Wednesday, December 19, 2012

{Serving God by Serving Others}

My children, particularly Thomas & Tanner, were deeply saddened by the events that transpired in Connecticut. They really wanted to do something for the families of the children who were killed...so they did.

Monday we forwent our original school lessons for the week, and instead the boys set about baking banana-chocolate chip muffins, cutting out paper snowflakes, creating flyers describing their cause, and packaging up goodies to distribute at various places in town. I also sent out an email to church friends and posted about their plan on Facebook.

The response has been overwhelming! They sold dozens of muffins, ornaments, & loaves of Amish Friendship Bread. Between Monday and Wednesday, they raised over $100! They are overjoyed and I am extremely proud of them. They have displayed many godly character traits such as compassion, kindness, selflessness, and worked together to accomplish their goal. Although this wasn't in our schedule for school, they learned far more important lessons than what could be taught in a textbook.

They received some more orders today so we plan to go to the bank for a Cashier's check next week once all money has been collected. That is one check I am looking forward to mailing!



Friday, November 30, 2012

{Visit to the doctor}

Teagan had her 4 year well-check the other day. She was all smiles (as usual) when we got there and even after we got back into the exam room. But once the exam was over and she realized she would be getting 4 immunizations, fear set in quickly! She hid on the floor behind the stroller in hopes of avoiding the inevitable. I felt terrible for her, but as I attempted to reason with her, it was for her health and protection that she get them. I had to hold her down and I hated every second of it just as much as she did!

Afterwards we went to Krispy Kreme to enjoy a donut fresh off the line. That helped make it better! :)





Friday, November 16, 2012

{A Difference Maker}

Tristin-Grace came home from school just now excited to show me what was in her bag. I unzipped it and found a "Difference Maker" t-shirt that she received from her teacher.

Her teacher said that she makes a difference because every morning she walks another girl to class. This has been going on since the beginning of the year when the girl was crying because she didn't want to walk in alone. Tristin-Grace offered to walk in with her, and they have been doing it ever since.

Her teacher also said that Tristin-Grace is good about cleaning up her work space and helping others tidy up theirs. That is really no surprise to me as she loves to organize things!

I am one proud momma!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

{Happy 6th Birthday}

Today is Tristin-Grace's birthday. I am so thankful for her as she is such a mini-mommy. Tristin-Grace likes to take Annie potty, brush her hair, and help her get dressed. She really enjoys helping me take care of Taryn by changing her diaper, dressing, feeding, and playing with her while I am busy doing other things.

This year TG has learned to fix her own hair (a time-saver for me!) and we are working on braiding. Tristin-Grace has also started helping me more with laundry, cooking, and cleaning. She has learned to sort the clothes by color, and she can make her own cereal or oatmeal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. Tristin-Grace LOVES to clean, and really doesn't mind cleaning the toilets or washing dishes. The tougher the job, the happier she is!

Since school has started, she has started to read better and it's been fun to listen to her read to her younger siblings (and sometimes Tanner). Tristin-Grace loves homework and on the days she doesn't have any, she will create her own simply for the fun of it. I can not wait to see what this year holds for her in terms of learning new things.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Friday, October 26, 2012

{Windy Hill Orchard}

Today the kids and I visited a local apple orchard. We had never actually been there before although we've lived here for more than 9 years. We had so much fun! It was the perfect length (just over an hour) to keep anyone from growing bored after doing an activity for too long. I do hope to go back again when TJ is able join us, perhaps next year.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

{Theology Talk}

Lately I've been able to have some really meaningful conversations with the boys about theological topics. I love that I am able to have these talks because it reveals their hearts to me, and also it gives me an opportunity to share my own weaknesses with them. Lastly, it helps all of us to know how to specifically pray for the others.

Tanner read a story for school that was based upon the passage of Luke 15:3-10. If you are not familiar with this passage, it is a parable (earthly story with a heavenly meaning) that compares a lost sheep to a lost person (person who does not know Jesus as Lord and Savior). In the story, there is a shepherd herding his sheep to the fold for the night. A fold is a safe place for the sheep to go because it is surrounded on all sides by a fence made of stone or brick. There is only one entrance, and the shepherd would guard the entrance to keep wild animals from attacking the sheep at night, and also to prevent the sheep from straying away. The shepherd has a total of 100 sheep, and as he is herding the sheep, 1 sheep goes off on his own in search of greener grass. He keeps straying farther and farther away until he is no longer with the other sheep. The shepherd herds his sheep into the fold and counts them. As he does, he realizes 1 is missing. The shepherd searches for his 1 sheep that is lost in the wilderness. He finds the sheep on the ledge of a cliff, barely clinging to the mountainside. The sheep is crying out for help. The shepherd hears the lamb's cry and rescues it from impending death and brings it back to the other 99 sheep who are safe inside the fold. When he does, he tells the other shepherds he has found his lost sheep and they all shout for joy and gladness.

There is so much theological truth in this story (and subsequent Bible passage) that I would have been foolish not to discuss it with Tanner. We talked about how Jesus is our Shepherd, and like the shepherd in the story, He cares for each of His sheep. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, we enter into His protection, much like the fold for the sheep. Before we were saved, we went our own way, just as the sheep in the story did. It is usually when we are at our weakest that we hear God calling to us, and it is then that we finally call back. God rescues us from impending death (eternal death in Hell), and when we were saved, all the angels in heaven rejoiced with the Lord, giving thanks and praise to God. Tanner really thought about that and I think it helped to make salvation seem more "real" instead of abstract.

The other conversation I was able to have with both boys was based upon Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45, along with some stuff we've been learning about in history as we study the Old Testament. Those passages say that what we say comes from what's in our heart. In history, we've been learning a lot, but especially the significance of wells. Wells were so important in those days because that's how people got their water for their daily use, including caring for their families and animals.  I was able to explain to the boys that our heart is our "well", and our mouth is our "bucket." Just like a bucket always draws up whatever is in the well, so it is with us. If we have kindness towards others in our hearts, kindness will come out of our mouths. If we have generosity and love in our hearts, it will come out in our speech. Likewise, if we have anger and a mean spirit towards someone, it will be shown by our speech. That was really telling for all of us because we all (myself included!) need to remember that and apply it to our lives. God knows our hearts and sees what it is in our well.  There are times when we need to get our well clean, and asking forgiveness is how we do it. The boys are fully aware that I am not perfect, especially in this area of speech. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to share God's way with them and gave us a common bond: all three of us need God's grace and power in this area in order to get our hearts right with God so that we please Him with our speech.

Thankful for these opportunities to share about God in everyday tasks with my kids...

Friday, September 21, 2012

{Happy 4th Birthday Teagan!}


Today is Teagan's birthday. I am so thankful for her sweet, bubbly, joyful personality. She is truly a blessing to our family as she often reminds me to slow down and enjoy life simply by her infectious giggles and big smile. She had a rough start with all of her delays, but with each passing day, I am reminded of God's goodness to me and am so extremely thankful for walking through that valley. As a result, I have been able to encourage others who have children with special needs as they now walk through the unknown valley. Teagan's journey has allowed me to meet remarkable people and establish and maintain a relationship that otherwise would not have existed. Thank you on behalf of Teagan, myself, and my family. You helped shape Teagan into the person she is today. How can I express enough the feelings of gratitude? I can't, but please know, all of those who came week in and week out for all those years, you will forever be a part of our lives.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

{Marriage}


I had the privilege of bringing a devotional challenge at a bridal shower today for a member of my church. As I was leaving, several people asked me for a copy of my notes. Here they are...

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

I'm not sharing anything new with you, but rather things that the Lord has really made clear to me over the years that TJ and I have been married.

·         Created for your husband (Gen. 2:18)
o  Instead of the world's view that, as wives, we pick up the pieces, God created us to be our husband's missing piece.
§  God knows his flaws, antics, tastes, etc. and He created us to be exactly who our husband needs as a wife and in a wife.
o   We were created to meet the needs of our husbands, not the other way around
§  Important to remember, especially down the road if you have kids and you are feeling overwhelmed with the increased responsibility.
§  I'm not saying your husband CAN'T help you, but rather, do not EXPECT help.
§  Any help your husband gives is not a requirement, but an outward expression of his love for you
·          Submission is how we show honor and respect to our husbands (Eph. 5:22-24)
o   Respect is the husband's "oxygen life -line" just as love is our "oxygen life-line" (from the book "Love and Respect")
o   Submission is just as important in the "little things" of life as it is in the  "big things"
o I didn't know what submission looked like and often failed unknowingly
§  Submission is asking question before proceeding:
·         "Should I…?"
·         "Do you want me to…?"
§  Once kids enter the picture, it's easy to "take over" simply because you are the one home with the children all day. They are used to coming to you for permission, and when Dad is home, you need to direct them to him instead of you.
·         Your husband trusts you (Prov. 31:11-12)
o   Financially- spend money wisely, save money whenever possible, admit if you struggle and seek his help
o   Emotionally- Shut your mouth!
§  When he starts to share his heart, shut your mouth!
§  When you have a disagreement or he offends you, shut your mouth!
§  Always present your husband to others (including family & future children) in a positive way- you wouldn't want him focusing on your flaws & then sharing them with others!!
o   Physically- work just as hard to keep your husband as you did to get him!
§  Keep your marriage fun & playful, ESPECIALLY after you start having kids & you have increased demands on time and energy
§  Kiss him like you mean it!! This has been so helpful to my marriage!
§  Sexual intimacy is a NEED for your husband, so make sure you are the one satisfying that need!!
§  Years ago, a dear friend shared that she & her husband have a special candle that they light to signal to the other their desire to have sexual relations. TJ & I love that idea, but instead of lighting a candle, we just say, "The candle's lit." Immediately the other knows what that means & can plan the evening accordingly.

My challenge:  Apply these truths to your marriage so that, years down the road, you'll love your husband just as much as (if not more than) you do now.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

{Summer Days}

Summer has come to an end for us, and we have been so busy that I haven't even attempted to post on here...

Our summer started in May with a trip to Ohio for my brother's high school graduation. It was nice to visit with extended family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins (and second cousins!) on both my mom's and dad's side of the family. The weather was hot and we enjoyed swimming while visiting both my parents. We also squeezed in a visit with one of my oldest and dearest friend, Chelsea, and her husband and 2 boys. As usual, the kids didn't want to leave and saying "Good-bye" was bittersweet. I look forward to my visits with her so much and cherish her friendship even more. Good, godly friends are hard to come by and I'm so thankful for the influence she's had on my life. Love you, Chelsea!!

June brought on Vacation Bible School, swimming lessons for Thomas, Tristin-Grace, and Teagan, as well as Art Camp for Thomas. Probably the highlight for the month was Tanner's baptism. He wanted to be baptized for a while but we weren't sure of his salvation. He and TJ completed a bible study together, and it reassured us that he truly understands salvation.

Blurry, but you get the idea...
As quickly as June arrived, it ended and July began with swim lessons for Tanner, followed by Art Camp and a week of Vacation Bible School for the older 3 children at another church near our house. Thomas also had the pleasure of attending camp for a week at the Wilds. He was greatly missed but I'm so thankful he had the opportunity to go and enjoy being a kid. Tanner is looking forward to going with him in a couple of years!
Boarding the bus to camp
August was met with relief as a busy summer was nearing an end. When the kids weren't at camp, swim lessons, or VBS, the boys were kept busy with their volunteer activities as well as family time at the YMCA's outdoor water park or Carowinds.
Carowinds




The boys were ready to begin school, and they did on August 13th. We are taking our "summer" vacation in October and heading to Hilton Head for a week. In Science, we are studying day 5 of creation, specifically the swimming creatures. Part of their science curriculum is an on-going project to create an ocean box and fill it with different objects, including sand, shells, and clay models of the creatures we study this year. This trip to the beach is highly anticipated by everyone, but especially the boys so they can collect REAL ocean treasures for their boxes. =) Their excitement for learning has me excited, and makes it enjoyable for all of us.

Bible history lesson

Tristin-Grace started kindergarten at our local elementary school this past Wednesday. She cried after I left (thank goodness not while I was there!) and when TJ brought her on Friday (she was off Thursday), but she said she stopped when one of her friends came into the room. I know this is difficult for her, but that's why she is going to school. She is so shy that she uses Teagan or one of her brothers to speak for her. She cried because she was nervous and hopefully now that she's been there for a couple of days and has friends in her class, it will get easier for her. My gut reaction when she told me she cried was to just keep her at home with me and homeschool her along with the boys, but she needs to learn to be more assertive. She is going more for the social aspect of school versus the academic. I am hoping she will grow this year and then perhaps next year she can stay home with us.

Still lots going on, it seems it's never-ending in a household of our size. Football for the boys started a couple of weeks ago and that is a nightly commitment. We stay busy but thankful for the many opportunities to show and share our faith with others- wherever we go people notice us. Sometimes it bothers me, but there is nothing I can do about it. I just respond to the comments that my hands are full of love, or that I AM blessed. =)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

{Resting in Love}


It's been a while since I found time to post on here. Life has been busy (especially during baseball season) and now that we are full-swing into summer, time is again passing quickly as our days are filled with enjoying the sun!

This post is not a typical recap of our household life, but instead is dedicated to the Lord's working in my life. I've wanted to share this for a while (since April), but I'm glad I waited because the Lord has continued to work. My pastor's message on resting in God prompted me to write this because I have found that in order to fully rest in God, you have to trust in what He's done for you. Here's what I mean...

I found myself (questioning) doubting God's goodness to me. I thought the bad things I had done (major yelling at my kids, lack of patience with them, unrighteous anger) caused me to lose favor in the Lord's eyes, and His way of "correcting" me was to suffer the loss of the twin and live with that loss forever.  Even though I kept reading my bible and thinking about verses dealing with the goodness of the Lord, I still did not fully believe them (and the way I knew I didn't was when I found out an acquaintance was pregnant with twins last year. I had a difficult time being happy for her and the anger in my own heart grew). I kept reading my bible, praying for the Lord to give me peace about the twin but I still could not find it.
                 
                In April, I went to the Wilds. The morning I was to leave, I received a phone call from a good friend of mine. She shared news with me that she was about 8 weeks pregnant again. With twins.  My heart sank to my stomach and I felt sick. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to her share her exciting story of finding out that she not only was pregnant, but pregnant with identical twins. It was a difficult phone call because I knew as her friend I should be elated for her and share in her joy, but in my humanness I was heartbroken and even a little jealous. My thoughts once again began to question God as to why He would not allow me to experience twins. Needless to say, my heart was heavy as I traveled to the Wilds that weekend. Looking back, I see God knew what He was doing.
                 
                The theme of the speaker's messages at the Wilds that weekend was God's love. She pointed out that when we go through difficult trials and find ourselves inadequate, that is when we should turn to the cross and SEE God's love for us. She spoke from Ephesians 2 and although I have read the book of Ephesians many times, it was like the words were jumping off the page at me. Verse 4, "because of His great love with which He loved us" verse 10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…" verses 13-14a , "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.For He Himself is our peace…" and 1 John 3:16 "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us."
                 
                As I read the verses, the truth behind them hit me hard in the face! Tears again streamed down my face as the reality of my sin was uncovered: by doubting God's love I was minimizing Jesus' death on the cross! The cross is more than salvation, it's for daily living! As I face trials and doubt begins to creep in, I must only look to what Christ did on the cross to remember His love for me! What an amazing thought! Such a simple truth with such a major impact- God loves me because He sent Jesus to suffer the cross.
                 
                The Lord worked in my heart in a mighty way during my stay at the Wilds that weekend. But, He wasn't (and isn't) done. Two weeks later, TJ and the boys traveled to the Father/Son campout at the Wilds and heard a male speaker. The text of his messages: Ephesians 2. A few weeks later, I was approached by a friend about joining a weekly bible study she was planning to do with some coworkers on, yes, Ephesians! Obviously the Lord has a plan for me that involves the book of Ephesians. The more I learn about God's love (and ultimately His goodness because of His love), the more I want to know. 
                 
                Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know it’s lengthy but it’s exciting to me to see how the Lord is working in my own heart after I’ve struggled for almost 3 years to accept God’s will for my life in this area.

Friday, May 11, 2012

{School's Out for Summer}

It's hard to believe school is out for Thomas already. We have had a fun year full of great learning experiences. Below are some pictures of learning in action!

September: Latta Plantation Homeschool Day
Learning the 3 R's (Reading, Writing, & 'Rithmetic)
Reading from a McGuffy Reader
Learning about clothing styles & medicine from the 1700s on- VERY interesting!
October: Riverbanks Zoo 
Our science curriculum is broken down into the various days of creation. This year we started with Day 5: the flying creatures.
Megabat- this year we learned the difference between a microbat and a megabat. :)

November: Carolina Raptor Center
 This field trip only enhanced what we were learning about & was probably Thomas' favorite since he has developed a passion for birding thanks to his study in science this year. 
We felt a sense of honor & pride seeing our National Bird up close & in person.

Red-tail Hawk: our favorite!!

Annie was enjoying the Birds of Prey presentation :)

 February: Chick-Fil-A
Learning how the syrup & the carbonation meet together to make soda

Teagan accompanied us on this trip. :)

May: Shaw Fest
Everyone in this family has a love of airplanes. They are fascinating and powerful and loud and illicit feelings of awe and wonder! We take our kids to the airshow every time it comes around, and this year was no exception. 

Air Force Thunderbirds preparing for flight

Thunderbirds in flight

May: Charlotte Motor Speedway
We enjoyed learning about the history of the racetrack, it's growth and development over the years, but most importantly, why it's banked at 24 degrees at each turn...

Next to Pit Road
(Fact: the stands you see behind him were constructed specifically for
TV shots so they appear full even when a race is not sold out)

We made it to the Winner's Circle!!
Along with the above fun trips, were able to go to the Great Wolf Lodge twice this school year, as well as enjoy some other fun park days with friends. We also went on a tour of our local police station, but I forgot my camera that day. :( We've already begun planning some field trips for next year and are so thankful the Lord has allowed us this opportunity to learn and grow at home, in each other's presence. 

I greatly enjoy homeschooling Thomas and am looking forward to adding Tanner to the mix this upcoming school year. It is a bit stressful managing all 6 kids, but God has been gracious in providing a wonderful preschool for some of the younger children and a wonderful elementary school that I am comfortable sending  my kids to for kindergarten/1st grade where they learn to read. I am also blessed to be surrounded by such supportive friends who also homeschool and can help by sharing tips and ideas that have worked for them in the past. Each school year is different and has its own set of challenges, but by embracing the challenges and allowing my kids to witness (& help!) me work through them, they are learning problem-solving in real life situations. My girls are learning how to manage their homes, children, and husbands all while teaching their children (not just book stuff, parenting stuff, too!), and my boys are learning to appreciate the work their future wife will do as a wife and mother. Together, we learn to enhance each other's strength's and support one another in areas of weakness. Homeschooling really is so much more than books!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

{Odds & Ends}

My last post was so gloomy, and I'm happy to say my perspective has definitely improved over the past couple of weeks. With the help of others, I have implemented a new chore chart and I cannot express enough how much smoother our house runs now.

The kids each have their own daily chart that is just for their bedrooms. It includes 4 items (each worth 25 cents) that have to be done daily (for a maximum weekly allowance of $5 if all check marks are received). The goal is to have the chores completed each morning, but I have made allowances to the time I check because Annie has learned how to open doors and will literally trash a room in a matter of seconds. The boys have started locking their door when they finish their chores so that she can't go in there before I have a chance to check their room...they learned from experience. =)

I also implemented a weekly cleaning chore that pretty much covers the entire house. There are a couple of exceptions because Teagan & Annie are included on the weekly chores but they really can't do a whole lot. They are responsible for picking up toys scattered throughout the house and putting them away, as well as wiping the glass on the doors and fronts of the appliances in the kitchen. However, they are not old enough to have a bottle of Windex so I have to spray everything for them, and then they wipe it. I went ahead and included them on the chore sheet so that: a) they get in the habit of doing them each week when the others do them; b) eventually they will be big enough to complete their chores alone; c) it keeps them occupied and out of trouble for a bit

I have a kitchen/daily chore chart (items like setting the table, vacuuming, loading/unloading dishwasher, folding laundry, etc) I still need to finalize but once that is completed, everyone will know what to do and when. I am still struggling with laundry but it has definitely improved. I try to do it every other day but finding time to sort it and start it is sometimes challenging. I'm not getting discouraged though as I know once summer gets here & our schedule calms down a bit, I'll have the time to get it done in the morning when I have the most energy.

Because of the new chore schedules, I've had more time to work on my own (fun!) projects since I've been delegating the other stuff. I stripped the paint and am in the process of sanding a dresser for Taryn, I painted a lamp and am in the process of covering a lamp shade, and I planted a flower bed around our new mailbox. I haven't been able to complete the first two projects because of weather and I need more fabric from the fabric store (hopefully this weekend I can finish at least one of them!) I also found time to sort through children's books and brought a box full to be donated. Just by getting rid of 1/3 of our books makes the shelves in the playroom look so much better!

On a personal note, TJ and I rejoined the YMCA.  I started running again, and it felt good to get my body moving, but it wasn't enough. As a "new" member benefit, I was able to meet with a trainer for an hour and we discussed my weight loss goals, she showed me how to use the machines, and we came up with a full-body exercise plan. I am hoping to go at least 4 mornings a week because I honestly feel better and eat less on the days I work out (I work hard to burn those calories & don't want to exercise in vain!) =)

Update on the kids:
Tanner began volunteering at Tender Hearts for an hour each week sorting, pricing, and shelving donation items. He LOVES it as he greatly enjoys physical labor.  Tanner is playing baseball and like all kids, he is looking forward to summer break. He is excited about being homeschooled next year.

Thomas is almost finished with school for the year (only 3 weeks left!) and he just completed his homeschool pottery class. He, too, is playing baseball. This is his first year on "kid pitch" so it's been a transition for him and his teammates. =) This summer he is excited about going to the Wilds for a week with our church. It will be his first time away from family for an exteded period of time and we are praying the Lord will do a great work in his heart while he's there. 

Today, Thomas volunteered with Special Olympics for the first time. He was a little nervous at first but he greatly enjoyed himself. As we were leaving, he made the comment, "I can't wait for next year!" He now understands firsthand that just because someone has a disability doesn't mean that s/he has to be treated like they're dumb. He saw that they have feelings just like he does (one girl got really upset and was crying because she didn't come in First Place). He just patted her on the arm and told her she still did good- it was sweet!

Tristin-Grace is also playing baseball. She has the same coach that she had last year, but unlike last year, she is the only girl on her team. She is preparing to graduate from preschool in about a month. She is registered for kindergarten at our local public school, and she is really excited about it.

All in all, life is going well & God's grace is continuing to sustain me. As I counsel each Wednesday night, I never cease to walk away a little changed for the better. I am enjoying my counselee as we have much in common. I am thankful for all that the Lord has allowed in my life over the past few weeks to better prepare me (& my heart) for our sessions together.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

{Blessing of Friendship}

Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed. Very overwhelmed. By laundry, dishes, cleaning, children, places to be, homeschooling, I could go on. I was having such a difficult time getting into a routine because I have also been plagued by fatigue.

I, like the majority of people, wake up each day with a "list" of things to accomplish for the day. Mine is not really very interesting and includes items such as picking up toys, vacuuming, dishes, preparing meals, etc. The problem came when lunch time hit. Whatever wasn't completed by lunch was added to the list for tomorrow because my energy was gone. Every day around the same time (1-2pm) I found myself having difficulty thinking clearly and feeling kind of dizzy. The only thing that would help was to rest for a few minutes (as long as the children would allow- the most was 20 minutes!).

I have been to two separate doctors who practice in separate offices hoping to find an answer as to why I have been feeling this way. I received both good and bad news. The good news: health wise everything is fine. My thyroid levels are normal (thanks to the medication I take every day), along with all my numbers for cholesterol, diabetes, and white blood cell counts. The bad news: no medical reason for me to be feeling so tired.

The diagnosis actually contributed to feelings of depression. It seems like I am barely able to keep up with everything that entails being a wife/mom, and was just never able to catch up. Looking around my house, I found piles of laundry needing to be folded, dishes that needed to be either washed or put away, papers to file, rooms to clean, and on and on. It seemed like my list was growing instead of depleting, and it was totally out of my control. Add to it feelings of isolation due to being home with my children all day and it seems like a recipe for disaster.

Then the icing on the cake: TJ hurt his back a couple of weeks ago and he's not been able to help me with the kids much. Our old evening/bedtime routine is now obsolete and contributes to more feelings of exhaustion and depression. When I shared with TJ how I was struggling and how tired I've been, he suggested I go back to the doctor. I was hesitant because I know as soon as I mention I am feeling alone, depressed, and overwhelmed, I would immediately be given a script for an anti-depressant. Although I have no doubt the medicine would make me feel better, it's not really solving the problem or helping me establish a new routine. I simply told TJ I didn't think that was a good idea and I would just try harder. He then suggested I find someone to serve (either in my neighborhood or in the church). I quickly bucked that idea because I'm having trouble getting food on our table let alone someone else's!

But then I remembered something: every Wednesday for the past couple of months we host a family from our church for the afternoon. The kids play and the moms supervise. The family stays for supper and then we all leave for church together. I am serving, and it's been wonderful, because I can guarantee that on Wednesday my bathrooms will be clean, the carpets vacuumed, the dishes done, and dinner prepared. In a way, this family is forcing me to keep my focus despite how I feel; they are ministering to my needs as I minister to them. Win, win for us!!

However, my emotions and exhaustion got the best of me this past Monday. Everything sort of came to a head when I called a friend to ask a favor. At the sound of her voice, I crumbled and began to cry. The tears flowed as I shared everything that's been happening and how out-of-control my household has become.

She, in her wisdom and kindness, shared some bible verses with me to reassure me that I am NOT alone. She also suggested I call and speak with my pastor's wife to see if she could give me any suggestions. Let me back up and say that managing a household for 8 is way different than a household of 4, 5, or even 6. Simply put, there is more of everything yet the hours in a day remain the same (time is the only thing we were all given equally. It is up to each of us how we spend it.) It truly is a challenge for me to find time to do anything!!

I called my pastor's wife and she gave me some practical suggestions to try (like doing laundry every day instead of trying to do it twice a week. I hate laundry so I would devote an entire day to try to wash, dry, fold, and put away 8 loads of laundry in the midst of difusing battles, preparing lunch, and helping with homework. Didn't work so well). She also suggested I give my kids more chores. I will admit I have a hard time delegating so this will be a challenge. I think part of it is that my kids do have a lot of chores already (everyone from Teagan up) and I don't want to overburden them. But, like everything, it's a balance that I need to find.

The best part, though, is that she thinks the reason I am tired all the time is because I'm not sleeping through the night and I have 6 kids. I know it may sound pretty simple but I think for me I was just expecting to be able to adapt to adding a baby just like when I had the others. Since Taryn, however, it's been more difficult for me to get back into a routine.

After much prayer and thinking, I realized I do remember being in this stage before a few years ago and feeling so isolated. It's not fun, but knowing it will soon be over is more of a reason for me to cherish my kids being the ages they are. =)

The Lord has blessed me with great, caring friends who minister to others in their time of need. Because of their Christ-like attitude, I was able to go to the grocery store without kids (that's a rare occurrence!) and had a couple of meals prepared for us this week. My heart was lifted in gratitude at their kindness and I look forward to a future opportunity to minister to them should the need arise.

*My goal this week: do laundry every other day. I accomplished this goal and, although I'm not where I want to be with the laundry, it's so much better than before. I am only behind on 1 load instead of several!

*My goal for next week (starting 3/25): make up a current chore chart and teach it to the children.

Pray for me as I continue to battle exhaustion, my emotions, and managing my household in a way that honors the Lord. Although it's not perfectly executed, it is my desire.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

{Grace}

I am starting to feel think better again about the trials in my life the Lord has allowed. The more I read my bible, the more I begin to understand God's goodness. It occurred to me the other day that trials are like medicine: we may not like them at the time but they are ultimately for our good. God, as our Heavenly Father, knows this, even though we may not.

The other lessons on God's goodness that I learned this past week include:

  1. God is good. He doesn't try to be good, He just is.
  2. When God allows a trial in our life, He is using it to conform us to His likeness (in this case, His goodness).
  3. God also allows trials in our lives so that others can witness His goodness in us (probably the most difficult for me to grasp).
I am thankful I was (once again) reminded of these truths on God's goodness. Although I have read certain passages of scripture many times, the Lord uses different verses and even clusters of words to open my eyes to His truths. I had never thought of the goodness of God in these ways before, and it is only by His grace that I am able to see.

On that note...

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."   ~Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, February 13, 2012

{Struggles}

I am writing this post because I hope it will encourage others. To be quite honest, I am about to reveal some of my innermost thoughts and feelings that I have been struggling with. I only recently shared them with TJ because of the shame I felt about having them, but my heart was hurting and I didn't like keeping them from him.

I thought I was "over" my grief about losing the twin and accepted God's plan for my life, but upon finding out an acquaintance was pregnant with twins, my grief returned in full force. Instead of feeling joy for her, I was crying for myself. I found myself watching Annie, studying her and imagining what my life would be like if there were two of her running around. And the more I thought of this life, the angrier with God I became for not allowing me to have it. The anger grew into bitterness, and before I knew it, I found myself with my back turned to Him, not wanting to even consider His way for my life. I was no longer reading my bible, doing devotions, or even wanting to pray. I was simply going to church and pretending I was okay, even though my heart was anything but.

I am still finding it difficult to accept not having twins, and often question "Why?", but I confessed my sins of anger, bitterness, and doubting God's goodness. I am reading through the Psalms, praying David's many prayers and pleading for the Lord to give me His mind. I know the simple answer is to stop focussing on myself and my situation and instead focus on the Lord, but you know what, that isn't always easy to do. My heart really hurts just as much now as it did then.

As He did a few months ago, the Lord is using others to encourage me. I heard a message by a man whose wife passed away from cancer in Sept. 2010. He shared how the Lord used Psalm 139 and Jer. 29:11 to help his hurting heart, and it was a reminder to me the God truly does have my best interest at heart. As the Jeremiah verse states, God is thinking thoughts of peace [for me and about me]. As the truth of that verse registered in my mind, I immedidiately teared up...tears of relief, tears of conviction because of my doubt, and tears of joy that God is patient and won't give up on me, even though I had given up on Him.

I am still working to sort out my feelings, and I know it begins with my thoughts. I have resolved to read my bible and counter the negative thoughts with truth from Scripture, especially Psa. 139, Isa. 61:1-3, and Jer. 29:11. Please pray for me as I continue to walk through this valley. I know that the Lord can use my pain for good, but it's a process and I'm not there yet.

Lamentations 3:23 says God's mercies are new every day, and for that I am thankful!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

{A Busy Season}

Life has been busy, to say the least. My time is spent caring for my children, my husband, & my household. Interwoven in there was a visit from my mom and a week off of work for TJ. Some of the tasks that TJ & I have managed to accomplish in the past 3 weeks include:

- sorting through the boys' clothes to pack away or donate
- sorting through Taryn's clothes to determine what she needs
- unpacking boxes leftover from when we moved (over 18 months ago!) and sorting through the items
- donating bags of adult and children's clothing, toys, blankets, and "stuff" to Tender Hearts
- hanging pictures in the kids' bedrooms
- transitioning Annie from a crib to a twin bed and moving the crib into T.G.'s room for Taryn to use

Simply put, I have been busy purging and organizing my house. My goal is to go through each room and closet in an attempt to declutter and maximize space. My anxiety level was pretty high because of the disarray the house was in. Now it seems like our house is becoming more "ours" and not just a dumping ground for our stuff. I can't really explain how great I feel knowing that we are getting rid of so much stuff that we no longer use or have need for. There is still much to do but it doesn't seem so overwhelming anymore; my "To Do" list definitely got shorter because of the help of my mom (in the form of keeping the kids occupied while I worked) and TJ (who hung pictures, moved furniture, kept me company, and agreed to let things go rather than keep hanging on to them).

Next on my list is to get all my homeschooling paperwork organized and filed. That in itself seems a little daunting but now that my bedroom is less cluttered, I can work on it a little at a time and keep it down there where the kids can't get into it. I bought some plastic filing boxes (that came with a rebate so they were 100% free!) to use to file the paperwork that can be stacked in the attic. My current "filing" system is in 2 piles, one on a bookshelf and the other on top of the kids' play kitchen. =) I can't wait to see those piles sorted through, filed, and stored away forever!

On a different note, Taryn is growing like a weed and doing well. She is going longer between feedings at night, usually waking twice to eat. I will say that I have not taken as many pictures of her compared to the other children. I attribute that to the fact that I have been so busy doing other things that I forget to stop and remember she won't be this age for long. I do have pictures on my camera that I need to upload onto the computer and hopefully I will do that soon. =)

Thankful for the health, energy, and ability to do all I've been doing, and praying the Lord continues to bless my efforts at getting organized.