Posted in Abundance, and Love, Carpe Diem, Celebration, child, Creating Art, dreams, faith, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Freedom, goals, God, Gratitude, grief, Healing, Healing a Wounded Soul, Home, Hope, Impossible, Joy, lessons, life, life and death, life lessons, Love, Marriage and Family, Memorial, Memory, Pain, Possibilities, Tattered and Mended, Train Up A Child, Transparency, Writing

In which I grieve and mourn…

What makes a life? I know the arguments run in circles. Does it start at conception? Does it begin with that first, gasping breath after hours of labor? Maybe that’s the wrong question. I’m still trying to figure out the right question to ask.

One week ago, I was thrilled to announce that a long-awaited event was taking place. After months of trying, I got a positive sign. (Actually, it was four positives and one digital negative…I had to be sure) I probably didn’t need one, because I just KNEW it. My body was starting to feel different and I knew it was true. In my head, I was already planning out the next few months, hoping my morning sickness wouldn’t get too extreme, and praying that just this once, I’d be able to enjoy my pregnancy in full. I estimated I was 6-8 weeks. My midwife calculated a little more efficiently given my irregular cycles and said I was WAY earlier. I hoped I was later, but figured she probably knew a thing or two about this…

So I was anywhere from 4-7 weeks, but it didn’t matter really. I felt amazing, if a little tired and gaggy, and I was determined to enjoy the next nine months, come what may. Was I apprehensive? A bit. This was the first pregnancy where I was at a VERY healthy weight, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. Everything felt different, but I figured I could still safely tell others my news. I mean, I had three uncomplicated pregnancies prior to this one, right? No big deal.

Maybe the question I should be asking is, is that tiny little life real because I believe it to be, or do I believe it to be real because it is?

Friday morning I woke up. Had my coffee, spent time doing school with the kids, pondered a conversation I’d had with my mom the night before about my fears regarding pregnancy and loss. Worked out pretty hard and felt great afterward, if a little winded. I’d been experiencing a bit of an achy stretch on my right side from the beginning of the pregnancy, but thought nothing of it. It wasn’t pain and I figured my uterus hadn’t been in use for over three years, so it was natural to feel some stretching. No big deal.

That was until I got out of the shower and started to bleed.

Beyond the fact that I had NEVER experienced abnormal bleeding with any of my other pregnancies, I knew right away something was wrong. There was no pain (at least not that first day) but I knew that for whatever reason, this brief period of time where I once again was given the privilege of nurturing a new life, was now over. Call it a gut feeling, a matter of the heart, or just the facts. I knew. And I lost it.

My darling husband came home to find me curled up on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out. He held me, prayed with me, and we discussed the next steps. There was no drama (other than my tears) that day, but we both wanted to find out for sure. So I called the midwife, got in to an emergency ultrasound that afternoon, and took a blood test to find out my HCG levels.

Even if my levels were higher, and they weren’t, I would have known when I looked at the emptiness on that ultrasound. I could see all the preparations for sustaining a life in the womb, but no life. Not even a blip on the screen. I’d FELT empty before the ultrasound. Now I had proof that I was empty.

I’ve fought PCOS since puberty hit. I was told that I would struggle with infertility and irregular cycles and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. None of this was new to me. Thankfully, I’ve been managing my symptoms well enough that even the midwife noticed the lack of evidence for PCOS where there should have been. I’m not cured, but perhaps I’ve been given a reprieve.

And the three children I bore prior to this pregnancy proves that infertility isn’t that much of an issue really. I mean, we tried three times, and three times we made a baby. That simple.

Actually, we tried four times, and four times we made a baby. It’s just that now I get to tell people that one of our babies isn’t going to be present here on earth. That hurts just writing it. I’m a mother four times over and I won’t get to meet Pelokid #4 until I get to heaven. Something tells me, it’s a girl. Sweet and precocious and bubbling over with life.

There are a million explanations for why this pregnancy did not end with a live child 40 weeks after conception. Some explanations even range into the, it wasn’t really a baby idea. I’m going to block that one right now, because one, it doesn’t offer me any comfort whatsoever. And two, it brings me back to the question I asked earlier. I believe I was carrying a precious life for at least 5 weeks and that life is no longer present in my womb. I will grieve and mourn that life and then I will take joy in being chosen to be the vessel for that life for a few brief, but absolutely precious moments. All life is a vapor, some lives disappearing sooner than others.

The day after I miscarried, we watched a video on science and faith in regenerative medicine. There was a picture of a basic human cell. A basic picture from a typical biology textbook that any high school or college kid could read. As the scientist/researcher explained the components, I picked out names I hadn’t heard in years. Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum. I like Golgi apparatus best. The name is just cool.

Each part of these microscopic cells works in harmony to create a miniscule organic computer in basic scientific terms, but it’s SO much more than that. Put billions of these working, tiny cells together and you create things like skin, organs, muscles, eyes, ENTIRE Human Beings. If just ONE part of ONE cell is out of order, it can cause the entire structure to collapse. To decay and degenerate. The research in regenerative medicine takes these cells, breaks them down into their multiple components, tries to figure out how all the individual components work, and then attempts to recreate a cell using that knowledge. And it goes wrong, so many times. But when it works, ligaments are healed, cartilage and bone are renewed, and skin is grafted. But the original cell is what amazes me most. Because as much as a scientist or doctor can do their best to work with lab-created clones of the real thing, they will NEVER be able to perfect it to the level that our Creator God did on the original model.

Right in the middle of that talk on regenerative medicine, when I was feeling the physical pain of losing a child, struggling with the emotions and mental strain of the ordeal, I felt God wrap me up in His arms and whisper His reassurance in my ear. I looked at the three children He’d blessed Jake and I with and marveled on the fact that, of all the billions of ways it could have gone wrong, HE knit them together in my womb and breathed life into their tiny developing bodies. HE started their hearts beating and formed the neural pathways in their developing brains. HE fit every joint and bone and ligament together like a perfect puzzle and told each cell what its job would be.

I got to carry them and do the work HE created my body to do for nine months of their life. I was the vessel, but HE.

He is ALWAYS the Creator and Sustainer of life. And that little life He recently allowed me to carry for a few brief weeks was His too. He granted me the privilege of being mommy to not one, not two, not three, but four fearfully and wonderfully made children. His image stamped on each and every one of them. Three, He gave more time for me and Jake to love and cherish and raise. The fourth one, He called home. I have NO idea why He gave me the privilege of being a mommy four times and I pray that I will get that privilege again. I have no idea why I was given the privilege of keeping three of His babies, but I’m looking forward to watching them grow and showing them their Heavenly father’s love. I have no idea why the fourth one won’t be in my arms for a VERY long time, but I am so very glad I got to carry her under my heart. And I cannot wait to meet the child who is more alive now than she ever could be here on earth.

Posted in BeachBody, benefits of exercise, child, Dinner Time Entertainment, discipline, exercise, Family, Home, Humor, hypocrisy, Joy, laziness, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, Marriage and Family, Passion, Random, spiritual training, Telling Stories, Train Up A Child, Uncategorized, Whining, Winning, Writing

In which I enjoy a little humor and late night exercise…

My son tells GREAT stories. He makes them up off the top of his head and just spills it out. If there’s a slight change in the plot and we call him on it, he has an answer that makes a strange, logical sort of sense in the context of the story.

AND, he tells the whole thing in this sweet little lispy voice that makes you just want to squeeze him, it’s so cute. I’m going to miss that a few years from now when puberty hits.

So this story. It’s about a cotton candy woman and soon becomes a candyland, sugar infused tale that makes your teeth hurt just listening to it. And the finale is a gigantic explosion that takes off the roof of the cotton candy house and places ALL of the candy in Candy Land into little boxes to sell in a a candy shop.

That is the nutshell version. The real one took about twenty minutes long and wound its way around like the actual Candyland board game. We got stuck in the Molasses Swamp and a slight detour in Licorice Castle, but eventually Princess Lolly (or was it Gramma Nutt) found their way to KIng Candy’s castle. (Via the aforementioned rooftop explosion)

Needless to say, dinner time at our house is ALWAYS entertaining.

However, we had started late because Jake got home from work late. Which meant our workout got put off until after the kids were in bed late. So we didn’t do our workout until about ten o’clock last night.

GROAN…

When I don’t want to do something, for whatever reason, I resort to a two year old throwing a very silent temper tantrum. I grump and sit down like a stubborn a…donkey and refuse to do whatever it is I don’t want to do. The harder someone pushes me, the more stubborn I get.

My husband is devious. He’s learned this secret of mine and has decided to use it against me. Because the only thing that will get me off my butt is when I’m left alone.  Like a kid who doesn’t whine and complain at children’s church UNTIL his mom is in eyesight again and suddenly the whole HOUR and a HALF she was gone is the ULTIMATE BETRAYAL and MUST GET ATTENTION NOW!

That’s me. Only the adultier version…

So when silence happened after my stubborn refusal to move, I got curious and decided to find out why his attention wasn’t on me anymore.

When I found him, I asked him why we weren’t working out and what on earth was he doing ignoring me like this? (I’m paraphrasing here)

His devious, evil plot worked because the next thing I know I’m grumping my way through a 35 minute workout and wondering why I was grumping anyway.

I KNOW what’s good for me. I KNOW the best thing for me. Most kids do too when they take the time to really think about it. But our stubborn natures don’t want us to admit it. EVER.

Moral of the story: If you’re going to listen to a LONG, sugar-laden story at the dinner table when you have to exercise that evening, start dinner before seven.

Candyland_Game_Board

Posted in child, discipline, faith, Family, Home, Hope, laziness, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, soul surgery, Train Up A Child

In which humility and grace are on the menu…

Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool displays folly. ~ Proverbs 13:16 NASB

I am a fool. All this time I’ve been teaching my children the value of having an “I can do this” attitude. The word “can’t” is not recognized as a valid argument. They try and if they still cannot accomplish the task, they ask for assistance.

So I wonder why, after such consistency in our training, they still use the dreaded C word. It’s like nails on a chalkboard and grates on my mama heart.

We’ve all heard the phrase,

Do what I say, not what I do.

I’m here as a first-hand witness to the fact that phrase is categorically incorrect.

My children were only following the lead of their foolish mama.

I say all the right things. But as for following my own instruction, I cannot seem to do that.

So my husband called from work to let me know that our smashed up car still had the plates attached and with the salvage company coming to get it, we would need to remove the plates. We have a new car (new to us anyway) purchased and wanted to just switch the plates to that one.

Without hesitation my first response was, “What am I supposed to do about that?”

See what I did there? I didn’t actually say I can’t do it. I just beat the bush to pieces in a more subtle way. I was still saying, “I can’t do this. You do it for me.”

After he got off the phone and we ended our conversation on less than pleasant terms, I realized the gravity of what I had done. I also realized with shame, that my children were watching the entire exchange and had heard my defeatist words. I’m positive that if I continue on the path I’m taking, my children will also learn how to be more subtle in their, “I can’ts.”

I called my husband back to apologize for my “I Can’t” attitude, and I made a genuine attempt at removing the plates. While I succeeded at one of them, I did still ask my husband if he could help me with the other one. This time, he gave a definite YES.

And yeah, my children watched that conversation too.

Posted in benefits of exercise, child, discipline, dreams, exercise, faith, Family, goals, Home, Hope, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, Memory, Neighbors, Random, Writing

In Which a Walk Down Memory Lane Begins with a Phone Call

“Look dad! A big rock. I’ve never seen a big rock before.” My three year old son excitedly chattered about his amazing find on our family walk this evening. He’s dressed in daddy’s shirt and big boy undies and wearing socks with his sandals. It’s an interesting get-up, but it fits him somehow.

In the grand tradition of three year olds everywhere, he’d already forgotten about the pile of “big” rocks he’d found the day before. Those treasures are now sitting in a basket on my dryer while I wait for him to forget about them so I can replenish our gravel street. Thus repeating the cycle of a rock collecting little boy who probably picked up one from two expeditions ago.

My husband and I smile at the antics of our children. The five year old has found her own collection and is attempting to pawn them off on us so she can run on ahead without the extra burden in her hands. She’s also grinning like a mad woman when we decide we’re going to have a swinging session.

Jake and I each grab one hand and on the count of three, we send them soaring right up to the clouds. Or so they say. Then it’s a race to see who gets to steal who’s turn and we set a limit. Three turns each and then switch. We manage it for two rounds before both of us are sweating and laughing too much to continue.

The littlest little is content in his sling on my chest. He chatters and coos once in a while, but mostly vacillates between sucking his thumb while his eyes grow heavy and darting quick glances all around at the dusky landscape.

We hear the crickets chirping and a lawnmower in the distance. The breeze blows through our hair, cooling the summer evening to just the right temperature.

At some point, middle little has discovered a new treasure. “BIG dicks, mom! Look dad. I found some dicks.” For those of you wondering, that’s kidspeak for “sticks”. Get your heads out of the gutter people… 🙂

 

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My mom and I chatted on the phone earlier today. We were discussing many things, but among the topics was the benefits of exercise and how much harder it is to keep in shape nowadays. I mused on the idea of our lost village mentality. When I was growing up, we had neighbors.

No, I don’t mean the people who live on our street and we see in passing on a family walk or when the neighborhood garage sales start.

I mean neighbors who knew us backwards and forwards and we knew them the same. Neighbors who had cookouts, Sunday morning brunches, and evening walks with our family. We kids would leave the house in the morning after our chores were done and we didn’t reappear until lunchtime. Mom handed us all sandwiches and water bottles and we at on the trampoline for an impromptu picnic. Snack time took place over at the neighbor’s house and somewhere in between, we managed to traverse MOST of the backyards on the entire street. There WAS that one neighbor who had a fence because they didn’t like kids.

We managed to get around it anyway.

I heard recently that we aren’t necessarily living in more dangerous times. We’ve just become more paranoid and thus, less a village and more an island unto ourselves. Each family unit, taking walks on their own, collecting rocks, and having no clue who our neighbors are. It’s sad really.

I love our neighborhood. It’s quiet, out in the country, yet close enough to town for convenience sake.

I don’t love our neighbors. Not because they are horrible people or anything, but because I don’t know them enough to love them. I miss the village.

I think this Christmas, we’re going to bake cookies for the neighbors. We may not get the village back, but I’m determined to at least love our neighbors the best that we can.

Posted in child, faith, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Free Fall, God, grief, life, life and death, Love, Pain, soul surgery

In which I fall apart…

I’m falling apart and I really don’t know why. Reading the Bible feels repetitive, my daily routines are shot by three needy, chaotic kids, and my husband is trying to be a rock while struggling with his own work and faith problems.

Now before anyone gets any ideas, there is nothing wrong with me or my family right now. We have bills and health issues and crazy times just like everyone else and probably no worse than anyone else. In fact, I can name on both hands and toes how many of my friends are going through rough stuff right now and it’s far worse than anything I’m struggling with right now.

My son killed a baby bird today. And I LOST it. Not temper, screaming, throwing stuff lost it. Like broke down in the middle of my soggy yard and bawled lost it…

The thing is, these little things in life are really tripping me up right now and I don’t know why. My son makes a mess somewhere in my house at least once a day…most of the time more than once.

For some reason, I’ve been seeing mountains in these molehills.

I mean, okay. So I told my son about fifty times that if he touched the eggs in that nest (who builds a nest in the middle of our raised garden beds anyway?) he would be facing consequences. And he still dragged all four eggs up to the house with a grin on his face to show me his “find.” It’s a wonder they weren’t all broken in the process…that he only managed to kill one is a miracle.

And yes, that same son has been told a million times that taking the lid off his sippy cup and dumping out the contents is a definite NO. As soon as I get distracted by the baby or something else, I’ve got a huge puddle on my hands. He’s been disciplined for it and it still happens and I’m just so frustrated that I can’t get through to him.

Is it a huge thing? No. It’s a phase and he’s testing boundaries (God, is he testing boundaries). It will pass and I will survive.

For some reason, I can’t seem to convince myself of these facts though. I feel like I’m having a mental breakdown and it’s doing NOTHING for my already short fuse.

It’s amazing. Sometimes I have all the right words for other people who are struggling with doing life. I know exactly what to say. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m listening to the music below and knowing exactly where I need to go and to whom I need to go.

My son just came to me to apologize. And I fell apart while I held him. Fell apart and fell on Jesus. Prayed for my son’s heart and for mine. That He would fill us both with obedient spirits and tender hearts. That He would heal those breaks and build our relationship into something beautiful. That He would fill my heart with an abundance of unconditional love. That my first response to failure and sin would not be anger and judgment. That my first response would be love and falling on the One who did the same for me on the cross and every day of my life.

 

Posted in Birthday, Celebration, child, discipline, dreams, faith, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, God, Gratitude, Humor, Joy, lessons, life, Love, Uncategorized, Winning

In which I ponder the Advent…

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I love this season, with all its wonder and magic. There’s a hush that falls over me as I drink in the presence of Christ and pause from the rush of every day life. I love the stillness of a winter night, when the Christmas tree glows with a soft light, and my heart calms in anticipation of the coming Savior.

This year is no exception to the above statement. There are moments of not-calm, when I forget the peace that passes all understanding and scramble for purchase in a sea of stressful circumstances. My pregnancy added hormones and ponderousness to my daily activities, which allowed for some meltdowns and craziness. I have two children who do not yet know the meaning of quiet rest. The only time they are ever still is when their bodies force them into slumber at night. It’s one of the most precious times in my day, though I do enjoy their laughter and energy. I wish I could join in their revelry, but this season of life is about conserving my energy for a big, momentous event. So they must frolic and play without their mother for a short while.

All in all, I enjoyed my Christmas. It was restful and my heart was at peace. We listened to our Advent (Adventures in Odyssey) episode, ate good food, and enjoyed time together as a family. We experienced the Nativity Story, which brought about interesting conversation with my daughter. Apparently, after watching two women (Elizabeth and Mary) deliver their newborn children, my daughter would like to be a daddy instead. She is convinced the pain of childbirth is not worth it, though I explained to her the reasons why she cannot be a daddy. She’s young and this will pass, I’m sure. I told her the pain was worth having three of my own children and being a mommy is still one of the best things in the world.

She’s still skeptical, and I don’t blame her.

Advent: Coming…

My own child is coming soon. Every day, I experience more and more signals that tell me my body and the baby are preparing for the event. It does not move fast enough for me as the discomfort grows with each passing day. However, I know that part of this season of my life is about waiting. Patience and trust in a God who created the little being growing in my womb. He alone knows the hour of this child’s coming, and it will be at the appointed time, no matter what I do to attempt to speed up the process. I can hope and pray and wish for a certain hour or a certain day.

In the end, I am limited by my own humanness…finite and unknowing. Anticipation and celebration for a journey nearly complete. Those are my choices in this season.

Advent: Waiting, hoping, coming…

Posted in child, discipline, Family, grief, hypocrisy, Pain, soul surgery

I screwed up.

Royally.

Not just a little bit. Not just a quick mistake that I can fix with a smile and a hug.

At this point, I don’t even know if I’m sorry will cut it.

I just wounded my children’s hearts with angry words and a raised voice. I dealt with their disobedience with not a shred of self-control or love on my part.

I hate that this part of me even exists. The worst of it is that at this point, I don’t even want to apologize.

I’m tired of apologizing. I’m tired of losing it with them and having to make it right. I’m the parent–the adult. I should be the grown up one, the mature one who doesn’t need to make things right because I am making the right choice in the first place.

I promised myself when I got married and started a family with my husband, that I would not EVER be like my father. Quick-tempered and prone to angry outbursts with very little restraint or self-control. I promised I would approach my children with love and patience, with a forgiving heart and would never raise hand or voice against them in anger. I promised they would never see that ugly side of myself that I’d inherited from a lifetime of living with an angry man.

Now,  after tonight and a broken promise–again–I cannot even blame my father for my actions. It was all me. My ugliness. My anger. My unforgiving heart.

My choice.

How do I make that right? Does sorry even work when I’ve bruised their hearts and shown them so much ugliness? When I’ve given them every reason to make this same choice someday with their own children?

Oh God, please. I promised. I’ve even thought at times that I put that ugliness behind me with your help. Why let my kids suffer because of MY sin? My anger?

I’m exhausted. I’m sick. I feel alone and lost and foggy. I know a lot of it is pregnancy stuff wreaking havoc on my body, but I cannot excuse the hurt I caused two precious–and broken–little hearts.

How can I say that I love them? How can I proudly bear the name of mother when nothing I did tonight was with a mother’s heart? I failed whatever test You put in front of me and there was nothing magnificent or good about it. It’s not something I’ll forget and move on from. Every time I see their eyes, I’ll know. I stole a little bit of their precious innocence with my harsh words and actions tonight and I’m afraid it won’t be the last time.

They might be young enough to forget most of the details of this night. I won’t. And something will stick in their spirits, a little extra fear, a timidity that was not there before.

It’s all well and good for me to read parenting books and go through the nightly routine of a Bible story and prayer. I can DO all the right things to learn how to be a parent.

Tonight tells me I’m not learning a whole lot of anything.

My husband and I both prayed for us to make it through this pregnancy whole and drawn closer as a family. That God would give grace to us and peace in the home in spite of my weaknesses and limitations.

Sometimes, I wonder why I even thought bringing three children in to the world was a good idea. Or rather, I wonder why I would ever want any child to endure me as a mother.

And we can go through the whole, “kids are forgiving and resilient” and “they’ll survive and be stronger for our weaknesses and failings.”

I can’t tell myself that when my daughter is sobbing her heart out and my son is crying alone in his room while I try to find the courage to walk over to them and begin the process of healing.

I’m not even sure I’ll heal from this pain. Why should I expect them to?