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Summer nights

3 Jul
It’s a Sunday evening in July and the air is hot, sticky, humid.
A water balloon war is raging at the house across from ours where 3 of my children are in the proverbial trenches with 6 other kids and 2 really fun dads.
One son, as if Paul Revere, runs up the hill and yells out a warning of an impending invasion from just beyond the driveway.
I’m sitting to the side listening to the laughter and screaming and battle cries.
I watch the hiding, running, chasing, throwing.
A few mosquitoes swarm, and I wipe perspiration from my face.
And I smile with the prickling of tears in my eyes, tears of happiness, of gratitude, of bliss.
Today, in this minute, there is peace in my soul, a satisfaction from the Lord that I too frequently let pass me by in the hectic days of my life.
Tonight, they play with innocence, safe under the watchful eyes of Mom and Dad, happy to play and be carefree and have fun.
Tomorrow, they will grow older and taller and hopefully wiser and leave this street to make their mark on the world and start their own lives and families.
But hope builds in my heart that maybe, just maybe, those grown babes of mine will remember the water and the friends and the euphoria of the hot summer nights of their childhood.

Where I’m From

9 Mar

I recently read a blog post from Beth Woolsey in which her son wrote a “Where I’m From” poem for school and then feeling inspired, she wrote one.  As someone who loves to write, I was excited by the idea and decided to do it for myself.  When I thought back especially on my childhood, all I could think of were wonderful, joyful feelings.  How blessed to remember my life in that way!  (And as Beth did, I strayed a bit from the template.)

Where I’m From

I am from smiles and joy, from Sonic ice and eating out, Big Red and back rubs.

I am from warmth and laughter, from hospitality and manners, from the genuine.

I am from the pine trees and the lake, the small towns and curvy, winding roads, from mosquitoes big enough to carry you and storms that will scare you.

I am from so many stories and lots of loud talking, from McGraw and Myers and Rogers, from teachers and preachers who seem to know everyone.

I am from thoughtfulness and cards full of underlined words and handwritten letters, bending over backwards, from hosting and cooking and sharing.

From “Jesus Loves Me” and “You are loved” and prophetic words.

I am from church every Sunday, mission trips, and youth trips, from true salvation and never-ceasing prayers and walking among giants.

I’m from the south, first from the flat, wooded places and now the hills and mountains.  From both the neighborhoods and the country.

From the Billy letters, the peanut brittle, the barbecued meat, the man who cannot slow down, and the prayers of a righteous woman.

I am from feeling loved and valued, from hectic and loud but feeling total bliss in the chaos, from deep, overwhelming peace in the soul.

The unexpected and often unfair

17 Jan

I love that Facebook shows me memories every day of my posts from previous years.  There is such joy in seeing pictures or videos of my children when they were younger, and I get a laugh out of reading stories of the funny things that they said or did.  Even when the memory isn’t a pleasant one, I am thankful to realize that I survived that sad or disappointing time and that God has provided for me since in ways beyond my comprehension then.

This morning, I was reminded that I announced my pregnancy with Isaac to the Facebook world 5 years ago today, and then shared the news about the twins 3 years ago today too.  Both of those pregnancies were unplanned and quite unexpected.  Matt and I had a hard time adjusting to them in many ways.  But, all three of those boys were (and are!) wanted and loved and adored.  I wouldn’t want to live life without them, but they are reminders that I cannot control things.  Seeing the joy and enrichment they bring to my life, I am thankful that God had plans beyond my own.  Isaac, Henry, & Nolan are the best examples to me of the happiness that the unexpected can bring.

I was reminded this weekend though at how unfair life is and how the unexpected can be full of sorrow.  On Sunday morning at church, sweet friends were sharing their testimony of God’s grace, and part of that journey involved infertility and miscarriages.  They remarked that they were watching people get pregnant and give birth around them and grieved as they walked a different and heartbreaking road than others they loved.  Similarly, dear cousins of mine have spent years going through failed fertility treatments and devastating losses in attempts to expand their own family.  They have watched family and friends celebrate new life while being crushed by the pain of their own despair.

I cannot even tell you how gut wrenching it makes me feel to know that while people I love were mourning, Matt and I were having children at a ridiculous rate without even trying.  Sure, I had suffered from 2 previous miscarriages, but that didn’t help their grieving hearts in that moment.  To have added to their pain even without meaning to makes me nauseous, and I won’t even pretend to understand what that feels like because it truly is beyond my comprehension.

Life this side of heaven will never be fair, and I know in the cliche Bible belt “God is in control and working things to your good” way that there are reasons for everything that we cannot grasp.  But, it doesn’t make me any less disappointed to see precious people have their reality altered by it all.  And there is no point to all of this rambling except maybe to draw your attention to the world around you.  On your best or worst of days, there will be all manner of triumph or defeat, both near and far.  Find a way to lovingly embrace those around you regardless of your paths and laugh and weep together.

And to those who have suffered even a moment of grief from the circumstances of our family… I’m more sorry than you will ever know.

Here we go again, sort of

18 Jul

After last fall’s health scare, my doctors and I made the decision to have my yearly mammogram/ultrasound and my MRI staggered so that I could be imaged more often to potentially catch any malignancy very early.

Last week, I had my yearly MRI, and it took a few days before I heard the results. However, when I answered the phone and was speaking directly to the radiologist instead of to a nurse, I knew immediately that she had found something.  Just like in the past, the issues are in my left breast. There are two areas of abnormalities near the sight of my surgical biopsy last year, one to the left and one in front. So, I am scheduled for an MRI guided biopsy of those areas on July 28th.

In some sense, I feel right back where we were less than a year ago when this journey started, but in other ways, I feel more confident in where we are heading. I think there is a big possibility that this is the same LCIS from before that didn’t get removed during surgery and is spreading out. However, the only way to know is obviously to get it biopsied.

Please be praying for continual strength and rest for Matt and me as we wait for the biopsy and results. We believe in His sovereign goodness and rejoice in God our Savior!

Love always,


Stupid Smoothie

26 Jun

This afternoon, I almost had a panic attack while making a smoothie.

Some points to note before I go on:

  • I was in the kitchen attempting to be healthy and creative which is a reason for anyone who knows me well to get worried.
  • I was using a cheap-o blender. I am a cheapskate and wouldn’t dream of spending more than $20 on one.
  • Matt and the 2 older kids were at a neighbor’s house so I was at home with the Isaac and the twins.
  • The twins are 23.99 months old (as I type this, they turn 2 in a matter of minutes!) and are every bit the tantrum pitching toddlers you might imagine.

I made a terrible mistake in that I told Isaac before I started working on what I thought would be an awesome fun summer afternoon treat. He was excited. I was excited. Expectations ran high, my friends, expectations ran high.

I started running the blender. The twins ran towards me screaming at the top of their lungs. They did not go away from the loud noise. Nope, they clung to my legs right next to the blender while I tried to talk them off the figurative ledge. But, to their great relief, I had to turn the noisy thing off as something got clogged within the bowels of this blender that was literally the cheapest one on the shelf in Target the day I was shopping for it.

Isaac came in at this point to ask if his special treat was ready because he isn’t old enough to realize how poorly I function in culinary endeavors. I sent him out of the room as I used a large spoon to attempt to remedy whatever was happening in the blade area.

I ran the blender, stopped the blender and stirred, ran it some more, stopped and stirred some more.  It was a vicious cycle of me fighting with the blender, the twins screaming at my feet, Isaac looking expectantly at me. And I honestly don’t know how long it went on, but it was a while.

And then I smelled what I am going to assume is a blender a few moments before it begins to smoke and catches fire. Thankfully, God decided to spare me and the flames never erupted. And while I was attempting to squelch this potential disaster, the twins were still hanging on my legs screaming. (Did I mention that one of said children refused to nap today? Cause he did.)

Quickly, I started sweating profusely, there was a slight ringing in my ears, and above all else, my chest felt restricted as I breathed.  I just knew that if I didn’t get those boys to stop touching me, I was going to lose my mind.

So, I left the kitchen a big ole mess and led my tiny troops out onto the front porch without worrying about shoes or pants for the twins.  (Side note, what is the deal with them removing their clothes all the time? When their pants are off, they then take their diapers off, and I am tired of chasing them around in fear of pee on my floors!)

Long story short, Matt came home and watched the boys while I finished the smoothie that I didn’t even end up drinking because it tasted awful.

Stupid smoothie.

The S word I won’t use

18 May

When my oldest brought home her first report card in Kindergarten, I looked at the data and swelled with pride over her wonderful marks.  And in that moment I made a split second decision that I don’t think I will ever regret.  I decided that when it came to grades in school, I would not tell my daughter she was smart.  In fact, I knew then and there that I would never look at a report card from any of my kids and use that S word… smart.

I have 5 children, and while I would love to believe that they will all be brilliant and make fantastic grades, I realize that there is a decent chance that there will be at least one child who will struggle in school.  Maybe it will be a learning disability or a flat out low IQ.  But if I use grades as a standard for smartness, what will I do when a child works really hard and comes home with a C? Am I willing for him to assume that he is not smart?

So instead, when papers come home or report cards are issued, I say, “Your grades are a great reflection of how hard you worked.” Norah is a great speller, so she has heard me say, “One of your strengths is spelling.  I struggled with spelling, so I’m thankful it is easy for you.”  When grades aren’t great, we talk about what (if anything) should change in the way we approach homework and tests, and we have frequent conversations about carelessness and reading directions thoroughly.  (Lest anyone think I go easy on Norah, we spend A LOT of time hashing and rehashing math.  It isn’t a strength for her, but the grades she brings home are more because she rushes to get done with her work and not so much about her intelligence!)

As the kids get older, I look forward to the individual gifts that my children will discover.  That report card full of C’s may just come to a child who can fix a problem with our computer or play beautiful music or build amazing things.  It will be so great to discover a million ways that they are smart in their very own ways!


(Thanks a million to my friend Cindy who has for several years been such an inspiration to the way I think about this. The ways you spur me towards better parenting are endless!  Love you!)

Undeserved Grace

4 May

I won’t bore anyone with the day in, day out hectic-ness that my life has been over the past weeks… but trust me–I’ve felt overwhelmed.  So yesterday when I found out that someone had stolen my debit card information and taken all but $180 from our checking account, I was furious.  It wasn’t so much about the money because we will be able to get it back.  But, I was so angry about the inconvenience of it all.  You see, Matt got paid on Friday, so they took the money I was going to pay all of our bills with for the month. It just puts extra work on me to try to get everything paid on time now.  The sheriff’s office sent someone to the house to file a report, and I will have to now go to the sheriff’s office to pick up a copy of it.  Then, I will have to go to the bank and do paperwork.  There will be time that we have to sit and wait while everything gets sorted out.  So, yeah, I was mad.

My first thoughts were of how much I hated the person/people who did this to me.  I told myself that I didn’t deserve this.  Why didn’t they rob a wealthy person who had plenty to spare or someone who didn’t have 5 kids to take care of?  And almost immediately, God struck my heart with so much guilt over that attitude.  Last year in the most tumultuous season of my life, I never once asked God why I was walking that road.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I could do it with my head held high, not because I was capable alone or had confidence in myself, but because God was telling His story of grace and love and redemption through my circumstances.

And now God wants me to bask in His goodness in this, too.

You see, in all of my anger yesterday, God kept prodding my soul with the words of John 16:33.  I tried to ignore it, but the words kept bubbling up through my ugliness.

“… In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

And as those words ran in my mind over and over, I became so awed over the tense of the verbs that Jesus used.  I will have trouble... but He has overcome.  Every day will have problems, but He conquered death.  He has already won.  I don’t have to wait on that.

I am the robber, I am the thief, I am the crook.

Yet, I am redeemed.

Thank you, Lord.