Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Tale of Three Marriages

This past week I held my new nephew for the first time.  I looked over at my little brother, all grown up now, a father to his firstborn son.  I saw him looking at his wife with new eyes.  Her 38 hour labor made him respect and cherish her so deeply.  There was so much love in that room.

I remember that moment.  As a young couple being joyfully married and thinking you could never love each other more than you do right now, and then this little child comes into your life and your heart grows a million times larger.  You see each other as so much more.  You love in a whole new way.

The week before, my husband called me on his way to the emergency room.  I could hear the fear in his voice, though he tried to reassure me that he was fine.  He hasn't been feeling well for a while, but his symptoms had escalated, and he needed to know what was going on.

It was so hard to see him like that.  He has always been the strong one.  The one I leaned on when I was scared, and now I had to be that for him.

These days are hard.  Our full house keeps us so busy.  We find ourselves missing each other even though we are right there.  Sometimes I look across the crowded dinner table, past the baby food splatters and spilled milk, past the siblings arguing and the baby crying and our eyes meet and I think, "Oh, there you are.".

We still need each other, not just to help unload the groceries and bathe the children, but to be strong when the other feels weak.  To hold the pieces together when one feels broken.  I have been praying for him harder than I ever have.  He hangs onto these prayers to get him through the day.  We are learning to love in a whole new way.

The week before this, it was my father who was in the hospital bed.  We were sitting in the Cath lab when we heard the results.  He had suffered a small heart attack, but could have  been moments away from a massive one.

My stubborn daddy, who waited three days to even see a doctor, May not have survived if he had waited any longer.

I saw my parents, who are rarely emotional, break down as they held each other, overwhelmed at the thought of losing each other.

This couple, married over three decades has lost a baby, lost a son, lost their parents, lost their home to a fire, lost a job...and yet through it all their faith has held strong.  Maybe they are appreciating each other more now.  They are still holding hands and learning to love in a whole new way.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Joy of Helping

A few weeks ago, while trying to get out of bed that morning, my husband told me I looked like a turtle stuck on its back.  I laughed because that is pretty accurate as to how I have been feeling these days.  When I posted it as my facebook status, I never expected that I would learn so much.

Most of the comments I received were funny, but one made me cry: 

"Oh, sweetie...if you look like a turtle than it's probably time to get into your shell and let others help you out.  May I please bring you a casserole and a salad one day next week?..."

At first I was so touched by her sweet offer, but then the panic set in.  I still had 6 weeks until my due date, I felt like I didn't need help, I didn't want to take advantage of her.  I tried to talk her out of it.  I asked her to wait until the baby was born, because somehow I felt then it would be more justified.

But she sweetly insisted and a few days later showed up at my door with a beautiful dinner that fed our family of 8 for two nights (and a lunch!)

She had such joy on her face when she hugged me tight and made me promise that I would let her help again.

This was so hard for me.  I never ask for help, I never let anyone do anything for me.  I think it has come from all these years of not being able to go out in public with my children without hearing, "Oh, you have your hands full!".  I feel like I need to prove them wrong.  I need to show the world that you can have a home full of children and survive.  You can have joy in the midst of chaos.

But the truth is...it's hard.  Really hard.  I don't care if you have 1 child or 10, motherhood is hard.  Don't let anyone make you think that it's not.  To make you feel that they have it all together and you are a failure (especially me!).

There are so many days where I find myself in tears, crying to God for strength to get through the day (or maybe just the grocery store).  And so many times He calms my heart with a Bible verse to encourage me or a song to fill me with joy. 

But what I have learned through this is that sometimes He doesn't give us more strength...sometimes He brings people into my life to help carry my burden, to lighten my load.  And I need to accept this gift just as freely as any other encouragement.

I thought I had learned my lesson.  And then my best friend showed up with a bucket of cleaning supplies...she wanted to clean my bathroom.

No.  There was no way I was going to let her do that. 

I fought with her over it, but then I remembered what God has been teaching me, and at 9 months pregnant I was not able to clean like I wanted to.  Every time I walked into that bathroom I would tell myself that I needed to get to it, but I never did.

And so I agreed.  I sat there fighting off tears as she cleaned my shower and scrubbed my toilet.  It was embarrassing and humbling...but I knew that I needed to accept this gift, and in the end it blessed me more than I ever imagined.

Her daughter even brought over nail polish and lotion to give me a pedicure.  Of course all the kids joined in and I think I had a year's worth of lotion on my feet, but the kids had the biggest smiles on their faces and I would never deny them the joy of helping.

And now, as I am waiting for our baby girl to join our home, I think I have finally learned my lesson...and all because my husband called me a turtle.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

36 Weeks...

I've been pretty quiet lately, life is full here.  Between homeschooling, soccer games and getting ready for our littlest one I haven't had much time or energy to write...but I wanted to stop in and share with you some of our maternity pictures that we had taken last week.

 I've never done this before with any of my pregnancies, but when my friend Elizabeth showed up on my doorstep with her camera as my husband and I were getting dressed up for a wedding, it seemed like the perfect timing...and she made me. :) 

I am so thankful that she did.

 At 36 weeks pregnant I wasn't feeling particularly beautiful or glowing...but maybe what I needed was to see myself through someone else's eyes...and camera. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Decade of Parenting

It was 10 years ago that our first child was born. 

He was born exactly 9 months and one day after our wedding, just weeks after my 21st birthday.  We were young and in love.  We had prayed for this baby, but I don't think we had any idea of the adventure we were now taking. 

We brought our sweet-smelling, 7lb 6oz bundle home from the hospital, placed him in his brand new crib, looked at each other and said, "Now what?"

The next day we found ourselves in Children's Hospital.  Our baby was covered in tubes and monitors, alarms were screaming, while doctors and nurses rushed into the room to sweep him away.  The room went silent and we sat there alone in the dark trying to process it all.

My prayers came from the deepest part of me.  I begged for his healing but I also felt that I needed to accept whatever God's will may be for his life...for my life.

The sun came up the next morning and we were taken in to see him.  His little body looked even smaller in that hospital bed.  The doctors did not know what was wrong.  They didn't have any answers.  He was moved to the NICU, where we lived for the next week.

His name means "Jehovah saves" and it was during this time that we saw God's healing hand.

His life is a little miracle.  And now, 10 years later he stands nearly as tall as me.  He challenges me daily.  He has been my guinea pig through this decade of parenting.  But I am so proud of the young man he is becoming.

So now as he enters double digits, I am reminded that his life is still a miracle.  I may never know why his story began the way it did, but I know that God has big plans for him. 

As we start this new journey of parenting, my husband and I still look at each other and say, "Now what?", but I know that we are not going to walk it alone.
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