Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Goings On

Well, life just keeps plodding on here.  Lots of little trips to the grocery store, school runs, playing outside in the rain/mud, baking for a baby shower, cookies and brownies, and planks-lots of planks!

The little darling just started sitting up.  Every day he gets better at it.  Of course that makes him and me quite happy.  He's happy because he can see the world in a more normal way without having to act like a seal and me, well it means he can sit and play with something without getting his face perpetually smooshed into the dirty carpet (yes, I vacuum regularly but you'd never know it).  Win, win people!

My neighbor and friend had a shower this weekend and so I was asked to make her a cake.  Nothing too fancy because well, I'm not a cake decorator and I must be realistic about my own capabilities.  However, I did my best.  The theme of the shower was "Busy as a Bee" because this friend just had her third child and she is quite busy!  So, I attempted to make a beehive out of brownies to put on top of the cake.  Utter fail.  It looked like a big pile of well, poop (a delicious one at that, but still quite unappealing).  So I ditched the beehive in the eleventh hour and just decorated it normally with some yellow around the edges.

I was quite pleased with it because it was the first time I was able to make a chocolate cake and frost it with white frosting without the brown crumbs getting all mixed in.  I accomplished this by doing a "dirty layer" of frosting after freezing the cake for a short time.  I have tried this many times before but it hasn't worked.  This time it did.  I don't know why but I'll take it!

Onto planks...my boys got some lovely little Keva planks for Christmas.  Out of all the boys though, Caleb has really taken to them which is not a surprise since he's the builder in the family.  The only problem is that they fall down easily.  Sometimes he will work for hours on a project only to have a sibling brush by them and accidentally send his creation crashing down like a bunch of dominoes.  This train he built was wrecked numerous times but his determination won out and he kept starting over and moving on.  He's built a bunch of stuff but here is another one of his latest-a church.

And lastly, I have a confession.  Don't judge!  I have finally passed the buck on one of my wifely duties and I am not sorry about it, no not one bit.  Here it is-I got tired of my husband going to work in wrinkled clothes.  I am horrible about keeping up with the ironing and since Nathan was born, I have not ironed one stitch.  That's right, nothing!  Steve never complains; he simply puts on his shirts and heads out the door.  Sometimes I could get the shirts to be okay by grabbing them out of the dryer just in time but they still weren't all that great.  The guilt was piling up (not enough to get me to do anything about it because I don't have the time or energy to...but the pile, the literal pile of laundry and the guilt pile, was getting bigger and bigger).  Then last week I had an epiphany.  Why not take his shirts to the local laundry for ironing?  It can't be that expensive although truth be told, any price that was reasonable was looking pretty good to me at that point.  Months of wrinkled shirts guilt was on my shoulders by then and I simply had to do something about it (except get out my own iron)!  I checked into it and lo and behold, it was not too bad.  $12-15 of my own cookie money every two weeks was all I had to pay to get rid of the guilt?!  Done!  Sign me up!  Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Hope you all are having a great week!  I'll be back next time with the particulars on that cake.  It was scrumptious.  I got the recipe from a friend and it deserves to be shared.  I won't make another kind of chocolate cake ever again.  It was that good!  Talk soon friends...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Regrouping.  That is the word round these parts.  There have been some things in the hopper here that were potentially life changing for us.  Lifechanging and downright exciting!  As of Friday, God made it clear that we weren't to travel that road, at least for now for reasons that were unexpected.

It's disappointing and discouraging.  However, whenever we step out for anything we know that no matter how good something might look, we want to follow God.  That takes faith.  A lot of faith!

I am a pessimist at heart.  When I first got married to Steve, the eternal optimist, I thought I was a realist.  As time has gone on, I've realized that no, I am a pessimist and that I truly need to work more on being optimistic.  Why?  Because God calls us to faith.  And that faith is what gives us hope.

The boys and I read parts of Matthew 9 this morning at the breakfast table and it tells how Jesus healed many.  Many were healed because of their faith.  They knew Christ could heal so they stepped out, went after Him and then were healed.  I want active faith like that.  I don't want to shrink back into my pessimism because I'm afraid.  I want to trust God like those people did.  God give me more faith!  

Over the weekend, I tried to cheerfully sift through the emotions that bubbled over in my heart.  And as I did, the same truths that have been with me since I was a child, kept coming to mind-

God loves me.

God never sleeps.

God knows what I need.

God is always faithful.

We've been here before.  And God always takes care of us.  It's not that the feelings of let down aren't real.  Or that we don't understand why God set us on that path in the first place.

But, BUT as God writes our story, we are aware that He knows what He is doing.

An oldie but goodie Caedmon's Call song has been speaking to my heart throughout this entire process- Lead of Love.

Looking back at the road so farThe journey's left its share of scarsMostly from leaving the narrow and straight
Looking back, it is clear to me thatA man is more than the sum of his deedsAnd how you make good of this mess I've madeIs a profound mystery
Looking back, you know you had to bring me throughAll that I was so afraid ofThough I questioned the sky, now I see why
Had to walk the rocks to see the mountain viewLooking back, I see the lead of love.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Littlest Little

My little soldier is growing up.  He just recently hit five months.  I can't believe it.  The other day I caught him up on all fours rocking.  What??  When did this happen?  My heart immediately began pounding out of my chest as I thought about my littlest being old enough to crawl!  The mama pride in me swelled and my heart broke all at the same.  Conflicting emotions are a funny thing arent they?

In some ways he's so much easier now as he flies fast toward six months and in others he's getting more difficult.  Totally typical.  But every day that passes with him, I'm more and more in love with him.

The way he stares at me with a silly grin when someone else takes him from my arms making sure he knows right where I am at all times, or the way he jumps and squeals in delight at his siblings making over him, how he nuzzles close when he nurses totally content and filled by the love and nourishment he's receiving, how he sleeps on my shoulder in the early morning hours as we rock back to sleep, and how he marvels at the world of colors, lights and sounds around him.

He is a gift.  A precious gift.

We love you little Nathan.  Our irreplaceable fifth.  Our fourth son.  Everything is new all over again because God gave us you.  And no one is quite like you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Long View

I had a whirlwind of a day today and it isn't over.  School is back in session.  Such is the life.  Once the kids were dropped off at school, I zipped over to a friend's house for tea.  While our two fourth children played and baby Nathan slept in my arms, we chatted and she encouraged me about some of the most important things of all-generational thinking.

It's easy to get narrow-minded in my thinking, as I mother in the trenches.  It's hard enough to put one foot in front of the other to attempt to meet the many needs that stack up in front of me.  So if it's hard enough to do that, then how can I even think much about next week let along two years from now?  How is that even possible?  Yet much of what I am doing now, has the future in mind.

We can't escape it.  Our kids will be who we are someday.

Here's the thing though, mothering with the long view in mind is what gives me hope.  And hope is what carries me in the day to day craziness.

This is what I mean.  It's a lot easier to continue to do something when you really believe it is going to make a difference.  Because whatever we do, there is a goal in mind.  We may not realize it but there is a goal.  It may not be a good, godly or healthy one, but there is one.  When we're parenting well or not, there are always consequences.  They are blessed consequences or curses.

If my little two year old darling girl continues to throw fits despite my consistent efforts to train her, then I can become discouraged.  But if I take the long view, commit to the training regardless of the immediate fruit, then I will hope to see results over time, not just in the immediate short term.  This way I am relying on what is right, not on my heart and the feelings it produces.

This sort of view can be tiresome because immediate results are what spur one on in the process.  I'm not bemoaning short term results.  They can be encouraging!!  But often times in life, and in the long span of parenting over many, many years, the long view is what wins out every single time.  It's the long term benefits, the generational building that produces the most fruit.

This is hard for us American parents who are used to getting what we want quite quickly!  But parenting isn't about quick results.  What we build now our children will be in the future.

The long view always wins out.  A man will reap what he sows.  I cannot think so much about where I have come from or where my husband has come from- although we both have wonderful parents that love us and that we love tremendously!  I must act as a responsible adult and think about our future generations and the ones who will come after us.  We must honor our parents for all they've done for us, but then we must look to the future-always to the future.

What am I building?  How can I change?  What do I need to be or model for my children so that they will know how to love their future wives/husband?  What sins in my heart need to be addressed so that my kids can live free of my guilt and not be compelled to do the wrongs that I have done?

This is the long view.  It won't change things for tomorrow.  It will just force me to keep going.  The long view is letting go of past sins, confessing my own, and sowing the future with patience in mind.

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."  Isaiah 43:18-19

What do I want to see in twenty years?  (We often ask this of ourselves as we're talking about our children.)  Here is what I want to see- I want to see faithful children who love God, love others and who are wise.  I want them all to want to be around us and to want to be with each other.  I want them to get along.  And I want them to sit around our table, talk about God's faithfulness, and teach it to their own children.

This is what God has given me.  We are a "new" thing.  It starts now.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Which I Admit I'm Not an Octopus

One of the most difficult thing about having multiple children is that they all seem to need your attention all at the same time.  It never fails.  Somebody always needs something.  And these needs overlap quite often.    These moments consist of the following example- the baby screaming out of hunger, Elle needing to go to the bathroom, Isaac wanting to play a card game, Joshua needing to get his shoes on and Caleb wanting to show me his latest building. It's easy to feel like they are one solid hurricane of confusion/chaos coming to wreck my patience all in one shot!  I tend to want to take cover.  However, that's not helpful in the slightest.

So instead, I tend to go through a couple of different stages of reactions.  My first reaction is usually panic.  How can I get to all of you and meet all of your needs right now??  Most of the time I can squash that one because I know it's not going to be helpful (but not always...sometimes I do give in to panic and when I do, it's never pretty).  After passing through the panic phase, I usually switch into management.  Okay, take Elle to the bathroom first so I don't end up with an accident.  Ask Isaac and Caleb to wait a minute.  Get them to help Josh with his shoes.  Go pick up baby.  And so forth.

Management is good.  It's key to getting through and making it.  However, one thing that gets lost amidst the chaos is that I forget that my children are individuals.

They don't see everybody else's requests.  They just see their own need.  And they need their Mommy just as much as their brother or sister.

Hmmm...dilemma.  Because I am not an octopus.  At least last I checked.

So what gives?  How in the world do I tend to every single need?

This whole topic has been on my mind a lot lately because I've been finding myself wanting.  There's just not enough time in the day to get everything done.  I'm always behind.  The laundry is never done.  Somebody always needs a wipe, or a hug or correction.  And it's really tempting to berate myself over my failures.

You know yesterday, Isaac asked to play a game with you three times and you never did.  You know Joshy seemed to need some attention from you but you kept having to pick up the baby.  You know Elliana could use more correction right now because she's really been testing you.  And Caleb, he needs you to be giving him the "special time" that he's been asking you for.

Somebody always needs something!  And if I'm not careful, these thoughts will play over and over in my head and drive me into a sort of mad guilt over not being super woman.

How do I divide myself up so that I can disciple each child, hear their little hearts and steer them in a good direction?

I don't know.  Anybody out there want to give me a clue?  The more kids I have, the more I realize I just can't do it all.  Something will have to give.  I can't keep up (I must admit though that it's not just about having five kids...I have felt this since I brought home my second child).

So this is the only resolution that I have.  Resolved...to remember that my kids are little people and that we are in relationship.  It's a chaotic one at times, but the familial ties are strong.  We're together, for good or bad.  It's not just about management although that does play a role.  I can't keep up with their needs perfectly.  But I can do my best, in the midst of things, to look them in the eyes and listen to them.  In other words, to treat them like the little people they are.  Because someday, I want them to want to be around.

If I am doing that, then I have to trust that God will fill in the gaps and that love-my love, Steve's love and most importantly God's love, will cover a multitude of sins.     

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back From Vacation

Sorry my friends.  I've been on vacation these past two weeks and I just didn't find time to update you all until this afternoon.  Today Steve went back to work and I've been lamenting our loss all day!  If only he didn't have to work to make a living.  It'd be nice right??  My boys don't start again until next week so we're easing back into everything here.

This has been one of the best vacations we've had.  We didn't do much.  We putzed around.  We celebrated Christmas in a grand way with all sorts of family in all sorts of different situations.  We partied hard, played hard, and rested a lot.  I slept in most mornings (that is until the house woke up), didn't clean the house, didn't organize much and didn't even cook a ton.  The husband and I got some good talks in, watched way too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey on Hulu, met with dear friends (some we had not seen in a long time-Nelsons I can't believe we did not take a picture!!) and really enjoyed our family.  

It was bliss.  It was restful.  It was exactly what I needed.

Last year was one of the most stressful, long years of our marriage in so many ways.  The hard work was worth it.  But it was arduous and grinding.  When we started getting to the end of the year, I began to get weary and discouraged (which is what I think led to me being sick for many weeks).  It's hard to keep yourself going sometimes.  But God was so kind to me and reminded me softly that He knows our future, He knows our desires and He provides in His time.  Those reminders, being with friends that we love and the rest I received from constant parenting, disciplining, cleaning and managing all by myself, really helped to right my spirit.  This break has set me back on my feet.

I'm ready to run.  I feel ready to face this last semester.

But even though I'm ready, I want to change one thing about my perspective.  I want to remember the Greatness of God in my circumstances.  I don't want to just know it.  I want to remember it, daily, hourly, minute by minute.

Last year I was just trying to get through.  Every day I was just trying to make it.  This year, I don't want to rely so much on my own strength.  I hate being weak so I try to be strong all of the time.  I think most women are that way.  And in some ways that is good.  God calls us to work hard and to be diligent, passionate people.

But I want to remember that it's okay to be weak in His arms.  And it's good to remember that He is Great and Powerful and Mighty.  I don't have to be all of those things all of the time.  He is.  I just have to be willing to keep going.

He is above everything.  He has the universe in His hands.  And He is strong.  His love is strong.  Everything about God exudes STRENGTH!  It's comforting to know that there is something greater than myself.  That I don't have to be strong all of the time.  That I don't have to lug around my burdens all by myself.

That's what I want to remember this year.  I want to be comforted by His greatness and to rest in it.  There are many unknowns for our family right now.  If I really think about it, I can get overwhelmed.  But when I remember that God made the whole world by simply speaking, I can relax and learn to enjoy the path God has set us on.

Whatever comes.

Whatever comes.