Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Pearls

Life Beautiful by Margaret McSweeney

During a quiet moment after Thanksgiving, I started reading my parents' stack of love letters that I recently found in a storage box. As a Christmas gift to you, I would like to share my father's words to my mother written to her during Christmas 1949. This incredible "hug from heaven" has been a tangible affirmation that Pearl Girls has true meaning and great worth for women throughout the world. I pray that God will continue to bless this ministry and outreach. May we all realize that the grit in our lives can be transformed into grace through the love of God.

This is what I found written on a tiny folded card inscribed with "Christmas Greetings" on the front: Christmas 1949

My Dearest Carolyn,
Truly a jewel is a thing of beauty, but a life that is lived to serve others and to glorify our Christ, such as yours, is my dearest, a far surpassing gem in radiance and beauty. Pearls to me, symbolize this "Life Beautiful" that you have achieved, Carolyn. Each pearl is a result of a great hurt to the oyster's life. But the little mollusk builds an iridescent coat around this source of hurt, and as a result, the precious pearl comes into being. Life is like that too. If we, like the pearl, can make of our hurts the basis of a thing of beauty, then we can bear witness to an on-looking world how Christians can overcome through Christ, blows that are seemingly insurmountable. At this happiest season of the year, I give thanks to God for you, Carolyn - my Pearl of Great Price. Your Claude

*********************************************************

The death of Twin A has definitely been my "pearl" this year. Although I do not own any tangible pearls, the pearls that I do have are, like the oyster described above, a result of pain and hurt. I do hope that as I grieved and mourned my precious child, others looked on at the many, many ways Jesus was comforting me in my time of need. Without Christmas, there would be no Jesus, and without Jesus, there would be no point to living. Thank you, Jesus, for pearls.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CHRISTmas

A busy, fun-filled week is behind us and another one is ahead. Last week the little kids had their Christmas program at preschool on Wednesday and they all looked so cute! Ta and T.G. were both reindeers, and Teagan was an elf- precious! This upcoming week, the kids and I will be baking our Christmas cookies, having friends over for a cookie exchange, and just enjoy being together as a family. I am looking forward to spending time with them in the quietness of our house as we prepare for Christmas.

Friday was Th’s last day at his school. When school resumes on January 4th, he will be attending our zoned school. It was a sad day as we both loved his school but I just did not think he was learning as much as he should under the supervision of his classroom teacher. TJ and I met with the principal to discuss our options and although she did offer to move him to a different classroom, I didn’t want Th to have to explain to his friends why he was being moved. Although moving to a new school will be an adjustment, it will be easier to “start fresh” in a new environment rather than simply down the hall. He is sad at leaving yet excited about making the change. I can so relate as I moved a lot as a child. He is a sweet boy so I have no doubts he'll make friends quickly!

Speaking of Th, my heart is so thankful for the many ways the Lord is working in his young life. Every morning I wake up before anyone else in order to do my devotions. I like to drink my coffee and read my bible in the peace and quiet of the house. I finish just as the kids wake and come downstairs for breakfast. Th has obviously picked up on this habit of mine because for the past week, he has been joining me. He reads his bible and takes notes in a notebook that he has. When he’s finished, he puts it all away in a special spot so he knows where it is. At night, he sleeps with his bible in his bed. What is he studying so diligently? Christmas.

In our house, we keep the focus of Christmas on Christ as much as possible and talks of Santa are kept to a minimum. As a result, the children understand the reason we celebrate Christmas and this year, Th has made it his mission to study the infancy and childhood of Jesus. He is doing this by way of a bible study, one that he has undertaken all on his own. Since starting this study, he has learned that the Wise Men did not see Jesus as a newborn baby but rather sometime later but before age 2 (Matthew 2). Every time he makes a new discovery, he shares them with us, which is very exciting! I love to see him grow in his knowledge of the Lord as that knowledge is what will guide him through life. He is learning this important lesson at a young age and I am thankful for that as I was not as fortunate. I had to endure many hard lessons before I realized Who is control and how the consequences of my sinful choices affect my future.

Teagan is crying so it’s off to console her. . . going to be a long night as she would not take a nap today. She’s teething and not feeling very well.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reflecting on Psalm 23

A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

~Psalm 23
**********************************************************
I have been thinking about Twin A a lot this past week. I don’t know why, but I have been. And I still get sad and cry, mourning the little life that once was. This morning, in my daily bible reading, I read this passage. It is a very familiar passage as I’ve read it numerous other times. But, for some reason, today I really took notice of the words and thought about what they were saying. I think I wrote before how the Lord gives me a verse (or passage) when I really need it, and I really needed this one today. I needed to know how much He provides for me, how much He cares for me.

I shall not want. That means the Lord will take care of me; I shall want nothing. Amazing!

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. God will give me the rest I so desperately need. I’m not talking about rest as in sleep (although that is part of it), I mean the rest from worry, fear, anxiety, etcetera that deplete my soul and cause much grief in my life. And He does it because His reputation is on the line (for His name’s sake).

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. I realize I am not near death, but I sure have been forced to deal with death in recent months. It is comforting to know that God is with me and God will comfort me as I continue to walk through the valley (for His Word says so!). Plus, since it is a valley, I must be heading up a new mountain, meaning the low period in my life will come to an end. . . eventually.

My cup runs over. The Lord has given me more than I deserve and I am truly grateful.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. God is good and merciful so of course they will accompany us forever. And, because I am a child of God, I will dwell in the presence of the Lord for all eternity. How exciting!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Taylor Ann, and other stuff!

For those who don’t already know, last Saturday we found out we are expecting another girl. TJ picked the name Taylor, and her middle name will be Ann, after my feisty 95-year-old Italian grandmother. Personally I was hoping for a boy simply since my last two children have been girls, but the important thing is that she is healthy and seems to be doing well. I go back to the doctor in about 2 weeks, but I can feel her kicking and moving around so that is very reassuring in terms of her well-being. I still think Twin A was a boy and it’s funny because when the boys talk about Twin A, they also refer to “him”, too.

The Christmas season is upon us in full-force! At preschool we are busy decorating ornaments and other gifts for the children to give to their parents, practicing songs for our Christmas performance on the last day of school, and I am implementing cookie baking/decorating as part of the children’s learning the final few days of preschool. At home we are still trying to find a spare moment to go cut down our Christmas tree. TJ decorated the outside of the house before we left for Ohio so the outside looks great, but inside I haven’t put up any decorations since we still don’t have a tree. We were hoping to go this morning but it’s too cold to spend 2 ½ hours outside, plus it’s supposed to rain. Cold and wet does not equal fun! We are going to try and go tomorrow afternoon in between church services, but again it will depend upon the weather. However, despite the lack of indoor decorations the kids are beyond excited!

We have several Christmas parties to attend, two of which are this upcoming week/weekend. We are excited as it is always nice to reconnect with friends we haven’t seen in a while, as well as enjoy good food and great company. We have another party the following week and a “cookie-making” play date the week after- whew! What a busy, but blessed, time of year to be able to spend it with such great people! I can’t wait as I love this time of year!

I am also excited because the first week of January my sis is going to be induced with her second child, another girl. I wish so badly I could go to Ohio to be with her, but thankfully my mom is there and able to help her. My sis and I have grown so close over the past couple of years and I hate she lives so far away. Our children get along so well and I miss being near family, especially now that my entire family is in Ohio. I can’t wait for my mom to retire and move down here- only a few more years! For now, I’ll have to settle on only seeing them every two to three months, and the time in between really does go by quickly. For certain my family will be visiting when I have Taylor, and that is only a couple of months away (I can’t believe it!).

I’m off to start my day. TJ and I are going Christmas shopping, so I have to get the kids ready to go to their respective places for the afternoon/evening while we shop. I’m looking forward to spending time alone with TJ as it has been a while since we’ve had the chance. I also need to finish the laundry and go to the grocery store this morning. Have a great day!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful, again!

Tomorrow is the big day! My mom and sis have been planning this baby shower since mid-August. I am excited as I haven't received any new "baby gear" since Th's birth over 7 years ago. May not seem like a long time ago but considering my stuff has gone through 4 children, it's definitely worn and seen better days. :)

I am not as excited about finding out what I'm having as I thought I would be. It's not that I'm not excited, but part of me feels like I am having a girl and Twin A was a boy. I will never know for sure until I reach Heaven, but it's a feeling I've had since I found out about the twins. I suppose a part of me is thinking that by finding out the gender of the other, I am confirming my suspicions. Does that make sense?

Regardless, I am happy and thankful that I am now able to feel the baby move, helping to lessen my fears with each kick. I have been feeling movement for a few weeks, but as I get further along, the movements are more frequent and stronger. A good sign that all is well. :)

My pastor asked me to share a testimony of my trial last Sunday evening at church. I basically shared what was written in my last post, although since it was spur of the moment, I don't know how in-depth I shared. I know I at least got the gist of my message shared, but I still get emotional when I talk about the twins so I also teared up a few times.

The Lord is already using my pain to bring comfort to others. This past Monday, a friend of mine who is pregnant went to the doctor for her monthly check. She, like me, was alone at the appointment because everything had been going well. The baby had a heartbeat and she had had a few ultrasounds so she knew so far the pregnancy was progressing well. That is, until she went to the doctor that day. My heart aches for her and I get teary-eyed thinking about it because our circumstances are so similar. The doctor could not detect a heartbeat and the u/s did not show any movement. She went in to the visit excited and thrilled to see her baby again, and left heartbroken and confused and grieving- again. Like me, she has experienced the pain of miscarriage before and like me, agrees it does not get any easier.

I can see the Lord's hand in this situation, particularly in regards to my children. You see, my friend has a son who is a year younger than Th. She told me that her son is not handling the news very well and is very distraught. As sad and painful as this miscarriage has been for me, I am soooooo thankful for going through it in the way that I did. Th can now minister to his friend because of his experience. When I told him what happened, he immediately prayed for my friend and her son, and what a blessing it will be for them to talk about their feelings and connect on that level. I was also thinking how glad I am that my boys have experienced this in terms of the future. They will be able to draw upon their memories of the trial as an adult and, if needed, be a comfort to their future wives. They will hopefully remember this experience and the sadness and joy that accompanied it and use it to honor the Lord by comforting others. I promise you, the loneliness of experiencing painful trials like the death of a child sometimes hurt worse than the experience itself. Knowing others who have gone through it make it so much more bearable. When I called my friend to offer my condolences her first words were, "I was thinking of you the entire time. I know what you went through and I am glad you know what I am going through. It's so hard and it hurts so bad." Yes, it does hurt so bad but I reminded her that God is good and will use this for His glory. Through our tears we reflected upon the joy that we both have children sitting in the arms of our Comfort, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

*Once again, I am thankful for the trial of losing Twin A.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thankful

I have gone through a gamut of emotions as a result of the death of Twin A. However, I can honestly say that I have learned more about the Lord in the past 2 months than I have over the course of the past several years. It has been a difficult journey for our family as we were all excited about the arrival of the babies, but the good news is that God is faithful and will never leave us nor forsake us, especially when times are tough and life seems to be at its worst. The Lord has shown me that He is good and what He does is good, and it was good for me to experience this trial. It was created just for me and the Lord will see me through it. I have difficulty trusting others and the one major thing I have learned is that God is trustworthy. There was a point where I did not think so, but when I read my Bible and realized that the only other option was to not trust God, than I really had no choice. If I do not trust God, than I either trust in myself or in someone else. I have been let down by myself and others in the past, and I know I will again in the future; trusting solely in myself or another is hopeless. But, to trust in God, the One who never fails, that is where my hope lies. God was faithful in the past, He is faithful now, and He will be faithful in the future. God is not the one who changes, I do. Once I grasped that simple fact I was able to stop the negative thinking and focus on the truths of God’s Word (and there are so many truths that I have learned!). I have daily been reading and meditating on Psalm 34, particularly verses 4, 8, 10, 15, 17-19, 22. Now that my heart is tender to the Lord, the Bible speaks to me more now than it has in a long, long time. It seems the Lord is bringing verse after verse that talks of His goodness and faithfulness; just what I needed and when I needed it!

I am now at the point where I can say I am thankful to have gone through this experience as difficult as it was. Sure, I would have loved to have had twins, but I grew closer in my walk with the Lord as a result of Twin A’s death. This closeness may not have been possible had I not experienced the death of a baby while in the second trimester of pregnancy. Our family is also closer as a result. We rallied around together in prayer because we were our only sources of comfort other than the Lord. Granted, I know others who have shared in this type of loss but the circumstances were different. This made it more difficult, particularly in explaining things to my boys. But again, God’s grace was sufficient and He gave TJ and I the words to say and the tears to cry to show our faith and our God-given emotions. We are not robots and we choose to obey God; we honor the Lord when we do and our children are able to learn from our example. Another blessing that has come from this experience is that we will home school beginning next school year. The Lord used my tender (and aching!) heart to show me where I needed to change to be a better mother to my children. Again the Lord has met our needs by surrounding us with families in our church who home school, making the transition much easier and providing us with the support we need. We are so thankful for our church family!

The holidays are always difficult as I reflect upon the “what might have beens” in my life, particularly concerning my angel children, and this holiday season is no different. But, I also remember that God’s perfect will is much better than anything I could ever want or desire, and so I am thankful for the family He has blessed me with: a loving, God-fearing husband and 4 ½ wonderful children who are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord- what more could I ask for?

Monday, November 16, 2009

VA Outreach

The outreach at the VA clinic was AMAZING! The Lord truly blessed that endeavor and I can't wait to do it again next year. This past Wednesday night at church I shared about the Lord's hand with that as it was clearly evident in so many ways. Here are just a few:

  • provided over 400 baked items donated from church members (my goal was 200)
  • provided a tent for us to use in case of rain (which it did!)
  • provided volunteers who worked in shifts alongside me from 7:30am to noon
  • prepared the hearts of the Clinic workers in a mighty way (the Clinic Administrator was out of town and forgot to inform the staff we were coming. They came out to inquire why we had set up a tent, table, and baked goods. Once I told them what we were doing, they were ecstatic and took pictures of us serving the veterans at various times throughout the morning!)
  • One clinic worker has been attending the church since I first phoned to set up the event. She was looking for a new church home and shared with the pastor that she is unsure of her salvation. She is now meeting weekly one-on-one with the pastor's wife to do a bible study that explains what salvation is, how one becomes saved, and what happens after one is saved. Please pray for this situation as her eternal life is at stake. . .
  • The Lord has shown me that He is ultimately in control and working in other's lives even when we do not know. The situation above is a perfect example. I called the clinic expecting to primarily serve and bless the veterans, hoping to reach them for Christ. God had other plans that included the clinic staff.

The veterans were so thankful and honored to be remembered in this way. Several tried to pay us for their items while another teared up at the generosity of total strangers. When this particular gentleman started to cry, I did also. It just meant a lot to me that he was so touched by this simple act of kindness. My kids also had fun helping to set up and hand out a few cookies before heading to school. Both boys have requested to be able to stay the entire time next year, and since I plan to home school, that won't be a problem. It definitely does them good to serve others rather than "be served" as they are so accustomed.

There are so many other ways the Lord worked in this situation but not enough time to write it all out. I am just so thankful for having the opportunity and although it was a lot of work and a big undertaking, I am so glad I did it and can't wait to do it again!

*I am thankful the Lord is working in my life and in the lives of those around me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baking & Packaging

I've been busy baking and packaging cookies, brownies, and other baked goods to pass out at the local Veteran's Clinic on Tuesday in honor of Veteran's Day (federal offices are closed on Wednesday, Veteran's Day). I solicited the help of my church so it has become an outreach opportunity for the veterans in our community. I thought of the idea last year but it was only a few days before Veteran's Day, not enough time to organize something. I am thankful the Lord brought it to my mind again this year with enough time to get through the "red tape" that often accompanies doing anything involving God and government. So far we've hit only minor roadblocks that have been easily overcome; God is in control. I have received an outpouring of support from my church and can't even begin to tell you how many baked goods I have in my kitchen. My goal was for 20 dozen items and I have surpassed that number exceedingly. One church member is the store manager for a local Walgreen's and he donated about 100 cookies that were leftover from a promotional event held at the store. The cookies are all wrapped and sealed in cellophane and are the large, soft, yummy cookies (I had to taste one to be sure they were okay to hand out). =)

As I was leaving church this morning, another church member stopped me in the aisle. She introduced me to another woman who was with her. I did not recognize the name but she knew who I was: she was the receptionist at the VA clinic and I have spoken to her countless times. As I wrote above, there was some "red tape" I had to work through and as a result of our many phone conversations, she visited our church last Sunday. I left church today very humbled as one never knows who the Lord is going to bring across our paths to impact for His glory and good. I know many people have had an impact on me, but I never thought I would impact another. I pray that as a result of all of the hard work and effort put forth by so many, the Lord would bless the outreach on Tuesday. If nothing else, that the veterans and their families in our community would know how much we appreciate their sacrifice. I am so glad that I can be a part of this, that my children can come and help serve those who have served their country.

*I am thankful I live in the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Birthday Girl


Wow! Where have the past 3 years of my life gone? It is difficult to remember my life without having T.G. in it! I remember when I found out I was having a girl after having the boys; I was ecstatic! I immediately sewed a pink diaper bag and began to shop and stock up on dresses and other girl clothes. T.G. has been a blessing since the moment she was conceived and I am so thankful to have her!

Compared to her two older brothers, she is quiet, sweet, and VERY girlie! Every day she tells me how she wants to wear her hair (in a ponytail, 2 ponytails (pigtails), pretzels (braids)) and what color hair bow to go with her clothes (usually pink). Since getting her ears pierced about 2 weeks ago, she is constantly looking at her earrings in the mirror. She also loves shoes, and takes a good 5 minutes each day deciding upon which shoes to wear. She is so opposite me that it makes me smile- she is truly a unique individual with her own ideas and thoughts. I just love it!

T.G. has also recently started using the "big girl potty" (which is why she got her ears pierced- her reward) and has done so well. She loves the idea of wearing "Princess Panties" on a daily basis and gets upset if I put a Pull-Up on her at nap time. Everything about her is dainty and small and I love it.

At 3, T.G. loves to read books, put together puzzles, and play dress-up. She has several tutus and princess dresses, complete with matching heals, that she enjoys wearing. She also likes to play with dolls and now that Teagan is interested in playing, she solicits Teagan as her own real-life baby. Teagan will sit in T.G.'s doll stroller and let T.G. push her around the playroom (all the while T.G. has on her high heals and carries a white fur-lined purse). It's rather cute! T.G. also likes Dora the Explorer and anything pink. She is starting to become interested in another book character, Fancy Nancy.

T.G. is weighing in at a whopping 25 pounds and is about 32 inches tall. Petite in every way, she tries her best to keep up with her brothers, whom she loves and adores. They love her, too, as evidenced by their nickname for her: "Baby." They don't say it in a mean or condescending way, but in a loving and protective way. It is so sweet to hear and even sweeter when she answers.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Homeschooling Novel

TJ and I have decided to homeschool Th beginning next school year (when he enters 2nd grade). This decision has been prayerfully considered for almost a year. Honestly, we never thought we'd put our children in public school, but because of my school schedule, Th was forced to start kindergarten at a public school. I began praying about homeschooling starting this year (2009-1010) but just did not have peace about it. He had such a fabulous year last year and his teacher was so WONDERFUL that it made the decision for him to continue in public school that much easier on us for this school year. However, everything has changed.

The day after I found out the death of Twin A, Th brought a note home from his teacher. In this note, she told me that since the beginning of school he had not done any of his lessons. Just a little background: he attends a Montessori school. It is a great school and I love the philosophy behind Montessori. Basically the children are placed in multi-age classrooms where they are provided with challenging and interesting lessons based on their ability level. If a student excels, he is able to move ahead without having to wait for "the rest of the class" like in a traditional classroom model. On the other hand, if a child struggles in an area, he is able to continue to work on and practice the skills until he reaches mastery without having to be pushed ahead to keep up with "the rest of the class." Because Th has a September birthday, he has always been the oldest in his class and I was concerned about him being bored. He left preschool being able to read some and his teacher picked up where Th was and excelled him. Basically, in a Montessori setting each child is able to reach his or her potential on an individual basis; it doesn't matter what the other kids are doing.

Now, back to the note. Th had not been choosing lessons to work on and only did so whenever he worked with the teacher or the assistant. She said he was constantly drawing on his papers but was otherwise a good student. This type of behavior is totally uncharacteristic of Th. He has always enjoyed school and I could not understand why he was not doing his work. He never had a problem last year. Again, this was the day after I found out about the baby so it was a difficult weekend for all of us. I talked with Th and questioned him about his poor work ethic. He said school was boring and he wanted to do the fun stuff like he did last year. All he got to do was adding and he already knew how to add (I chuckle even now- that was such a funny statement when he said that to me!) I wrote her a note back asking for more explanation (Why did she wait to tell me 6 weeks into the school year that he had not been doing any work? What is he doing if he's not working? How far behind is he? What are the consequences in the classroom for not completing work? What can we do to catch him up?). When he came home from school that Monday, there was no note from her. I was so angry! I immediately emailed her and asked her to call me as soon as possible so we could discuss the situation. Thankfully she phoned that evening and along with providing some more information on the situation, we came up with some ways to motivate Th to do his work. At home I use a visual schedule for the kids to help them complete their chores. I suggested she implement a smaller version on his desk, and for every 2 lessons he completes, he gets a 3-minute break to draw or use the computer. She liked that idea. Since that phone conversation, he has completed at least 6 lessons every day and some days as many as 10.

However, he has had some other behavior issues arise that I honestly believe are directly related to Twin A's death. Again, Th is not a "trouble maker" or one to be aggressive. But, for several weeks in a row, he was bringing notes home detailing aggressive behaviors that included biting the eraser tips (metal and all!) off of pencils and throwing them across the room and sneaking a pair of scissors into the classroom bathroom and cutting his hair in 4 separate places. I promise he has NEVER exhibited this type of behavior before so they were a complete shock to me! Th is the child I trust with having markers, crayons, and scissors unsupervised in the house since he was 3 years old. He has never done anything to make me reconsider that decision as he has always been very responsible with them. If any of my children can't have those types of items unsupervised, it's Ta! :)

I had a conference with his teacher 2 weeks ago. A few days before the conference I emailed her a list of items I wanted to discuss with her during our meeting. At the conference, she showed me some work samples from Th's math notebook. As she randomly flipped through it, I saw where he completed the SAME MATH LESSON at least 5 times! No wonder he's bored and acting out! She openly admitted to me that she does not have time to work with the children to show them new lessons as often as she should. Now, I get it. I know what it's like to have a lot of kids and very little time, but that's why she has an assistant! This is where it gets good: she told me that since she knows she has the first graders again next year (remember, it's a multi-age classroom) she tends to focus her attention on the second graders since they will be moving up. I candidly told her our house was up for sale and we may or many not move out of the current school district. If we move out of district, I needed to know that Th would be able to enter a traditional school and be able to fit in academically. She went to say that Th was ahead of where he should be for his reading ability and he picks up on math concepts quickly. That is reassuring but because of that, he is sort of left to his own devices. I left that conference determined to teach my child what I want him to know, especially since it seems like at this point school is just a code word for free childcare. I am so disappointed in his teacher but I refuse to let Th know that. I will stand behind her as his teacher because, "a house divided will only fall" and I don't want him to ever think that he does not have to obey her or treat her with the respect that she deserves as an adult. Although I do not agree with her teaching style and honestly can't wait to move so that we can switch schools (just to finish out the school year), he does not need to know that. I will continue to be involved in his education while in her classroom and pray that the Lord will intervene in this situation. I have also resolved that more than likely I will need to cover some first grade material next year in order for him to move on, but hopefully not.

She (the teacher) told me that she would make it her goal to work more with Th to introduce new lessons to him so that he could move on (not just in math, in all subjects). TJ and I are going to call another conference after Thanksgiving to see his progress. If no progress has been made, then obviously she has not kept her word and we will have no choice but to go to the principal. TJ wants to go talk to the principal now but I think we at least should allow his teacher an opportunity to carry through on her word. We'll see. Every day we ask Th if he learned a new lesson and so far the answer has been "No." But, sometimes he forgets things and I know he's only 7 so I don't want to completely take his word when there is a possibility he could be wrong. The principal will only laugh at us if we call a meeting and have no evidence; our case will be much stronger if we have time on our side and a lack of progress made.

So, now comes the hard task of choosing a curriculum and deciding upon which accountability group to join. There are several in my area and I have friends in just about all of them. I plan to attend some meetings to see which group we would best fit in with and then go from there. Th knows he is going to be homeschooled next year and is very excited. He has wanted to be homeschooled all along since most of his friends at church are. But, like most life circumstances, he has grown and learned from his time in public school and although there has been some bad, there has also been some good. He's made friends with some people he otherwise would have never met, and neither would I.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." ~Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Prayer. . .

I found this poem and it has become my prayer. I pray, as I continue to face this trial, that I would reflect Jesus in all I do and say.
****************************************************

Teach My Heart

By: Priscilla Marsceau

Dear Lord, give me a song
That lasts into dawn;
Teach my heart to sing in the night.

Help me place in Your hands
Broken dreams, shattered plans;
On my knees, may I sing of Your might.

Take my heart’s deep despair,
Every burden and care;
Touch my life, let it reflect Your light,

So that others may see
I trust only in Thee-
Teach my heart, Lord, to sing in the night.
~
At the end of the day
When I’d lose my way,
Teach my heart to sing in the night.

In a prison of pain,
When my strength would wane,
On my knees, may I sing of Your might.

When my pride would bring shame
And reproach to Your name,
Touch my life, let it reflect Your light,

So that others may see
Only Jesus, not me.
Teach my heart, Lord, to sing in the night.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ultrasound

The u/s went well this morning, although it didn't start off that way.

The technician wasn't sure if she'd be able to see all she needed to see because I am not quite 18 weeks (I will be on Saturday). But, thankfully for me, the baby is measuring a little big so she was able to get the measurements she needed. Anatomically speaking, all the critical organs are developed and functioning as they should. Also, the cord is a 3-vessel cord and the placenta is located high up. The only concern is that the baby is breech, but there is still plenty of time for it to turn itself around.

TJ and I do not know what we are having as of yet. The technician wrote it down and included pictures from the u/s and sealed them in an envelope addressed to my mom. We will find out in about a month what we are having. We are excited to be doing it this way and are looking forward to the surprise. TJ picked the girl's name, and if the baby is a girl she will be named Taylor Ann. I picked the boy's name, and if a boy, he will be named Tevyn Luke. I absolutely love the name Townsend for a boy, but TJ hated it. He at least agreed to Tevyn, which honestly surprised me.

Emotionally, so far I am okay. It was the same technician I had last month when I found out about the twin, and she reassured me that this baby is perfect (so far!) and not to worry about losing it, too. She was very compassionate and caring which helped to keep me from crying. But, she did confirm there was still only one. I knew it, but this u/s confirmed the truth of the situation: the other baby is dead to me and alive in Heaven.

I confessed my sin of unbelief to the Lord and asked His forgiveness. I need to do the same for you all, my readers. Forgive me for my public lack of faith. My mantra the past few days, as simple as it may seem, has been "God is good always." I have been thinking about and reflecting on Jer. 29:11. God has a plan for me and is in control. In some ways this u/s now allows me to put to rest the other baby. I had been holding on to hope that the first u/s was wrong; now I know it's not so. I can try my best to cherish this pregnancy and rejoice in the news of a healthy baby. I can also begin to focus on where the other baby is- with the Lord in Heaven.

Grief is a process, and I suppose can be equated to a roller coaster. I go up and down, but as long as my climb up is more than the downs, I am making progress. I have reached the acceptance part of grief, and moved past the anger. I know God did not allow this to happen out of anger or punishment; that does not characterize a loving God. God allowed this so that I would grow and change and be a better person, ultimately for my good. Some days I get it and some days I don't. But, like I said, I have more good days than bad so that is marked progress. As I wrote in a previous post, I am so thankful God is patient and willing to forgive at all times.

The key to continuing to trust in the Lord is by controlling my thoughts. Life is getting better, one thought at a time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Still so Sad

Wondering if the sadness will end. I think sometimes I fool myself into believing I am better, moving on and getting past the rawness of the truth of the situation. But then comes the night, and I am faced with my thoughts and my God. I am going to be completely honest here, because I haven't been. I've been fooling myself so that my thoughts don't stray too far off course. I am angry. I am hurt. And I am so, so, so very sad.

It seems like now I see mothers of twins everywhere (or perhaps I am just noticing more, I don't know). And it's not fair. I know, I know. I tell my kids all the time life is not fair. But, really, it isn't fair. Why do some people get to carry and deliver healthy, happy babies while others, like me, do not? And why does it have to happen more than once? I know God is good and worthy to be praised in all things, but I am struggling right now. I am seriously struggling. I am battling anger and doubt towards God in so many ways. It's hard to trust Him right now when, in my current circumstances, He allowed this to happen.

You know, it's "ironic" how things happen (I use quotation marks because nothing happens by chance, it's all God). I have started participating in my church's Ladie's Bible Study again. I haven't been able to the past couple of years because of my school schedule, but now that I am teaching part-time, I am able to attend. Anyway, we are studying women of the Bible. I have found, as a result of this study, that I am just like Sarah, Abraham's wife. The Lord told Sarah she would have a baby at the age of 90, and she laughed in disbelief. She looked around at her circumstances (women much past 40 have difficulty getting pregnant let alone an 89-year-old woman) and just could not imagine being a mom for the first time at such an old age. It took trust and faith in God for her to realize that He truly was going to fulfill His promise to them. Now, God has not given me divine revelation as to what He is doing in my life through this, which is why it is so difficult for me right now. I am having trouble looking past the pain and anguish in my heart in order to fully trust Him.

My u/s is in 35 hours. I have been praying for the past month that the first u/s was wrong and that both babies are alive and well. I cry each time I think of it because I know deep down that won't be the case, and I am disappointed and angry (why didn't God answer my prayer?) and guilt-ridden for having these feelings. Job questioned the Lord when he endured the Lord's testing, and he confessed his sin and was able to understand that some things we may never know. I say I get that, but my prayers don't reflect that. I cry out to God each and every night. The past few nights my tears and quivered breath have awaken TJ out of his sleep. I want so badly to see two babies on Thursday morning. I want so badly to hold two babies when I deliver in March. I want so badly, but it's just not meant to be. . . at least for me. And that sucks.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Miscarriage

Found this and it describes perfectly the emotions I am feeling. It's so hard. . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuiOdXC9aB4

Saturday, October 10, 2009

16 weeks

I can't believe I am 4 m0nths pregnant today. When I found out about the twins, I was expecting to be big from the start. Things started out that way (I was in maternity clothes by week 9) but they seem to have leveled out. I haven't gained any weight and have actually lost a couple of pounds. I'm eating, but obviously burning everything I consume. I mostly attribute it to being busy and caring for my other children, although grief has shared in part.

I went back to the doc for blood work (genetic testing) on Thursday. It was difficult to walk into the office. The front office staff immediately inquired about how I was doing and that was nice, but I of course teared up. I had to keep my composure, though, because I had my 3 little ones with me. I didn't want to start crying in front of them. T.G. saw me cry one time and since then, she is constantly asking me if I am sad. I didn't see the doc but I go back in 2 weeks for my u/s. I have mixed feelings about that appointment and am so grateful TJ will be there with me for it. I can't bear to have another u/s and find out more bad news when I am alone. It was so difficult when I found out about the baby that day (already 2 weeks ago). I could barely walk I was so upset and I had to check out and then drive myself home. I was crying so hard I could hardly see the road. The Lord obviously protected me on that drive!

Tonight at prayer time Th started us out as he always does. It was so sweet and thoughtful, a true reflection of his personality: "Dear God, be with Brandon (boy in our church who has cancer) and help his hair not to fall out. If it did already, help it to grow back quickly so his head doesn't get cold. Also help Mommy's baby not to die because I really want to see it. . ." I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry!

On a different note, we are in the process of having Teagan evaluated for speech therapy. She is not saying much, only "Ma ma" but not in a meaningful way. She says it in babbling. She also says "ba", but it, too, is not attached to any meaning. When I took her to her well-check, the pediatrician recommended she go ahead and get evaluated now rather than waiting. I told him Ta didn't talk until he was almost 2. He said since Teagan has had delays in other areas she more than likely has a speech delay, as well. Crystal, our EI, is in the process of contacting a fabulous S/LP who works with my friend's daughter. I am hoping she is available to come to our house as our schedule stays pretty full.

Well, I guess that's about it. Trying to focus on the Lord and His blessings in my life rather than the "what ifs" and "should have beens" that I can't change. Each day, each moment rather, is a choice I have to make and sometimes I do good and sometimes I don't. I am thankful for the Lord's patience and mercy and grace with me as I endure this trial. I know I am not alone in this type of situation but often times it feels like it. I am learning to trust God's truths more as a result of this trial, and I will come through this stronger and better able to minister to others. For now, my heart is open and tender to the Lord and His work in my life.

Praying for brighter days ahead. . .

* "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." ~ Philippians 1:21

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Not much to say. Still grieving and don't expect anyone who has never experienced this type of loss to understand. This is even new for me! With my first miscarriage, once I went to the doctor and found out what happened, I was able to deal with the grief on my own. In this situation, because I am still pregnant, I am constantly reminded of it. I have to go back to the doctor on Thursday and re-live my last appointment all over again. I guess in some ways I am hoping the doctor was wrong and will receive news that all is well (which is why I haven't updated my sidebar). I keep praying that's the case as I am so saddened by this loss. It's so difficult to explain and like I said, if you've never gone through this, you can't even begin to imagine what it's like.

The death of a child (and yes, that's what it was!) is something no one expects to deal with. Most expect to bury their parents and grandparents, but not their child. I also feel betrayed by my body. I had no signs: no bleeding, cramping, spotting, nothing to make me suspect something was wrong. I was elated when I entered the doctor's office that day knowing I was going to see my babies again. I left crushed and heartbroken, again difficult to imagine if you've never been there.

I have also been struggling with understanding why, even though I know I will never know the answer, at least while on this Earth. But, nonetheless, I have been searching Scriptures looking for an answer. Psa. 37:4- "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." Prov. 10:24- "What the wicked dreads will overtake him; what the righteous desire will be granted." If that's the case, then what happened? Why wasn't my desire fulfilled? Do I have another desire that I don't even know about yet? I have been praying that the Lord would give me some understanding and peace about the situation. Not knowing what happened causes me to worry about this baby, too. Since there were no signs with the first, will there be signs if something happens to this one? I don't know, and it scares me. I also (selfishly) keep thinking, "I've already been through this once before, why do I have to go through it again?" But, then I am reminded that, as a Christian, shall I not take the bad with the good? Surely not! I just know upon my entrance to Heaven all of my joy shall be restored and I will meet and hold my precious children who are waiting for me.

Until then, I think about them and miss them and care for their siblings to the best of my ability. I rest in God's protection and trust in Him, thankful for His mercy and grace that He daily provides.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It still hurts

My heart is still hurting, a combination of our loss and the pain I see in my children, especially Th. He is my child who is very compassionate and tender-hearted and has taken the news harder than the others. I think it's because he's older and he understands more, and truthfully TJ and I underestimated his level of maturity and understanding. He teared up when we told the kids, but he was able to keep his composure and not let loose. But, he did immediately ask about the health and well-being of the other baby and wanted to know, "What if the other baby dies, too?" That took me by surprise as I was not prepared for that question. TJ handled it well and simply said, "Then we won't have any new babies and it will live with Jesus, too." But, I know the thought is weighing on his mind as his teacher told me last night on the phone that he told her what happened. I hate that he has become distracted by this news; I don't want the kids to worry so I am trying my best to be an example, fully trusting in God's goodness throughout this entire situation.

I went to church on Sunday and it was very difficult. I managed to get more than half-way through the service before grief took over. I had to get up and go to the bathroom to cry. Grief comes when I least expect it and usually at the worst time. Thankfully my church family rallied around me with hugs, tears, and lots of words of support and encouragement. It prepared me to go to my sis-in-law's house later in the afternoon because there I was, just another face in the crowd. I did tear up for a few minutes as I watched a mother and her 2 twin boys, about 4 or 5 months old. It was so difficult to sit there and act happy when inside I felt like my heart was being shredded to pieces. Plus, to have family around me acting like everything was normal made my being there that much more difficult. TJ and I left shortly after that because he knew I was struggling to keep my composure.

School has been a good distraction, although I had a grief moment while in the storage room picking out googly eyes yesterday. I told you it comes at random times and moments! My kids (both at school and at home) help keep me busy enough during the day that I don't have time to give in to my feelings for the most part. I have been so tired at night that my thoughts don't keep me up, either. I am thankful for that.

I have a strong faith in God and I know He is in control of all things and all situations. I also know this did not happen as a surprise to Him; He ordained it and specifically chose me to go through this trial. Although I do not like it nor understand it, it is something I must endure in order to grow to be more like Christ. I am struggling each and every day but I know it is for my good and God's glory that this happened. I ask that you pray for our family as you think of it. Pray for the health and wellness of the living baby, and for us as we grieve the loss of a precious life. This is the second miscarriage I have had and, although it does not lessen the pain, I know I will get through it. I still cannot look at the u/s pictures without crying, knowing there were two but now only 1 remains. Also pray for my kids to not worry but rather fully trust in God's sovereignty. Pray for healing of a wounded heart and opportunities for me to show my trust and faith in the Lord to others as a result of this trial.

*Psa. 119: 68, 75-76- "You [Lord] are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. "

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back to normal? Hardly!

It’s been an up-and-down kind of day for me. I did good for the most part, but I had my moments. I still haven’t fully accepted everything so I find myself studying the u/s picture searching for anything that remotely resembles a second baby. It’s not there, and it never will be. The pain of that reality still stings. Bad. I used to be a mother-of-multiples, now I'm not. How do I acknowledge this baby without acknowledging the other?

With my last miscarriage I questioned everything: what did I do, how could I have prevented it, why did this happen. With this one, I am not questioning anything with the exception of one thing: I just want to know what went wrong. When I found out about the twins, both babies had good, strong heartbeats. The doctors never informed me of this “Vanishing Twin Syndrome” since both babies seemed to be doing well. A viable heartbeat reduced the risk of miscarriage (or VTS) to less than 1 percent. I know I will never know until I get to heaven and can see and hold my children again, but until then, that will be the question that haunts my thoughts when I least expect it, and it is that very question that causes me to give in to my grief. Thinking back to that day when I had the first u/s and seeing/hearing both babies’ heartbeats on the screen was the most thrilling sound in my life and it filled me with pure joy (and a tinge of panic at the thought of having 2!) It is in that memory that I mourn the loss of life that once was and rejoice in the life that still is. It is a constant battle of emotions, grief and joy, difficult to explain.

On a different note, we decided to sell our house. We have been debating on whether or not to do so, but we finally reached a decision last weekend. We have already begun searching for a bigger house, and I will admit, I am very happy. This house holds so many memories, good and bad. A new house (not new, just different) will sort of be like a “fresh start” for our family, or at least for me. TJ has been working on finishing the final details on some projects around here and we hope to list ours in the next week or so. Pray it sells quickly and that we are able to find the perfect house to meet our needs. We are going to look at some houses tomorrow evening and even the kids are so excited! T.G. has requested we buy a pink house, while Ta prefers green. I like that they are open to the idea of moving even though this house has been the only one they’ve ever known. In October we will celebrate our 6th anniversary of living here. It’s been good to us in many ways, but it’s time to move on. Plus, we need more space! :)

*I am thankful for God's truths. Phil. 4:4

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grief and a Blessing

I do better with writing than I do with talking, especially when it comes to not-so-good news. I could never call each individual person, especially through the tears. I had my regular doctor’s appointment today. They did an ultrasound, and prior to that the doctor and I were talking about the last u/s. She was encouraged by the shape of the egg sacs and was very optimistic about the outcome of today’s u/s. However, much to our surprise, one of the babies has died. I’m not sure when as it is simply gone, like it never existed. It’s a phenomenon called “Vanishing Twin” and rather than having a miscarriage, the mother’s body absorbs it. The other baby looks great and the heartbeat is still nice and strong. A blessing in this tragedy.

I am in a state of shock. I still can’t believe it. I feel like a part of me is missing- I can’t really explain it. I am grieving, but how do I grieve a baby I never met? I suppose I am grieving shattered dreams. Although I knew it was going to be difficult, I was so excited and anticipating their arrival. I had been thinking of names and looking forward to this new chapter in my life. This pregnancy has been a rollercoaster since it began, and I just can’t help but wish the crazy ride would end. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt God’s sovereignty in this situation, but in my human mind I don’t understand it. I may never understand it as painful as it is.

We have not told the kids yet. I never realized until today how excited they are, too. In the car driving to pick up soccer uniforms, I could hear the boys in the back talking about seat assignments when we get our bigger vehicle and the babies arrive. I had to fight back the urge to cry! They are going to be devastated and I pray that, as much as possible, they are able to understand what happened. We are going to keep it simple and tell them the baby died and is living with Jesus now. The baby will not have to suffer any pains on this earth as he/she was able to go right away to Jesus. That is a truth I have been telling myself since I saw the u/s. I know it’s true, but it still hurts.

I also wonder if this baby will instinctively know it was a twin. Oh well, it doesn’t matter now anyway.

This baby’s birth will be so very bittersweet for me, I know it already. I am thankful I am in such a supportive church and have such supportive friends who can relate to this loss because of miscarriage. I also know the wonderful work the Lord did in my life with my last miscarriage, and once the pain of this raw wound heals, I know He will do another great work through this trial. Please pray for our family as we grieve the loss of our precious baby.

*Job 23:10- “But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy 7th Birthday, Th!


Today is Th's birthday. I can't believe how quickly the years have passed since the Lord blessed us with him.


Some hallmarks to his last year include:
  • entering and successfully completing kindergarten in public school

  • growing tall enough to ride some of the "big" rides at Carowinds

  • learning to read and enjoying it, especially when reading to his brother or sister

  • figuring out to spell words when TJ and I don't want the kids to know what we're talking about :)

  • a growing imagination that impresses me each time he uses it

We are probably one of the few families who does not own a video game system. I am not into video games, and neither is TJ, so that has never really been a desire for us. Plus, I limit their television viewing each day. As a result, the kids play more and use their imaginations more. My boys love to build things, and play so well together for the most part. Th is able to see something in his mind and construct it out of blocks, train tracks, Lego's, or blankets. He takes after me in that aspect (I am a very visual person- I see things in my mind and remember things by taking a "picture". This has come in very handy, especially when driving. I remember how landmarks look. If I misplace something, I also remember where items are located based on how they look. It's hard to explain). Anyway, this year he has invented so many really cool things (his latest is a bunk bed set that has a crib on the bottom- how wonderful if that were true!) it amazes me. Sometimes he puts his inventions on paper for me to save. I like when he does that because they really are good ideas and well thought out.

He is kind and tenderhearted, and has a burden for our unsaved family members. He prays for them on a regular basis, and he wants to be a missionary when he gets older. He just completed a bible study so that he can get baptized as that is something he has wanted to do for a long time. He truly understands salvation and shares it with others, something I need to learn from his example.

I pray the Lord will continue to work in his young life, molding and shaping him into whatever the Lord would have him do. He is growing into a godly young man and I thank the Lord for that, and am thankful for our church for equipping TJ and I to raise our family according to God's word.

*I am thankful for Th and love him dearly.*

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy birthday, Teagan!

Here are a few pictures of her first year, along with the Lord’s blessings throughout. . .

September 21, 2008, 2 1/2 weeks before her due date of October 8th.
At birth- 7 lbs, 4 oz.
All cleaned up. . .

She was very jaundice. She had to sleep on a light bed for about 3 weeks after we brought her home. So thankful for God's provision in providing a smaller "bili-bed" that we could have in our home rather than keeping her in the hospital for that long.
At 3 months old, her first Christmas. . .


At 6 months old, eating solid food like a big girl. . .


At 5 months old Teagan was still not holding her neck steady nor rolling over. I knew something was wrong and mentioned it to her pediatrician. He referred me to BabyNet, South Carolina's name of the portion of the special ed law that covers children birth to age 3. Teagan qualified for physical therapy and this is her at almost 7 months old, sitting supported. Again, so thankful for the Lord's intervention. You can read about it here, here, and here.


Because of Easter Seals (who Teagan receives her therapy through), Teagan was able to receive a "season pass" to Monkey Joe's. Here she is in one of the infant inflatables. She is 9 months old in this picture. . . As you can see, she is now able to sit unsupported (but she is still very wobbly).


Teagan and her siblings at the beach. . . 9 months old


Happy 1st birthday! Teagan has 2 teeth on the bottom and is able to pull herself up to stand. She is also standing unsupported for short amounts of time. She will "cruise" along the furniture but has not taken any steps on her own. She is getting stronger every day. In addition to still receiving physical therapy, Teagan is also receiving Occupational Therapy once per week to help her overcome a mild fine-motor delay. She also has some sensory issues we are working on, particularly her tactile defensiveness (she does not like to be touched on or near her hands, and also does not like the texture of certain things, such as thicker baby food). But, overall she has made great progress thanks to her EI, Crystal, and her PT, Kathy, both of whom she adores (and so do I)!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Big Dig

While I was busy cleaning out the toys and such, TJ took the older kids so I could work without interruption. He dropped T.G. off at his mom's house and took the boys to a local fundraiser event in Greer, The Big Dig. For a fee, the boys were able to drive real construction equipment. Needless to say, they had a blast! Here are some pictures from the day. . .

On the shuttle to the dig site (Ta's first ride on a bus- he was excited!)



Ta operating the digger. . .


Th operating the bulldozer. . .


Th driving a road grader. . .



Ta scooping up a pile of dirt in the front-end loader. . .
It should be obvious how much fun they had- I wish I could have enjoyed it with them instead of de-cluttering at home, but Lord willing we can go as a family next year! =)
*I am thankful for a husband who is so involved with his children.*

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A quiet week. . .

Not really much to talk about this week. I spent the day yesterday going through all the toys we own trying to make room for toys received from 3 birthdays and Christmas coming up in the next 3 months. I separated everything into 4 piles: keep, toss, sell, & donate. Although it doesn't seem like I made a huge dent in our toy supply, I donated 1 huge bag of toys, trashed another, and have 3 boxes and 2 piles of toys in my bedroom that need to be cleaned and priced to sell. I have registered for a local consignment sale next week, so I need to get everything finished between now and next Tuesday. If I work on it a little each night, I should finish. I am not looking to get rich, but it will be nice to have a little extra money to put away for the babies we need to plan for.

I am excited for tomorrow. My sis is having an ultrasound to determine her baby's gender. She wants a boy but would be okay with another girl. I just want to know because I'm excited for her. I'm glad she's moved back to Ohio so that she can have help from family. I remember going from 1 child to 2; it was when Th broke his leg so it was a difficult transition. Plus, like I did, she is going to school at the same time. She is studying nursing so her classes are technical and difficult. She is doing very well in the program and I am so proud of her!

Th and T.G. are in our church's mission drama this afternoon, so we are getting ready for that. They've been practicing each Sunday for a few weeks now and tonight's the big night. Th is really excited about it! Our mission's conference begins Wednesday and goes until next Sunday. We LOVE mission's conference; it's our favorite time of year. Every year we have lunch with the missionaries (this year it's on Thursday) and we host a missionary family for supper (which will be on Friday). Our kids love it, too. We pray for various missionaries but by meeting a different family each year, it makes the mission field and the purpose behind missions more concrete to the kids. Th has said from a very young age that he wants to be a missionary, and if that is truly God's calling on his life, then participating in the mission's conference in this way will help him to learn more about the life of a missionary. We have a Fall Fellowship with the missionaries on Saturday at another church member's home. That is always fun because they have a small pond on their property. The kids look forward to fishing since they rarely get to go. Sunday the week will wrap up with services preached by different missionaries. Our pastor began our church as a missionary, so this is something very near and dear to his heart. Have I said how thankful I am for our church? =)

Well, time to work on some preschool stuff. We studied the letter 'A' last week and the kids made ant hills and ants out of sand and raisins. I need to draw legs on the ants. . .

Monday, September 7, 2009

School and such

The first week of school went well. It was very exhausting (more than I anticipated!) but very fun. I have a wonderful class (17 in all) and I think it will be a great year. We begin our study of letters this week so I have been busy preparing mini-lessons to accompany each letter. I will admit I am surprised at the amount of preparation I need to do even in preschool. I thought because I was teaching only half-days the work load would be less; boy, was I wrong! I have brought work home with me each day, mainly because at the end of the day my own kids are ready to leave so I can't really finish up things at school. I am also surprised at how quickly the morning passes. It seems like we never have enough time to finish all that I want to get done in one day; I suppose I will learn to better manage our time as I get used to our daily routine. We do lots of art projects, and I am still working on timing those better so that we can finish them in one day rather than two.

On a different note, I have been really wanting to share about how the Lord has worked in my life in the past month or so. As most of you know, TJ and I were trying not to get pregnant, so when I found out I was expecting I was stunned, let alone when I found out about the twins (if that's not evidence of a miracle, I don't know what is!). But, in His providence, God has brought several women into my life who have twins: there is a family in my church who have natural twin daughters and another family who have adopted twin girls. Also, a student in my preschool class has twin sisters, and the mother has been so supportive. She has emailed me different local events for parents of multiples, and has given tips and advice even this early on. All of them have been very helpful and it never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works; it's always when I least expect it!

In addition to placing people in my life, the Lord has also provided for us in other ways. A woman at church has been giving us 2 loaves of bread for several weeks now. They are fresh-baked and all different flavors. She typically gives us one loaf for sandwiches (i.e. Italian, sourdough, wheat, white) and another flavored (blueberry, cherry cheesecake, cinnamon raisin). They are soooo good and the kids love them! Not that bread is terribly expensive, but not having to buy it helps, and saving money is what we need to do most right now. Also, another lady has been going to different sales and buying name-brand clothes and shoes for the kids. I have nothing against hand-me-downs and could never afford to consistently purchase Baby Gap, Gymboree, or Children's Place clothing for all of my children all of the time. This lady finds clothes at excellent prices and has already given me 2 boxes full of clothes for the kids. That in itself is such a blessing, especially because Th and T.G. are the oldest boy and girl, meaning I have to buy their clothes new.

Every year for Christmas my in-laws buy the kids clothes, but because Ta and T.G. are small for their ages, the clothes immediately go into storage. Last year Ta got 5T clothes and T.G. got 3T clothes. They were adorable and much appreciated, but it will be at least another year before they can wear them; Ta is just now in 4T and T.G. is in 24 month/2T. I just moved both of them up. I don't have a lot of summer clothes for either one of them in size 4T or 24m so they are still wearing their 3T/18m summer clothes. In the spring I will have to buy some in the correct sizes because I've looked at clearance stuff but there isn't a wide range of options- I think I'm too late in the season. But, I did tell my friend who does the clothing ministry for us my situation so perhaps as she shops, she will have better luck than I did in finding summer clothes.

I also bought myself another bible. I love it! It's a topical bible, meaning the bible verses are arranged by topic rather than by book/chapter/verse. I have been wanting to study the character of God for some time but didn't know how to go about it. With this new bible, I can simply look up the attribute I am studying (i.e. faithfulness of God) and immediately find all the verses that relate to that particular attribute. This will be a very time-consuming and exhaustive study, but one that is very important for me to do in order to better know my God. I have a notebook that I will write out each verse in and than as I go through the different attributes, I will arrange them alphabetically in my notebook. This will probably take me years to do but I can do it, one attribute at a time. If I can discipline myself enough to get through college and raise a family, I can do this! Plus, this is way more important and will help me grow as a Christian wife, mother, friend, and teacher.

TJ is working today so the kids and I are headed to the park. Have a great Labor Day!

*I am thankful for God and His love for me.*

Friday, September 4, 2009

Brandon Update

Brandon's family set up a CaringBridge site. I encourage you to read it, and if you feel so inclined, sign the guestbook with a word of encouragement. Even if Brandon or his family does not know you, this is a difficult time for them and any/all words of encouragement are appreciated. Thank you in advance!

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/brandonfarley

P.S. Cancer sucks!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nervous

Tomorrow is the first day of preschool. Typically this day is marked by excitement from all; this year, however, it's filled with a mixture of emotions. I am excited, but I am also very nervous. I have planned and prepared for this day all summer. I have met the kids and their parents, yet for some reason I am still nervous. I know I am adequately prepared. My awesome mentor teacher and friend Martha has helped me tremendously by providing tips and suggestions. She has encouraged me and supported my ideas since I was first offered the job back in February. I suppose a case of the "nerves" is normal for any first-year teacher. I just know how hard I have worked to make the classroom "mine", and I pray the Lord will bless my efforts. Something new this year is bible story, which I am happy about. I love to share about the Lord and this provides a scheduled time each day to do so.

Pray for me this week as the kids and I get used to a new schedule and routine, both at home and in the classroom.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Baby. . .

Found this today and I just love it because it's so true. . .


A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer,
bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.
~ Anonymous

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dr. Day

My appointment went well and all looks good. I don't have to go back until the end of September, at which time I will have another u/s to count the number of placentas. The goal is for each baby to have his/her own and not a shared placenta. If they do share, then typically one baby gets more nutrients and grows at a more normal rate than the other. The delayed growth in the smaller baby is cause for concern, but we'll cross that bridge if/when we get there (doc's words, not mine). My goal (well, the doc's actually) for today's appointment was 2 separate egg sacks, which I have. At my next appointment, I will also schedule a level 2 u/s in Charlotte to ensure the babies are still looking good and to do some checking for genetic anomalies. I guess the risk is a little higher than with a "singleton" and it would not matter to TJ or I, but we'd rather know ahead of time for planning purposes.

TJ and I sat and talked with the doc for a long time today (the talk took up the majority of the appointment time) but it was nice because so many of our questions were answered. Again he reiterated the fact that I may have to be put on bed rest at some point if I continue my trend of early contractions. I had contractions beginning at 26 weeks with Teagan, and was hospitalized at 33 weeks for them. He also answered some of my questions about delivery but obviously that is a few months away. So far my blood pressure is normal (high blood pressure, or pre-eclampsia, is another "risk factor" that accompanies twins/multiples)and for now, all is well and he's happy with how things are progressing.

Not a terribly exciting appointment but a relief to have some questions answered none the less. Now I'm off to have lunch at school with Th. Ta and I are going to surprise him. . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Open House

Open House day 1 at the preschool was today. I say day 1 because it's tomorrow, too. I had 1 parent stop by today but the rest will come tomorrow, which is my scheduled day. I was nervous but it went fine. I hope tomorrow goes as well. Thankfully I know some of the parents, and one of my good friend's daughter will be in my class. Plus, I sent out an introductory email last week and I've had a very positive response from them. Of the parents I don't already know, most have said how excited their child is and offered their support in various ways. That's a great sign of involved parents and I definitely want that!


Very tired today and Teagan wasn't feeling her best so she and I stayed home from church tonight. Ta was very excited about church because he gets to join our church's 'Patch the Pirate' club. The kids memorize Scripture, sing songs, and learn Bible lessons related to everyday living. This is Th's 4th year and Ta has always wanted to do it since Th started. I'm thankful for our church everyday! I wasn't raised in church so it means a lot to me that our kids not only have their blood family, but their church family, as well, especially since most of our blood family lives far away.

I don't know if you remember Brandon, a boy who attends my church. Anyway, his cancer is back with a vengeance! TJ said our pastor discussed the situation with the entire church, and the outlook is not good. The cancer originally started in his brain and surgery was able to remove 98% of it 2 years ago. Brandon went for MRI's every 6 months just to monitor. He found out in April, exactly 2 years later, that it was back and was now in his spinal column. He has had several more MRI's done since April and not only has the cancer in his spinal column grown, but it has since spread to his stomach. There is only 1 option at this point- treat with chemo/radiation and pray it stops the growth. I had difficulty sleeping last night (our pastor phoned to share some of the news but not in as much detail as was discussed at church tonight) because I just kept thinking about this otherwise normal 13-year-old boy. It makes me so sad. I decided that for our part in helping out the family we are going to have family portraits made. I talked to a friend of mine today who does some photography and she is willing to take the photos of them for free and only charge us the cost to print them. I have seen some of her work and she really is very good. I plan to call Brandon's mom tomorrow to see if we can set something up this weekend. Brandon begins his treatments next week and I want to have it done before he starts to not feel well and his hair falls out again. He has the most beautiful hair, by the way. It is brown and curly and would make any girl jealous. I will post a picture once we take some. I think the pictures will be nice for them, especially since Brandon's dad has been unemployed for over a year and his mom has to work to support the family. I doubt they have any recent family photos and my friend shoots on-location, meaning the pictures don't look posed or fake. They will be cherished memories, I'm sure.

*I am thankful for healthy children, a loving church and family.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Clothes & Rain

Well, I hate to admit it, but I had to do it. I had to make the switch from regular to maternity clothes. Compared to the other children this is really early, but already I have begun to show (as TJ so kindly pointed out to me today!) and feel HUGE for the babies’ gestational age (9 weeks today). I tried to wear my regular clothes but each day it became harder and harder to squeeze my belly into restrictive waistbands. It was nice to be able to breathe today! I guess I am a little upset because I worked really hard to lose weight for our cruise (which I did). As a reward, I bought some new outfits just before we left. I literally only wore them 2-3 times, some only once. Plus, I usually lose weight the first 3-4 months of pregnancy because of nausea; however, since I’m not feeling sick (for the most part), I have already gained 2 pounds. That’s not a good sign! Oh well, now I’ll have more incentive to lose the baby weight once I deliver so I can fit back into my semi-new clothes.

On a fun note, we went on a family bike ride after supper. It was nice and sunny, with a little breeze blowing to help keep us cool. We made it to the halfway point and turned around. About 2 minutes later, it began to pour! We were soaked by the time we got home, but the kids thought it was great and I did, too! It was fun to enjoy it with them.

*I am thankful for my children. All 6 of them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I am so cheesy! =)

About 15 minutes away from my hometown (in Ohio) is Twinsburg. Every year the town celebrates "Twins Days" the first full weekend in August. It just dawned on me that next year I will get to attend as a participant, not just as a spectator. That is pretty neat as it is a big event and often receives national media coverage. The good thing is it won't cost us much considering we can stay with family and enjoy the festivities all weekend long. I am already excited and looking forward to it!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Well, today unofficially marks the end of summer in our family. Th returns back to school tomorrow. He is excited but apprehensive because he does not know which of his friends will be in his class. The friends we have seen/spoken to this summer were all placed in other classes. He is hoping at least one of his friends from last year will be in his class.

The summer passed quickly by. We were busy in June with VBS and a quick beach trip, July the older 3 kids attended a science camp for 3 weeks, and August marked our Bermuda trip. I have also spent many, many, many hours working in my classroom painting, organizing, sewing pillows/other items, cleaning, hanging items, making materials, and too much more to list. Open House is next Wednesday and Thursday and then school begins the following Tuesday.

I am excited yet nervous for a new school year, particularly because this will be my first year teaching. But, I had such a wonderful mentor teacher last semester and I have incorporated so many of her techniques into my own classroom that I feel confident in what I will be doing. I also asked her to come observe me towards the end of September to give me some pointers and ways to improve. Now, I realize I am only teaching preschool (3 year olds!) but that does not mean that the kids come to school simply to play. Play is important, everything that they learn will be done through play, but the point is, I want them to learn. This is not daycare, its preschool. Get it? PRE-school. Once they get to kindergarten, the teachers don’t have time to catch up all the kids who didn’t go to preschool. The pace is fast in K-12 schools, and kids need to develop a love for learning at an early age in order to promote and foster their future academic growth. I hope to do that. To stimulate their little minds so that when they leave my classroom at the end of the year, they will look forward to moving on to learning about life from their next teacher, and so on and so on. I hope that makes sense.

On a different note, my mom phoned me today to ask if we would consider going to Ohio for Thanksgiving (I haven’t given the holidays any thought yet). She and my sis want to host a baby shower for TJ and me since we are basically starting over. It is overwhelming with all that we need: another crib to crib bedding to a bed for T.G. to car seats to a triple stroller (where do I even get one?) to clothes (in the chance that they are the same sex- I don’t have enough to clothe 2!) to bottles, diapers, etc, etc. I thought about joining a “Mothers of Multiples” group to talk to other moms and get their advice about everything: babies’ sleeping arrangements (same crib or separate), feeding schedule (same time or different), etc, etc. I just don’t know. Hopefully I have at least 6 months to figure everything out, but somewhere in the next 6 months we also need to purchase a larger vehicle. I gave that responsibility to TJ. Thankfully we both agree we want a Ford Excursion or Expedition XL (X-tended Length- replaced the Excursion in 2007) so he can find one and head up that endeavor. Nevertheless, we have a lot to do in the next few months, and I won’t lie, a shower would be a blessing, especially to our pocketbook. Considering how fast the past 3 months passed, I have no doubts the next 3 (and then 6!) will, too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What???

The last entry regarding this latest pregnancy was sort of ominous in tone. . . the "not knowing" of what was going to happen had me in a state of fear: am I about to miscarry a baby I wasn't prepared to have, or is everything okay and my dates are just off because of an inconsistent cycle? The Lord provided some answers (and much more) at my doctor's appointment this past Monday.

TJ offered to go with me but I declined since I was only meeting with a nurse to handle the insurance paperwork, schedule lab work, and set up my next appointment. However, much to my surprise, the nurse wanted to begin the appointment with an ultrasound to see where I "officially" stood: pregnant or on the verge of a miscarriage. Low and behold, the Lord had much more in store for me because as soon as the image appeared on the screen, I immediately, clearly, and distinctly saw two egg sacs with two "blobs" in the middle of each. I turned to the technician and asked, "What is this?" She smiled and nodded her head "yes." Twins!!!! I began to cry tears of joy as well as shock, and then asked how they were doing. She reassured me that both babies had good, strong heartbeats and confirmed they were 7 weeks 1 day gestational age. A huge relief and an even bigger shock. I told her I would need a picture because my husband wasn't going to believe me, and she smiled and obliged with my request.

Upon leaving the office, I so desperately wanted to share my news with TJ but not over the phone. I drove straight home and found the house empty. Ugh! I phoned him to find out where he was and his planned arrival time. He inquired about my appointment and I vaguely told him everything looked good and that I was progressing fine. I also added I wanted to share the ultrasound picture with him once he got home.

When he arrived home, he was busy doing odds and ends but I shoved the picture in his face (after attempting a more loving way!) to force him to look at it. I was prepared to have to explain what he was looking at, but again to my surprise, he immediately recognized the images he was seeing and a smile took over his face (good thing because I was shocked enough for both of us!). He asked if it was "for real" and when I confirmed it, he picked up the phone to share the news.

I, on the other hand, am excited yet nervous. I have been pregnant before. Plenty of times. I know what to expect. But, this is different. This is unknown. I am now considered "high risk" and have to go to the doctor every 2 weeks. The babies will be closely monitored and I will have many tests done to determine their health and well-being in-utero, beginning at week 12. I have had natural childbirth 3 times (meaning no drugs) and was hoping to do so again, but now I'm not so sure. I also know the chance of C-section increases with multiples, and the thought of that petrifies me. I am a wimp and proud of it! I can't stand needles (which is why I chose to give birth sans drugs) and hate pain, both of which accompany a C-section. I also nurse my children and am not sure how that will work with 2. When will I sleep? When will I eat? All of this is new to me and like many people, cause for alarm. But, as many, many, many friends have reminded me since hearing the news on Monday, God's "grace is sufficient" (2 Cor. 12:9) and that He "will not give me more than I can bear" (1 Cor. 10:13). I know God is faithful and loving and able to bear my fears, burdens, problems, whatever (Psalm 68:19). I am trusting in these promises.

I hope you will pray for these two yet-to-be-named 'T' babies as my family and I embark on this new journey together. I can't wait to see what else the Lord has in store for us. . . Updates will be on here as I go to the doctor. Along with the babies, big changes are coming to my family as a result. We need a bigger vehicle, and I need everything as far as baby gear goes because I only have enough for 1. Thankfully Christmas and my birthday are right around the corner so I may register at some places to help my parents know what to get for me. It's a bit overwhelming when I think about it too long, but again, God is in control and will provide for our needs as He always has. FYI: my next appointment was scheduled so that TJ could attend with me. Due to scheduling conflicts, it is not until Aug. 28th.

*Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5*

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Greetings from sunny Bermuda!

We arrived today (Tuesday) about 2pm. Bermuda is an island under the authority of the British government. It is modern in many ways, but still very traditional. Once the ship entered into the harbor and blew its horn, the Town Crier rang the bell and announced our arrival. He also met us at the pier and announced the time and temperature.

So far our trip has been great. The ship is small (compared to others) but offers a vast array of activities. We have enjoyed eating, sunning, eating, playing games, eating, shopping, eating, sunning some more, and eating some more. We are doing our dive tomorrow followed by some shopping and sightseeing in the town of Hamilton. I am really excited. We bought an underwater camera so hopefully we can get some great pictures. TJ, unfortunately, is not feeling very well (neither am I, but he is worse). The kids had a cold and I think they shared it with us before we left. We have been going to bed somewhat early (by 11pm) in order to get some rest.

Speaking of kids, I miss them terribly. I can’t wait to see them! I hope they are doing well. Ta and T.G. had coughs and runny noses when we left. Hopefully they are feeling a bit better and didn’t get worse. I am sure the boys are having a great time, but I’d love to see them. I also miss Teagan. I miss holding her and the way she grabbed my hair so my face would turn to look at hers. I also miss T.G., the “Princess.” I found the cutest dress for her today. I know she’s going to love it! As soon as I saw it, I thought of her. And when I showed it TJ, he also thought of her right away. It fits her personality.

There are lots of children on the ship, and even more surprisingly to me, there are lots of babies. I feel for the moms who have to care for the kids, particularly the smaller ones, because the ship is not the most “kid friendly” environment. Granted, there are plenty of activities for children, but mainly ages 4 and older. Now that TJ and I have experienced a cruise, we would like to take a family cruise. Hopefully this will happen in a couple of years. If we start saving now, it should be feasible.

Well, bed time now and another fun, exciting day on this gorgeous island! Pictures will follow sooner or later.