Sunday, March 30, 2014

THE DAYS I'M CARRIED...

The past 3 weeks have been full of packing, packing, packing. Then moving 2 weeks ago. Then unpacking. unpacking. unpacking.

The kids and I on our first outing here were almost in a terrible accident. We would have been t-boned with the driver crushing me. Fortunately, he didn't hit me. Unfortunately, he hit someone else and t-boned her. The lady and I were both making left turns. The other driver ran a red light. It was raining. I stopped in time. She couldn't see that I stopped as I was blocking the view of his coming approach. I laid on the horn hard. He still hit her. All her air bags on the driver side deployed. I stopped and waited in the rain for the police to come because I witnessed the accident and I wanted to be sure the truth was known. By the end of the 45 minute wait she gave me a hug and so did her husband who came to retrieve her. He said he couldn't believe that there were still good people out there. I didn't do anything special but I felt like I was able to be Jesus in that moment to them. I was so thankful that already God was using us... planning for us to be here.

The following day we ended up helping an older woman who needed something to eat and a ride. I bought her a meal at Church's Chicken and gave her cash and dropped her off somewhere she could spend the day.

Many things have happened since we've moved. Ian had an infected tooth and we experienced 3 nights of him screaming in pain while waiting to get into the dentist... all due to miscommunication with the dentist administrative staff. I don't think they understood the emergency we were in.

The toilet flooded and kept flooding. The valve to cut the water supply was broken. My phone stopped working in the bathroom as I jerry-rigged holding the thing in the tank up to keep it from flooding. Fecal matter was everywhere. Inches of disgusting water everywhere in the bathroom. I used every single towel and beach towel I had and called Mike to call the property manager since my phone kept dropping calls.

Our dishwasher was leaking water on our kitchen floor every time we used it.

We had a minor gas leak with our gas stove.

All these issues have been resolved. Stove repaired. New dishwasher. The toilet fixed by a professional. Ian given antibiotics.

Ian and Michael started school last Tuesday at the local public school. We had some hiccups with the bus but the issues seem to be resolved.

I love my new home. Love meeting our new neighbors. Enjoy the beauty of the neighborhood and community we are now in. I feel like God put us in the perfect place. Enough room and space for living and hospitality. Plenty of people to minister to and be ministered from. Close to the Children's Hospital. Close to culture and community and people.

But even with all the highs and joys and gratitude for our new situation there is still a low. All the change and upheaval. The new routines. Homeschooling Libby and Samuel and figuring out what the heck that even means. Having to learn where to shop. Where to get gas. How to get places. I've gotten lost many times. I don't have a GPS on my phone or in my car, etc. But I've figured things out myself. I've stopped and asked for help. Trying to figure out how to start and instill good habits. Figuring out the comforts and things I've clinged to wrongly.


I don't like stress. I don't like disorder. I don't like change. So all these things have shaken me up. I've gotten angry, impatient and frustrated. Not to mention that I have 6 other people who are dealing with all these changes and stresses as well and it's working out in them in various ways as well. We are learning to trust God and ask Him for help. I've had to ask my kids for forgiveness way more than usual lately.  

We are all seeking comfort, assurance, and security. We are all in desperate need of God.

And so I've been trying to fight this depression. And ashamed I even feel depressed. I mean how can I be depressed given all the blessings I have and have been given??? How dare I feel low? How dare I act imperfectly.... hmmm.... that's getting to the heart of it. I'm angry with myself for acting "less than" I think I should. For not being where I'm "supposed" to be at. Having to surrender my ideal self and thoughts and feelings... because that is wrong. It's not real.

And today, I have had to be carried. My husband, Mike, has carried the bulk of today. He has gotten up with the children. And let me sleep til 11. He has made the kids lunch. He has dealt with the arguments, the disputes, the broken items, the whining and complaining and fussing. He has loved our kids. And he has loved me. Allowing me to shower. Allowing me to rest. Allowing me to even now write, releasing myself by sharing my thoughts in a cathartic way.

So there's this mixture of happiness and depression right now. There's this mixture of joy and grief. And that's where I am. Carried by my husband. Carried by the Lord. And I know I will get through this whatever this is. And I know God will be faithful. And I know I will see the good of the Lord in the land of the living...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Answered Prayer

So yesterday I felt like I was on pins and needles waiting to hear... hoping to hear... if we were approved for our rental home. I knew it was early he said Tuesday OR Wednesday but last night we got the news... we're in!

So as of the 15th we will have a new living space. Our plan is to pack, pack, pack... like I did today with the help of 2 of my fabulous cousins and one kick-clutter's-butt sister-in-law. My plan is to continue boxing, packing, and getting rid of stuff through Saturday and move Sunday. Yay!

Can't believe it's happening.

I started a Give me 40 days in February and one of the biggest things I was praying for was a new home for us to live in Norfolk. The end of my 40 day prayer period is March 15th. How amazing is that?!

God truly does hear!

Kids last day of school at Grassfield is Friday. What a blessing that school has been. I know our kids are sad to leave their friends, teachers, and classmates behind but excited about what lies ahead.

Libby and Samuel will be homeschooled and the twins will go to Norfolk Public School. Anticipating with joy and peace all that God has for us.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. We are so thankful!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Housing Situation....

took the 5 with us. Want people to know
what they were getting into if they accepted our application.


So, we're on this adventure. Took the kids to check out a possible new home on Saturday. We've turned in an application and certified check on Monday for a place in Norfolk. In Colonial Place to be exact. It's actually for an entire floor of a historic mansion.... with built in book shelves and a stained glass window... and the coolest chandelier in the foyer. And only one bathroom. You heard me, one potty. One place to shower and bathe. 7 people. Oh yeah. We're living on the edge people.






It's charming and beautiful with hardly a single space for storage... but oh so perfect. We find out if we're approved today or tomorrow. We are hoping and praying and trying not to bite our nails from the anticipation. We would have a wrap around porch and a kitchen not full of storage space but plenty of sunshine. Kids could ride bikes on the sidewalk. Heck, I could ride a bike (once I get one!)

And God has been doing this crazy work in my heart. I'm at peace. if it's not this place He will provide another. This is the closest we've gotten though to something happen... and here's the other crazy thing.... If we get it... we'll have it on the 15th! 15th of March, people!

What?! I know right.

I need to get my hiney in high gear to get ready to move. I have gone through stuff. Gotten rid of stuff in a serious way... but packed? Nope. Not really.

So friends.... Aaaagggghhh. I need some help. If you feel like lending a hand by gathering boxes, packing up stuff or cleaning or helping watch kids so I can do these things... come on over.

I think this is really happening. If not, I will have a head start.. but I think this will happen.

A lot of big things to decide so if you're not local and can't help that's fine.... PLEASE PRAY! Asking God for His wisdom and His will to be done. And if you are local then PRAY and if able... come on down... :)


Monday, March 10, 2014

1/3 of his life we've been together...

12 years ago yesterday Mike asked me to be his girlfriend... and I said yes. One of the best decisions I've ever made. I can't believe we've been together twelve years.

Mike with the "hulk" AKA Samuel
Today is my hubby's 36th birthday. So we've been together a third of his life. Wow. That's something amazing and something worth celebrating. My husband is a man who loves God and has chosen to love me and care for me and our children in spite of some very seriously difficult circumstances.

 I admire my husband, Mike's faithfulness, perseverance, gentleness, encouragement, wisdom, loyalty, strength, and ability to love me even at my worst. There's no one else I'd rather be with and no human being my heart loves more.

We've been through undergraduate degrees, 4 pregnancies, a Masters degree, 5 babies, oxygen tubes, apnea monitors, feeding tubes, cerebral palsy, glasses, cranial shaping helmets, wheelchairs, g-j tubes, respiratory failure, intubations, emergency rooms, children flown by helicopter or taken by ambulance, funerals, weddings, losses, mourning, grief, joy, hope, devastating diagnoses, chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, biopsies, poopy diapers, wet diapers, total blow-outs, infant carriers, baby slings, boxes upon boxes of baby wipes, lysol disinfectant, throw up buckets, nasty vitamin bombs for our cancer boy, me nursing and crying, the loss of my sister and nephew, the loss of jobs, the loss of cars, the loss of friendships, lack of care, lack of money, lack of hope, new church plant, many cars given to us, hearing aids, moving 7 times in 5 years, driving thousands upon thousands upon thousands of miles, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, neurologists, cardiologists, pulmonlogists, ENT, radiologists, geneticsits, surgeons, Dentists, Opthamologist, Audiologists, oncologists, radiologists, Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, Dupont Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughters, groceries given to us, provision from the Lord by  means of gas cards and anonymous gifts, a trip to Disney with our precious 5 and Alexis through Toby's Dream Foundation, free nursing check-ups for Samuel through EdMarc (Children's Hospice Program) during treatment, Christmases where the kids were provided gifts through generous sponsors, God providing at every turn- emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, mentally....

What an amazing journey. And Babe, I believe the Best is Yet to Come.

This journey God has on us to move to Norfolk. This journey of reducing ourselves, our stuff, our things, our identities... and letting us be God's children wanting more of His Kingdom and to love others more, and to grow richer in generosity and giving. And to have hospitality. And to be Christ to others by devoting ourselves to the needs of others.

What a gift it's been to walk this road with you. To lean on your shoulder when I'm about to fall. To cry in your arms when I'm weakened by grief. To laugh our heads off at the silly and ridiculous and hilarious. To be united when the world says, "Walk Away. It's too much. It's too hard. It hurts too bad."

I'm not giving up on you... EVER... and thank you for not giving up on me.

I am yours and you are mine. I fall more in love with you each day.

And this thing called marriage that we have and that we do is beautiful. Not because it's easy or sappy or emotional... but because it's holy. It's God uniting us. It's hard work. It's surrendering ourselves to each other... and putting each others needs before our own... and you're amazing at that... and I need to grow in that. 

I am so amazed that you know me, really know me and yet you still love me. Not tolerate me. Not just fulfill your duty and provide for me. But you somehow find me precious to you. And you cherish me. You bring me prizes and treats and kiss my forehead and tell me you love me.

And I'm still that bride who on her wedding day stomped her feet in anticipation of our first marital kiss. I still stomp my feet for your kisses because they are the best. And I love that in the night my foot finds yours. That you always say I can wake you up if I've had a bad dream or I need prayer.

Thanks for being my best friend, my true love and only lover, and the greatest husband, and the wonder-fullest father to our children. I love you and I am for you. You are my favorite and my best.
Mwah


Friday, March 07, 2014

Libby's 10th Heaven Birthday...

10 years ago my sister left her earthly home to go to her Heavenly home. 

Libby (pictured far left) and all her pregnant caregroup friends
March 7, 2004 my sister Libby was 30 weeks pregnant and traveling with her husband so they could celebrate their one year wedding Anniversary together (March 8th). Her husband fell asleep at the wheel and awoke just prior to hitting a semi-truck. Tragically Libby and their unborn son, Sam, died.

This event has drastically changed and altered the course of my life. Libby was not only my sister but my best friend. I could hardly remember an important event in my life without her in it.

Her laughter. her singing. Her teasing me. Her bossing me (and she was the younger sister). Her sensitivity. Her gullibility. Her gasping at the window, seeing something that caught my eye. Her gorgeous blue eyes and brown hair that hinted at auburn when it hit the sunlight. Her smile turned up in the corner... to smirk at me. Her pale skin. She gave great hugs. And whenever I would cry she would do whatever she could to make me laugh... even if it meant her behaving ridiculously.

Libby, me, and Christopher, our brother
September 6, 2003, my wedding day
I can't sleep. It's almost 3 in the morning and my mind is racing back to this day 10 years ago. Being at church together in a parenting class. Both of us pregnant. Me super nauseous. Her sliding a bag of apple slices to share and teaching me a "pregnancy secret" eat little bits frequently to avoid nausea. Empty tummies were culprits of morning sickness.

I didn't know it was going to be the last time I saw her. I don't think I even hugged her. We drifted off after saying our "love you's."

And it's not just her being gone... but how she affected others and how they're affected by her absence. The whole dynamic of my immediate family was shattered. Libby was our peace-maker... the mediator... the justice police. She knew how to make everyone get along.

And now there is this whole decade of things and memories I've done without her. Having five children. Experiencing a lot of hospitalizations and medical problems with my children. Premature births. Oxygen. Apnea monitors. my husband's seminary education. Feeding tubes. Cerebral Palsy. Samuel's cancer.  Movies and songs we never saw or heard together. Styles that have come and gone in fashion. My children's first words and teeth. Potty-training. Kindergarten and ABC's. Worrying about what foods to feed our children and who is going to do what for so-and-so's birthday. All the missed sleep-overs between the cousins... that never got to be. The christmases and birthdays and anniversaries. The Thanksgiving dinners and the family vacations. The Easter egg hunts and the trips to the beach house.

Libby on the phone while we were in China
talking to her soon to be fiancee!
My sister and I went to Beijing China together for a month in 2002. We taught English at a summer camp together. I was very afraid of the flight home. We had experienced turbulence on the way there and it had left me wary of flying again. I was scared the plane was going to crash and we were going to die. There's a video we found a few years ago of her telling me at the airport as I'm trembling with nervousness "There is One who is greater than our Fear."

My sister was always afraid of very old people when she was a little girl. I remember her telling me when she was a little girl that she didn't want to get old because then she'd scare herself when she looked in the mirror. She was scared of getting wrinkled but she was horrified at the thought of dying. In fact she could never say the word cancer. She would just say "CAN".

What's strange... and miraculous is the months leading up to March 7th her fear of dying became replaced with an anticipation of Heaven. She was excited at the thought of going Home to be with Jesus. She was at peace. She wasn't afraid. She had no idea that she would see her Savior so soon but she was at complete peace with the idea. In fact that Thanksgiving she mentioned Heaven as being what she was thankful for!

me, Mom, Lib, Dad, and Christopher
Libby's hope and trust was in Jesus her Savior. She knew Jesus forgave her of her sins... that He led a perfect life and died a horrific death in her place. That He redeemed her and called her His Own! Made her a child of God.

But it was such a shock. A complete tidal wave of sorrow and grief to lose her.

I didn't know she would die so young. 21. Forever 21. Beautiful. Pregnant belly, Full of life in her womb. Blooming into motherhood.

My heart aches. I miss my sister. I grieve her loss.

And yet I also thank God for giving me such a precious gift... to have Libby for a sister. To know that she is at home with Him enjoying no sin or suffering. No sickness or pain. That she has her little boy with her. And I know that when my time comes and when I draw my final breaths on earth that she will be there on the other side... waiting for me... ready to introduce me to Jesus.

So I'm sad. I miss my sister. I wish she were here. And I'm expectant. Anticipating because I have the Hope of Heaven to look forward to. And as I celebrate her life and remember what God did in her I will eat a bowl of lucky charms and have a spoonful of ice cream for breakfast. I will do some of the things I remember her loving. I will be kind to myself as she would have been to me. And give myself permission to cry. Permission to laugh. Permission to love. And permission to keep on living.

Libby on her wedding day
I love you Libby. There's nothing that feels adequate to contain my memories and thoughts of you. But I know Jesus knows them all. Grateful that you don't experience the sorrows of this world... sometimes a little jealous of you. Thank you for living your life for God. For being passionate about Him. For loving others. And when it's time to fly to Jesus... I'll see you there. On the other side. Til then my hope is in what is unseen...

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-25, ESV) 

As is stated before that passage:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:18-23, ESV)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things...


The Way God Provides.

I find I'm quick to whine. I want to remedy that. So let me tell you what I'm thankful for instead!

God has done some really cool things lately. He's provided in some unexpected ways. One way he blesses me is through the thrift store. Often something will come to mind that is a need in the house. E.G. Peter needs a new bed. His crib is falling apart and it's time he joins the big boys soon. So... on Monday I walked in to Goodwill and found an absolutely gorgeous, cherry wood toddler bed (in mint condition, I might add) for $25.00

Yay. Happy dance right in Goodwill.

Then the kids found this toy I wanted to buy them for Christmas. God said no, at that time. So I waited. Again just as I found the bed on Monday, Libby found the toy! The Original Flying Turtle sells for $90 on Amazon.  $8.25 at Goodwill. Perfect Condition. The kids love it. They've been riding it since Monday. It provides great practice for Michael, strengthening his motor skills, etc. And all of them can use it! It's been a blast watching them fly around the kitchen on this cool "scooter."

On top of this I had a 20% coupon for donating 4 times (you get a punch card and they punch each time you donate). So the bed was really $20.00 and the scooter was just over $6.00.

I am so amazed at the way God cares for even the little details in my life. And often he provides things  just right when I need them.

One of the ways that I've been able to get rid of so many things is the realization that if I hold onto stuff I'm not using, I'm keeping someone else from being blessed. And that has allowed me to go through and be ruthless in my purging.

Today I cleaned the boys' room (Samuel, Ian and Michael) and Peter's room. Got rid of so much trash and bags and bags of give away. And as I pack up the give away I pray a blessing on the clothes, toys, etc. that they would get into the right homes and bless whoever God intends those items for.

Thankful for the Lord's faithfulness and continual provision. I know He has the right home for us at the right time. Been trusting His timing and waiting on the Lord. Asking Him for peace, wisdom and favor.

Thankful that I don't need to be anxious about ANYTHING but in EVERY situation I can by prayer and petition with THANKSGIVING present my requests to God.... And even better, as I shared with my daughter this morning... the peace of God which TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus! Amen! (Philippians 4:6-7)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Most Impacting Book of the Year..

Really it's almost not a book. It's more pamphlet size. Very quick read. But probably the most impacting book I've read this year and probably for last year too.

Tim Keller's, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy.*

Here's an excerpt of the description:

"In an age where pleasing people, puffing up your ego and building your résumé are seen as the methods to make it , the Apostle Paul calls us to find true rest in blessed self forgetfulness. In this short and punchy book, best selling author Timothy Keller, shows that gospel humility means we can stop connecting every experience, every conversation with ourselves and can thus be free from self condemnation. A truly gospel humble person is not a self hating person or a self loving person, but a self forgetful person. This freedom can be yours..."

It's wonderfully freeing. I have been obsessed with myself... what others think of me and what I think of me.... neither of those is good.... I want to be more aware of God and to know how sees me... In Christ, my sins aren't counted to me and Christ's righteousness is applied to me. This allows me to be free of judgment from others and myself. 

You have to read it to get what I'm trying to say!

*Available for purchase on Amazon here for $4.49 or on Kindle for just $1.62!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Reducing and Eliminating.

God is doing something strange. Something mysterious. Something very uncomfortable.

He's shaking up my hold on my possessions. He's opening my eyes to a bigger world around me. A world full of need.

It's scary. And it's so exciting. I just went through my closet and gave away 50% of my stuff. Freeing. Liberating. And it brought about me repenting on the floor of my closet for all the stuff I had. I thought I didn't have a lot. But I had a ton. And most of I don't love, like and wear....And so it had to go. Only what I love. Only what makes me feel good. From flip-flops to bridesmaids dresses. From luggage to purses and scarves and bracelets. Good-bye. To undergarments to jackets. Bye-bye. And stuff I really loved and thought was pretty but was too much. I'm definitely a bag girl. May the purses bless someone else... all the cute bags, all the cute extras... a new home for them.

Wow.

God forgive me for holding onto things that aren't you. Things that aren't necessary. Things that are dragging me down, wasting my space, time and energy. Help me as I continue to purge and eliminate. Give me wisdom through your Holy Spirit. Continue to help me remove the clutter so I can treasure you more. Help me to let go of the things that are past regrets, the what-ifs, the never-happened. Thank you for your provision. Thank you for once again showing me less is more.... and that you are more than enough. In Jesus Name, Amen.

This start is just the beginning. It's amazing the amount of stuff I own. And truthfully how much it owns me.

Surrendering and yielding myself to the Lord is bringing changes I never thought possible.

Now off to haul this stuff out of my house...