Did you know? 2.0

Did you know that…
boys make a bathroom really dirty in a very short amount of time?
Legos can be used effectively as booby traps for robbers (and parents) when spread strategically in the doorway and the hallway? So can Hotwheels, army men and K’nex.
Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be where I am right now.
When I was growing up I thought I would have 4 children…3 girls and 1 boy? (I still thought I could order them back in the day). I am DELIGHTED with the 4 (#5 pending) boys I have!
When Kerry and I got married (at 19) we wanted 6-8 children. I still remember Pastor Mark sitting across from us looking a bit shocked when we told him that during pre-marital counseling. We would take more than that now and pray God blesses us as He sees fit.
I would much rather stay up late at night and sleep later in the mornings?
I would much rather freeze at a football game than watch an entire basketball game indoors?
I never ever tire at the miracle of birth. I love seeing babies being born, helping mommies give birth and that new baby smell. It is way amazing, every.single.time. I’ll never forget the first baby I saw born, I knew that moment that I had found my “place” in nursing. I miss it terribly, but know that I’m not in that season of life right now. Someday I will go back to helping mamas have babies and witnessing the miracle every day. For now, I’m going to have my babies and marvel at the amazing body God gave me and revel in the blessing of being home with them.
I miss singing in a choir. I miss 4 part harmony.
I worry sometimes that I’m not doing a good enough job building character in my children. That someday they’ll grow up and people will ask “where were their parents?!?”
My children teach me something new everyday. That their personalities are very different from mine (thank goodness!) and they push me to think about things from a different perspective.
I admire people who can quilt, can vegetables, play piano, garden and in general do all the things I wish I could do well.
Kerry painted my parent’s barn to earn enough money to buy my engagement ring.
When I type my blog I’m always secretly afraid someone is going to read it and edit it for grammar and proper punctuation. Seriously, I am. I halfway expect someone to send me a copy of my blog with red marks on it.
I don’t tell those I love, that I love them enough, I don’t say “thank you” enough to those who have made a difference in my life.
Teaching nursing students reminds me of drama performances in highschool. It’s like standing up in front of a bunch of judges and they tell you (on their anonymous evals each semester) exactly what they thought of your performance. I loved drama, the judging not so much.
I am happier than I ever thought I would be staying home with my children. There are things I miss about not working in the hospital, but I know that those things will wait. My children will not.
Sometimes I have a hard time thinking about something non-controversial to write about on my blog so I come up with “did you know…” lists.
 

Is Christmas Common

Below is the article my husband wrote this month for our church newsletter. I think it’s a worthy read and reminder about the Christmas season.
Is Christmas Common?
Every year after Thanksgiving we start to think about Christmas. This is the next big event in the month to come. We think, “Can Christmas really be only a month away?” This is something that we all go through and we see it become the focus of everything on TV, Radio, and in every store that we walk into. I would like to give you a challenge this Christmas.
One great challenge we face is to not view the birth of the Savior as something common, even though Christmas is celebrated for weeks every December year after year. We need to remember that despite how routine our celebration may be at times, what we are actually celebrating was never meant to be something routine or ordinary. We have heard some form of the birth story told in so many different ways, that sometimes we may even be guilty of skimming over parts of Scripture because we have heard it so many times before.
We can easily forget what God says in Matthew 1:22-23, “22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” This is the amazing aspect to this story; God became flesh and dwelled among men (see John 1:14). This is what sets this story apart from other stories. The Eternal One who created the universe and all that is in it, came and lived among His creation.
It is nice that in Matthew’s Gospel “Immanuel” is defined; it takes out the possibility of having a mistaken meaning. Scripture clearly says, “God with us.” This is an astonishing truth that should continue to amaze us year after year. We should be in awe of what God did in the incarnation.
Now we all understand that we cannot and should not be absorbed with the materialistic themes that the world pushes on us at Christmas time. Only the youngest still believe that Christmas is about the stuff. Yet we still get caught up at times and fret over not getting our decorations up in time. We can get bent out of shape when things do not go the way we think it should at our Christmas gathering. We may have objects that we get out at Christmas time or have traditions that we enjoy. These may be reminders of what Christmas really means, but the objects or traditions are not why we celebrate. Christmas does not have to do with the stuff, the decorations, or even how good the food may be. It is all about Him.
As I said earlier we have heard the story many times and many ways. Have you told your children or grandchildren what Christmas means? What if we shared about the first coming of Jesus Christ with someone that has never heard it before? I am asking myself this Christmas season, “Is how I am spending my time, energy, and resources really useful to God? Is this obedient to Him? Is this effective at making disciples?”
I would like to leave you with a couple questions and final thought. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do my Christmas celebrations have to do with celebrating the birth of the Savior?
  • How does the way that I celebrate Christmas praise God and bring Him glory?
  • Is the Savior at the center of our celebrations this year?

I ask these questions not that you owe me an answer, but because I believe they are good for all of us to answer and ponder. May we each hear from God in the month ahead. May we look for the Savior this Christmas season.
 

One year–not forgotten

I have written this post and re-written this post several times in my mind. Sometimes I find myself at a complete loss for words and sometimes I could write a book. I don’t want to forget…
A year ago today I had a baby, Knox Cornelius. I was 16 weeks pregnant when he was born and that day was one of the most difficult days of my life. And that single event seemed to have kick off one of the most trying years we as a family has ever experienced.
I will never forget what it was like to see the sonogram confirming our fear that he was gone. I can still vividly see what that screen looked like with an empty silent chest. It is all still very vivid and very real. There isn’t a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought of Knox, how that pregnancy ended and the fears that came along with losing a baby.
God used the experience of losing not one, but two, babies in the last year to teach me a lot…to grow and stretch me…something that is never easy or comfortable.
As I sit here writing this I am 23 weeks pregnant with my third baby in a year. I thought I would be writing this post with a new baby in my arms…she was due November 15 but that pregnancy ended as well in May, on his due date. The trauma of so much loss in a year has had a profound effect on me and how I’ve viewed and navigated this pregnancy. Kerry asked me the other night if I still thought about and feared losing this baby. Through tears and held back sobs I answered “Every day”.
Yet I know that God is in control, I know that He has a purpose for what ever the outcome will be and it is so hard not to be afraid. I trust that God will provide what I need every moment. God helped me navigate the anger (and I was angry!) and worry that followed in the days and weeks after Knox died. He continues to guide me through the anxiety that comes with being pregnant again after loss.
I have learned much in the year that has passed. I have made connections with people and have been able to offer support to people I wouldn’t have without Knox. We have been able to teach our sons the gift of life and how important babies are. We have had conversations we would have missed, they understand why we grieve our babies and that we anticipate seeing them again in Heaven. We were also reminded how deeply we were cared for and I learned to let others take care of me (something that was incredibly humbling and difficult to embrace).
Most of all though, I have learned to rely on God more fully. It has been reinforced that I am so not in control. My job isn’t to direct the events of my life, but to be obedient to what and where God has called me to be. He has used this time to strengthen my trust in Him and to remind me that comfort comes from Him…not doctors, hospitals, money or even health.
In losing Knox, God prepared me and built in me the faith that I would need to navigate the coming year… yet another loss that was to come in May, quitting my job to stay home, moving to a new community and the transition that comes with that and a new pregnancy (that seems to be going beautifully).
I do wonder what life would be like had he lived, I wonder what he will look like when we are reunited and I wonder what else I have to learn yet as part of losing a child (I am continually learning about this territory I find myself in). I wonder still, what the purpose has been…if it was just to grow me or if there is more. I can’t say that I’m “thankful” in the typical way, because I’m not thankful I lost a baby or that I had to learn the lessons I did…but I am thankful for what God has done in my life despite (and because of) the hurt.

Life with boys

After finding out a few weeks ago we were expecting boy #5, we’ve heard lots of “really?!? Another boy?” or “Oh man, do you wish it was a girl?”. The truth is nope I don’t. I would love to have a girl someday, but after two losses in the last 12 months, I am delighted with a healthy baby and Lord willing I will be able to hold him in my arms in spring. I couldn’t be happier with another boy.
Life with boys…It’s an adventure. This past week especially. Here are some things I’ve learned about being the only girl in a house full of boys.

1. Teach them to clean bathrooms early. Once they start potty training, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will need to clean the bathroom on a fairly frequent basis. At the very least the toilet will need a good wipe down and most likely the floor around it too. So…since I don’t use the facilities standing up I’ve taught the boys how to clean the bathroom. I haven’t cleaned a toilet in the boy’s bathroom for a couple of years. In fact, as part of our life skills day each week, our boys clean their bathroom and at least one other bathroom in our house…and most of the time they do a stand up job (Hehehe). Oh yeah…don’t put the good bathroom rugs in the boy’s bathroom either.
2. Get used to body humor. I don’t think it really matters how much you try to avoid this, but at some point with boys farts, burps and arm toots become really funny. I would, however, recommend limiting it to places other than the dinner table, public gatherings and church.
3. Save money for co-pays. We have learned to just budget for a co-pay each month. With 4 boys, we’ve spent our share of time in urgent care, the orthopedic office and the pediatricians office. By the way…did you know that they don’t put casts on in the peds office any more? They send you to the ortho office…it’s all just a scam if you ask me, but I can’t do anything about it. In the 10 years we’ve had our boys…we’ve had 4 broken arms (two broken arms on two different boys) and a broken nose. I’m pretty sure that the count will only go up from there.
4. It pays to have some dermabond (think super glue for skin) around. If we ran to Urgent care for every thing that needed to be pulled together we’d be very poor. Otto seems to be our “laceration/open wound” kid. We have had to take him for staples a time or two, but for most things the dermabond works just fine. I even used it on myself this last week when I had a run in with the camera. Actually, I was taking the picture and my son had a run in with the camera giving me a gem of a cut and a black eye.
5. I might also suggest being a nurse or at least taking a couple first aid classes. Again…cost savings here is totally worth it. Parenting in general isn’t for sissies and parenting boys makes it doubly true. Being a nurse helps me decide if it’s really something that needs to be seen or just a “rub dirt in it and walk it off” kind of thing.
6. Buy livestock. Seriously. We have purchased a whole cow the last 3 years. We have had just a little left at the end of each year. I can’t imagine what it will be like when these guys get to be teenagers. We already have 2 deep freezers and keep them fairly full. I’m thinking that a future in cattle farming may not be a bad investment…except we’d eat all the profits. Oh yeah…consider purchasing chickens (we go through 5 dozen eggs a month easily), goats (for milk…I hear they’re much easier to milk) and possibly 10 acres for a garden. I so wish our new community allowed you to at least have hens in town…and maybe a dairy cow.
7. Don’t buy expensive jeans or shoes. They wear them out so fast that it doesn’t matter if you spend $50 or $10 on jeans. Crawling around on hands and knees causes the same wear and tear. I promise.
8. Boys are physical. They play and fight and work physically. Everything they do is physical. The throw punches at the same time they’re hugging each other. They jump while they’re counting, folding laundry or eating dinner.
9. They are loving and tender-hearted. Our boys care about each other and other people. They write each other notes, make gifts and generally watch out for one another. Their feelings get hurt, they need reassurance that they’re growing up to be men and they need to know that you’re proud of them. Even though they’re busy…they need hugs and kisses regularly.
10. You will do lot of laundry. I mean lots. It will be muddy, dusty and sometimes slimy. I would suggest making sure you check pockets before you put them in the washer, otherwise you’ll end up with a basin full of rocks, sticks, coins, markers and possibly a small creature that didn’t survive the spin cycle.
11. I wouldn’t trade having boys for anything. We get a lot of comments about having all boys and people are always so astounded when I tell them I would take 10 more even if they’re all boys. I delight in our boys. I delight in their activity, in their energy and in their “boyness”. My boys bring me so much joy. They may be busy and active, but they don’t have me running crazy and they’re not a “disaster” or “trouble” like so many fear. My boys rock.
If I’m ever blessed with a girl…I’d delight in her as well, but it’s not like I’m disappointed that I don’t have a girl yet. If God gives me boys for the rest of my life…I’d be thrilled. I figure if I have all boys that I will get my “daughters” when they get married.
Every child is a gift from God, boy or girl. They each have their own unique personality and I really believe that it’s all in your perspective.

 

17 weeks

This week went quickly. I was surprised how fast the week went from 16 to week 17 and I am thankful. I have been feeling good although food aversions have been pretty intense. I don’t want to eat anything, or I do and then when I get it…it doesn’t sound good anymore. I’m eating though.
I *think* I’ve been feeling baby move here and there which is encouraging. I’ve noticed this little baby’s heartbeat is lower than the boys were at this point. The boys always had heartbeats in the 140s-150s throughout my pregnancy. This baby is content to just sit around 120-130. I don’t put a lot of stock in the whole wives tales that say the heartbeat is higher or lower depending on the gender of the baby. So beats me, I’m hoping that means this little one is laid back.
I’m trying a new chiropractor on Wednesday this week. Hopefully I’ll find someone I am comfortable with and who I feel confident in.
We are praising God for another week with this baby. We are taking each week as it comes. Praying daily for this little one and his/her safety and arrival.

Blessings

I posted on Facebook this week about a family we met at church. But as it rolled around in my head, I think it warrants a whole blog post.
They are expecting their 10th child. They are stoked. Kerry asked the father how many children he had (Kerry hadn’t seen all of them) and the dad said “We have 9 and are expecting our 10th, The Bible calls them a blessing and reward and we believe that. I feel very blessed and feel even more so as I get older.” Wow that was refreshing! I kinda wanted to say “Hey! Us too!” but didn’t want to interrupt.
I just have to say though, it really isn’t about how many children a family has, but how those children are viewed. We absolutely view children as a blessing, and because we desire the blessing God has for us, choose not to limit our family size. There are a number of reasons that we believe this and we’ve given it a lot of thought and prayer, that’s not the purpose of this post though.
The truth is, whether you have no children or 50, they are blessings…God says so and we believe Him. So many times though we hear parents bemoaning the fact that they are expecting another child or that they can’t handle the ones they have. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard parents tell me “there is no way I could spend all day with my children”. Really? Then how do you expect anyone else to? It’s not just about homeschooling or desiring children, it’s about the attitude children are viewed with.

Sure they require lots of time and sacrifice, of course it can be tough and trying to raise little ones but oh what a reward it is! There is nothing better than being surrounded by your children, watching them laugh and play…or better yet laughing and playing with them! I can’t tell you how many times I have been blessed by hearing one of my children walking through our home singing a song or doing something kind for one of his brothers.

It breaks my heart to hear children being torn down and spoken to with words dripping with disdain and irritation. I long to take hurting children in my arms and tell them they are special and they are loved. How often our paths cross those of children who are hurt at the hands of those entrusted with loving and caring for them. A child sat in my backyard this last week and said wistfully “I wish I lived here with you.” It was all I could do to not pull that child into my lap and tell her she is loved and cared for. All I could muster was “You are always welcome here” and try to hide the tears that were welling in my eyes.

Children are often viewed as “things” be avoided and prevented and tolerated. They should be embraced, welcomed and celebrated. They are gifts from God, they are rewards and blessings. We are missing out if we forget how fortunate we are to have them in our lives.

Psalm 127: 3-5

3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Adjustment

We’ve been in our new home for 2 and a half weeks.

We are learning to live in a smaller town again. And to live in town. Even though we lived in Pueblo West, where our home was located we felt very much like we were close to the country. I enjoyed being able to look out and see the mountains. Here I see a wonderful backyard (with grass!) but also other buildings close by. I miss open space a bit.
Some of the things our we’ve adjusted in just the short time we’ve been here…
I have to plan my grocery lists a little differently. There is a small local grocery store, but it’s a bit more expensive than some larger stores in bigger cities. We now have an “every day” grocery list and a “city” grocery list for when we make the hour trek to a larger city.
Speaking of grocery stores, Zeke has to learn it’s okay for a guy to follow us out with a cart of groceries. A young man was helping us to the car with our groceries this last week. Zeke saw him following us and said “Mom!” and pointed emphatically towards the man behind us as if to say “that guy is following us!” He wasn’t sure that it was okay. I told him, that’s the difference between a small town and a big one. They help you out with groceries. 🙂
We have to mow grass. For the last 5 years we didn’t have grass at all. Our lawn care consisted of pulling weeds and spraying if they got too big. Here we need to mow once a week. It didn’t occur to me until we got here that Zeke and Titus have never seen a push mower up close. They’re not thrilled. Zeke sits on the porch and plugs his ears the whole time.
Literally everyone we have met in the last two weeks is “new” to us. We trying to remember names and stories. It’s been interesting to connect dots and try to learn new people. It’s been a while since we’ve moved so maybe we’re a little rusty. It’s kind of like college at K-State all over again. Being willing to turn to the person next to you and shake hands and introduce yourself. I’ve been pleased to watch the boys open up and become more outgoing, and seem even more comfortable with it than I am.
Unpacking isn’t fun no matter where you are.

We are still unpacking boxes of clothes and bathroom stuff. The kitchen (above) is done as is the play room and other major rooms of the house. We’re still trying to figure out where everything goes and what is going to work best for our family. It’s been a challenge to find the best “system” and I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it for months yet. For my type A personality, it’s hard to be patient, especially after having a system that worked well for our family before.
We are adjusting to life here and liking it. We keep reminding ourselves it will take time, but we have been called here by God and know that this is where we’re supposed to be. We know that He is faithful and He will give us what we need to be here.

Why I'm not losing weight…

And why I’m okay with it.
It’s okay to be a little shocked. We were too. The week after I started my weigh in Wednesday posts, we found out we were pregnant. Looking at this pregnancy from the world’s perspective, this is really terrible timing. We got pregnant right before we moved, right before Kerry started a new job and right before my insurance ran out. But…we trust God for His timing of our children. He can see the future and we can’t, so we know that because it is His timing, it is perfect for our family.
And we are thankful, so very thankful.
I am 9 1/2 weeks this week and I am exhausted. We have been in our new home for a week and a half. We have been busy unpacking and getting settled. The work seems unending and all I want to do is sleep.
As I mentioned before, we got pregnant right before my insurance with my old job ran out (tomorrow to be exact). And since I will be a stay at home mom, we have to buy insurance privately. Kansas though, considers pregnancy a pre-existing condition so no private insurance will cover me. Which leaves two choices…buy COBRA from my old job which is way expensive or go without insurance. We are praying for guidance in this area. If I hadn’t just experienced two losses in the second trimester, I would be less nervous about going without insurance.
I am still looking for a provider. I could drive 4 hours back to Pueblo and see my providers there…but that’s a four hour drive. I don’t really want to just go and stay there for the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy waiting for labor to happen and a 4 hour drive in labor doesn’t sound appealing either. Not to mention my labor with Titus wasn’t exactly a long one. There are no midwives here in Western Kansas and the ones closest (3-4 hours away) won’t drive here. I haven’t had much luck finding a doctor who will “let” me VBAC either, so I’m still searching. I guess it’s okay I don’t have insurance yet because I don’t have anyone who will see me. We’re praying we can find the right person to care for me. God has answered this prayer in the past and we trust He will again.
We are so very thankful to be pregnant again. We are praying that this baby will be born healthy and the pregnancy will be uncomplicated. We know that God has created this little one and He is in control. We pray daily for His provision, His guidance and His protection for our children.
Thank you for praying for us.

Prayer

I don’t have anything profound to post today other than just asking for your prayers.
We are in the final days of packing up our house to move to a new community. It can be stressful and the chaos of maneuvering around boxes can be a bit overwhelming. It seems like everywhere I turn there is more stuff…even when I thought I had just packed that spot up.
We have been battling physical illness. I started this week with sore throat and fever (our son brought it home with him from camp a week or so ago). Now our 3rd son has been running and fever and not feeling well. I have developed an infection along my jaw line which is quite swollen and painful. It came on quickly and I went in this morning for some antibiotics so hopefully that will clear things up. If not, I will need to have it drained. Not an appealing proposition. So please pray for healing and health in these last few days of packing and moving.
It’s just exhausting. 🙂 I don’t think any of us have been sleeping well between the “not feeling good” and the “I should be doing” kinds of thoughts that start running through our minds at night. We need good restful nights of sleep.
The spiritual and emotional attacks have intensified the last week or so. Both Kerry and I have been feeling more attacked lately. I have struggled with thoughts of failure, being a burden and not fit for the role in which I have been called. Kerry too has struggled with similar thoughts and there have been times we’ve found ourselves short with the other person which is pretty uncommon for us. There have been some moments where past hurts, which have been forgiven and almost forgotten, have come crashing in out of the clear blue to take our minds off of what God has called us to do as a couple.
I think the changes ahead are really starting to hit our older two boys. Gabe especially has seemed to be taking more in and thinking some about “this might be the last time I do….here” kinds of things. It is hard to know how to help him because he’s not terribly verbal about it. I expect that Otto will become emotional on our actual moving day.
So again nothing profound today. But we would covet your prayers over the next few days and weeks as we finish packing, move and settle in to our new home.

Microscope

We are candidating this weekend at a church. (I say we because it is never just about Kerry).
It’s our *first* one. It is busy. And I feel a little bit like we’re under the microscope. It’s has been a good experience and we’ve met wonderful people. But I constantly wonder if I’m being evaluated and there is going to be secret meeting where score cards are tallied and we’re given a grade. It may come from my dysfunctional upbringing, but I always wonder if I’m getting dinged for behavior or a misstep somewhere.
But I decided before we came that I wasn’t going to put pressure on my children to “behave” any differently than the usual expectation for our family. I didn’t want them to feel like they had to be on display or put on a show for all the nice people.
I decided that we were going to be just us.
For two reasons really, the first is that if we do come here I don’t want to have to keep that show going long term. I mean it’s a lot of work to pretend you’re something you’re not.  And the second is that if the church in general is going to be relevant and authentic to the world around them, then there shouldn’t be any reason to “put on a show” for anyone. Whether they’re interviewing, visiting or have been coming through the doors for years. We should be willing to welcome (and let’s face it sometimes tolerate) each other with our children who run in the hall, our voices that sing off key and personalities that may be too bold for our taste.
Now I have to confess, there have been a couple times I’ve turned around in the car and reminded the boys that we’re going to someone else’s house for dinner and to remember to say please and thank you (and don’t eat the dog biscuits or strip down in your underwear to  play in the water…yes those things have all happened and there are stories behind them). But other than that we are who we are…who God made us. There is always room for growth and there is always something to learn, but we are not show animals. We are people and if we want to reach out to people and share the love of Christ with them we must be willing to be seen as we are without the facade of “good behavior” only pulled out on special occasions like fine china.
For us this weekend isn’t just an opportunity to candidate for a church but it’s also an opportunity for us (me especially) to be comfortable with being who we are and to practice being authentic. To make no apologies for the fact that I have 4 boys who keep going back for animal crackers because you leave the jar wide open on the counter. To be proud of my *little* family and our wackiness, our shyness (and not so shyness). I am reminded that God has brought our family together and is molding it as only He can.
So as we’re “under the microscope” my prayer is that those looking can see the work of Christ in our lives and in our family. That they can see His handiwork more than they can see anything else.