Monday, March 21, 2016

Flowers and Fondue...

In our lifegroup the other night, we discussed different truths we believe as Christians. I mentioned that I believe children are a gift. We then discussed what kind of actions those beliefs cause us to make. For example, if we truly believe that children are a gift, how does that affect how we treat them? Do we find ourselves becoming easily angered when they misbehave, or do we treat them with love and gentleness, even when we get frustrated? I truly want to cherish my children, and for the most part, that's easy to do.
Like on the days when my 8 year old crawls into bed with me early in the morning, snuggling up close to me and telling me how much she loves me and thinks I am the greatest mommy in the world...or in the moments when my 3 year old runs up to me and gives me the biggest hug, just because he is so excited to be in my presence...or when my 22 month old reaches up for me to pick her up and crinkles up her nose, smiling at me and babbling away joyfully... It's easy to be a grateful momma in those moments. But what about the moments when that 8 year old talks back and argues with you over EVERYTHING...or when that 3 year old throws a fit because you make him take a much-needed nap...or when that 22 month old is kicking and crying uncontrollably because you won't let her eat chocolate animal crackers for a meal...or what about when all three of those things seem to happen all at once?! Those are the moments when grateful mommies can easily turn into the Incredible Hulk. Those are the moments that we all too quickly forget that even the greatest of gifts often require some of the greatest of sacrifices. I have to admit that I can often "lose my cool," but I truly do pray each day for the Lord to take over every ounce of my being, to give me patience with my children, to show them grace and gentleness, to LOVE them as He loves them, and to help me to appreciate every single moment--the precious ones that make my mommy-heart melt, but also the challenging ones, that make my blood want to boil! And as we approach
socks with sandals
adding another amazing gift to our family, I find myself praying extra hard for the ability to mother these children in a way that honors my Heavenly Father. I feel so humbled that, for whatever reason, the Lord has chosen me to be their mother...but I admit that I often feel very overwhelmed by such a great task. But that's actually a good thing, because when we realize that we really aren't enough, it causes us to rely even more on the only One who IS enough--Jesus Christ. And as we approach Thursday (*squeals*!!!!!) when we will get to welcome Baby H into our wild and crazy and blessed family, I find myself wanting to soak up every single moment I have with these three precious babies the Lord has so graciously gifted to me already. So while my brain is pretty preoccupied with thoughts of how everything is going to look as a family of 6, what recovery from surgery is going to be like with four children, etc., I'm also trying to just live in the NOW of this moment, and my "now" centers around my Lucy Shea, Gabriel Paul, and Annie Beth, and today, that meant picnic and play time outside, and a special mommy-daughter date with my oldest.

The Texas temps are doing their usual
Picnic in the backyard
dance of going from one season to another in the matter of just a few days, which meant my kids all wore winter clothes to church on the first official day of spring (except Annie's winter shoes no longer fit, so I actually put her in socks with sandals!) Today, it started warming up though, so I thought it would be fun to have a picnic out back on the deck and then let the kids run off some energy in the backyard.
Gabriel was the first to abandon his PB and J, but it wasn't just so he could run off and play. He ran up towards me , thrusting a small flower in my face, and with a big, warm smile, he proudly proclaimed, "Here you go, Mommy. I brought you a flower!"

"Here you go Mommy. I brought you a flower!"
My heart instantly became a puddle! I gladly accepted such a prize, only to be continually rewarded with various findings from my boy throughout the rest of our time outside. The fits are often hard to endure, and the potty training wars can be frustrating, but in the grand scheme of things, those moments make up such a small speck of mommyhood. It may seem overwhelming at the time, but when I think of the big picture of being a parent, those aren't the moments that come to the forefront of my mind. And just as I pray to give my children grace each day, I find that they are possibly the best examples of grace-givers (and flower-givers, too;-)

Not only was I blessed today by the sweet heart that my baby boy has, but I also got to experience the breath of fresh air that my Lucy brings to me.
On their way to see Star Wars!
Daddy-Daughter Date
She recently requested a special one-on-one date with her Daddy and with her Mommy before Baby H arrives. I was the baby of my family, so I never have experienced what it's like to have the responsibility that's placed on the oldest child of a family, especially a larger family, and I often wonder if we expect a bit too much out of Lucy. I seriously would be lost without that girl! She is SUCH a helper, and if ever someone truly blossomed in their role in life, it is Lucy with how she has just thrived in her position as the big sister. Her siblings look up to her with such awe, and she embraces them with such love. I always say that the Lord knew exactly what He was doing when He made Lucy the oldest child. So, while she does have the most responsibility placed upon her amongst all of the siblings, she also gets a few special treats that the others haven't gotten quite yet, such as a one-on-one date with her parents.

DH took her out a few weeks ago with some other friends to see the new Star Wars movie at the imax. I always say my biggest flaw for DH is I don't like Star Wars,
tic tac toe
and his one and only fault is that he doesn't like chocolate. However, God gave us Lucy--she's obsessed with Star Wars alongside her Daddy, and she's also a HUGE lover of all things chocolate, just like her Momma! So, I decided for our special "before baby date," we would go out for fondue! Lucy was so excited when she heard me on the phone today making reservations for our special outing. I could just see it all over her face how special she felt tonight. She spends the majority of her days having to share everything, including Mommy and Daddy, but tonight, she just had me to herself.
After we finished eating, she asked if she could come sit next to me. Since it wasn't busy at the restaurant, they told us we could stay as long as we wanted, so we sat next to one another and played eight rounds of tic tac toe, coming up with different shapes and designs to use for each game, laughing with each other, and taking silly selfies.
It was a few hours devoted to just enjoying each other's company.

silly selfies
It's quite possible that tomorrow will hold its share of tantrums and fits and arguments, but I'm reminded that my Heavenly Father deals with the same thing from His children, too. I often kick and scream my way through the valleys, and yet He so graciously loves me through it. I so pray that my children will see Him in me as I parent them. Whether it be over flowers, or fondue, or even fits, may I never forget or take for granted the tremendous gift I have been given by being called "Mommy."

Saturday, March 19, 2016


I'm at the tail end of my pregnancy, and while I am savoring each kick and crazy movement my little Baby H is making, my body is SO worn out. Between sickness, migraines, ulnar nerve issues, insomnia, swelling, and a host of other issues, my body has been on a wild ride! I've found myself fighting guilt over these feelings of being "done" being pregnant. I know what it's like to feel like you would give ANYthing to be able to experience pregnancy. But the reality still is that it's hard on a woman's body to grow and carry another life inside of it. A dear friend reminded me this week that I can be both grateful and miserable at the same time--it's just the reality of the situation, and there's nothing wrong with being real! 

 So, that being said, I've had to spend a lot more time in bed lately than I normally would, just trying to allow my body to rest so that baby H can get what she needs, and so Mommy can function to give everyone else in the family what they need, too. Yesterday was one of those days that I just had to take some time resting, and Annie joined me after her nap. As she was "talking" to me (she cracks us up--she will babble on and on endlessly, but we usually can't understand anything she's saying except for the last word or two), she started pointing at my belly.

ME: Is that the baby?
ANNIE: Baby!
ME: Do you want to kiss the baby?
ANNIE: (can't quite reach my belly): NO!
ME: Why not?
ME: As a matter of fact, Annie, yes. She sure is!

All of my girls have seemed to be "stuck" until forced to move. I had my last OB appointment yesterday before that conversation with Annie, and sure enough, Baby H is following in her sister's footsteps (or lack of foot steps!), so I'm not dilating at all. It seems my girls just like to find a comfy position (i.e. an UNcomfy position for Mommy!) and stay put. Sometimes, I feel like my body just doesn't want to cooperate and do what it is "supposed" to do, but in my heart, I really believe that the Lord is somehow protecting us. For some reason, it's best for my babies to come another way, and in the end, it really doesn't matter if I have some amazing natural birth story, if I have to go through a c-section, or if I receive the amazing privilege of being chosen by a birthmommy to parent my children. God's design for our family is exactly what it should be, and I am so thankful for how He has masterfully written our family's story. But typically, we don't tend to think of being "stuck" as being a good thing. However, as I reflected on my conversation with my toddler, I realized that being "stuck" isn't always a bad thing, and, in fact, Baby H's current position (according to her soon-to-big-sister) appropriately reflects the position our whole family has been in these past nine months. I shouldn't be surprised that God would use this baby to teach me and grow me once again, before she even arrives...

The details aren't really beneficial for me to share at this particular time, but in a way, our family was stuck in a very difficult situation nine months ago. In some ways, it felt as if we had been "stuck" in a horrible position, but what man meant for harm, God chose to work for our good and His glory. It some ways, it seemed cruel to be confined to a space that doesn't seem to allow the freedom to be all you know God has created for you to be, but in the midst of the darkness and confinement, God was at work growing and developing us through our circumstances. In the loneliness, He had us held more closely to Him. And while it felt like life was at a standstill, in the waiting, HE was still moving. And Baby H is in the exact same position right now...

A word that has similar meaning to "stuck" is the word "hold," and we find it in God's word that we are to "hold tightly" to our hope in the Lord. Just as my sweet baby girl is being held closely in my belly until the appropriate time for her arrival, God often holds us in places while he prepares the right place for us...and also while He prepares US for that place. What I'm learning more and more is that it's not so much about WHERE I am as it is about WHAT I'm doing while I'm there. I pray I will be found sitting at my Saviour's feet, or cradled in His arms, drawing closer to Him whether it be in every step He has me take, or in each pause He asks me to endure. May we all find ourselves "stuck" at His side...