Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prayers for Annabel

Tonight my heart is heavy. I was prepared to recount my stories of "survival" at home with three little babes, but instead I come to ask for your prayers. Prayers of survival for a precious girl that has graced my home and overwhelmed my heart. Survival for our amazing girl Annabel.

I talked with a friend yesterday who informed me that Annabel was admitted to her local hospital for an infection. When I spoke to her again last night she told me they were being transferred here to Houston. Annabel is pretty sick... in fact, she is septic. They were hoping the infection was only in her peripheral line but instead they discovered it was in her entire bloodstream.

Annabel is a beautiful, amazing girl with full Trisomy 18. She has overcome immeasurable obstacles and has thrived beyond every prediction for her life. She is loving, full of life and smiles, and has not only captured my heart by the hearts of my children. We love her to pieces and are asking for your prayers.

We trust that God has each of her days counted, just as He does ours and we are asking Him for healing for her body beyond what we can imagine. Right now we pray more specifically that the antibiotics she is on will begin working immediately. We are also asking for rest, peace and patience for her amazing mama Cathy as she continues to lovingly care and advocate for Annabel. Above all, pray as the Lord leads you.

Thank you for being on your knees for this precious child.

"Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them."- Matthew 19:13

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 5- God Chose Me

I remember looking at people with multiple children when I had none or even my single, mostly-obedient child in tow and thinking, "I would never...".; **Friendly advice, if you have never done this, I warn you not to because you can count on being humbled over that very thing almost immediately! Daniel 4:37- "And those who walk in pride he is able to humble."** I will admit that when I was thinking those things, as hard as I tried not to, I would find myself standing in judgment of a particular decision, the parent or the child. Now, as our home is bursting with activity and little people, I can often tell when others stand in judgment of my children, my decisions or me. It's hard to be judged and often I later find myself questioning what I did, how I reacted, how my children behaved, or even their abilities. I simply want to do a good job and I want others to think so too.

The problem with that thinking is that it really doesn't matter what others think... it only matters what He thinks. I know this... I certainly do, but it's still hard. From people in the grocery store, to my best friends and even my parents, I want to be found "successful" as a mother. Like my children are my little "projects" and I am "succeeding." The funny thing is that if that was how I was rated as a mother by "outsiders", I would fail miserably. My children have a mind. And a will. And I still lose my temper and yell. I still give them lame answers and sometimes just nod having no idea what they said. I even sometimes tell them to simply stop talking because I don't want to her their voices anymore. Horrible... I know. But true. And those are just a few of the many reasons why I would fail.

So what has become more clear over these last few weeks as I have ventured out with three little ones is that I alone am their mother. No, I don't make the same decisions that everyone else does for their brood of children, but overall I am pretty rational and generally understand what I am doing for the short and long-term. I try to make calls based on what I feel Christ would ask me to do. Does it always happen? That would be a resounding NO (especially if you saw me with the two biggies today in Target), but I sure do try.

So instead of being found successful, I simply want to be found faithful. Faithful as the mother the Lord has specifically chosen for my four children. I only get to walk this road with three, so my goal is to raise the three that He has entrusted to me with faithfulness, conviction and love. Because for one reason or a million... God chose me.

"I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house— she who has taught me."- Song of Solomon 8:2

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 4- Laugh & Let Go

We took Doodle to his first Husker football game this weekend and we were prepared for it to be rough. Yes, he just turned five, but the game was about an hour and a half away and kick-off wasn't until 7PM so we knew that it would be late... by all standards.

I am pleased to say that on all accounts of the night, D did fabulous! He was a great fan, cheering and having fun even though we were crunched in seats and we stood the entire game. There was minimal complaining and besides the halftime walk we took to meet some friends when he stated, "we need to go home right now because I. am. tired.", he made it well past midnight. I was impressed and it was wonderful to spend some quality time with just him. We has a blast and the best part was the amount of laughing we did!

D is such a funny, silly, witty boy and I saw a side of him that was pure joy. We were laughing as the older lady behind us gave him a five every time the Huskers made a good play. Laughing as he talked about the Aggie band formations and "how cool" they looked. Laughing when he took off his Adidas jacket at Subway, at midnight, so that everyone there (all Aggies) could see his Husker jersey and the signatures on it.

It is interesting because as I look back on the night, he has modeled my point beautifully. Laughing is awesome! It is awesome... even when our team doesn't play well. Even when things don't go our way. Even when we are unhappy about an outcome.We can laugh. And then we can let-go.

It is not a novel idea here, but man this has stretched me lately, including today. Instead of always "teaching" my children by redirection and consequences, breaking things up and reminding them of their manners, being respectful, being obedient... maybe I could just laugh. That's right, I said LAUGH. No, not AT them... but sometimes just letting things go. Letting go of things in their lives, and in mine.

Crazy idea but it has helped my stress level significantly. Is spilling milk, bumping heads, breaking Legos, falling down, or even arguing funny? Usually not... but often times when the situation allows, I laugh about it and then don't seem so bothered, neither do they. Learning to laugh through things we don't like- accidents, problems, bad circumstances- is a great skill to equip my children with and it can start now. We can clean-up messes, ice ouchies, rebuild creations, and band-aid most things. Laughing, learning for the next time, and then letting-go has been a huge help to all of us.

So, I'm off with this lesson because there is some laughing left to do today.

Day 4) Laugh, learn & let go.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come."- Proverbs 31:25

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 3- Freedom

Mommy-guilt is overwhelming and has been running rampant in my house.  Am I doing this right? Am I teaching them enough? Do each of them get enough one-on-one time? Should I be doing more reading, writing, colors, numbers, letters, games, activities, sports with my child? Am I responding, behaving, modeling how Christ would expect? Am I patient? Am I overbearing? Am I too strict? Am I strict enough? Do they go to the right school? Do we have the right house? Have enough money? Do I work too much? Am I "present" too little? Am I loving their daddy enough?...

Literally the questions could go on and on.  Whether working or home, or working out of your home.  Whether your children are in daycare, your care or school, there is always a question as to how much is enough.  Thankfully, I am surrounded by amazing women and have been rightly reminded by my precious mentor that there is no condemnation in Christ.  What I am doing IS indeed enough.  I DO love my children.  I DO spend precious time with them.  They do know that they and their daddy are the loves of my life and God is above all else... So then what else is there? It is not Christ that is making me feel guilty but the world, and I don't want to measure anything against the world's standards.  Only God's. God does not condemn us for the areas where we fall short... He loves us, leads us right through them.  Remember, when we are weak, He is then able to be our strength.

Believing in Christ is pure freedom. I am freed from the standards of this world.  Freed from the comparisons, judgments, questions, inabilities.  To be "freed up" is God's grace on my soul.  He knows me and I will face Him and Only Him... and I needed that reminder again.

So the learning continues.

Day 3) There is no condemnation in Christ.  Get rid of the mommy guilt because I am doing my very best. And freedom feels fantastic!

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."- 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 2- A Little Effort

Yesterday I attempted to go to Bible study.  It was my first of the season, but the last class for this fall so I really wanted to make it.  We were up in plenty of time and yet, getting everyone fed, dressed and out of the house seemed like a monumental task.  I was putting S's paci in 800 times and in 20 minutes I literally had to break up the fighting between the two biggies 8 times.  My stress level was already high but when we were finally ready to go downstairs to get shoes on, I looked over to see my very-determined 2-year-old all stripped down. Again.  I totally lost it yelling at her to not take her clothes off, to leave her diaper on and do what I ask.  She was crying at this point and started saying "pee-pee, pee-pee". She has gone on the potty several times but usually it takes a while to sit before she will go a few drops.  I was super annoyed that she picked that very moment to go and I yanked her up, carrying her to the baby potty and telling her if she didn't go she was going to be in big trouble.  With big crocodile tears still running down her face, she sat down and immediately went lots of potty.  And I immediately went from a crazy, wicked-witch mommy to the fairy godmother. 

"YAY!!! Faith Clare... I'm so proud of you! What a big girl... Mommy is so sorry I yelled at you.  Please forgive me.  I know we are in a big hurry but this is way more important.  What a BIG GIRL!"

She was beaming as I rushed to get her dressed and into the car.

Fast forward 30 minutes.  I was finally on my way up the elevator to Bible study and the only one that hadn't shed a tear was my sweet babe laying comfortably in the stroller.  We are so out of the routine of Wednesday study and both my big kids were crying as I dropped them off.  I felt bad.  I was mad too.  Why couldn't they just give me one hour of peace to hear from God? I cried as I walked out of the nursery.  My morning was a wreck and I shouldn't have even tried.  All I could could do was replay the morning in my head.  Ugh, I just wanted a shower and to get to Bible study... Was that too much to ask?

I walked into class late and sat in the way back.  Deep breath.  Try to focus.  That's why I'm here right?  As I listened to Pam Thompson teach, I slowly saw what He was revealing to me- that it was worth the tears, the frustration and the extra effort to be there.  Hearing a word from the Lord was worth a little effort, especially when I can't even seem to get my bearings straight.

As I listened to her teach on "The Wilderness Road" I was greatly encouraged.  She spoke on God using tough times to teach us. To grow us.  To produce endurance.  To build character.  My morning faded away for those 45 minutes and I simply took in the words she spoke over me.  And the most beautiful thing I recognized was... For the first time when hearing about "hard times" or being in the "wilderness" I didn't immediately think about my life.  About Maddox and all we have been through.  For so long I have felt like that is my story, like I own the copyright on being in the wilderness and all that I am supposed to learn.  Yesterday, instead, while Pam was teaching I saw a woman several rows ahead of me that is now walking something similar to what we did.  I thought of her... and of a friend who just lost her daughter... and another friend who has encountered major medical struggles.  For the first time it wasn't all about me and I could see, through the crazy morning, through me losing my temper and temporarily my sanity, that I have healed in a beautiful way. 

Is my life still crazy? For sure.  Are there still moments, days or even longer periods of wilderness ahead? Without a doubt.  But... now I can see that I am fully capable of helping others in their wilderness times because God has brought me through the biggest one in mine. 

Have I made mistakes since then? Absolutely.  Have I learned all the lessons that God has intended? No.  But have I forgotten the wilderness? Absolutely not... because the beauty of walking with the Lord in such lonely, overwhelming and anguished times is the ability to clearly distinguish His Voice.  His voice of comfort and peace.  And now His Voice leading me on to be in constant prayer and petition for others.

So, the learning continues.

Day 2) A little extra effort is totally worth it!  Sitting in the presence of Truth can transform your heart- for moments, and hopefully for an eternity.

"With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort."- 1 Corinthians 15:58  The Message

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10 Days- Back to the Basics

So I have all but disappeared from the blogging world.  I can't believe it has been almost 2 months since I have even posted, but then again I can't believe our littlest one is almost 2 months old already.

I guess you can ask around, or maybe you have been there yourself.  Maybe you have 4 or 5 or even 8 or 10 children and you are laughing at me, but let me just say WOW, three has been a big change for us.  Three little people are... well, a challenge.  You might have guessed that from the lack of blogging, but it is mostly due to a lack of time for anything other than meeting needs right now.  I mean honestly, I don't know how the Duggar's do it. 

I have been tempted to get on here, especially on my tough and trying days, but then thought I didn't want to sound ungrateful or like I was looking for sympathy.  Then I thought about getting on here when we've had sweet little breakthroughs, but somehow the ups never sound as good once you write them out.  Either way, I have rationalized not blogging until I was reminded today about why I was doing this.  It's definitely not for my outstanding writing ability (joke, haha!), or as a way to solicit advice, or as a sounding board when I want to complain.  Rather, it is about documenting this time in our lives.  This time when my children are little and the days often seem to run together.  It's to remind myself of the simple blessings, the sweet moments, the incredible tantrums, and my intense struggles.  It's to bring emotion back when I can't remember the last time I cried... or help me focus when I have cried too much.  This is a "documentary" of sorts for our life. A documentary that I have willingly shared in hopes of being able to minister to even one or two who can relate.  That is why I'm doing this and I welcomed that gentle reminder today.

So, what I've decided to share are a few quick things I have learned over the last two months of having three "tiny humans" at home all day.  10 days of learning... See if you can relate at all... if not, just smile as I learn.

1) Back to the Basics
           "Sleep when baby sleeps"- Yes, this may sound silly.  Even absurd if you have more than one child, but in the foggy nights and hormonal days, a good 30 minute nap can revive me just enough to make it through the rest of the day.  Swing nap for Scout, bed nap for Faith Clare and "rest time" in the room for Deacon.  Does it happen every day? That would be a big, fat NEGATIVE but it is worth trying when at all possible. And indeed "sleeping" is relative but resting is worth it too!

           "Don't worry about the house"- This is a huge struggle for me because I could always be trailing after a child picking up shoes, toys and food, not to mention all the other household duties I need to take care of, but I have realized that sometimes I can't do it all and the house is what will have to suffer temporarily.  Like I've heard before, "Your child won't remember the clean house, but they will remember all the time you spent together in the dirty one."  Let's just say I'm embracing that one as of late... maybe a little too much. But I do want to focus on this beautiful time, not my beautiful house.

           "Wear what fits"- My clothes seems to have gone to the house of a friend 3 sizes smaller, shrunk to fit her, and then come back to my closet to taunt me.  I can't seem to fit into much and although I know it's alright because I have a new baby, blah-blah-blah, I want the clothes from before to fit.  What I have realized in these past few weeks is that I don't have to look like I have it all together, physically or emotionally... because I DON'T.  I am often frazzled, always late, and generally looking like I just crawled out of bed whether I really did get a shower and put on makeup or not.  My regular clothes are too small, my maternity clothes are too big and I might look like a disaster, but what I DO know is that I'm real.  I'm not going to hide behind "what should be" because that's not me... and actually it's good for others to know that I'm, shall we say, "authentic." 

So that is day one of learning... Lessons: Allow yourself daily rejuvenation time, focus on what is most important, be authentic.

My authentic children
"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies."- Philippians 4:8 The Message
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