Elizabeth

This is something I posted on Facebook about a year ago and I thought it was worth reposting here.

Having four kids in seven years we get a lot of attention when we go out. If I had a penny for every time someone said “wow, you have your hands full” I would be a rich woman. (Maybe I should start charging). Right after that comment people usually ask “so, are you going to have more children?”. I normally answer with some joke, because I don’t like to answer personal questions. But, God has been hounding me about writing a real answer for this question so, I will. The answer is Yes, we will have more children and I will explain why in a minute but first let me put your minds at ease that I am NOT pregnant! (although this seems to be an epidemic in our family right now ūüôā We will have more children, somewhere in the future. So, let me explain how I know this.

God has promised us a girl. I love my boys tremendously and would not trade them for anything, but the desire of my heart has always been to have a daughter. I think it started when I was a child. I always wanted a sister, being an only child. Well, when I got married I got 5! God blesses you more than you can imagine sometimes. But I still longed for a daughter. My mother and I have a very close relationship and I have always wanted that with a daughter someday. So, we set out on our journey of having children in 2004. Samuel was born and I was so glad to have a son. I wanted a son and Glenn was so excited to have a boy. Then in 2006 we had Jordan, another boy. I was glad to have a brother for Samuel. In 2008 we decided we should have another child. I really wanted a girl. I heard a sermon on praying specifically for what you want and I decided I would pray everyday for a girl. So, for months I prayed. Then one day while I was praying God said “you will have your girl, but it will be a while”. I was thrilled to find out I was pregnant the next month and was convinced this was our girl. Usually with God “a while” takes much longer. Then four months into the pregnancy I miscarried. We were devastated. But I thought then, “well, this is what God meant when He said ‘a while'”. I had no idea.

We decided to try again and experienced another miscarriage in 2009. I was really questioning God at this point. But then God laid adoption on our hearts. We went through all the paperwork and then began the waiting process. We got five calls about babies and children who might join our family and although none of them worked out they were all girls. I just knew we would be adopting a girl. So, on March 26th, 2010 I got a call about a little boy in the NICU¬†I was confused. It didn’t bother me that he was 11 weeks premature or another race, what bothered me the most was he wasn’t a girl. It sounds silly. I prayed about it and God told me he was to be our child. So, I walked forward in faith. Joshua joined our family that day and I am so glad he did. Some people have asked me why we didn’t choose to only accept a girl in our adoption and Joshua is why. God had him planned for our family and if we had limited our search to just girls we wouldn’t have him. God knew what he was doing.

So, we brought Joshua home from the NICU on May 5, 2010 and then in July we found out we were expecting, unexpectedly. I just knew this would be our girl. But, I also know with God that you cannot assume you know what He is going to do. When we found out it was a boy, I had accepted the idea and was glad Joshua would have a brother so close in age. During that time I prayed about this girl thing with God. I wondered if I had heard him right and I asked for confirmation from Him. He told me to name her Elizabeth. I looked up the meaning of Elizabeth and it means “God’s oath”. I knew He was serious then. So, I knew we would have more children after Elijah was born.¬† I don’t know if our girl will be biological or adopted, but I know that God has promised us this. And I am standing on this promise.

Some people have asked me why we have four children and why we would want more. I realized through our losses that children are a blessing and not a burden. Our society views them as burdens, but God clearly says otherwise. He calls children blessings numerous times throughout the Bible. I am going to rejoice and be glad for each blessing we receive from God whether they are a girl or a boy. I think God keeps giving me all these boys because he knows I would be likely to not have anymore children if I got my girl :).

I am standing on God’s promise to us and know that someday He will bless our family with a daughter. As our pastor says, “one shout before the promise is fulfilled¬†is worth 10 shouts after”, so I am shouting before the promise is fulfilled knowing that is an exercise of faith.

 

I push because I love you

My third son Joshua is 22 months old. He was adopted at 8 days old. We met him in the hospital, he had been born premature at 29 weeks. He also has a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis. All those factors added up mean he has some developmental¬†delays. We realized that he wasn’t hitting his developmental¬†milestones about a year ago this time. He was 10 months, and not yet sitting up. We called in the specialists and they started Physical Therapy with him. He has done very well with it and recently graduated from PT. From one year ago, when he wasn’t even sitting up, he is now running and climbing and doing all the things an almost 2-year-old does. He just needed a little push. This past summer we realized that he had some sensory issues, he doesn’t like loud noises and certain textures. We started Occupational therapy and in 6 months he has made so much progress. He just needed a little push.

Now, at 22 months he is not talking. He says two words “more” and “doggie”. We have started Speech therapy in the last month and today we went to have his hearing checked. Although they didn’t get to complete the test, since I had both Joshy and Elijah with me and they started freaking out together, the preliminary findings are that he can hear. So, why isn’t he talking? I don’t really know, but my guess is that he just needs a little push.

Joshua is the type of kid that would be happy to just do the same thing everyday and never change. He is not intrinsically motivated to grow and do new things. He is a “whatever” kind of kid. Fortunately for him, he has a mommy who will not let him get away with “whatever”. I have realized that he needs to be pushed to grow and do better. God realized this too and that’s one of the many reasons He gave Joshua a little brother who is 11 months behind him and very motivated to do more stuff. Joshua is content to let me feed him baby food, in fact, he will bring me containers of Elijah’s baby food to feed him. Elijah on the other hand, will not tolerate being fed and will grab the spoon from your hand and feed himself. That is just who he is. He is a great motivator for Joshua. God does not make mistakes, and even situations that seem crazy, like having two kids 11 months apart, God knows what He is doing.

So, I just want to publically¬†apologize to Joshua for what is about to occur in his life. Now that I know he can hear, it’s time for some mommy pushing. He is going to hate me for this, but he will be better for it. I push because, if I don’t, who else will? I push because I know there are things he can do better, he just needs to try. I push because the world may look at him and say, ‘oh, he has special needs, that is all he can do’, I do not believe that, I know better. He can do more, he just needs to be pushed. I push because I was once a baby born into substance abuse and had challenges¬†with learning disabilities, but my mother gave me a home and pushed me because she knew that while the world may have seen me as just a crack baby, there was more there if she just pushed me to be everything I could be. Never underestimate meager beginnings, it’s what you do with the in-betweens that matters in the end.

Coveting and Stealing

Recently, there has been a lot of coveting and stealing going on in our house. Shocked?!

No, it’s not from the adults, or even the older children in the house. It’s the toddlers! That’s what they are best at. They want whatever the other one has, and they are ruthless about stealing from each other. It’s amazing how selfish toddlers¬†can be. They do not care about anyone else’s feelings or wants, just about themselves. I am trying diligently to keep the stealing to a minimum, but I can’t do much about the coveting. I guess it’s just human nature to want what someone else has. And if I am honest, I want what others have, at times. There is a house for sale down the street from us, it is much larger and no doubt has one more bathroom and bedroom than we do. I want that house! I am dealing with myself about contentment with the house we have and how blessed we are. But it’s a struggle sometimes.

My older boys struggle with coveting. They always want whatever latest new thing that their friends have. And then we have to have a chat about whether they “need” these things or not, and what excess is. Our culture leads you to believe you need a lot of things, but you really don’t. It can lead you down the road of discontentment.

We are all sinners in our hearts. We are born selfish and sinful. We have to submit to God to change our hearts and make us more like Him. When the babies start coveting and stealing I have to inflict punishment on them to get them to change. Hopefully, I am past that point with my coveting. Hopefully, I can change myself and practice some self-control. Man it’s hard to be an adult sometimes. It sure would be easier to just do what I want all the time, but then I would miss out on what God has for me. Those things I covet are nothing compared to the blessings He has in store for me.

‚ÄúNo eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared¬†for those who love him.‚ÄĚ[a]

1 Corinthians 2:9

I just need to practice a little¬†patience to wait on God’s perfect timing!

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Peanut butter, leaf or slug (Episode II)

[This post is a continuation of a previous post – “Episode I” of the same title. Please see former post to fully appreciate the contents below.]

Over the last eight years, I have learned that you can never expect the sorts of questions or decisions you may be faced with as a parent. For example, determining how much spit-up is acceptable on a dress shirt is a process that I would not have formerly considered a reasonable course of action, electing instead to wear 100% vomit-free apparel. But life changes you.

So back to the “thing” on the dining room floor. I can tell you with certainty that I cleaned it up. The funny thing is that I don’t remember what it was. But I remember the questions coming up in my mind of “What is it?”. And isn’t that typical to parenting? You find yourself faced with a variety of unexpected (and sometimes unpleasant) situations, but in the end, your momentary discomfort and inconvenience pales in comparison to your God-given role of nurturing and protecting your babies. Parenting isn’t about me, insomuch as the things that I feel I need and want (such as non-slimy fingers). It is about my ability to look beyond myself and see the bigger picture.

Peanut butter, leaf or slug (Episode I)

(A guest post by my husband Glenn)

Over the recent holidays, I had the opportunity to spend almost two weeks with my family at home. I was able to observe and participate in things that normally go on without my awareness. For example, during the work week, I would say that I don’t always appreciate how much effort my wife puts into keeping the house tidy and neat. And with small ones scooting around the floors like drooling robotic vacuum cleaners, keeping the floors clean is very important. So over the break, I was able to see first-hand how much attention is required to maintain suitable conditions for the babies.

One evening, after the children had all been herded into their respective berths, I was walking through the dark dining room into the kitchen. I noticed something on the floor. This item was larger than most floor debris, requiring that I go through the mental process of determining if I must indeed lean over, pick up said item, and relocate it to the nearest trash receptacle. After reflection and pondering, I determined that this would indeed be necessary. So much for a restful evening.

However, as is often the case, one question leads to another: what is this random item that is delaying my planned rendezvous with the sofa and remote? The most likely objects come to mind, those being 1) peanut butter, 2) a narrow leaf, or 3) a slug. While a leaf is the most desirable of the three possibilities, I must prepare myself for the likelihood that this flotsam in the sea of my dining room floor will be somewhat revolting to scrape off of the floor. Especially if it is moving within my fingers.

To be continued…

Brothers

Brothers are always there

To laugh with

To explore with

To protect you

To hold you

To look up to

To get into stuff with

To share great things with

To play with

To nap with

Brothers will always be there. They are your forever friends!

Happy Birthday Mom!

My mom’s birthday is today. She is coming over here for dinner with my family and I have her a gift wrapped in birthday paper. For everyone who has a birthday near Christmas, you can understand how important that is.

My mom is another year young. She, honestly, looks pretty much the same as she has my entire life. I hope I can look as young as she does when I turn….well nevermind. It has been such a blessing in my life to have her as a mom. She is not only my mom, but also my best friend. There are not a lot of people who can say that about their moms, I am lucky that I can. She has not had the easiest of lives, but I think she has become an infinintly better person for all that she has endured. I am sure she would say she sees the good in everything and wouldn’t change any of it now. She is an inspiration to me and has taught me a lot of things over the past 31 years. Here are a few of them:

1. Have good table manners, it will get you far. She used to set the table with her good china, every now and then, to teach me good manners and how to behave in an elegant setting. I am so grateful for that now. I feel comfortable in any event I go to, knowing that I can behave well and not embarrass myself by using the wrong fork. Thanks mom.

2. Go to college and have a back-up plan. I knew early on, that college was not an option, it was a requirement for me. She has a Master’s Degree and I saw how well it served her. Even when we had nothing and it seemed hopeless, she had her education to fall back on and we survived. I knew, even though I¬†always just wanted to be a SAHM, that I would go to college and get a degree just in case I ever found myself in need of it. Little did I know college is way more about what you learn about yourself then the degree you get, but that is another post. Mom pushed me to do my best and I am grateful for that.

3. Clean your room once a week, at least. My mom taught me two things in this expectation. One is that keeping things clean and tidy is good practice, in general. But also, that you should live in your house the rest of the time. She kept a clean house, but I always felt that I could live there and make a mess if I needed to. It wasn’t a museum, it was a home. She would say, “you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously”. I practice this advice today, and don’t stress about how clean my house is all the time, but let my kids live in it.

4. Clean your house before you leave for vacation. This one I really hate that she has ingrained into me. I say little curses under my breath each time I am about to leave for vacation and find myself having to clean my house. But, what it taught me was that you should think ahead and try to prepare for things. After your vacation the last thing you are going to want to do is clean your house, you will be tired. So, if you do it beforehand it is much better when you get home. It really is true, even though I hate doing it.

5. Send cards in the snail mail. Using a stamp lets someone know they really mean a lot to you. In this age of technology, I think we have lost sight of the snail mail letter. It is so nice to send a card or note to someone in the mail and it’s really nice to get one. Mom taught me that skill and I am thankful for it, it has served me well.

6. Only do¬†halfway, the things you want to do again. I confess, I am still learning this one, since I am the queen of cutting corners, just ask my husband. But if I would follow mom’s advice, and do things correctly the first time, it would save me time later.

7. Be human with your kids. My mom allowed me to see her emotions. I saw her happy and I saw her sad. It showed me, as a child, that parents are people too. She would tell me if I hurt her feelings and that showed me how to have empathy. I use this with my own kids and it really makes a difference.

8. Pray, pray and pray. Mom shared her legacy of faith with me. I watched her read her Bible in the morning and pray with me about big and small things. She pointed me to God, and made sure I was in church every Sunday. She showed me how to have a relationship with God and for that I am eternally grateful.

Thanks, Mom, for all you have taught me and are still teaching me. I love you.

Leaving

This week my son’s good friend who lives across the street from us moved away. They didn’t move that far, but still they are not right across the street anymore. It was sad for my son and his friend. They have played together almost every day for the past year and a half or so. It’s hard to watch your son go through something that hurts him. But it’s apart of life and it’s not something I can shield him from.

Before we had kids I used to watch King of Queens a lot. It’s a really funny show, although I didn’t realize that there was so much inappropriate language and stuff in it until I had kids. Anyway, there was this one show were the main character, who is in his thirties, goes home for the holidays with his wife. They see his dog while they are visiting his parents. The wife asks how old the dog is and they say that the dog has been around since the guy was¬†a kid??! Finally, the main character realizes that his original dog died years ago but his parents kept buying new dogs so that he wouldn’t realize that his beloved dog had died. It’s a silly example of trying to shield your kids from pain.

Hopefully none of us would do that in real life, but we do, in small ways. What I have discovered in my life is that pain happens. It’s¬†good to show your children how best to deal with pain, than to pretend that it doesn’t happen. When we had our miscarriages a few years ago we let our children see us cry. We didn’t let them see the angry grief that we had, but we did let them see some tears. We showed them that we were hurting and that it was okay to cry and show your hurt. But then, we stopped crying, and told them that everything was going to be okay because we had God in our lives and He would see us through. I think this helped my son deal with other losses he has had since then, like his good friend moving away.

There are comings and goings in life. You cannot stop it. If we never knew what pain was, we could not fully experience joy. Loss, although painful, is good for us, it makes us appreciate what we have and what we will yet have.