starts to break a bit, because it feels like there's just not much you can do to make any of it better. 


Today.  

Today has been one of "those" days...

Today, every single one of my precious family members is in need of some relief, and I am feeling pretty weary...And a part of me feels guilty for even feeling weary, when I think of my fellow brothers and sisters in the faith who are being persecuted, who are watching their loved ones die, who are desperate for a relief far beyond coughs or fever or constant infections or lack of sleep...

But then my Heavenly Father reminds me that He cares for me...He cares for my personal needs in this present moment: TodayMy needs may seem so much smaller and more trivial, but yet He is able to care for my needs while He cares for theirs, too. 

As I was changing Annie's diaper today, and she was crying, I could hear Gabriel crying for me in the other room, and I could see Lucy's face flush with fever needing another dose of medicine, and I could hear DH coughing and needing his prescriptions picked up from the pharmacy...all I could do in that moment was finish changing Annie's diaper--I had to choose one task before I could move on to another. And then as I sat Annie down to help someone else, her cries continued because she wanted my undivided attention. 

I wasn't enough for everyone today.

But my Jesus, He is always more than enough!  While my abilities are limited, His grace and mercy flow endlessly.  He doesn't look down upon us and pick and choose which needs are the greatest, because He truly cares for each and every one of our needs, and it is my prayer that though this flesh will fail my precious family, that they will see that my God within me will NEVER fail them. His grace is enough, His mercies are new, and His love is overflowing, 

today.

And every day.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Haircuts...

There are a great many things that Gabriel loves...He loves his sisters,
 
his Pluto,(which is always upside down--he's obsessed with the tag, which is more like shreds at this point),
his "guys" (daniel tiger plastic figures;-) his "nilk" (milk),
playing outside,
he loves bath time (which is a good thing because of the previously mentioned love of the outdoors!)
I could honestly go on and on and on...but there are a few things that this little boy just doesn't feel the love for, and the biggest one right now is a haircut! Poor mister man is just TERRIFIED of everything involving getting a haircut.  However, he was at the point where he was sporting the same pixie cut that I had a few years back, so it was time to take a deep breath and git 'er dun!
As you can see from his tear-stained face, he was not impressed, but doesn't he look so handsome and so big now?!  I have big bruises on my legs now from being kicked so much, but hopefully we can go more regularly and get him more used to it.  He is seriously THE sweetest little boy (haircuts are the only time he ever flails around), but haircuts are just not his thing at the moment. This too shall pass, right? 
His big sister, on the other hand, likes all things involving being pampered. She was very excited to take an afternoon with me to get a haircut, complete with a big-girl shampooing:) 
And when I got my free products in the mail to try from Influenster, she begged me to let her use them, too!  Since I needed to review them in exchange for receiving them for free, I thought it would be fun to see how they worked on Lucy's hair, too. The products are by Dessange, and we got to try the shampoo, the conditioner, and also a replenishing oil. 

It was neat that we both got to try them and see how they worked for us since we have different types of hair--mine is thicker and Lucy's is longer. I love how clean they made both of our hair feel. Typically, conditioners and oils weigh my hair down, but I didn't find this to be the case at all. And while I'm not too crazy about the heavily perfumed scent, Lucy absolutely LOVES it! The oil isn't something I really need to use very often on my hair at all, but this past month, I've used it on Lucy's hair about once a week or so, and it has been wonderful for her.  Her hair is SO soft and silky and healthy feeling when we use the oil!  So, I will probably stick to using the shampoo and conditioner,
 and Lucy will stick to using the replenishing oil.  If you have long hair especially, these products are great!
And as a stay at home momma always trying to save our pennies, I love that I got to try them for FREE!;-)

No haircuts to report in this post for my Annie-girl, but she does have the sweetest little curls popping up on the back of her head. You can't see them too well in this picture, but since she's napping at the moment, it's all I can get...

It's hard to believe that in less than a month, we will celebrating her FIRST birthday, followed by Gabriel's THIRD birthday just two months after that!  So many milestones going on in our family. I'm reminded daily that while the days (the fits, the struggles, etc.) may seem long, the years are truly SO short, so I'm doing my best to soak up every single second of every day with these precious babies the Lord has entrusted to me. I'm so thankful to be their momma! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Road to His Arms...

This afternoon, I got to call and cancel two different medical appointments--one for a test, and one for a specialist.  When on the last phone call and asked why I was canceling and if I wanted to reschedule, I reponded, "The issue has been resolved.  We do not need to reschedule!" I literally hung up from that phone call with the biggest smile on my face.  I may have even skipped out of the kitchen after I turned my phone off and then gazed at two of my three amazing blessings playing in the living room.  Maybe canceling a few doctor appointments doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but to me, after the past year, it was huge. 

I haven't posted about our family's medical issues a whole lot on my blog (not necessarily to try and hide what has been going on...there's a lengthy explanation for it, I promise...), but sum it all up to say this: we've had a rough year.  It's not that anyone has been diagnosed with anything that has not been treatable, and I do not take that lightly at all, but we've just had a weary year filled with, literally, one appointment after another.  From regular checkups to the common cold at our pediatrician's office, to strep throat and flu at the care now clinics, to so many infections and trips to my OB since Annie's birth, to multiple specialists (I'm not exaggerating--every member of our family has seen one, if not more, specialists in the past year) to surgeries and hospitalizations.  It's been draining in every sense of the word. And while each issue has been a matter of prayer for this momma, there was one issue that weighed especially heavy on my heart: my newborn baby facing a possible surgery.

Annie was diagnosed with a patent urachus when she was one month old.  After over a month of continual antibiotics and a handful of tests, we were relieved to hear the Lord had healed the issue.  Her belly button was no longer leaking any fluid, and the open area from her belly button to her bladder had appeared to close.  However, it left behind something the pediatric urologist wanted to follow up on. So, in January, we had followup testing done, and a very conflicting visit with the doctor.  We left his office very unsure of what course of action to take.  After much prayer, discussion, and seeking some wise counsel, we chose to get a second opinion.  We had that appointment this morning.  DH doesn't know this, but as the threat of severe winter weather loomed over us, I couldn't help but remember a similiar trip just a little over eight years ago...

In December of 2006, my husband was taken in for emergency surgery, and in January of 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer. His oncologist felt the cancer was contained and that observation was the best coure of action, but he wanted to refer us to a specialist for his specific type of cancer so that we could get a second opinion. We were living in Illinois at the time, and the specialist we were to see (who had treated Lance Armstrong's cancer--we felt so blessed to be able to get in to see someone so knowledgable in this field) was in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I had taken time off from work (not something I could easily change...I won't go into the details of that job!), and appointments with specialists don't just pop up very quickly, so when the threat of a winter storm came up, we decided to just head out on the roads earlier than planned to try and beat the bad conditions.  Surrounded by the snow-filled air and the slick pavement, we made a trip for that second opinion, and we were met with very reassuring words from the doctor.

While the snow had not yet filled the air this morning, and the roads were not yet iced over on the road to Annie's second opinion, the threat was there.  And, as I sit here now typing this, I can hear the sounds of our fireplace crackling and the freezing rain hitting our rooftop.
  And, just like that trip to Indianapolis, Indiana 8 years ago, today we were greeted with reassuring words.  There was certainly a chill in the air as DH and I left both of those appointments, but the feeling in my heart was one of warmth and comfort and gratitude at God's grace...but still, I found myself questioning the Lord today. Not in the way of "Why did you make us travel this road?" but in a way of, "Lord, I know Your way is perfect, so I do not question it, but if nothing was to come of all of this medical concern, what was Your purpose in having us travel this path?"  I felt the Lord nudge me, and I realized the question that I needed to be asking was this: "Lord, what did you want to teach me from all of this?"  I couldn't find the answer right away, but the Lord never stays silent...

As the day progressed and the temperature continued to drop, I found myself cozied up in my favorite chair with my favorite blanket...and my favorite blessings:)  Lucy,
Gabriel,
and Annie
all piled into my lap at various points of the afternoon wanting to be snuggled...to warm up...to be held by their mommy.  There is possibly no greater feeling in the world than to hold your precious child close to you, to show them love and, in many ways, to give them protection.  There is such great comfort to be found when you are being held. 

So I'm not so sure that the Lord was wanting to teach me something these past several months...I think, more than anything, He just wanted to give me another glimpse of how He is my Heavenly Daddy; He wanted to hold me.  Because at every turn of this weary year, when I've felt like I can't take another step and it's all too much for me to handle, I've found myself collapsing in His arms.  And while we certainly can enjoy the warmth of our Saviour's embrace during the good days, it is during those times that we so often choose not to.  


So today, I got to call and cancel two appointments that we no longer needed to keep, because the issue had been resolved.  After hanging up the phone and gazing at my precious kiddos in the living room, I joined them, and I held them, and they smiled up at me.  And I found myself reaching for my Heavenly Daddy's arms, too.  But today, it wasn't to find refuge.  No, just like my children were smiling up at me, I found myself smiling up at Him. 

Thank you, Jesus, for your grace in DH's healing and in Annie's healing.  And thank you for how you love your children. May my children see a glimpse of your love for them through the love I show to them as I hold them when they are crying, and as I hold them when they are smiling. Thank you for how you are ALWAYS holding onto me... 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Fuzzy Pink Chair...

As a parent, I take such joy in seeing my kids accomplish things. You would have thought Annie had become the youngest president of the United States from the way DH and I responded to her waving for the first time just a few weeks ago...
And while it may not be hanging in a popular art gallery, Gabriel's first water color painting is certainly taking a prominent position on his mommy's fridge this week! 

Lucy even bowled her first strike recently, and the "crowd" (ummm, family;) went wild!!:-) 

But even more than being proud of my kids for their various accomplishments and activities, it's those moments--those "ah-ha!" moments--that really melt my mommy-heart.  You know, the moments where something just "clicks" with your child, and they aren't simply memorizing a fact or performing an activity out of habit and obedience, but they really "get" a situation and apply its importance to their own life...

Lucy is blessed to attend a local Christian school, and it has been such an amazing experience for her. I love that she is surrounded by teachers who not only love her, but teachers who love the LORD and bring Him into every subject and every activity. Part of Lucy's assignments this school year is a memory verse each week. I typically keep the paper in the kitchen or we write the verse out on one of our chalkboards (is anyone else obsessed with chalkboards? I have them everywhere!) and go through it every day.
 Lucy wasn't feeling well on Monday, so she had to leave school early and didn't get her verse sheet until the following day. At dinner that evening, I was going through her papers and saw her verse. "Lucy! This is one of my favorite verses! It says, 'The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.' Exodus 14:14." Lucy responded, "That's one of my favorites, too!"  She paused before continuing, "And you know, that's just like me, too! I didn't feel well yesterday, so I needed to be still, and the Lord had to fight my sickness for me." I think I almost had to pick my jaw up off of the floor! I tend to think of difficult battles I have in my adult life that cause me to need to let go of my desire to control and just let God handle it. But oh, to be able to view life through the eyes of a child! She so eagerly and quickly made that verse her own and applied it to exactly where she was in her own life--and the Lord cares just as much about her feeling poorly as He does about anything we as adults may be facing in our relationships, finances, jobs, etc.

So whether it's learning to use a spoon for the first time...
Or being engrossed in a newfound love of art...
Or celebrating an accomplishment... 
I pray that my family will learn how to actively practice being still--to carry out our everyday lives in such a way that we allow the Lord to work through us...to place the stresses of our circumstances at His feet while we wait patiently to see how He will move...to move past our hurts and move toward the arms of our loving Heavenly Father...and to look for Him and wait for Him. We never really know what's in store for us as a new year begins, but we can trust in the One who has gone before us to prepare the way, and fight the battles that are ahead...you only need to be still...and if you're like Lucy, you can enjoy it all from the comfort of a fuzzy pink chair;-) 


 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Learning to Hope Again...

This time three years ago, I was sitting on our living room couch sifting through multiple sheets of information while also trying to sift through the multiple thoughts and emotions running through my head. Three years ago today, DH and I had attended the first day of our adoption agency's orientation. That weekend literally changed our lives. We went into it apprehensive about open adoption, and came out of it completely certain and totally excited at the path God had placed us on. There were so many unknowns, but there was one very clear answer: We were called to adopt! As the status update from three years ago popped up on my timehop app today, my heart literally stopped and a smile spread across my face as I looked across the breakfast table at my precious little boy...as I studied his face, I found it unbelievable that three years ago he was just a hope in my heart. And you know what is so amazing about hope? That it "does not disappoint!"

One of the scripture passages the Lord led me to during our struggle to expand our family was Romans 5:1-5: 

"5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." 

I struggled so much with how to hope. Through the devastation of unanswered questions from my daddy's death to the heartache of being unable to conceive, it was just too painful to hope. But God was teaching me that when we place our hopes in His hands, He will never disappoint us. Rather, He takes our ashes and makes them into something beautiful.  And now, every time I look at Gabriel's precious face, every time I squeeze him tightly, every time I kiss his smooshy cheeks, every time I hear his sweet voice say "Momma..."I'm reminded of the truth that we can hope and not be disappointed, because God's path truly is perfect. It may be filled with the lowest of valleys and the trickiest of turns, but it is always accompanied by our Daddy-God who guides us to somewhere more beautiful than we could ever imagine if we will only let Him.

Three years ago, we not only began our adoption journey officially, but I also began my journey of learning to hope again. My prayer is that you, too, will discover how He's calling you this new year to hope in His perfect plan...