Thursday, February 27, 2014

Um, still sick.

So Ian got sick on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon I got a call from the school. Michael had gotten sick... all over his classroom including on a teacher and a fellow class-mate. So I had one kid throwing up in the car on the way to get the kid throwing up at school. Yes, that fun.

Samuel started throwing up later that night. Michael and Samuel had fevers all day yesterday. Today Michael and Samuel are still at home sick.

Wild days.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Worst part, but most comical of the day....

This is not for everyone. Do not read if you get sick easily or are eating. You have been forewarned. If you feel brave... read on.

Kids are screaming, "Peter's going to throw up". Peter is in the living room. I yell, "Peter come here. Let's throw up in the bathroom."He's running. He is close. Gets to the kitchen and throws up everywhere. We're talking chunks people. Then he slips and falls in it. Smack his head. Crying. Covered in throw up I'm gently dragging him to the bathroom to finish throwing up in the toilet bowl. I then proceed to shower him off in the bathroom.

He's finally done throwing up. He's finally clean. I check out myself. Covered in throw up. I didn't even notice. Was so focused on  my violently ill 3 year old.

It feel like a scene straight from a  comedy movie. Unfortunately, cleaning up the kitchen floor for a half hour is the reality that you don't get in a movie.

Motherhood. Need I say more????

When Life Happens...

So today was supposed to be two dentist appointments at 11 and Libby's musical program tonight. Unfortunately Libby started throwing up at 6:30 a.m. and Peter joined her an hour later. C'est la vie.
I have to surrender all my plans to God.

It's so funny how we think we have some actual control over this thing called life. Such an illusion. Learning to be flexible and have to change my plans, agendas,  motives, and hopes has been a continual learning process for me.

Letting go of all I thought today would be and allowing God to truly direct my steps is the prayer of my heart. Breathing in and out. Trusting Jesus is greater than my need for control.

Lord, help me with today. Give me strength. Peace. Clarity. Direction. Help me love my sick children well and comfort the disappointments due to unexpected and unforseen events. All for your glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hoping in the Wrong Things…

I had been excited. Very excited. It felt as though our dreams were coming true. My husband and I have been looking in Norfolk at homes for the past 6 months. And we found “the one”. The right amount of rooms, bathrooms, location and under budget. Sweet. This was it.

We’ve been checking it out online and last week we went and saw it in person. Super cute and quirky. I like quirky. It’s not traditional. Built in 1908. But a brand new updated kitchen to boot. This was it.

We filled out the application. Got all the paperwork and documents in order. We even got our cashiers check…. Only to find out that morning that the house has been rented. Something they failed to mention to us.

Our response: seriously disappointed, verging on heartbroken.

It was more than just a feeling of “bummer, it didn’t work out”… it was more like, “Why God? Why can’t anything good happen to us? Why do things never seem to work out?” I know, I know. I sound like an Israelite in the desert with God providing left and right and me grumbling a mile a minute.

Why so downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?

Because my hope was in this house. This temporary fleeting thing. My hope was in feeling secure. Feeling like I had things figured out. Feeling like I knew what was coming next. My hope was in moving in a few short weeks. My hope was in bypassing the grief and loss of my sister with the hope of a new move to shake things up.

And so I sit here several days later. Reflecting on the past few days. That day we got the news I spent the afternoon crying in bed. My promise of earthly “security” had fallen through.

One of my closest friends sent me this text yesterday, “ I love you. I’m praying for you this morning. Just now read this and thought of you.: ‘For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.’ Romans 8:24-25”

It’s funny because her text confirmed my feelings for the past several days. I’ve been hoping in the wrong things. In fact the day I found out we didn’t get the house I started writing this post. I recognized my hope was in the wrong thing right then and there.

Funny how you can know the truth but it’s still hard to act in the truth.

I’m still sad. Still low. Not as bad as I was thankfully but still discouraged. Trying to get enough guts to keep looking and pursuing this move to Norfolk. My heart is definitely not as into it as it was.

And the thoughts of my sister flood my mind as March 7th approaches. The immunity that this particular move was providing is gone. Instead I’m gripped in it’s entirety by this wave of grief. My brain is in a fog. Everything takes 10X more energy, strength, etc. I feel like I’m in molasses, moving in slow motion.

The past 3 weeks has been a medical appointment EVERY day and sometimes two in one day. I’m drained and tired. I’ve been running on fumes lately. Trying to press forward and tell myself to go, to get it together, to keep trying. And I’m exhausted.

So I’m surrendering. I recognize I can’t do these next few weeks apart from God. I can’t move forward without his strength carrying me. I’m too weak. Too weak to help kids with homework. Too weak to do dishes and laundry. Too weak to fix dinner.

Aaron Shust’s song has been playing on repeat in my head. Specifically these words….

My hope is in You, Lord
All the day long, I won't be shaken by drought or storm
A peace that passes understanding is my song
And I sing my hope is in You, Lord

I wait for You and my soul finds rest
In my selfishness, You show me grace
I worship You and my heart cries "Glory
Hallelujah, Father, You're here!"

I'm not perfect. I don't have it together. But my hope is in the Lord. And He is unshakeable. He is faithful. He is never changing, constant, strong, and in control. So I breathe and keep going. In His mighty grip today and always.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Efficiency, Productivity and Other False gods I worship.

I don't know if you get caught in the same traps that I do.

I find myself quickly getting upset, annoyed and agitated when my efficiency is thrown off.

If I'm not going the most direct route to get somewhere. If I'm wasting time or money or expending any additional energy than what it takes to do something. If I lose my potential to gain something... dang, that coupon expired. If I had paid the bill early I could have saved 10 bucks. God forbid I run my errands in a way that takes longer.

I tend to base my day, and my feeling and emotions about myself on how productive I've been.

I got X amount of laundry, dishes, cleaning, organizing, meal-making, etc. done.
I caught up on bills, administrative tasks and medical appointments.
I finished all those things that have been threatening me and looming over my head.
So therefore, I'm high as a kite.

I base my wellness on what I've accomplished, gotten done, finished, etc.

Now, efficiency and productivity are well and good. They definitely have their places. They are not evil in and of themselves. But I'm asking myself this question... Would I be equally happy/joyful if I didn't do a thing but cared for my sick child all day? Would I be okay if I laid down my desires for the day to help someone in need? Would God still love me if I accomplished "nothing" that day?

I realize that a lot of my low feelings are coming from the fact that most of what I do in a day becomes undone just as quickly and often faster than I complete a task. I clean something and it gets dirty. I feed my kids. They get hungry again. I wash all the dishes in the sink only to turn around and find another sink full of dirty dishes. I vacuum and it needs to be repeated. I wash clothes... and keep on washing clothes.

And this is super depressing if you base your worth on how productive you've been. You never come out on top. In fact you only maintain a base level of 0 most days on your best days. Neither negative. Neither positive. But if what if we're not to look at our lives this way?

What if we were to in turn say that our value comes from who we are... even better whom we belong to?

What if we were to place our identity in Christ's accomplishments/works? What He did for us. The truth is if we are in Christ then our whole identity and value and worth has changed. It's not about what we've done but about what He's done!

Searching online for  who we are in Christ I found a great list from Joyce Meyer who we are in Christ.

Knowing that we are God's child needs to be our first thought for our day. Not whether or not we've done our to-do list. not whether or not we even feel "good" about ourselves. We have to choose to believe that Christ's work is enough. That ultimately His work is sufficient. And we can rest in that.

I hate to rest. I hate to sit still and not be productive. In fact I can drive my kids crazy because my idea of watching a movie together =time for me to fold laundry. It takes trust to rest. It takes peace in my spirit to be able to acknowledge that God has done what I could not and that I can trust Him... and that I can let go...

My busyness is often driven by my anxiety to please.
 I am desperately trying to earn what has already been freely given to me.

Ouch. that hurts. That sobering reality. I don't need to add to Christ's work on the cross. When he said, "It is finished." He meant it. He didn't mean, "It's finished if Jennifer does good works all the rest of her days..."

And not only do I try to please others but I also find myself comparing my ability or inability to others. I base whether or not I'm a good Mom on what someone else is or isn't doing with their children.

My peace should come from whether I'm obeying God and doing as He has instructed me to do with my children. 

Not trying to be the "perfect Mom"... whatever the heck that means.

Each child has their own set of unique needs. And each family has their own unique set of circumstances, personalities, situations, etc. So why am I trying to do what I see someone else doing?

Nor trying to be the "perfect wife" or "ideal woman". I need to be the wife my husband Mike needs me to be. And the woman God has called me to be. Not some imaginary idea of perfection that I have in my head.

All this being said, I'm not saying it's wrong to get suggestions, ideas, and to try things that might work for your child or for your spouse. I'm not saying, don't be productive and efficient. I'm just asking myself specifically, "What's in my heart?" Is it enough for me to believe Christ and to be God's child. Is it enough to believe that Christ's work has accomplished me for an eternal salvation and that His Spirit is at work changing and redeeming me and my life?

Why do I long for earthly/momentary/temporary/petty accomplishments? Why is my work often driven by my own personal need for glory instead of from the joy of belonging to an amazing God who loves me and adores me and calls me His own, whom gives me strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow?

I'm wrestling with these questions. I'm preaching to myself. Do you ever have these struggles? Can you relate to what I'm saying?

So I'm once again hanging up my super woman cape and asking God,

Jesus. Please make me the woman, the wife, the mom that you want me to be. Please allow me to bring glory to you God. You alone are worthy of my life, my work, my productivity and efficiency. Shape me and mold me how you will. Thank you that you are prying the false gods away from my grasping fingers. Help me to worship you the true living God with all of my heart, soul, mind, strength, spirit. I love you Lord. I want to let go of my failings and instead hold onto your perfections, your truths, your perfect ability. You alone are worthy of my praise. Not my false attempts of perfection and trying to "have it together". I repent of not trusting in your work. Not believing that you and your work are enough. Forgive me Jesus of my arrogance to add to your perfect work. Thank you that your forgive me and love and are upholding me by your mighty right hand. Help me to work in my day... in all that I do... dishes, laundry, caring for my kids, loving my husband, for you! And when I go to bed tonight let me be at peace and rest that you are sufficient and more than enough for me. I rest in your goodness and truth. In your perfection I find peace. In all these things i pray, in the might name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Samuel is 8!

Samuel is 8. I can hardly believe it. When he was diagnosed with cancer at 4 I remember realizing what a miracle it would be for him to make it to 5. and here we are. 4 birthdays later. Thank you Jesus!

Samuel I love the creative, imaginative mind you have. I love the way you experiment and create. You are quite the inventor.

And even though Papa is my big Valentine. You are one of my favorite five little "Valen-TIME" as you put it.

I love you. So proud of the way you have persevered through cancer treatment, radiation, through suffering and hardship. The way you love others. The way you are compassionate. And I love the way you love Jesus. I love the letters you write to God. They are precious to my heart.

Son. I am so grateful to God for giving me the gift of you Samuel Augustine!

Samuel with Peter

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Norfolk Move.

Some of you know and some of you don't know about Mike's and my plan to move to Norfolk. We are part of a church plant that is happening in Norfolk, VA. We also have a desire to be part of a community. A place where all aspects of our life converge around one small area.
Picture from GraceHouseArt at Etsy

We are accustomed to driving all over the "world" or so it feels like. Our average drive time to get to most places is usually 30 minutes. And it's not uncommon for almost all medical appointments to be an hour away. And seeing as we have medical appointments booked for almost every day of the week this gets to be a little nuts. It's not uncommon for us to drive 2-4 hours a day. I know it sounds extreme but it's true. Mike works at the ocean front and if he hits traffic it can take him an hour and a half to drive home at times.

That said our hope in moving to Norfolk is to live, work, shop, play, and study all in one area...

Our plan is to move next month. As things stand currently this seems to be a realistic plan. Things have been coming together. We have found a house that is the right number of bedrooms, space, and price, a very central location and on a block that feels safe. God seems to be pulling this together.

If we get approval this week hopefully we will be signing a contract soon. Praying for all the details to come together. We might be renting a new house as soon as March 1st. I don't know if we will move in that soon. I think I need more than 2 weeks. But hopefully we can move in steps/stages. we will see.

Asking God for favor. continued peace. Excited to be able to provide hospitality and to share in the abundance of God's provision and goodness. Excited to love and serve the people in Norfolk.

We've been country living for the past 5 years. It will be a big change to move to "the city" as the kids call it. Praying for the adjustment for them as well. This is what they've known most of their lives... wide open spaces. Unfenced yards. No neighbors (except the people we live with). It will be different.

Excited to share how God works things out!

so thrilled to be close to the Childrens Hospital of the King's Daughters among so many other things!

Definitely need help with packing, organizing, etc. Asking God to bring the right people at the right time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hearing gone bad...

Samuel's hearing has been super bad lately. His hearing aid hasn't seemed to help a lick. I've been concerned. Thankfully our audiologist is a rock star and I could e-mail her. She got me in on a cancellation yesterday and tested Samuel's hearing. He had an extreme amount of fluid in his ear drums.  His hearing was far, far below normal. Explains why he said, "WHAT???" after everything we would say to him.

Double inner ear infections.

Left audiologist in Norfolk to go to pediatricians in Chesapeake. A prescription for amoxicillin in hand and we were good to go.
picture courtesy of Melanie Wasko Photography

Hoping this fluid clears up quickly... also hoping that this is the primary reason his hearing is off so significantly. Been holding my breath about his left ear. His right ear has the hearing aid but I feel it won't be long before the left goes.

This is what we call a "late effect". By that I mean the things that result from having had treatment that appear any time from 6 months on to decades after. And since Samuel had such an aggressive chemo and radiation treatment there will be serious late effects.

So I'm praying and trusting God with Samuel's lungs, his heart, his kidneys, his bladder. Asking the Lord to continue to heal his body and strengthen him. Thankful for his life. Thankful that we're going to celebrate his 8th birthday on Sunday. God has been so good. And I know whatever comes, it's in His hands. It's part of His plan. And will ultimately be used for God's glory and for Samuel's good.

A Taste of Snow (part 2)

A view from inside
Peter consoles Madison 
chasing Uncle Christopher
snow march

Mom holding River

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Taste of Snow


Michael wanted to stay where it's warm.





Monday, February 10, 2014

Samuel's book

Samuel made a book at the beginning of the school year. 
Cover Page: Samuel I am

"My name is Samuel. I am out to playing and my sister is out side with me too!"

"I have twins. They are so crazy brothers."

"Peter is my littlest brother of my family."

"My mom and dad is the oldest of my family"

Monday, February 03, 2014

Dressed for the snow... or not.

So he looked fully dressed to me...

But this is what he was really wearing....
Samuel, where are your 2 shirts and sweater that you are supposed to be wearing under your coat?!!!!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

car down

Thankfully the only car (for us) that got stranded in the last snow storm.

Walking with Grandpa

2 of my favorite "vampires"

Kids recently won prizes. They chose Vampire Fangs... Aren't they hilarious?!



snow girl

Peter, hiding in Libby's room.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Picture of Contentment.

Sibling Love.

What brings us so close together? Oh you know. Being stuck in the house for over a week. In all seriousness though, I'm so thankful the way my kids get a long. Not that there isn't noise or arguments or kicking and punching at times, come on, what do you expect with four boys! But in general the love is there. They have each other's backs. They have each other's affection. They're each others best friends.


team huddle (AKA: playing on the ipad)