Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kyleigh's Debut


       Four kids in five years, spanning almost twelve years in age, wasn't our initial plan.....It's certainly been a whirlwind, but we wouldn't change a thing.  Never did we expect that nine months after bringing home our first daughter, we would be welcoming our second....almost 11 full years apart in age.  But we are so blessed, and God's plans are so much sweeter than our own.

         It's been hard to remember what it's like to have an hold one so experience the wonder of bringing a baby into the world.  We are so excited to have our little one here!  We haven't purposely been withholding her name....we just really didn't know ourselves until just recently.....I really wanted the room complete with letters on the wall, so we finally had to decide.  Caleb held strong to his vote for Batgirl, but in the end Kyleigh won out.  I think she'll thank us one day.

       She made quite the entrance into this world, leaving with me two very opposite birth experiences.  I remember the nurses coming in and of the room when I was in labor with Caleb, saying how this was not was quiet and calm as we watched movies and waited for our little boy.  They encouraged me to take a nap so I drifted in and out until the doctor came in to check on me.  She was off to lunch, but then suggested I not cough, sneeze, or basically move as she prepared to deliver our son....and fifteen minutes or so later, and pain free I may add, Caleb entered the world.  And so, I predicted the second time around would be much the same.  Wrong.

       Last Monday night, 13 days prior to my due date, the contractions started as I tried to sleep.  It was so much like the first time around, except that they started closer together....I was never able to sleep, so I tried to keep myself busy all night as everyone slept.....5 minutes apart....4....3....they weren't yet as severe as I remembered, but I know the second can sometimes come quickly and I remembered the sudden switch between the bearable and the takes-your-breath-away type so I assumed this was it.  I started packing a bag, woke Luke to do the same, and woke my poor mother to come stay with the kids.

      As soon as they checked me in, early Tuesday morning, they started to had been one of my big fears....getting sent home, being wrong....and sure enough, home we went.  I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for the same day and sure enough I was 4cm and she predicted I'd have the baby within the next 24 hours.  So naturally I stopped to do some errands on the way home to be better prepared, and then, since never having slept, tried to take a nap.  A few minutes after laying down the contractions started again.  But this time I wasn't taking it seriously....until ten minutes later when my water broke.  Luke was mowing the lawn and I suggested he finish up and get ready as the contractions quickly became more severe.  It was almost dinner time, so I decided I'd just make dinner quick so the kids were fed, and let my mom know she'd need to come soon.  Almost right away the contractions were a few minutes apart and getting unbearable....but the water was boiling and I figured I'd rather be safe than sent home again, so I finished up.  All I remember is our conversation on the way to the hospital about it being rush hour, not the ideal time to rush to the hospital....but then it was also almost 6 as the clock read 5:55 so it could have been worse.

    While they tried to get me in quickly, after checking me in, they had to wait for a I stood in the hallway, clearly in pain, a large group of people came around the corner.  A tour for those who would soon deliver at this hospital.....yes, I said...this is where you stand in the hallway, in agony, as you wait for a room ....I may have actually said that out loud, though I do believe quiet enough for them not to hear.  Their faces said it all anyway, as they tried not to make it obvious they were looking at me.

     They finally found a place for me, at which point I had a feeling there was not much time left....they put the IV in so I could get an epidural, but I just knew it was too late.  They didn't seem to be on the same page.  Much not to my surprise, and to theirs, they suddenly needed to get me upstairs asap.  There were a lot of people waiting they said, but not to worry, I was going first.....we never made it.  I'm not sure where we made it to really....some room, without a doctor....  "Ideally we'd like to wait for the doctor-okay-never mind...."  Kyleigh was born at 6:55, exactly one hour after our conversation about rush hour traffic on the way to the hospital.  It certainly seemed much longer.  So surreal.  So opposite our first experience.  But still so incredible....such a miracle.  Our little girl was here!

     She is such a precious.....such a reminder of God's goodness and grace....that He would let us be a part of something so incredible.

      Thank you so much for all of the congratulations, kind words and messages....thank you for celebrating with us, we appreciate and love you all!

                                                   First family blessed!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happy Born-Wed-Dad Month Lucas!

      June is a busy month.  We're always scrambling to finish up indoor projects so we can make the outside presentable usable......working on the garden, trying to replace more and more dirt with grass....while also wanting to enjoy the nice weather.  It's also Luke's birthday, our Anniversary, Father's day...and now will feature the arrival of our littlest one.  We don't do much for these occasions in the way of gifts and parties...but we do try to stop and reflect....stop and be maybe a little more aware of how blessed we are.  And so, as I did one year ago, I'd like to brag on my husband a little considering we've just celebrated his birth, his role as husband, and will soon be celebrating his role as father....and maybe, just maybe, this will be the second blog entry he will have read to date :)

       He always says he'd forget his birthday if someone didn't remind him....which is probably true....and it's just another day....which is entirely true, BUT even if he doesn't consider it an important day, I do....because on that day, God brought into the world a little boy who would one day impact many people, and whose qualities would be worth celebrating.  He's one of the most hard working, humble, talented, intelligent, ethical, godly men I have ever known.  And he's never half-hearted about anything he is that possible?!  

        In the midst of working two jobs and dedicating a good deal of time to his family, Luke is a huge project man.  We have endless projects to do around here, as comes with home ownership...but some have become sort of essential with the baby coming so he's really kicked things into high gear.  And then there's me....complicating and adding to the list left and right.  It's not intentional....and I really don't consider myself to be high-maintenance...but the following may make me appear so....
I always have these "great" ideas....something I'm looking for or a new way to organize things and it pretty much always goes the same way.  I try explaining to Luke what I'm looking for...I show him pictures of all of the lacking options online, and he says...."I can just make it!"  And the list grows. 

         When I say these are only a few...I mean these are only a fewwww.  And beyond making them himself, he also tries to spend as little as possible, re-purposing old items, or using scraps from other projects.  Most of the time, it costs little to nothing for his wonderful custom projects.  I am so spoiled!  I really wanted a desk for the kids under this big window....but there had to be room for shelves to be built, and the bookshelf below and...etc. etc.  And so...he built it all....

          My garden did surprisingly well last year, so I wanted to get a bit more ambitious and plant more....but that meant more garden beds, and there's not much to work with on the one side of the house that gets all the sun.....and so he figured out a way to build more space in....and fill it and prep it for me to plant....

I really wanted a shelf with cubbies to hold these fabric bins back when we just had Caleb and were getting his room ready.  But it had to have larger shelves on top for his big books and puzzle rack....of course none in the stores were as I imagined them, nor were they in our budget....and so, of course, Luke made one.  It's since changed color and rooms a few times :)

        I've accumulated quite a few oils over the past several months and they've sort of been all over the place.  I was looking at some racks, but of course didn't want to spend the money, nor did any of them fit perfectly in this spot I wanted to hang them.  "I can just make one for FREE," he tells me...and the next day, this was up!

        And then there's the things that drove us both crazy, like the endless dirt flying where grass will never grow with all the kids running and using the he used some old wood that was here when we moved in, sectioned off a portion of the yard, and filled it with woodchips....what a difference!  (ps. all play things you see here, FREE, courtesy of craigs list....seriously, if you check often, you can probably score a free playset too!)

          We weren't really loving the pink counters that came with the house so we ripped them out pretty much first thing....but there was this little portion in the living room that we never got to.  Luke pulled it out this winter and used some old wood to piece together his own custom's one of my favorites!

         These obnoxiously large spools have started taking over our yard recently.  Free wood?  He can't pass it up....and the wheels were spinning as soon as he saw them.  Within hours he'd started making a chair out of one....and then a table with benches from another.....


   One of the biggest projects has been tackling the basement.....we really don't need the space, but now that we're using most of our rooms with our ever growing family, we figured it may be nice to have a place for guests to stay.  It was supposed to be a simple project, but that never happens.....the ceiling, an entire wall, and the multiple layers of flooring ended up coming out.....and all by himself, with as many materials he could recycle, Luke transformed this space.....

Including the lovely "secret" door (the unfinished bookshelf).....

            These are seriously just a few of the pictures I found quickly when looking for projects he's done....but as I look around the house, I see his handiwork, time and attention in every so many details of our home....and I am so thankful...and proud.  He's been blessed with so many talents and abilities and he does not allow them to go to waste.  And while he enjoys building and being creative, he doesn't allow this to consume him or take over every moment.....he manages to build in plenty of time for his's not an easy balance, having to work full time and part time, having so many projects beckoning, and having the four of us vying for his time and attention....but he handles it all with grace and ease.  We are blessed.

        These kids have one invested daddy.  A dad who stops to teach them new things constantly.  Who is much better than I am at teaching them how to do things themselves, even when it takes more time, may be slightly frustrating, and they may not really want to learn.  It's not just all about getting things done as fast as he's about using everything as a teaching moment, so that some day they have the skills they need...many of the skills he's been blessed with.  I love that....and am often much too task oriented to stop and do the same....

       When he spends time with them, it's not half-hearted or forced....and there are often LOTS of giggles along with pleas for moreeee!

          He expects a lot from each of them, but consistently teaches, trains, encourages and firmly reinforces that which he expects.  They know he means business, but they respect him and know that he is strong and one they can always trust.  He's calm, even in the chaos....even when I am exuding stress and anxiety....even when everything is uncertain or everyone is at their worst....

           He's always up for an adventure, even when it means taking all three on his own because this very pregnant mommy can't keep up.  Just this past week he took the boys on a hike, then they all went on a bike ride and did some rock climbing.

           He'll stop working to help one with their homework....spending the time to teach it well so that she can feel proud of herself...and confident in her ability.  Sometimes I'll bite my tongue as he attempts to teach them something that I think will be so beyond them at their age.....and most often, I find myself surprised at how capable they I would likely have underestimated them.

           He encourages each of their interests, working on special projects for and with each of them.  Sometimes they make the mistake of asking me....oh, mommy, can we make this superhero weapon?...ummm, I wouldn't know where to begin! We'll have to wait for daddy on that one....

           And most of all.,...he loves them wholeheartedly and unconditionally as he models the loves Christ has for each of us as his children.    

             Happy Birthday, Anniversary and Father's Day Lucas....we love you so very much!

Saturday, June 6, 2015


    "Only self can kill joy.  I'm the one doing this to me. The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy - nothing else.  Dare I ask what I think I deserve? A life with no discomforts, no inconveniences? What do I really deserve?" - Ann Voskamp "One Thousand Gifts Devotional"

    I had started off the day going to see a friend....a friend who is really sick....a heartbreaking I really can't wrap my head around.  Of course the visit was more of a blessing to me as I experienced their peace despite what others may see as hopelessness....where there should have been despair, there was still hope....and peace, knowing that the One who sees and knows all is in control and has the perfect plan, despite what our human eyes may see.  You would think this would have offered me some perspective as the day went on.....

    Within moments, the whirlwind of the day kicked up....we ran errands, came home, hurried through lunch and put one down for a nap.  I got to work tackling bills and papers forever piling up.  The interruptions were constant.....can you play with me...can you do this....that....but I had so much to do.  The millionth interruption got to me and I spouted out something about not being able to get anything done, in a whiny voice."  The recipient started to cry.  How could I make him feel less important?  I apologized...we talked....I promised to take a break shortly and give time for what really matters.  I know my impatience is unfair....they're kids....totally reliant on me, and desiring my time and attention for this season of life....  But there's just always so much to do.....and I'm just so tired...I had read that at 34 weeks pregnant, the fatigue often sets back in....I'm wondering if it's just in my head now, or did a switch really flip because I can hardly keep my eyes open and my patience is ever waning.    

      The second bus comes and it's time to help with homework.  After finishing, I keep my promise and play for a short time.....but the piles and lists are calling.  My hearts not in it and when I feel like I've fulfilled my duty I try a second time to tackle them.  Someone needs help changing into a costume...another is having computer issues.....and still another has awoke from their nap and is calling.  The clock shows that it's practically dinner time and I haven't given it a single thought.  I'm still trying to pay the same bills from earlier in the day.  I satisfy two kids and go up to get the third, who I find need of a bath, bedding tossed in the washer again (didn't I just do this yesterday?)  I have myself a good cry as I bathe him...he's not sure what is happening as the black mascara runs down my cheeks, but he insists it must be painful with his repeated pointing and "ow" so he kisses me over and over.  Now I'm crying even more.  If only I could see through a child's eyes....  We come downstairs and within seconds...mama...mama...mama....

      I cooked dinner as the three of them came in and out with their requests......and I listened as they played...and giggled....and needed me some more.  I could feel myself softening....feel the are precious gifts....and each moment, a gift too.  The soaked child, the piles, the lists....the constant calls for my help, time and attention.  This is my main ministry in this stage of life....why do I downplay the importance and complain at how hard it can be?  Why do I fail to see what's truly important.....there will always, always be piles and so much to do.  Will there always be little lives in need of molding, nurturing, loving.....wanting to receive what I have to offer?  I think of my morning visit and wonder how I could take all of this for granted......

      We eat dinner (late), everyone gets cozy in pj's and we continue a movie we started yesterday just for a little while.....coming together.....slowing down and really just being together.  We pick out a board game that's new to the kids, one from my childhood, and set out to teach them how to play.  They're all excited.....time together is what they really wanted all along....our focus and attention.  So many giggles.....the game is really over their head, but they're learning, and they're saying how fun it is.  It's about being together, I know.  It doesn't escape me this time that I almost missed out on this.  Almost missed the opportunity to enjoy some of life's most precious gifts in my life...and to show them that I value them.  

      And as I type this, weeks later now because I'm behind with everything, I have a walkie talkie next to me that is paging me every 5 seconds (no exaggeration).  And another who has stopped me after just about every word I type to ask another silly question, or think up something to tell me.  And I'm thankful that right now I'm remembering....because it's so easy to become impatient...and what good does that do for any of us?  None that I've seen so far.  But stopping, and being in the moment with that many many benefits....  

                                                              How blessed am I?

The morning after this day, I open my devotional and again I am reminded.  I feel like I am reading about often have I been exactly where she is....

"What in the world were you thinking? How many times have we said no running?  I am just....."  I'm spewing and it's ugly and the words are so frazzled with frustration they fray midstream.  I can feel the slow smothering, the tight choking, and I can feel it in the throat, rising.  My knees are stiff and it's jarring, how peace can shatter faster than glass, the breakneck speeds at which I can fall - and refuse to bend the knees at all.  I look into the faces of the guilty and a son arcs his eyebrow, shrugs his shoulders, nonchalant.  I hold my head in my hands and ask it honest before God and children and my daily mess: Can we really expect joy all the time?  I will struggle to heed this until I am no more: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy", and I will listen and again I will listen and I will wrestle to put skin on it: "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again Rejoice!"  
I gnaw my lip.  The body howls when joy is extinguished.  The face shrivels pain, the voice pitches angry cry.  "No man can live without joy" is what Thomas Aquinas wrote.  And I confess it is true, I have known many dead waiting to die.  
The glass lies everywhere broken.  I may feel disappointed and the despair may flood high, but to give thanks is an action and rejoice is a verb and these are not mere pulsing emotions.  While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.  I know it well after a day smattered with rowdiness and worn a bit ragged with bickering.  Joy doesn't negate all other emotions - joy transcends all other emotions.  Only self can kill joy.  I'm the one doing this to me. The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy - nothing else.  Dare I ask what I think I deserve? A life with no discomforts, no inconveniences? What do I really deserve?
God does not give rights but He imparts responsibilities - response-abilities - inviting us to respond to His love-gifts.  And I know and can feel it tight: I'm responding miserably to the gift of this moment.  In fact, I'm refusing it.  Proudly refusing to accept this moment, dismissing it as no gift at all, I refuse God.  I reject God.  Why is this eucharisteo always so hard?
.........A circle of children stand around me, watching, waiting.  Long slivers of transparently blades, lie before me, catching light.  I humbly open my hand.  Without a word, one by one, they come to the outer edges and they kneel too.  And I humbly open my hand to release my will to receive His, to accept His wind.  I accept the gift of now as it is - accept God - for I can't be receptive to God unless I receive what He gives.  Joy's light flickers, breathes, fueled by the will of God - fueled by Him."....
 - Ann Voskamp "One Thousand Gifts Devotional"