Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Day at the Beach...

A few weeks ago we took our first outing to the beach in a long time... Just LIBBY, SAMUEL AND PETER and some other friends while the twins were in school. Sorry Ian and Michael!










I could eat those cheeks Finn!

Rowan, you are too precious!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Skinny Dip and Comics

We got to celebrate earlier this month with free comic books on comic book day and our first time at the Skinny Dip. We had a blast! I love that all my littles could fit around a table for themselves.




A quote on motherhood...


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trusting God in spite of Me.

I really wonder if I should change my blog to MESSES WITH JENNIFER instead of Musings by Jennifer. It would probably be more accurate.

In the past 24 hours or so I have found an alien in my washing machine. Stepped in multiple "puddles" of oatmeal in bare feet. Helped clean up a dodgeball-while-eating-cheerios fiasco. Tripped on a T-rex. Slipped on ice from my six year old accidentally dumping out the ice box onto the kitchen floor. Slept on a flashlight. Found a bucket of pee in the closet (and no, I'm not exaggerating, unfortunately-SURPRISE). A lego in my bra (at the dentist office... awkward).

Not much in my life is "orderly" or "ideal"... and I'm continuing to remind myself that that's okay.

I don't like things being messy and out of order which would probably surprise you if you've been to my house because my house is very out of order :)

I am proof of the war and struggle with brokenness, living in a sinful and fallen world, and being weak.

The truth I've discovered though is I often think, "oh, if this were clean then it would be okay." "If I lose this much weight..." "If this were in order..." "If we had extra money..." If_______________.....

But here's the rub. Even when I do get my "wishes granted" I come up empty. My heart is dissatisfied and discontent. There's always more I want. More I need. More that's broken. And even when things are right in my home... they're wrong in my heart. The issue, the real issues, the true issues, lie within me.

And so I continue to go to the Lord and say, "I NEED YOU!!! I CAN'T DO IT. I'M EMPTY. BROKEN. WEAK. NEEDY. HELP!!!!"

And He rescues me from myself... rescues me from my need to please. rescues me from my ridiculous expectations. Rescues me from false assumptions....

NOTHING WILL EVER SATISFY ME BUT HIM!

bottom line.

I think other things will help. I try and replace God with other things. With Order. Structure. Cleanness. with a thinner image. With pride in my own accomplishments and strength. But it's only God and God alone who will fulfill me. Only He can restore this broken mind, body and soul. 

And thankfully He is enough

Lately, I've been struggling with just keeping up with the basics. You know eating. Showering. Laundry. Dishes. Making meals. Etc. And it's a sweet reminder that really it's all the Lord. It's all His grace and mercy. Me getting anything done is miraculous. I forget how much I rely on Him even when I'm not aware that it's Him I'm relying on.

So off to start my day. Reminding myself of truth. Because honestly I can't get through the day without God. Trusting in His faithfulness not my weakness. Trusting in His grace not my ability. Trusting in His love not my ability.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ditch the Standards, Keep the Kids.

It's funny how our standards have changed. What used to be being a good Mom meant that you fed your kids, you read them books, you changed their diapers til they were potty trained. You did their laundry. etc.

Now the standard has been raised, Now you need to be the ultimate homemaker, throw the most amazing birthday bashes, cook the most delicious organic, gluten-free, allergy-free meals, run marathons, be the perfect resource for all academic needs, drive kids to dance and sports and music lessons and language classes, run their own business, all while staying full of energy, looking fit with perfect hair and make-up and having enough leftover to take care of all their spouses needs. You know what I'm talking about...

It's no wonder we moms are tired. We have ridiculous expectations put on ourselves by ourselves and by society. This isn't realistic.

What if instead we thought... "I'm a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. I need Jesus wholly and completely. Every hour I need Him and I can't do life or parenting without Him. My parenting is going to look different from others because I am different. I have different children and different circumstances. And it's okay. I'm going to do the best I can with the power of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding me. And all the stuff that in unnecessary is extra."

Am I saying it's wrong to be crafty? To make nutritious meals? To take care of whatever special needs there are? To be a great educational resource? To be in good health? To take care of yourself?

Havens no! It's great to do these things. But it's when these things rule us, overwhelm us, and we bow down and worship them... worship these ideals. Worship being perfect... or at least projecting a perfect image. That's the problem.

Instead I'm learning to humble myself and tell myself, "God is enough. His grace is sufficient. I'm going to pour out my love to my kids today and trust God to meet their ultimate needs."

I don't know if I'm making sense to you or not. I hope so.

Rest in God's grace. That we don't need to do it all or have it all or be it all. He is enough. He is our prize. He is our very great reward. And so we can hang up our superhero capes. We can rest in His finished, perfect work. 

We can sit down in the middle of a mess and snuggle our kids and tell them we love them. We can cook a less than perfect meal. We can let go of our expectations of the perfect birthday party or a pinterest perfect house. Breathe. Long deep breaths. Enjoy the sunshine. Enjoy Christ. And if your day is less than ideal... like mine... know that this too shall pass... and One day we will be with Christ... and it will be perfect. Until then. Hang on. Hold onto hope. He's not finished with us yet. He's promised to never leave or forsake us. And that dear sisters is a promise worth holding onto.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Encounters with God and other 3 a.m. happenings...

This is typical me... trying to be superwoman.
Take off the cape Jennifer!!!
Last night I woke up at 3:13 a.m. I could not fall back asleep. Fortunately, I had fallen asleep early the previous night... like 7 p.m.

So I got up and decided, hey, I will do what we needed to do in the morning. So I spent an hour making stuff and preparing for a drive to the country in the morning before sunrise.

During this time I of preparation and driving I felt God was speaking to me. Speaking to me specifically about my role as a Mom. I had literally complained earlier that day that "I'm sick and tired of being everyone's personal slave."

And so I was talking to God about that and I felt him gently nudge me....

"I came to be the servant of all..."

"Um, God, I can't do that. I can't even literally serve my 5 kiddos..."

Mark 9:35 says, "And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.

"God, it seems your Kingdom is not in line with my thinking. Really do I need to be last. Do I need to serve all???" 

"Yes."

But here's where it got crazy.

I didn't see it as a burden.  I wasn't afraid. I didn't feel condemned. Just a sweet conviction. Just a reminder that I need to lay down my life for my family. A tender prodding that they are my ministry right now.

I don't need a platform or a public ministry... I can love those right around me and be doing what God commanded. I can love my neighbors. I can meet the needs of the people right in front of me. And it's enough. It's good. 

I don't feel like I'm changing the world or even that I'm really making a difference in a major way. But I'm committed to follow whole-heartedly after God... and to love my family... and to be their servant.

So their "personal slave"... um, yeah, I guess so. 

I am teaching my kids responsibility and helping them get involved in housework and chores, etc. But I also want to be willing to deny myself and to love them and sacrifice my wants for them. I want to show them what God's love looks like in action.

Now, let me say something for those who think... Okay, this means you should never take care of yourself. Part of me loving and serving my family means putting my oxygen mask on first before putting theirs on. This looks like eating healthy foods at regular intervals. It means taking my vitamins and meds. It means getting exercise. Because if I'm run down and worn out I can't care for them well at all.

And I say this as I'm now sick in bed with what I think is strep throat. Bummer. So loving my family means lying low to recover so that I can care for them at full capacity later this week. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Strong Enough...

I was realizing that I like to shield people from pain. I like to bear the brunt of it or somehow make their life easier, better. That's not a bad thing but my husband was encouraging me that sometimes I need to let people experience pain, difficulty and struggle so that they can grow. That was really hard for me to grasp, especially regarding my children. Actually it's taken me several months to understand what he's been getting at. He's not being masochistic as I had originally thought. He's not saying create suffering he's saying sometimes we need to allow it.

Um, that's me...
I thought of a baby Joey in a Mama Kangaroo's pouch. It has to have the strength to pull itself up and out in order to survive. In the same way a baby chick has to peck its way out of the shell. If you "help" these babies by pulling them out or opening their shells you are killing them. They don't have the strength and the ability, what they need to survive. They learn endurance and gain the strength they need to survive by having to pull or peck their ways out.

I think about my life. Dealing with thing after thing. Trial after trial.  God allowing me to deal with Samuel's pre-term labor and birth prepared me for the twins. Dealing with respiratory distress again and again prepared me to know what to look for, enabled me to learn infant CPR, and how to handle a hospital. Multiple hospitalizations and specialists and so much more prepared me for Samuel's cancer diagnosis. God allowing me to experience Michael's need for a feeding tube helped me not freak out when Samuel needed one. I knew what to do, in fact, it was second nature.

God has been merciful helping me build strength, endurance, and giving me what I need, wisdom, knowledge and ability to care for my kids. He's been gently building situation after situation so that I have the understanding to do what is necessary. 

God has made me strong enough so that I can face the challenges of each day. Some days are harder but they are learning ground for me to be able to do what I need to do to care for my family.

strong enough... with God's strength!
That said, Samuel's next CT scan (cancer check) is June 10th. And as usual, I get nervous, anxious, agitated... and so I am reminding myself AGAIN, that no matter what comes, it's okay. God isn't going to throw me in the lion's den... without His presence. He goes with me. And I don't have the grace today to deal with June 10th results. On June 10th I will have what I need to deal with June 10th. And God willing, hopefully, it's great news. Today, I have the grace I need for today! Sounds simplistic but it's really hard. To believe in the present that God is going to take care of me and not look further. Not look to the additional worries that are looming ahead in the future.

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but werejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

WHEN YOUR BUNNIES ARE CRAZY... TAKE THEM TO THE ZOO

A few weeks before Easter my boys and I took an outing the zoo. The funny part was they all decided it would be best to wear bunny ears. Believe me, if having four boys out at the zoo didn't get us attention, the bunny ears sure did!


Macho Bunny

I love how Peter is totally passed out in the background.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Isn't she lovely!!!

My Beautiful Grandma!
My Grandma and I have a pretty special relationship. With each other we like to "tell it how it is". I think one of the things I'm so thankful for is the fact that I honestly consider my Grandma my friend. I always felt listened to her by her even at a small age. I still continue to remind her that I'm her #1 (because after all I am her first grandchild). It's a running joke.

I'm also thankful because my Grandma and I are alike in many ways. Creative. Love to beautify our surroundings. We each have 5 kids. And we've both been through hell, I mean trials, at times. LOL. Sorry Grandma, but it's true. More importantly we also know that we are God's children, daughters of the King of Kings. We've seen and experienced time and again God's faithfulness and goodness in our lives. 

I love you Grandma!!!!!

How blessed am I to have both my Grandmothers alive and in my life. Both women who love Jesus and have taught me the importance of prayer and God's Word. I'm so thankful for their examples to me of faithfulness and perseverance. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Beauty of Surrender

I have to be honest. I have not been doing well lately. I guess that's no surprise if you read my last post. Combination of hormones, sick kids, crazy banking situation last week, among other things...Just at a low.... But here's the thing... God met me tonight.

Literally, met me in kitchen at 10:30 p.m. while I cleaned up Peter's and Michael's "spice of life" experiment. Which meant them getting out of bed when they were supposed to be sleeping and dumping entire bottles of garlic powder, cinnamon, peppercorns, 2 jars of pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cupcake sprinkles, Lawry's Seasoned Salt, icecream sprinkles, Christmas sprinkles, and blue sugar all over the kitchen floor and in their sister's laundry hamper.

I had finished reading a book and let me confess I've been a bit of a slug today. Besides, taking Libby to the doctors AGAIN and stopping at a thrift store and then getting the kids lunch I didn't do much. I needed Mike's help A LOT when he wasn't working or sleeping. Remember he's working night shift.... :)

So, I felt inspired tonight. Actually it was a whole lot more like the Holy Spirit just filled the room and gave me peace and joy and energy to do dishes and sweep the floor and do laundry... and I did that. For about 3 hours. I cut up melon. Shredded bulk cheese in my food processor. Fixed Mike sandwiches and coffee and a protein drink for work. I washed the boys lunch boxes out. I even made a baking soda with essential lavender oil concoction and sprinkled it all over the rugs so I can vacuum in the morning.

But that wasn't what was so great.

I felt God speak to my heart. About why I've been so discouraged. I had thought that I need to be on a certain path to be following God's will... and I'm afraid of falling off the road. I'm afraid of not ending up where I'm "supposed" to be. But it felt as if God was speaking to me, "Hey, I've got this. I've got you. I want you to enjoy your life. Enjoy your kids. Don't worry about whether or not you're ending up where you're thinking you're supposed to be... It's MY plan... remember?"

And I felt free. Literally singing hymns in the kitchen in the middle of the night. Because God was helping me to choose life. And to not be afraid of good things He has for me. Does this mean that my life will always be perfect and smooth... or that trials and problems are magically going to go away??? NO! But it does mean that I don't need to fret and be scared that I'm "missing it". 

God is in control. His plan will be fulfilled and I don't need to worry about screwing it up! He's so Sovereign that I can't mess up His plans!



And what a breath of fresh air that is.

I can surrender myself to Him... and not feel guilty for when I need to rest. And be grateful for fun and sweet times with my kids. And I felt like I didn't need to be so worried about whether or not I was doing the right thing by washing dishes first or meal prep... I could just let it go and do the first that came to me and then do the next thing.

I realize I could wake up in the morning and all the "glow" of these happy feelings can fade. But I'm thankful that the truth of who I am... and more importantly WHOSE I AM, remains. Unchanging. Ever fixed.

Thank you Jesus for speaking to me tonight. For being with me in the quiet hours. For helping me to do things that had made me feel overwhelmed and bad and fearful. Thank you for reminding me once again I am more than what I do. That I can trust what you have for me... the path you have me on, the activities of each day is ordained by you and I don't need to be afraid or anxious. Speak to the hearts of each person reading this... Help them to know you and love you and to hear your voice. Thank you for your precious Word that speaks life and truth to us! In your Name we pray, Jesus, Amen!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Depression & The Gospel.

Hey People.
If you know me, like really know me then you know a few things. I can tend to be pretty upbeat and bouncy in general... but I also really struggle with depression.

Over a decade ago, I would definitely have described myself as emotional with a flair for the dramatic. The intense struggle with depression came in after my sister's death. I'm not saying I never had highs and lows before my sister's passing. I did. But the crippling depression, anxiety and panic attacks started after that March 7th 2004.

I have tried really hard to "pull it together". I've tried coaching and motivating myself. My most effective tool had been guiltripping and shaming myself into getting things done. Something has been wrong with me for a long time. At times, I've even had very strong suicidal thoughts.

Couple this with having five kids in six very short years. Very high demanding medical needs of my kids. Dealing with oxygen tanks, apnea monitors, g-tubes, cancer, and hypotonic cerebral palsy and Voila... you get a very "special" person.

I'm a perfectionist and that doesn't help. I live in ideals. Thinking of the way my life should be and how I should be and react to my circumstances. And in a sinful and broken world... what the heck is ideal???

All this said, I've been having a shift. A realization. A deeper understanding... that although I can't control my feelings I can choose to not let them dictate my life. And some days this is easier done than others. Some days I just want to crawl in my bed and never come out again.

This past decade has kicked my butt and sometimes I feel crushed by the weight of loss, grief, trauma, despair, hopelessness, helplessness, sadness, and anxiety.

Instead of looking at my circumstances and hoping they will change or that they will remain good... Instead I look vertical. I look to God and see that I am in perfect standing with him in Christ Jesus. I don't have to do another thing, another work. It is finished. And not only is every sin forgiven and wiped away that I have committed, will ever commit, in addition my Savior's righteousness is applied to me. As though I have always lived a perfect life and done things right and good. 

Sweet relief. It's not up to me. It's not how good I am or how bad I get... I'm in Christ. And in Him I am held, fixed in a position that is unchanging. Even on my darkest days He walks with me. And though I feel afraid I will slip and fall my footing is secure and assured. I am His. I belong to Him. He loves me and He is enough for me.

My feelings and emotions and hormones may ebb and waver but my assurance in WHOM I belong to will never change. His feelings and emotions and dispositions towards me WILL NEVER CHANGE!!!

And that is the Hope of the Gospel. That even in the midst of my depression I am fixed in my position. I am homeward bound. I draw closer to that day. That day when I will be called Home. That day when Christ will return and make all things right. The new Heavens and the new Earth. No more pain and sadness. We will be changed. And all will be right. 

Til then, I press forward. I stumble. I cry. I at times feel close to despair. I mess up. I am broken. But I am loved. I am moving towards wholeness and completion. I am moving towards the One who loves me in spite of me.

Praying that wherever you are, whatever you are walking through that you would know the sweet assurance of Jesus. That He would be your Savior. Save you from your sins and from this messy, broken world. And that in Him you would find joy and rest. And peace that surpasses all understanding in spite of your feelings, your circumstances, your limitations.

Trusting Jesus. Believing Him at His Word. No matter what comes today I AM IN HIM.

Monday, May 05, 2014

They Say It's Your Birthday....

Most people know today, May 5th, as Cinco de Mayo. And although it's true and well and good the 5th of May holds a special place in my heart.Today is my cousin, Anne's birthday.

People often grow up knowing who their relations are... but Anne came out of the woodworks in my teen years. What an honor and blessing it is having her for my cousin and my friend.
Happy Birthday dear cousin!!!
Anne, thank you for your love, support and encouragement. Thanks for not judging me even when you've seen me at some of my worst. I love you and am so thankful to God for you. I hope your day is special and wonderful and that you know even more God's love for you. So glad it's your Birthday! And can't wait to celebrate together!

Mwah!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Gramma's Love

Libby and Gramma 
Kisses from Gramma

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Celebrity Moment: Auntie Sharon

When Auntie Sharon came by the demand was high: "Take a picture with me!!!" 
We love you Auntie Sharon.



Friday, May 02, 2014

Free Comic Books, Pizza, Coffee??? Yes Please!

While Mike is at work... the kids and I are going here...


Aaargh Mateys

It was so fun to celebrate the twins birthday a few weeks ago with friends, family and our new neighbors. Fun was had all around.





And then the batteries died before we could get any more pictures... LOL... no really