Saturday, April 18, 2015

Keeping Up With Us

Did I really just google "blog topic ideas"? Are we back to that? Who remembers that I blogged DAILY on my previous blog site? The pull to write is there always, but mustering the creativity to form sentences and paragraphs and remember to properly punctuate is daunting now. I go, go, go all day long and the last thing I ever want to do is sit down in an old, hard chair and talk about my day to an over-sized screen that is blinding me in the darkness of the room. Just so you know, when I googled that earlier one of the warnings that popped up was "Whatever you do, don't whine and complain." Note taken. For now anyway.
Jordan has been gone a lot lately with his new job. Mostly, his hours are longer, but lately he has had business trips to take. When he is here, we've tried to make the most of it! With three young children, it's sometimes hard to make yourself get out there and take them places. Thinking of activities that are usually fun just seem like more work in your head. Still, if it makes enough sense to us- we'll do it! We did once go camping with two toddlers and a newborn! Anyway, we played putt-putt last weekend and I had my best game EVER. Pretty thrilling in my world, folks.
We are settling in in our new town. It's good to be home and it will be even better once we are in a home of our own again. Our marriage sure has been through a lot, hasn't it? In five years, we've had more than five houses, three kids, and hardships we never dreamed of. Moving is often listed as one of the major stressors and we average a move a year. We are so excited that one day that will stop. Hopefully, our next house will be our forever home. I'm still happy to be doing life with this man:
We have our flaws, for sure, but at the end of the day I want him right here beside me and I hate to have it any other way. He's my lobster.

I've talked a lot about Abel lately and have neglected the other two wild ones on this blog. Kinley is doing well. He has always been a challenging tot. On my last blog, he was lovingly referred to as Cray K. Not much has changed there. Being three is hard, apparently. BUT! I often get glimpses into his heart and he can be so sweet, encouraging, and joyful. Many times when I pick him up from places like the gym childcare, he says to me, "I'm so happy to see you, Mom." He no longer calls me "Money". My big boy is growing up. He still says some things all wrong and I'll probably never correct him. He calls his bicycle his "mo-bike" (Motor bike?) and our car has the long name of  the "bye bye car truck". I wonder what goes through his head. He can be so funny!

Merit is getting big, too. I can't believe my baby is already eight months. Everyone says that, don't they? But seriously. It breaks my heart. He is so happy! I want to keep him and hold him and not let him grow up. It seems like his little life is slipping by faster than the others. It seems like just yesterday I was pregnant with him. Now, he's a sitting, drooling, talking, smiling eight month old. I love him to pieces. He's a social butterfly, too.

We are making it, the five of us. It's just about getting up every day and doing what we have to do. Some days are so hard, but there are so many that are pretty great, too. We're trying to cling to our faith and family. That's what we've been up to. We're eager to see what else God has in store for us.

Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HOW I AM

I once had a class as an undergrad. Sociology, I think. Anyway, in it, the professor challenged us with little tasks to do as extra credit. We simply had to have someone record us doing faux pas activities in public. For example, when someone asks you how your day is in line at Walmart, tell them-really tell them. If you asked me that, I might talk for hours if you'd let me because it's just nice to speak to someone who can carry on a conversation that doesn't include, "But why?" every thirty three seconds. Digressing, I'd tell you that I'm tired. My eyes are heavy from the lack of sleep I'm getting. Let's not forget about emotional tiredness, too. I'm that. I'm that always. I'm not sure if it's my personality that makes me ponder all the things or if it's because I'm a woman that I have an innate need to go through every possible scenario in my mind of what could happen. I'm talking about Abel right now. The kid gives me wrinkles. He's adorably sweet when he kisses both cheeks and reaches for me as if no one in the world will do. But raising a deaf child is really hard for me. Today, I went to look at a preschool in hopes of getting him enrolled in a summer program. That's what I'm told is going to be best for Abel and I think I agree. He loved going to "school" in our last town and I know he cared for his teachers very much. He thrived from being in a social situation with mostly hearing kids and it created more of a routine for him which I think he finds comfort in. It has been months since he has been and the clinging cries of a child who doesn't want to be away from the one person he can communicate verbally and non-verbally with have come back every time I'm going to leave his eye sight. I stepped into the director's office and he immediately started crying. I knew he didn't want me to leave. I tried explaining that I wasn't leaving, but it didn't matter. He was already in panic mode. The teensy bit of time I had in my schedule to fill out paperwork and talk was gone. The lady wouldn't talk to me even though I explained we should just take the tour so we can walk around, get him used to a new environment, and let him see that I'm not leaving him. I know my child like the back of my hand. I feel like I can't leave him with these people who don't. I don't want to leave him with people who don't love him, who might get frustrated with his circumstances. I see every single stare. I feel all your judgement when he's throwing a fit, ya know. And it's crappy. Sometimes I feel as if I don't give him enough slack. This child has been through the wringer in the last six months. He's still persevering. He has had a nearly constant ear infection in that time. He has been on meds and off them. He gained a sibling. He gave up his paci. He had surgeries. He had to move homes. He had to leave babysitters and teachers and therapists. His world is upside down. Recently I learned he has a pretty serious infection. One in which he needs a medicine that isn't FDA approved. This isn't the first time they've talked about having to take the implant out. I'm sick when I think about. Physically nauseous. Highly emotional. So, I'm exhausted. Every day. That's how I am.

Up to my chin in medical bills. Lonely. Overwhelmed. And scared.

And trying to trust God through all of this.

I know He'll provide. I know He will restore Abel's health. I also know I'm not truly alone in this. He hears my prayers. He sees every tear I shed. Lo, I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kids, man.

Kids, man. They'll kill ya. At least it feels like that tonight.

This morning I listened as my girlfriend told me, "You know, when you're pregnant, you wait for the day that the little person will call you 'Mommy' and then a few years later when you hear it yelled in the car, in the house, on the way into the store...you get to the point where you hate it." She laughed as she
said it, but I knew what she meant. It's so hard when you stay home with your children 24/7. There's no break.

The move has been hard, too. Each move we've done gets progressively more difficult, even though each time we've moved the distance gets smaller and smaller. We're finally home, but because we have three children now who were very much accustomed to their schedules in Cleveland, it has been difficult to find a groove here this week. We are staying at a home my parents own. It is a two bedroom. The oldest two are learning to share a room and that has been awful to put it nicely. I guess I didn't come here to complain, though. I have a glass of wine, three-ok four- Dove chocolates nearby, Big Daddy Weave in my headphones and my keyboard in a desperate attempt to not curl up in the fetal position and die tonight. I just had to start writing because as I was attempting to catch up on my emails, I had to stop. Abel's new speech therapist wrote to me and suggested some mother's day out programs and preschools that we could take him to so that he is around much more language than he encounters here between Kinley and me. I started researching the schools and I was overcome with the urge to cry because as much as I want to pull all my hair out during the day (and most of the night), I can't bear the thought of other people getting to see him (them!) the majority of the time. They tell me socialization and school is what is best for him as a cochlear implant recipient, but as his mama, I just want him with me. But then I think back to him opening the fridge eleventy billion times today after I asked him not to and it's a little easier. Not much, though. Look, I know my identity is wrapped up in these kids. I love them fiercely and the reason I get so upset when they're naughty is because I do care so much about them and the young men they grow up to be. I want to be the one who shows them Jesus. I want so desperately to be a good mom.

Truth is, I'm just as human as they are. I never struggled with anger until I had children. There are days when I raise my voice until I'm unrecognizable. There are more days than not I am mad, so mad, that Abel is deaf. I'm selfish. I say things I don't mean. I'm just a big child, a sinner. "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). I am in a constant state of asking for forgiveness, for help, for guidance. And it makes me wonder- is this just how it is?

I can't help but believe it's not supposed to be like this, but then I hear Kinley having a pleasant, warm, intelligent conversation with someone and I know I must be doing something right. I watch as Abel, my deaf son, responds to situations with words- "Uh-oh!", he says as his younger brother drops a toy. "No!", he says, as his other brother does something to provoke him. I can't help but feel a little pride because I'm working so hard with him. I want him to talk and so I work with him, I take him to all his appointments, I try. And I think I must be doing something right. Then I look at Merit and kiss his sweet cheeks over and over and he giggles as his face breaks out into the most perfect grin and I know I'm doing something right. I think that one thing I might be doing right is that I'm desperately running, chasing after a relationship with my Heavenly Father. He is the only thing that is unchanging. He is the only one who can make me new. Through Him, I will keep pouring myself into my children even if it kills me. They're worth it. Every day.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands  have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Proverbs 31: 26-31


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Race Recap

I signed up for the Scenic City Half Marathon thinking I'd have plenty of time to train. I've never trained for any of my races. I just wing it usually. The only other experiences I have with half marathons are from two I did while I was in college (and pretty out of shape) in Nashville, the Music City Half. Anyway, between the wintry weather, sick kids, a husband gone on business, trying to move houses, and another surgical procedure for Abel, the training did not happen. I barely got out there and ran. Those are my excuses anyway. Still, I didn't do too shabby. Although, if we were basing the race on the photos the folks at the race took, then you'd think I almost died. They're pretty hilarious and sad looking. This is the best one:

First off, it was cold. I wanted to quit before I started. Still, even with snow on the ground, I knew I'd be mad at myself if I backed out of the race. That's my step-mom beside me. She is a fitness machine. She actually enters races and wins (ha!). I was grateful to have her by my side, especially around miles 9 & 10 when I really would have stopped running and mostly walked the rest if she hadn't been there.

On the last mile, we had a bit of an uphill trail and I thought, "Really, people who designed the race. Really!" but we kept plugging away and sprinted the last little bit to make my official race time 2:21:36 and my pace 10:49. That is definitely a PR for me. The other two halfs (should I say halves? haha) I've done, I walked a lot. I don't recall my time but it was much closer to three hours. We were doing great for the first 6 miles or so, keeping a ten minute mile or under, but then the hills and additional miles slowed me down a lot. Julie could have kept going without me, but she ran alongside me instead. I loved having this time with her. This was our second race we've done together.



Now, I'm scheming when my next race will be and how I'll beat my own time. I think I'll take a break from halfs (again, awkward) for a few months, but maybe I'll sign up for a shorter one soon.


It sounds silly, but a couple times I was drawing strength from scripture written on race shirts I saw or that one guy I was behind for a time. His shirt said "Never give up." I'm going to rest my foot which I hurt while running and then get right back to it.

P.S. Want some Christian Athletic Gear of your own? Visit my shop here!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Reviews


1. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst - "It's not her best book"is something I've heard a lot about this one, but I wouldn't know because I don't really religiously follow Christian writers. If a book sounds like something up my alley, I will read it but I'm not one of those people who will read every single thing by a certain author. That being said, I enjoyed this book very much. I got a lot from it and I think it has helped me to have perspective during the month of January and a good start for 2015.
I've been so caught up in getting Abel to all his appointments that I often forget to slow down and focus on what's really important in our lives. 
Yes. The quote above. Every day. I need to read it over and over again as a reminder to pick and choose what we do throughout the week wisely. When I'm super overwhelmed, I like to ask myself does this activity matter to God? Will it matter in 50 years? That's how I can judge what's important in this life. After God, my little family of five comes first. The book isn't about empowering you to say "no" all the time, but it is about saying "no" when it doesn't line up with what God would have you do. It's about deciphering when God wants you to say "yes" from when you need to say "no"! 
2. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire - I grabbed this book on a whim. I wanted to read something new and there is was at Target, just speaking to me saying "Here's a little light reading. You'll get your fiction fix with me." And sure enough, I did. It's not a wonderful work of art by any stretch of the imagination, but it is good in an elementary sort of way. I know nothing about this author. I could google, I suppose, but I'd rather just make assumptions. Surely she's young? Or perhaps she specializes in the young adult genre? Either way, she came up with a story that I wanted to keep reading. There were times that I was rolling my eyes at the main characters and/or the plot line because much of it seemed so predictable. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't somewhat enjoy this book. 
I'm going to see how many books I can manage to read this year. Typically, I make a goal each year...but this year I have three kids and no pipe dreams of spare time to read. I'm trying to read my bible more instead, but hopefully I'll manage a book a month. I'm right on track!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Once Upon A Time

What a week. This year has started off with a bang. In just a months time, we've learned a lot of new things:

1. We are moving. Again. Just down the road about an hour, but still. It will be good, but I'm sad. I don't want to leave my church, my friends, my gym, my babysitter, or Abel's speech therapist. Move number seven in five years. It's coming. And the pity party is already here. But I'm trying to be positive, too. The struggle. It's real.
Home is where they are, though.


2. Abe's ears aren't working on some level. I just need to say that out loud. You know, I've felt like something has been wrong from day one and this last trip to Nashville didn't bring the best of news. It was leaps and bounds better than the time before that, though. THAT time brought puke, holding down of crazy toddler while they cleaned his ears out and the baby screamed bloody murder, and news of more surgeries to come. This time, however, I just learned that Abel is still not responding much on the right side with his cochlear implants. The odd thing is, there's something malfunctioning but only sometimes. I'll not try to recall the technical term the audiologists told me and I'd be no good at describing what's happening, but just know that it involved a phone call to the company who makes his implants. Said phone call ended with an agreement that his situation was very bizarre and rare. Because of course. Anyway, they assured me again that they didn't think that the internal portion was failing and that isn't what I should worry about at this point. I'm not sure if I told you before, but he recently had a CT scan that showed all the electrodes to be in the right place. I really don't know what to take from the latest appointment, but we are just going to keep trying. Keep on truckin'. My little man is good at that.
Hotel Breakfast in Nashville
The good news? Nearly optimal hearing on the left side. God is good!

3. I have great friends near and far. About a week ago, I arrived at the airport to pick up a friend I met when I lived in Alaska. I hadn't seen her in years and when she showed up, I noticed she had a pal with her. Upon closer observation, I realized it was another one of my friends who showed up to surprise me. It was awesome. These women have no reason to show up and do nice things for me, but they just did. From the tone of my posts, they knew I was having a hard time with life and they swooped in with great company, cooking, cleaning, and helping with my kids. I don't deserve the friendships I have in life, but I'm ever grateful God blessed me with them. And can I just include y'all on that, too? I have so many wonderful friends whose friendship with me began online.



4. If J goes out of town, all the children will get sick. I can't even go into detail without getting super annoyed. But we've been hit hard with ear and sinus infections, croup, and stomach bugs. It has been pretty miserable. Looking forward to warmer weather, fresh air, and less of this sickly feeling floating around. But three cheers for early bath/beds and footie pjs!
Just livin' the fairytale over here, folks ;) Looking forward to a new week with my wild boys and another chance at being a happy, peaceful, godly, and disciplined mom to my little crew.

What are your big plans for the week?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hands full, quiver full.

I get so caught up in getting the house cleaned, the kids to xyz, or being here or there because that's what I'm supposed to do that I let their little lives slip before my eyes. This past year flew by. One of my favorite pastimes is looking at old photos on my phone. I'm blown away with how they've grown. I say all this after holding my 5.5 month old until he nodded off to sleep tonight. His sweet little frame breathing in and out, his eyes closed, and mine were, too in desperate prayer that I can somehow shape him into the man God wants him to be. Psalm 127 says, 
"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat- for he grants sleep to those he loves. Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate."


Sometimes I cling to this chapter because in the hustle and bustle of this life, the enemy creeps in and says to me that I'm not good enough. He tries to tell me that if I were a good mom that I would remember every single new sound or word that my deaf child utters. If only I were good enough to have my three year old completely potty trained. Then, there are the things other people say. "You know what causes that right?" "Oh, look! There are three!" "It looks like you need to get a hobby." "Are you sad you didn't get your girl?" Oh, I'm sure they're said jokingly, but they're not always understood that way. Sometimes when the enemy is attacking, I interpret those comments in a way they weren't intended. The overall message is clear, though. The world says that we're to have 2.5 children and a white picket fence. People often look at me like I've met my quota and I should be done.
But then I visit the middle of God's holy word and it's right there in black and white. Children are a reward. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them....they will NOT be put to shame.
Yes, I know my hands are so so full. Most days I want to pull all my hairs out. Sometimes I yell and have to ask my kids to forgive me. Sometimes I really really really just want to run away. But then, Abel comes up to me with his head full of curly hair, pizza smeared all over his cheeks and hands, and he gives me his toothy grin. Or Merit does his cutest kid ever laugh. Or Kinley says, "Mommy's my girlfriend." And I just know that I'm doing alright at this mom thing.
I might be stressed to the max. I might be tossing babes into the car in tears. I might eat chocolate for breakfast because I'm already ready for their nap time at 9:36am, but I'm blessed and I know it. Ultimately, my job isn't to have dinner on the table at five o'clock or to keep the house orderly all the time, or even to get Abel to every single therapy he "requires". My job is to raise up these boys so that they will hopefully make a decision to know God and to follow him. That's what I was put here for and I know that now.

"Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise." -Andy Stanley
 
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