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'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.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Day of Hope

 The phone rings in the middle of the night, jarring me from my sleep.  My husband answers it and within a few seconds he is dressed and out the door.  There is an emergency that needs him and as he is running to help, I am laying awake in the dark.  My mind is racing.  This is my life as an EMT's wife, and no matter how many years it has been, I never get used to it.

  I lay in bed praying for his safety, and then my heart is aching for the family whose world has just been turned upside down.

5 years ago that was our moment. 

That moment when the phone rings and the room just fades away.  That moment when fear and confusion takes over and reality feels like a bad dream.   That moment when your faith and hope is all you have and your prayers come from the deepest cries of  your heart.

And then that moment becomes that day.  The day you are forced to say goodbye too soon.  That day when your life is forever changed.  That day when you feel like you've been broken into a million pieces and there is no way to ever put you back together.

The years have gone by and it is now the day that no one wants to talk about, but nobody can ignore.
It's the day when everyone tip toes around me for fear of saying the wrong thing.  But really, it's just another day.  It is not any different from the other 364 days a year that I think about my brother, Matt.  It is no different than every other day when I can close my eyes and bring back all those memories.
Maybe the wounds are still too fresh, but it's my desire that one day June 10th will become a day of hope.
The day when we finally realize that our prayers for Matt's healing were answered beyond what we could have imagined.  A perfect healing.  An eternal healing.  A day when we cling to God's promises and rejoice in Jesus' victory.
Matt's life is not over.  June 10th is the day when his life truly began.
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