Monday, December 23, 2013

Good intentions: Apply Inside.

Yesterday was a day full of good intentions.

My kids were all dressed in their Christmas best. My hubby was working it in his awesome jacket and tie. I was dressed in purple sequined bling tank overlayed with a light weight, tasteful black top. Heck, I even wore make-up.

We were going to do it. We were going to be there on time. We were going to church.

And then we weren't. I had this horrible emotional break-down. Kids were going beserk. I hadn't eaten breakfast. And things just sort of spiraled from there.

Mike tried to give me a break and told me to meet him after church. But then I couldn't get the vehicle I was driving to turn off properly and he had to come rescue me. And so no one was at the service.

And this has been life. Trying so hard to do what we set out to do and missing completely.

I'm the one with the "brilliant" idea the day before to take our family out to Norfolk and hit our favorite spot, the book exchange, on top of the necessary errands we had to run: gas the car, go to the bank, library returns, etc. And kids are whining and ungrateful and Mike and I are frustrated and tired. And my husband is giving me this look of "wouldn't-it-have-been-better-to-just-stay-home" and I know he's right and I'm fighting it.

Which reminds me of my Caregroup Christmas Party where I'm barely hanging on and I'm falling apart. And I'm angry because really I'm usually okay but I almost always end up emotional and fragile and broken going to Caregroup and I'm proud and I don't want my friends to see me like that and think, "Wow, she really can't seem to keep it together, huh?" and I'm kind of mortified. Because I want them to see me as strong and not emotional and maybe even logical. And before we start our Christmas carol singing my brother-in-law gives me a look and I know it means he wants me to open in prayer and I'm thinking, "Gee, really God, you have a weird sense of humor."

And there's this beautiful moment where the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart and the truth comes flooding out as I pray, "God thank you that you love us and accept us as broken messy people..."

And I realize that this is part of what my life is. Being messy and broken and dirty and ugly and God still coming for me. God still rescuing me. God still loving me. God still calling me and holding me and saying, "You are my precious daughter. Give up trying. Just surrender. You belong to me and you can't  escape it. You don't have to put on an act. Or get better. I love you."

What a great Amazing God. Not for a second intimidated by my inability. Not scoffing at my efforts but kind enough to release me from my imperfections.

And there's wrapping paper on my floor. Presents wrapped. Some yet to be wrapped. And it's messy, messy, messy in my room. And it's okay. It's okay I don't have it together. It's okay that I'm weepy and emotional and depressed and missing my sister. It's okay that I'm unable to face my room and just deal with the disorganization. God still loves me. Mess or not. God still accepts me. Imperfect and struggling. God still gave me His son Jesus. This God made flesh in the form of a wee babe.

Beautiful. This God that came to us. Lived a perfect life. Died a horrific death. Rose again. Conquered death. He came for me. He came for you. He came for us. Our broken humanity. And He made a way. He is the way, the truth, the life. No one can go to the Father except through Him.

So thank you Jesus. Thank you that you love me. Thank you that you came. Thank you for setting me free. Help me to surrender to you. All my thoughts, worries, obligations, fears, responsibilities, hopes, disappointments, concerns, pressures, anxieties, feelings... I give them to you. Thank you that you grace  is more than enough. It covers all my lack. It covers all my sin. It covers all my inability and brokenness. Thank you for your love. That fills my deepest needs. All my gaps. Fill me with your love so that I can give to others out of the overflow. Thank you for being more than enough for me.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Boy Surprises




Yesterday, Peter was crying and clutching his butt. I looked down his diaper to see what the problem was. Pink princess ice pack. Ian had arranged this surprise in Peter's diaper.  I never thought I would hear myself saying, "Don't put icepacks on your brother's butt!"

Monday, December 09, 2013

Putting Out Fires...

It's 1 p.m and I still haven't gotten around to eating today. What with packing lunches and stuffing my kids with breakfast and lunch it felt like I must have surely eaten something. Nope. Just a double pack of emergen-c.

Last night Peter finally learned how to turn on the stove. There was a cardboard pizza box on the stove and it caught on fire. The downstairs filled with smoke and my grandmother told the kids to quickly go upstairs and get Papa. He went down. I was napping but woke up quickly with bile burning my throat from the smoke.

Mike opened the windows and aired out the house. The cardboard box went outside in the rain. I cleaned up the burners.

It was as I was telling my Mom this morning, "that I felt as though I'm constantly putting out fires..." that I realized the irony of it and started laughing.

This morning Ian brokea framed picture when trying to retrieve his backpack. Glass all over the floor. Michael went to school with 2 mismatched shoes (an oversized army green croc and one black patent leather church shoe) and I didn't realize til he was about to board the bus. Peter jumped in puddles and had muddy water all over his clothes.

And Murphy Bear (my parents chocolate lab) added to the scene his muddy paws all over the interior of my car. Clean car or dead dog? Would rather keep the dog alive. He always seems to know when I'm taking the boys to the bus and goes and finds us at the end of our loooooong driveway. The traffic is enough on Ballahack to kill him which scares me so I put him in the car and drive him back home after the boys get on the bus.

It's never-ending. The messes. The broken items. The boys have broken 2 lamps in just this past week alone! The out of sorts normal that is my life.

Peter is napping and then it's off to get the kids from the bus and go to the doctors in VA Beach which will take an hour for an hour long appointment and then to drive home and make dinner and do homework and clean dishes and pack lunches all over again.

Sigh.

Some days I wish I could just pull the blankets over my head and stay in bed.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Missing her.

My husband told me something I needed to hear. I didn't need to try to hold on so hard. I'm trying so hard to not forget. He told me to not worry that I would never be able to forget someone so important and altering to my life. My life without her. I don't have to try so hard.

My cousin Sharon (Left) Me (center) Libby (right)
There is a part of me that clings and desperately won't let go of my sister. Her memory. I'm afraid of losing her. I'm afraid of forgetting.

Mike told me that I'm not responsible for maintaining her existence. My memory isn't what keeps her alive. Her life is with Christ. The Lord sustains her being. She continues on. Not dead. But alive with Christ. In His perfect presence. Free of all sin, sadness, pain, sickness, hatred, and all the devastating affects of sin.

I don't need to be afraid of people forgetting or not remembering.

Tomorrow would have been my sister, Libby Anne's, 31st birthday. I can't believe it. The last birthday I celebrated with her was her 21st. I had bought her a special jewelry box. She was pregnant and glowing. Radiant. Happy. Her dark hair was shiny and silky. Her eyes blue. Observant yet full of mirth. Her skin pale, almost alabaster white. She always got really white in the winter. But her cheeks were flushed and she was so very much engaged with life. Vibrant. Alive.

I miss her. so. much.

I miss her smile. I miss the way her hands held her guitar and she would strum and open her mouth in song. I miss the fact that I always had to catch her by surprise to hear her sing. I would stand outside her bedroom to hear her play. She didn't like to play "in public" AKA in front of anyone.

It's funny as we got out of our teen years and became young adults she was the one who was encouraging ME to relax. To be less fearful. Less anxious. She would tell me to stop worrying so much. She used to be the one who was full of fear. Afraid even to say the word cancer. She would call it "can" she couldn't even say the whole word out loud. She was afraid of dying. Afraid of getting older. That changed only months before she died. She wasn't afraid anymore. She looked forward to Heaven.

So many times I've wished I could just tell her about Samuel's cancer. And what the experience had been like. So many times I wanted to call her in the middle of the night when the tears wouldn't stop coming and I didn't feel like I could go on breathing anymore. I wanted to tell her about the anxiety that was squeezing me in a vice and suffocating me like I was being smothered by a pillow.

I've wondered how many kids she would have had. And when she would have gotten wrinkles and stretch marks. I wondered how she would look aging. Getting older. I wonder how she would have treated my kids and the kind of Aunt she would have been to them.

I found the birthday card I made her for her 10th birthday. I was congratulating on her for entering her double digits. I drew all these funny pictures. (Keep in mind, I was just 12 myself, at the time).

It's strange. December 7th. Never the same for me. Our family tradition was we used to get our Christmas tree on that day and decorate it. Libby didn't care for cake as much as she did ice-cream.

I had bought boxes of Lucky Charms in her honor for tomorrow but my kids already plowed through them earlier this week.

I wanted to go by her grave site but had Peter in the car today. And I don't think I could have handled him running around happy when my heart was so sad.

December 7th
I listened to her sing, The Harbor, a private recording that I had of her, a gift from a friend. Her voice so so pure and sweet.

I wish she was here to celebrate with in person. Instead, I want to fill my day with happy memories of her. I'm so grateful that I was allowed to have a sister like her. Thankful for the beautiful example she was of a woman who loved and feared God. Who was compassionate and kind. Funny and smart. Gullible and faithful and trustworthy. Someone who was quick to comfort me in my sadness and quicker to make me laugh at myself. I'm a better woman because of her.

Thank you Libby. And Happy Birthday. I know you're enjoying some chocolate and ice-cream right there in Heaven. Mwah!


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

How to Sanitize with Sick Kiddos...

I know you've been hearing me talk a lot about Melaleuca. I've been using their products for over 2 months now and I love them. They're safe and effective. No harsh chemicals or toxins. Good for the environment and save me money!

One of the things I've learned with having kids with special needs (cancer, cerebral palsy, asthma) is that I have to try and keep things disinfected to the best of my ability. In comes my new product from Melaleuca Sol-U-Guard Botanical! I love how Melaleuca concentrates their formulas allowing you to create the mixture at home. I can make several bottles and not have to pay the cost of water added to the cleaner like you do with so many other cleaning products!


Getting run-down? Boost your immune system!

I have always been a fan of emergen-c. It's always a boost when I'm feeling run down, beginning to get sick or just surrounded by sick kiddos. Can't wait to place my next order with Melaleuca. They have  Activate-C which is more than just vitamin C!


As Melaleuca states on its website :

Activate is a natural blend of the ingredients you need most to help boost your immunity. This powerful supplement includes:
  • Vitamin C— long linked to boosting immunity, this nutrient stimulates the production and function of white blood cells, and protects them from oxidation*
  • Zinc— a mineral crucial to white blood cell development* powered by Oligo for maximum absorption and antioxidant protection
  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)—powerful antioxidant that increases antibody formation
  • Astragalus—one of the most extensively researched ancient Chinese herbs that helps strengthen the immune system and acts as an immunostimulant*
  • Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry)—powerful antioxidant that helps regulate immune function of white blood cells*
Why Is That Important?
In a world where your defenses are constantly being stressed, Activate Immune Complex helps support, rejuvenate, and refresh your immune system—to help you stay well, be active, and enjoy all the important things in life.
It Works Because
Activate Immune Complex is a combination of key nutrients designed to help your body defend itself. These all-natural ingredients work synergistically to give your body the help it needs to maintain a strong immune system.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

What's in Your Vitamin?

Are you taking one a day or centrum? Do you miss taking your vitamins because you can't tell a difference when you're not taking them? It's because you're body isn't equipped to absorb the nutrients. Centrum or one a day absorb less than 10%.  Even one of my favorite brands, Shaklee only absorbs 23%! With my vitamins at Melaleuca my body is absorbing 85% of the nutrients. That's nutrition that I can feel! Why? Because it's using Oligo. (O-lee-go)


I mentioned in my past post that I am currently taking Melaleuca'sVitality 4 essentials for women which contains four patented or proprietary formulas for
My Vitamins


1.)  Energy and well-being
2.)  Bone Health
3.)  Antioxidant Protection-
4.)  Digestive Health

This is what that is included: 30 AM & 30 PM packets with the following: You want to know more?

vitality multivitamin and mineral- 24 essential nutrients to enhance well-being, with patented Oligo technology, scientifically proven to deliver maximum mineral absorption and antioxidant protection.

My husbands vitamins
vitality calcium complete- Helps strengthen bones with a 4-source calcium plus magnesium and vitamin-D powered by Oligo to maximize mineral absorption.

cell-wise- Patent pending broad spectrum antioxidant that helps protect against free radicals and protmotes healthy skin using olive and grape seed extracts, lycopene, mixed tocopherols and carotenoids, and vitamin C.

florify- Two strains of probiotics to help improve the absorption of nutrients and maintain good digestive health.


You want to know more? Ask me. Call. F.B. Text. E-mail. I'd love to help answer your questions!

Why I love Melaleuca...



Recently I found a new way to shop. It’s through a wellness company called Melaleuca (Mell-ah-Luke-ah)  It saves me time and money, and offers products that are safer and healthier for my family. I have found cleaning supplies that are free of harsh and toxic chemicals at a fraction of the price.

E.G. One bottle of concentrated MelaPower tub & tile for  $5.60 makes 6 spray bottles of cleaner.

But it’s not just cleaning supplies, I LOVE their vitamins. They give me real energy. Maybe that’s because my body absorbs 85% of the vitamin (compared to less than 10% with a Centrum or 1 a day). I don’t feel buzzed or jittery just awake and able to function. Last month everyone got sick and I didn’t. Hm, maybe it’s because I was taking the vitamins? 

This month Mike started on them as well. He’s taking the men’s Vitality 4.

If you're wondering, hey, why are you sick now??? It's because I went 2 weeks without my vitamins. I'm telling you- they make a difference! What's funny is Mike's been taking them... and he didn't get sick like the rest of us.

This month Mike started on them as well. He’s taking the men’s Vitality 4.
I am currently taking Vitality 4 essentials for women which contains four patented or proprietary formulas for

1.)  Energy and well-being
2.)  Bone Health
3.)  Antioxidant Protection-
4.)  Digestive Health

I love the way I feel. More energetic. Able to sleep better. Able to get through my day without falling apart. Not groggy in the morning. I’ve noticed an improvement in my skin, hair and nails.

My vitamins come prepackaged for me with an already packaged dose for AM & PM. No counting out my vitamins and separating them into containers. And they’re packaged for convenience so I keep some at home, some in my purse, some in my diaper bag… This way I don’t forget to take my vitamins!

Because they manufacture their own products (made right her in the USA) and they don't use marketing and advertising (which inflates the prices of products)  I am able to get great prices for great products.

I love Melaleuca! Try it- I bet you'll love it too! 

Feel free to ask me any questions!!!! F.B./e-mail, phone, etc.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Strep throat anyone?

So, Ian has strep throat and I believe I do as well. Michael and Samuels asthmas has flared and they seem to have strep throat as well. Peter has an ear infection. Another round of antibiotics for all. Craziness.

Waited an hour and a half at Target for prescriptions that would never get through the system. Took the boys home. Literally it was 3 hours later before they had received the scripts!

Thankfully I  had made a huge batch of broth from our turkey this past Thanksgiving. Soup is simmering in the crockpot and cornbread is baking in the oven.

Feel lousy but thankful God is still with me in the midst of this. Feeling like I'm in the trenches today.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Please pray for Michael

In the past few days Michael has had an increased difficulty with breathing. His asthma has kicked into hyperdrive. We've been vigilant about giving him his inhaler and keeping an eye on him. I realized it's been a while since we've had this bad of an asthma flare up. Hoping to keep things under control and keep him out of the hospital. Please pray for his lungs to strengthen and the wheeze to dissipate. Our plan is to go to church as normal. Hoping he will continue to improve!

A letter on Thanksgiving to my Daughter


I don’t often like to include my personal notes/letters in my blog. But when I wrote this letter this morning I felt Holy Spirit inspired. It made me wonder if the truths of what were written would bless someone else. I hope that person might be you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Asking God to richly bless you in unexpected ways. So thankful for our Savior today and always.


“My Dear Libby,

Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for you! I missed you so much when I was in CA. It is my hope that someday we will all go as a family and explore the west coast together! There are many beautiful places to explore.

I know that you think having 5 kids is crazy and some days it is a bit wild but I wouldn’t give up having the five of you for ANY THING!

I hope to grow as a Mommy in loving you and your brothers better. I am still learning how to be a parent. I don’t have it all figured out but God is faithful! He loves you perfectly. He never messes up. He is NOT angry or disappointed with you! He says YOU are amazing!

He loved us so much that He gave us Jesus. Jesus was perfect, without sin in every way. Can you imagine never disobeying? That’s what He did. He never disobeyed. He lived a perfect life and then He died in our place.

We will never have to experience God’s anger at our sin (our wrong doing and living) when we accept Jesus. He took our places and suffered the consequences we deserved. And then He did not stay dead. He rose again.

He came back to life. He beath death! Death has no victory- Jesus overcame even death.
And that is our hope- we never truly die! Our spirit (our inner being, who we really are) never dies. When these earthly bodies die we go to be with Jesus.

And here is more amazing news- God the Father gave us Jesus and Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our comforter. He gives us peace. He tells us which way to go. He helps us to love and obey God.

Isn’t that great?! God is on our team! He loves us and is for us. We are on the winning team with Jesus!

God gives us such amazing blessings. I am so happy to celebrate Thanksgiving with you- my precious lamb of God.

I love you.
XOXOXOX,
Mommy”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Glitch


Took Samuel to the doctors today. The amoxicillin didn't kick whatever he'd been fighting. He has bronchitis and so now he's on zithromax. Keeping him home again tomorrow to rest!

In the mean time I need to come up with a solution to a travel glitch. My phone ended up in the washing machine and is ruined. And I'm traveling across country. Yeesh. I know this matter will be resolved. Trusting God with all the big and little details of this trip. 

Already made spaghetti meat sauce and cooked up a batch of ground beef for Tacos. trying to leave things well attended on this end. Broke down and got lunchables for the kids for Friday, Monday and Tuesday. 

Ian complained of his ankle hurting. Hoping it's not serious. If so back to the doctors again in the morning!


California... here I come...

The joy of solitude is not something i often get to experience. My life is often Loud, Noisy, Abrupt, Interrupting, Chaotic, Messy, Sticky, Inconvenient, and full, full, full of needs.  I love my life. I really do. But it's kind of crazy sometimes. Sometimes I get worn out. I get tired. I am stretched and feel like it  can't fit anything more in.

But I'm about to have some time to myself. Real time. Not just a few hours or an afternoon. Not even a whole week-end or a long week-end. But a deliciously long time. It's the longest I've been apart from my family... pretty much that I can ever think of.

I leave Thursday afternoon and fly to L.A. I'm taking a trip with one of my dearest people in the world, Kelsey, and we are going to explore Northern California. I am so excited, tickled, ecstatic, giddy. This is such a gift. An unexpected, unplanned, unprepared for gift.

I fly back Tuesday via San Francisco. I won't get in til after midnight so technically Wed. a.m.

And I'm going to have time to be quiet. To reflect. To meditate. To savor the deliciousness of having my self to my self. Wow. What will I do?

My hopes: one long bath, hopefully at some point. some time to write, some time to pray, a chance to eat chocolate, time to listen to good sermons, a time to cry and let out some of  my pent-up emotions, a time to laugh, hopefully over a funny movie, or just great conversation, maybe a foot rub, an opportunity to just be.

And how fun to go places I've never been. Like Half Moon Bay & San Francisco & Redding.

God is amazingly kind to me. I am so thankful for this time to rest, recover, rejuvenate, and recreate.


Why I'm never bored...

Last week had been full of days of disaster. From broken glass (4 items broken in under a 24 hour period, including at porcelain penguin at Target) to spilled Kefir (an entire yogurt bottle) dumped all over the counter and the floor... and then sprinkled with a box of Rice Krispies.

Peter is coming into his own element.

Today I made up a new container of cinnamon sugar. this is a favorite for my kids and my Grandmother. They love cinnamon toatst and I also add it to their unsweetened applesauce. So I made up a new batch and was proud of myself.

I had a meeting at my dining room table with someone who helps oversee Michael's medical care and during that time Peter dumped out 2/3 of my cinnamon sugar bottle all over the kitchen floor and into the mat.

yes, this just keeps happening.

From candy littering the floor with tootsie pops opened, licked, and left on the floor everywhere to stickers, coloring all over items on toys and books, from pencils, crayons & markers . To chocolate smeared faces.

Peter has learned how to pull a chair over to the fridge and climb up and get the candy we had hidden away. We need to get a lockbox for candy.

If you think being a Mom is boring, think again!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

3 year olds, tantrum riots, citizen of the month, and what not to bring into school...

Today has been crazy.
It's Peter's 3rd birthday.
And my little world decided to implode on me.

I woke up horribly. I had a dream that I was shot in the chest and I could feel the life ebbing out of me. I was trying to tell my husband I was dying and that I love him. It was so intense. I felt I haven't been able to shake this dream off.

I woke up with a start and had overslept big time and had 15 minutes to get ready and get in the car and take the boys to Libby's citizen of the month award ceremony. We got there with time to spare but it was raining and the boys kept jumping in puddles and Peter kept running away from me.

I had planned to take the kids out after the ceremony for breakfast. Mike had work so I knew he wouldn't be there to help me. I was hoping my in-laws would but they aren't well so they weren't there. My Mom came but had to leave right after to help with my Grandmother (her Mom). So I had 4 kids solo and decided instead of breakfasting at a restaurant with the help of adults I would drive through and grab some sausage biscuits. And since it's Peter's birthday we stopped at the thrift store and let him get some toys.

We went in and the kids were having fun but a little wild when I had to try and get them in the bathroom and the boys wanted to go in the men's room, which I understand but don't like because I can't keep an eye on them. And Peter was fussing... as he had been all day and screaming and yelling. No fun.

They were done with the bathroom and in the toy section when my stomach caught me in a lurch. Oh no! Bad sausage biscuit. I had to go to the bathroom in an emergency type way. When I dealt with that I came out to find my kids calmly playing, thank God.

We picked which toys would become Peter's presents and checked out. Peter had run out the door outside before I finished my purchasing transaction. It was a crazy wild mess with the rain and my 3 year old running around in the parking lot which is completely dangerous and I felt like falling apart.

And then I got a call that Samuel was sick. He was at school. He had a bad headache... again. So I went and took the twins to Kindergarten and Libby back to school and Peter and I and his little popper. You know those toys you push that has the hard plastic bubble at the one end and when you push it the balls inside pop up and make a loud abnoxious sound.... Yeah, he was pushing that and we went to get Samuel at the nurses station.

As soon as we got there Samuel told me he was going to be sick... so he threw up in the waste basket. So I left with a sick kid who is devastated because tomorrow is his field trip to the Living Museum and now he can't go and with a crazy tantrumed 3 year old pushing his little popper toy.

To make a long story short I needed to swing by Chick-fil-A because I had gotten a call and needed to talk to a manager about something and I had said I would be there earlier... and Peter had known we were going before Samuel got sick and was flipping out wanting nuggets. So I have Peter wailing in the car and yet Samuel manages to pass out from fatigue. I get to chick-fil-a and leave them in the car in a handicapped parking spot and run in to talk to the manager and get lunch and leave.

And Samuel wakes up. And Peter's howling because we're not going inside to play. And Samuel wants fries which he is eating and then throwing up. And it's all this crazy hullabaloo. Peter is kicking the back of my chair so hard as I'm driving that he hurts my back. And he's screaming at the top of his lungs in this horrifically piercing way. And I'm sitting there driving, praying for peace as Peter shrieks and Samuel throws up and my little world feels like it's imploding.

I get home and fix lunch (throwing nuggets and fries on a plate). I clean the kitchen for over an hour and it's not done and I decide to put Peter down for a nap and take a rest myself. I have less than an hour of a little bit of quiet but I will take it.

I try and explain to people what my normal days are like and 99.9% don't get it. It's always crazy. There is always something bizarre or weird going on and usually someone is sick and we go to the doctors office almost every day. Not pediatricians everyday but you know some kind of medical, dental, vision, hearing appointment, or speech therapy, etc. It's wild. And there are usually some tears shed and somebody gets hurt from tripping or falling or someone "accidentally" pushing or whacking someone with a plastic sword, bat, etc.

There's bloody noses. There's throw-up to clean up. There's meals to make and butts to wipe. There are tons of medicines to pass out. Inhalers for asthma and zyrtec for seasonal allergies and crazy amounts of vit. D, Omega 3s, probiotics, anitbiotics, etc. to  distribute.... every day. And someone has an ear infection. And someone has a stomach ache or their head hurts. And people accidentally knock into other people in the middle of the night and have double vision all day.

And then we play games. The kids played rounds of go-fish on the rug while I cleaned the kitchen yesterday. And books are read. And books get written in (one of the twins was very proud of writing their name and wrote all over Libby's school library book).

And it's noisy and loud around here. And it's raining. Or it's sunny and they must take out every bike, skateboard, tricycle, wagon, and outdoor toy they can find and litter the lawn and the parking area with their vehicles of choice.

This mixture of chaos and joy and shrieks and mess and love and hugs and kisses and snuggles and bruises and scrapes and stained shirts is my life. The piles of clean laundry that have yet to get folded and the mounds of dirty laundry yet to make it into the wash. This is my life.

It's CT scans and holding my breath and hoping and praying for good results. It's birthdays with candles and cakes and presents and toys and confetti. It's not having enough money for the the things you want but thankful when people help you get groceries when the cupboards get bare. It's long worked hours and Mike gone in the middle of the night working at times.

It's cars breaking down. It's hot coffee that lifts my soul with it's intoxicating smell of pumpkin spice. It's holding my friends as they cry and tell me heartbreaking stories. It's praying over the phone with friends when you can't be there in person. It's laughing your butt off over hilarious movies and tv shows on DVD.

It's hot cocoa made my by my husband and s'mores that he made me for me with a lighter. It's bonfires and outdoor leaves and the smell of smoke from a wood fire. It's mud and smears and cleaning out the car again.

It's restless nights unable to sleep because my stomach is knotted in worry or I'm too overtired to sleep or there are too many children in my bed and I end up downstairs on the couch.

It's nights of consistently getting 3 hours of sleep, sometimes 5.

It's waking up at 5:30 to help get kids ready for school and on the bus.

It's asking God questions about why life has been what it has been for us. It's singing hymns while my hands are in warm dishwater. It's picking up a hefty three year old and having him wrap his arms around me and pat my back in a hug.

It's being too tired to read another word on the page. It's full of hope and mystery and cinnamon and freshly baked pumpkin bars. It's rubbing little feet with tea tree oil because they got itchy. It's smiling into my daughter's upturned face and staring at each other nose to nose.

It's so many things. Good, bad, horrible and glorious. And God is in it all. He is there in the midst. He is with me. He knows I'm needy and broken and imperfect. He loves me and heals me and restores me. He strengthens me and refreshes me and encourages me and gives me the faith and the grace I need to face each day and to live and be in each moment.

And may you find, whatever you face in your day, whether piles of laundry and dishes or an overwhelming work load, whether it's many children or just one or your barren, whether you are single, or married or divorced, whether your health is great, or you have a cold, or you have been diagnosed with cancer.... whatever you have been given, whatever you face, may you know God's love for you and His care for you. You are not alone. He has given us His Son, Jesus Christ. God became flesh in Jesus. The maker of the universe dwelt among us. He never sinned. He led a perfect life. He healed the sick and loved people. And he was killed, crucified like a common criminal. And he died. And three days later he rose again!!!! He came back from the dead and is alive. He conquered death! And He ascended on high and is now with the Father. And if our faith is in Him. In what He is done then we are God's children. We are holy and dearly loved. We are called into His purposes and will dwell with Him for eternity. And that is my hope my friends. And I pray it is your hope as well. This world will pass but He remains forever.

Jesus, you are my everything. And when my little world implodes remind me that you're all I need. And that it's okay. even if all falls away... even if my life is gone. I have you. And that's more than enough for me.


Monday, November 04, 2013

The View Behind...

One of my favorite parts of my day is taking the twins to the bus. They have a tradition on most days of getting out of the car and playing at the end of the driveway. I let them play behind the car so that they are not near the road. They think they're playing without me interfering. What they fail to notice is that I can see everything going on just by looking at my side mirror. Yes, I'm keeping tabs. They love the rocks and sticks and leaves and any other outdoor piece of nature they can get their hands on. Their poor teachers probably wonder why they're grubby every day. It's because I let them play before they go to school... which means sometimes they have dirt on their pants, shirts and faces!

Peter observing Ian & Michael gathering rocks.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Don't follow your Heart... VOTE.

I was trapped in the dentist chair. Fortunately there was a tv directly in front of me. Unfortunately, it was a bombardment of smear campaign ads. Each politician smearing their opponent, painting themselves to be the good guy and their opponent, the devil. I was overcome with disgust at the barrage of emotional plays that were being made. It wasn't facts. It was just angles portrayed in certain lights. Things taken out of context.

 But it works a lot of the time.

I find it interesting that there is still such a dominant message in this day of age that encourages us to follow our hearts. To listen to our hearts and go with whatever we FEEL. Ads like these are trying to make us feel a certain way and encourage us to act on those feelings, but, so often, our hearts can be deceived.

The idea of doing what feels good = doing the right thing is often a very wrong idea.

This can play out in many ways in our lives.
with justifying sin.
Well, it's okay, they really love each other, it doesn't matter if they're not married.
Indulging in overeating after a long, hard day.
Giving into temptation or into addictions.
Letting what feels good dictate your actions, instead of doing the thing you know to be right.

Sometimes the temptation is to "listen to our hearts" and be swayed by emotion when it comes to voting. We listen to the smear campaigns. We get fired up by what's being said and we go with those emotional impulses. OR worse...

We don't vote at all. We listen to our hearts that say, We just don't feel like it. We're too tired to vote. We have too many kids to contend with. Our job consumed our whole day and we didn't have a chance to vote. We just plumb forgot. We don't care or even, heaven forbid, take for granted the right to vote. And does it really even matter. Does my vote even make a difference? And if God's in control then it doesn't really matter whether I vote or not, right? I don't need to play a part.

And here's where I get really tempted when it's voting season. I don't like either or any of the candidates. So what's the point, right? I don't like either one, so who cares....

What does the Bible say though?

Romans 13: 1"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God."

1 Peter 2:12-17 "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor."

1 Timothy 2:1-3 "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,"

Romans 13:7 "Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed."

Ephesians 6:12 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

Here's an idea on preparing to vote.

1.) Pray. Ask God for discernment and wisdom as your research.

2.) Research. Figure out the facts behind each candidate and each issue that needs voting on.

3.) Pray again. Ask God to  show you what the real agendas are and who you're really voting for.

4.) Vote.

5.) Be at peace. Ultimately this is in the Lord's hands. You've done your part. Trust Him with the outcome regardless of whether or not you got your way or the candidate you wanted won or not.

6.) Be faithful to pray for the elected leaders. How quickly we vote and then dismiss whatever the outcome. Continue to pray for the leaders that are instituted. Ask God to direct them and give them wisdom. He is faithful.

I'm writing, not out of forcing or pushing a political agenda but with the hope that you will take action and vote and that you will think and pray and research before you do. It is my hope that we use what we've been given, our right to vote, to good effect. Happy Voting Tuesday, November 5th!

Out of this world Party

Libby had been planning for almost a year on the kind of party she wanted for her 9th birthday. She has a huge love of science, specifically that of the solar system. I took NO pics on the day. Too busy orchestrating and getting things done. We made fun little acorn crafts and "ghost" lollipops. And the house was decorated pretty "out of this world" with planets and stars and streamers abounding. Fortunately, I have some great friends who take pics for me. Thanks Keri!

Amazing cake and cupcakes created by my friend, Keri's Mom, Bobbi! Thanks Bobbi!

I love the expressions during the b-day song

Hands up

...and sway

and blow out the candles



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

9 years old today.

She's wearing my jammies that I wore as a little girl. 


Her outside her favorite store to shop: Target

Libby is 9 today. It's hard to believe how fast the years have gone. They have slipped by in a couple blinks. I remember it felt like yesterday that I was just holding her. Her dark intense eyes staring at me taking everything in. And she was just an hour old.

She's still taking everything in. She's smart, observant, thoughtful, kind, gentle, sweet and artistic. I love her so much and am so proud of the young lady God is shaping her into.

She's been through so much. Has had to face so much at a young age. Having brothers with special needs and laying down her life for them. Giving hugs and kisses and shedding tears. I love my daughter. She's my favorite girl in the whole wide world. I am so honored that God would let me be her Mommy. I am blessed because Libby Anne Hope is in my life. The girl that brought so much joy and so much hope!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Clear Scan.

We are thanking God that there is no cancer growing in Samuel's body. We had a long day of iv's, x-rays, CT scan, EKG and an echo. So tired. But thankful.

Monday, October 21, 2013

CT Scan and EKG tomorrow.

Tomorrow is october 22nd. Samuel and I as well as Mike and Libby are traveling to the Children's Hospital at o'dark hundred for Samuel's 4 month check up. CT scan coupled with EKG. Hoping to hear that there is no change.

tomorrow marks 2 years out. 2 years of no cancer growing. I am praying and hoping and expecting good things but there is still dread and anxiety in me. My stomach is in a knot and I have a headache. I know it's the stress talking.

Trying to be kind to myself today. This is when my self-critic comes out strong. I want to beat myself up for not being perfect or responding perfectly. I'm mad for PMSing and feeling crappy. I'm mad that I don't feel ecstatic about cleaning and organizing. Or eating well. Or whatever. Shut up self. Be nice to yourself. You wouldn't treat your friends like that!

Either I want to try to do everything and be as productive as possible so that I'm too distracted to think about what's coming or I go into shut-down mode and just want to ignore the world by sleeping or getting caught in a book, entering another world that takes me far away from my present reality. Either way, I want to be distracted.

But here's the road I want to walk. The one where I acknowledge that it's scary and hard but it's going to be okay. God does not stop being God tomorrow no matter what the results are. His truths stay the same. It's much harder to face this thing and to surrender it to the Lord than either busy myself to the point of exhaustion or shut-down to numb myself.

I think the reason we fear is the unknown. We don't know what is going to happen. We can't promise or guarantee a specific outcome. I recognize my real "control" of this situation is nil, zip, nothing. And that my dears is very, very frightening for me. I love control. Or at least I think I do.

But today, right now, I choose to surrender it to God. I ask Him to sustain me and to help me with my shaky heart and shaky feelings and my shaky hands. I ask Him to heal Samuel and to bring about complete health. And I rest in the knowledge that God has good things for Samuel. He knows ultimately what is best. And He did not withhold his best from me or for us. He gave us Jesus. He gave us His Son. He paid the ultimate price for us. He brings us into relationship with the Father. And I have hope. Knowing that my future is ultimately secure in Him.

So if you think of it, the scan, Samuel, our family, please pray. Looking forward to sharing positive news and thankful that no matter what, come what may God is for us, so who can be against us? And what could possibly separate us from His love? "for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present northings to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation {EVEN CANCER}, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!" (Romans 3:38) emphasis mine.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Adventures with Cousin

"A Chick-a- lay" We go. Peter loves Chick-a-lay (chick-fil-a). I think one of the things that he loves more though is his cousin Madison. So when my Mom and I had the opportunity last week to take them to Chick-fil-A it was a double happy whammie for Peter. No pictures at the restaurant. This is the only time they were contained (carseats) long enough to get a picture!
"Really Auntie Jenn? Containing me in this car seat? It's inhumane!"

Lez go to chick-a-lay!

Will ignoring you get me there faster?

Too many pictures. Let's go eat!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Crockpot Mis-Adventures...

Some days are just simply a "crack up". No matter how hard I try to get things done. Things can just go against me. Last week I was using a rotissserie chicken in the crockpot to make broth for homemade chicken noodle soup. All of a sudden I heard a loud CRACK and pop and turned to see my broth spilling out of the crockpot and onto the counter and floor. The bottom of the pot came clean off! Crazy.

I was also making cookies and I reached to move the oatmeal and the lid popped off and spilled everywhere. Yep, it was just one of those days.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mornings with Peter

I just have to say that I love Peter in his bedazzling outfits. he loves to wear his sister's backpack and thinks it's his magic ticket to board the bus. So when we take the twins to the bus on the backpack goes.  Oh yeah, we're styling... This was yesterday, in addition to the fashionable "editing" of Ian...

BumbleBee Rainboots

"Cheeeeeeeese!"

"Let's Go Mom!"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Clothes Redesigned...

Thank you Ian for deciding that Peter's shirt needed some re-vamping. I had no idea what you were capable of with scissors. Never underestimate a 5 year old with scissors. At least it wasn't a haircut....