HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY, ABI!!!

Four Fantastic years ago this little nugget joined our family in the middle of our VBS (Vacation Bible School) week. On Tuesday I was walking the stairs to our third floor< sixth grade classroom and on Wednesday I was induced and we welcomed Abi to the world.

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Abi Grace! My goodness how the world would be a sad place without our crazy Abi.

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We adore you! You are so unpredictably fun. We never know when you’re going to photobomb a picture or cheese it up.

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You have this life and energy in you that is enviable. Oh and that smile…. it’s always been there… your utter abandonment to joy… with that twinkle in your eyes…

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You and your crazy hair (especially first thing in the morning and post-nap).

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You and your crazy delight.

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You and the randomly and hilariously crazy things you say with such a straight face. My goodness, I’ve added years to my life in laughter.  [Like this morning when you asked for breakfast to be "Cookie cereal and a tomato." "A tomato?!" I responded and you said with the most straight face, "Yeah, I've never had that together before."]

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And those expressions. I swear I’m seeing  a glimpse of your teenagehood trapped in your now four year old body. HA!

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Abi you are a hoot! You add such spice to life. You are our perfect middle.

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And YES, today FINALLY is your birthday. And YES, today we are FINALLY going to Chuck-E-Cheese (how dare we say ‘no’ when you have been harboring pictures you’ve drawn Chuck-E for weeks).

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So from your Mommy, Daddy, and the rest of your cohort we wish our crazy, hilarious, dramatic, comedian, rambunctious, irresistible, passionate, delightful, spunky Abi Grace the happiest Fourth Birthday EVER!

 

- Love you so!

To My Abi

*** Sometimes I just want to single her out and share words I wish she could fully understand. But even if she can’t understand fully, my heart still needs to say these words.

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My Dearest Abi Grace,

Oh my flighty, strong-willed, adorable little girl. I have watched you spring out of your toddlerhood into a flourishing little girl. Oh you still need the strict boundaries, they help your passions from flying out of reality. You still need someone to come alongside of you and remind you to break out of your bubble of musical numbers and dance breaks. There is a whole world going on that sometimes you miss in exchange for another rendition of a Frozen song. But how I know your heart loves to express the very depths of those climactic moments brought to song. I love that too. It’s fun to get lost in a song.

My dear Abi, I delight in you. The very world we try to break you out of sometimes is the very world Daddy and I love to see you wholeheartedly in. We love your innocence. I love that you have this whole level of imaginative play that encompasses you. You just get so overwhelmed by your world of play that it outpours into an enviable and beautiful joy. You glow sometimes with such beautiful brightness that we just want to be a part of it. My heart can’t stand not being a part of that happiness you have created.

But you know, I think we butt heads the most because I see a little version of my immature self in you. I forget sometimes how long it took to learn the lessons of maturity when it feels like I have to remind you for the hundredth time that day that you are required to share – even though it was a musical number’s prop your toddler sister touched. I forget the hours of me testing my mother when you I am tired from walking through a hard expression moment with you. I forget how intensely that need for justice burned inside of me until I found an outlet, the very outlet you are searching for. I forget how the passion would well up inside of me and I didn’t know how to direct it or guide it so it would just overflow in tears or a jumble of words that never seemed to express what I really felt. But when I remember all that about the constant and gentle shaping of my wild little heart by a wonderful Father, I do remember one face of reason in my life: my mother. How patiently she walked beside me, teaching me the hard lessons, but I knew full well it was because she was invested in my person, the very core of me. And suddenly I see you as the little girl you are, the little girl struggling to learn how to harness the depth of the character God has knitted together within her. What beauty He has created in you. I can’t wait to see how He uses it, should you allow Him.

Abi, you are a boundary tester at heart. It makes me chuckle to see your little “spirited” side. Sure many times it’s wrapped in selfish motives. You haven’t quite learned how big the world is yet. I’m trying to help you see outside of you. But that sight takes a long time to perfect. It takes intentional training. But it’s worth the investment. I see that little rebellion creep into your smirk as you pretend not to hear your name being called. It makes me chuckle. I tried to get away with that too. You will learn. But even more than you learning to obey, I want you to learn the delight in obedience. The desire to feel that closeness of relationship. That harmony and beauty that comes not out of a broken, crushed-down submission, but to see the fruit of obedience’s harmony and then desire to seek it yourself. First thing’s first, “listen and obey” is your least favorite reminder hat tumbles from my lips – not through pursed lips (many times) but with time and maturity you will learn that I am more invested in your person, than I am your fleeting happiness in that particular moment. It’ll take some time and distance for you to learn that. It has taken that for us all.

Abi, you’ll always be my baby. I know you don’t want to hear that right now because you’re trying so hard to be “big”. You’re trying so hard to learn how to flex your wings and discover what you like and express those likes. Yep, I’m going to correct you. Sometimes those expressions are rooted in greed. And sometimes it’s merely the need to learn how to appropriately communicate your preference without bucking authority. Yeah, that one takes time and practice too. But I want you to feel safe to try. I want you to feel the love and trust that encourage you to make mistakes, even big ones, and then be able to learn from them. It’s a hard, vulnerable place to be to truly learn from another. It’s a pride-crushing blow sometimes. I want you to feel it’s worth the risk. And I want you to hear our cheering squad at your efforts.

My little Abi girl, you are beautiful. And I want you to know I have been and will always fight for you. Sometimes you won’t see it. Sometimes it’ll be behind the scenes. It’s those little conversations I have with others who desire your greatest welfare, where I share some secrets on how to encourage your obedience. ;) Sometimes it’s holding out my arms to your running tears, and holding you through your explosion of injustice and your hurt. And sometimes its watching you make bumps and bruises and then helping you to learn how to repair relationships. It’s a delicate balance, baby, but I will always fight for you… the best and truest form of you that you can be. In your flaws and your delights…. you are a wonderful investment. Soar, baby!

 

I just wanted to take a moment to write you a letter. I know sometimes you can feel lost in the business of a bunch of sisters, or the business of being a part of a ministry family. I know sometimes you just want some extra snuggle time. You just want Daddy or my full attention. And we try to give it to you. I try to hear your heart, even when it comes out a little jumbled and sin-pricked. You’ve never been “just the middle” to me. I still see the baby I carried around on my hip for over a year because you just needed that security. You are worth every adjustment to what I thought parenting was and is. You are worth the 4 a.m. wake-ups when I just can’t stop thinking about how to teach you a particular lesson. You are worth the extra time it takes to focus in on intentionally teaching you healthy boundaries in a way that you can understand. You are worth the moments of inconvenience when I have to apologize for snapping at you because I was focused more on a behavior than a life lesson. You are my one. My only. My Abi Grace. I love you, Abinov. My Abean-o. I love you so much that I make up little nicknames to catch your attention so you know that you’re on my mind. And just to make you smile.

I am so thankful to get the chance to be your Mommy.

Love you so, sweet girl.

Love you so.

 

From the deep,

Your Mommy

 

One of Those Days

We’re over an hour late to start homeschooling. Today has been one of those days.

One of those days where I’ve heard an abundance of invitations to come play among sisters.

One of those days where they’ve found a way for all three of them to participate.

One of those days when toys cover the floor because they’re building a house set-up together, complete with decorated rooms.

One of those days when Hannah’s toddler self isn’t a disruption of play but a welcome addition.

One of those days when Abi’s preschool imagination is overflowing with kitty behavior ideas and an adventurous storyline is being scripted.

One of those days when Kindergartener Rachael is absorbing Abi’s imagination with a passion and dancing along to care for her “baby Hannah” and “kitty Abi”.

One of those days when they have just meshed and play has taken off in a beautiful enjoyment for all.

 

We’re an hour late. And we may be an hour and a half or two hours late before it’s all said and done.

 

See, today homeschooling is more about sisterhood than academics. Homeschooling is more about building an investment into each other that isn’t stemming from Mommy’s initiative, but their own desire to just be together. Homeschooling is about building memories of wonderful sister play that they’ll reflect on as “childhood” in years to come.

 

It’s wonderful to watch God knit them together… to witness their love grow and develop and mature as He intertwines their worlds.

 

- What a wonderful day. =)

 

Wordless Wednesday: Home

It doesn’t matter how far apart we may live… these people will always be home to me. [And Matt and Nayt you belong in there too it's just that the couch wasn't big enough in that moment. =) ]

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- Thankful, grateful and blessed.

The Continuation of the Back-Story

(Insert the pre-read of: The Beginning of the Back-Story)

… And there in that daily environment, God blessed us with our first child.

The tomboy in my popped out, I wanted a boy. A son to play in the dirt with, run around outside with and bring to soccer or baseball practice. Cute little polo shirts and striped navy pants. Easy button, comfy clothes. SURPRISE! We caught the eyes of our sweet little Rachael Elizabeth on the ultrasound screen. I still remember taking a walk with a dear friend and just crying. I was so disappointed. What am I going to do with a girl? I don’t know the least thing about how to raise a girl. A girl was my lowest level of confidence… with the hairdos and the pink…. and fluffiness. And then there was the whole make-up and self-esteem issues. I was overwhelmed.

I started to get used to the idea as the pregnancy went on. Something about pregnancy sacrifices that bonded me to this little person inside. And then I met her one January 5th. Her beautiful browns. The way she turned into my neck when I sang to her. She knew my voice. She needed me. And I found a world of girl clothes that didn’t have to be pink. And the frills started to grow on me a bit.

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I was happy to see my dreams come true as Rachael neared 11 months. I was finally going to get to come home just to be with her. I wouldn’t carry the heartache of raising any more children before I got the chance to raise my own. And the hope of meeting our next one 6 months later, despite the 4.5 months of morning/afternoon/evening and night nausea and sickness, hit me with such joy as I drove away from the office for the last time. The pendulum was swinging back to investing in those God was giving us, instead of asking for their sacrifice alone.  (This is not to imply that working Moms are somehow bad Moms, this is just God’s life journey for Matt and I).

And we learned again that I was having another girl. This time it wasn’t too horrible of a shock. I didn’t need a counseling session walk with a friend. Hehe   I had grown in my confidence, especially since we hadn’t royally screwed up Rachael…yet.

Abi Grace joined us on a wonderful June 16th evening. And while her pregnancy left me wondering if we’d have any more…. EVER, her blond curls and baby blues stole my heart. Two girls… for this tomboy to raise. God sure had a sense of humor.

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God further opened Matt and my eyes to His beloved orphans a handful of months after Abi started sleeping through the night.. you know when we could actually start thinking again, as opposed to the basic survival mode of a newborn. While Abi was more clingy and more “Mommy only” than Rachael had ever been, God opened our eyes to those all over the world that didn’t have that opportunity to attach so strongly or consistently to anyone. Those forgotten. The ones that didn’t cry because they knew no one would come.

I remember calling my Mother after a session at the orphan summit weekend. “Hold Abi close for me, Mom,” I asked her. “There are so many that don’t live to be a year old in this world.” My little eleven month old Abi. I couldn’t get her out of my mind as I filled bags full of life-sustaining food for weak and perishing children’s mouths. Somebody’s baby. …. somebody’s baby…

 

Shortly after that conference and the continued praying we had done through that time in our lives, God opened our eyes to fostering. I honestly can tell you that I never once thought I’d be a foster mom. I saw the other side of the system. How little you can sometimes know about a kid placed in your home. The frustrations and the challenges and the strains. And Matt was not stained, but not naive to the hurts and the challenges and the trials of having a foster sibling. Matt had never pushed. We are a family. Our own family. So we would make decisions about what was best for our family, under God’s will’s umbrella.

Hannah Joy was added to our family shortly after we had finally jumped through all the foster care pre-trainings and the homestudy process hoops. We were certified… and had a newborn. A girl, naturally, because God knows what I need. And God knows what He is doing.

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The boys came to us one Friday, four hours after a phone call we had our two new responsibilities. Two little strangers to get to know and learn to love. I finally got some boys. Only these ones were different. They weren’t mine. … Or maybe they would be in the future. … Or maybe not. The challenges were great: lice off/on for 8 weeks, hospitalization of our unfamiliar 3 month old struggler and a 30 day illness following the hospital stay which would untrain our night-sleeper Hannah and send us all into a sleep-needing coma for 6 weeks of coughing, phlegm sucking and respirators. We were figuring out twins, Hannah and Little Man being 6 weeks apart. And working through the pains of growing from a family of 2 kids to a  family of 5 kids within a 5 month time frame. Our “middlest” Abi was now a SUPER middlest child, adding some new behaviors. Our oldest, Big Guy, was now adding some interesting habits to the mix. And somewhere along the 11 month journey we figured out how to operate as a team. There were beautiful peeks and forging valleys as the boys went through family confusion. And while we wanted “just our three back” in the really hard moments, we also didn’t want the boys to go home to anything but the best home possible. It was a weekly roller coaster at some points of the 11 months and I can tell you now that it was the most stress to date that we have had to figure out. My Matthew showed up with flying teamwork colors. I have never seen us work together so well. We were a well oiled machine of diapers, formula, kid schedules, diaper bags…. people, we could get out of the house in 30 minutes flat going from 5 undressed kids to all ready to go for an afternoon. We were constantly running schedules, play by plays and walkie-talkie like communications by each other to get everyone’s needs met from  medicines to wiped noses to clipped finger and toe nails. It was like an assembly line.

And while I wouldn’t give that time back for the world, Matt and I realized in that time that while we were able to live like that… it wasn’t our desire to always live like that. 5 kids age 5 and under was too much to sustain for years on end. So there was much joy and some hurt empty space when the boys went home the week of Christmas. An odd void in wondering how quickly our investment would deteriorate, and old, bad habits would return. And yet how much their hearts were full going back to Mom’s arms. And how proud we were and still are of how far Mom came to make healthy adjustments and sacrifices for her babies.

And we settled back into 3… almost in shock at how easy 3 was. Our house was so quiet. And orderly. And our #4 crept quietly into the end of our chaos and just grew…. and grew in the newfound normal.

Eden Rose. Girl #4 will be joining us this summer. And you know what? I prayed that we’d have another girl. I’ve seen how our Abi and Rachael are dear friends. How they’ve blessed my ears in their giggles over the baby monitor. Their little imaginary worlds exploding with fairy princess tales and rescue missions down the hallway. They are such dear friends, the two of them. And they will be bunk mates for who knows how long.

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And then there came our busy little Hannah, flocking to Rachael’s nurturing and butting heads with our drama queen, Abi, while following her around the house in awe. Hannah doesn’t quite understand that her bunk mate is coming soon, but she’ll figure it out that Mommy’s still going to call her baby and rock her even when little Eden shows up on the scene.  They each have moved over and shared with the next one in line. Some taking longer than others. But each learning a new level of kindness, compassion and nurturing.

 

Our orphan care dreams still find their ways into conversations. Funny how you can’t hide your heart. And every Saturday morning Matt and I pray for how our family will be involved in adoption. We continue to do research and await God’s next whisper of direction. International, domestic, fostering to adopt…. we’re just waiting to hear what He’d have for us next.

 

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So that brings us all the way to tonight. And the little story I wanted to share. See knowing the back-story helps to fully understand how far God can grow a Mom…. this Mom. How He knows us far better than we ever thought we knew ourselves.  And how His love changes us… changes me.

Hannah was down to bed. Littlest goes down earlier than everyone else since she needs more sleep. Rachael and Abi snuggled their little almost four (in a few weeks) and five year old selves into our family reading time on the couch. Teeth freshly brushed. Pottying finished. Hair being taken out of the day’s hairdos (see, I have gotten better… slowly). Abi’s little hand came over to feel Eden move. Poor Abi’s too impatient to really get a good kick but she seems content regardless.

Rachael joined in the fun, partially to stall out bedtime and the other half of her nurturing kicking in. I played along… bonding starts before they meet face to face. This late in the pregnancy game my shirts don’t fit quite so great
(can I get a witness?!). It’s easy to see my belly hanging out. But when it’s just family I don’t care.

See… my girls are learning to define beauty. I already know the media’s message they will have to struggle with in due time. But I want them to remember me as different than the culture. Real. And unashamed. God defines beauty. I want them to wonder why we defined beauty in such a different way than Hollywood ever did. I want it to point them to Jesus.

Abi commented on my belly being fat. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I carry big and low. And she’s not criticizing. Just observing.

“Yep, Abi, Eden’s getting bigger,” I usually answer back with no shame. We want her to get big. And continue to be so healthy – even if she’s already a  pound over the average weight for her gestation week.

Abi poked my stretch marks.

“Do those hurt?” Rachael’s compassion kicked in.

“Sometimes they’re uncomfortable,” I was honest as I exposed my baby bump, “but lotion helps them feel more comfortable. It’s just my skin growing and stretching to fit Eden as she grows bigger. Some were from Hannah,” they touched a few. “And some were from you, Abi.” Abi shot an excited smile.

“And some,” I pointed to the really deep ones, “were from you, Rachael. All the way back when you were a baby,” since my five year old is ‘so big’ now.

And then we chit-chatted about the blue veins on my stomach and how they bring blood to Eden so she can keep growing big and strong. And how veins help bring blood all the way down to my toes and all the way up to my head. Abi enjoyed poking my veins and I smirked at being a living science experiment.

“Did you know blood is blue?!” I asked my blondie.

“What?!” said Rachael.

“Yep, it’s blue, but when it comes out of our bodies it turns red. That’s why my veins are blue.”

Abi jumped off the couch and pointed to my spider veins. “Here’s some more!”  came her innocence.

“Yep, those are spider veins, don’t they look like spider legs?” I asked her as she poked me again.

“I like these ones,” she said with a smile.

“And here’s my huge long vein,” I pointed to my varicose vein as Rachael helped trace it down my leg.

“This one has a LOT of blood traveling inside.” I explained.

Eden began moving again and we giggled about what part of her body she could be moving.

“How is she laying in there?” Rachael asked. “Is this her head?” She patted an Eden bulge.

Eden squirmed a bit.

“I don’t know, I can’t see in. But when we got to see in with the pictures two weeks ago her bottom was here and her head pointing down with her feet up by her head.”

They giggled at how silly that sounded.

“Is this her bottom?” Abi lost it in hysterics poking at some hard section of Eden.

“Maybe.” We giggled.

“Did you know Daddy used to lay his head on my belly with each and every one of you and try to get kicked in the head?!” I shared.

Then of course after the giggles swept through Abi and Rachael had to try it.

“Now this is the only time it’s okay to let Eden kick you in the head,” I laughed, “Only when she’s inside my belly.”

It was getting late and they were getting a little overly silly. But before they scampered off to their beds, Rachael and Abi both gave Eden a goodnight hug… loving on my belly. And Abi gave my road-map of stretch marks a little kiss. “Goodnight Eden,” came their sweet little voices.

 

 

I have tried to make it a point to be honest with my girls. I don’t want to share too much for their little worlds to grasp, but I do want to filter to them real beauty. Beauty not defined by concealer, dieting, or a constant desire to physically look better.  Beauty not disguised as idolatry or wrapped in manipulation or a power status. A beauty that strives to be healthy, but embraces motherhood and being a wife in its raw and vulnerable moments. A beauty defined in God’s definition of worth, love and grace.

I see curiosity in their young eyes, but know that self-worth doubt will most likely fumble in through the awkward Jr. High years. And desire to be like everyone else, a carbon copy of culture’s definition of beauty, even if it’s defined in the Christian culture community. may very well be a High School challenge. Outward appearance will drive a message of highest importance, leaving many ladies struggling with self-image for the rest of their lives.

But I want to outwardly embrace my laughing lines… it’s evidence that I laughed. When I’m old I want to have gray hair. It’s evidence that I have been gifted a long life. I want to have crows feet on the sides of my eyes…. fruit of smiling at others. And I am so blessed to have a husband who treasures my “honor marks” left by my wonderful girls. And my stomach will probably never have a six-pack of abs…. my skin will probably never go completely back to what it once was before my big, healthy girls… but I wouldn’t exchange it for the world. Sure I’m going to strive to be healthy and maintain a level of fitness to be able to play with my kids at the park, and chase grandkids eventually, if we are so blessed. I want to be fit enough to walk some flights of stairs without dying for breath and encourage my family through self-sacrifice and self-determination to overcome future 5k’s on a decently regular basis. My body is a temple of the Living God and I want to be healthy and fit enough to do His work that He has for us. But I am not ashamed of my love handles. They are a reminder of carrying little kickers and being a part of the miracle of new life.

I want my girls to learn about that kind of beauty. A beauty defined in My Father’s eyes.

 

… and maybe that’s why He keeps on giving us girls to raise.

 

 

- Thankful, grateful and overwhelmingly blessed.

The Beginning of the Back-Story

Growing up I didn’t really give much thought to the genders of the kids I wanted to have. I started out wanting to have 16 of them at about age 3 or 4 years old. Then the number dropped to 12 for a while going through elementary school and fell into the back burner of Jr. High and High School’s shadows. In college I knew I wanted to have a good number of kids. I have always adored them and find it quite natural to be in their world. I surrounded myself with kids growing up from helping Moms to play in the other room with their kiddos so they could accomplish tasks independent of kid needs when I was too young to babysit at 9 and 10 years old to babysitting, nannying, going on a few vacations with families and even running church nurseries.

When the idea of a career field came into my world, I naturally gravitated toward an early childhood education teacher. I had helped in teaching environments from the home to Vacation Bible School to even a few tutoring environments. I just love kids. They’re my normal.

In college my early childhood education window opened as God opened my worldview to His heart for “the least of these”. It began in the form of foster care, one branch of forgotten children. Suddenly He taught me how teaching goes so far beyond the classroom and even the very basics of worth, love, and trust need to be taught before a child can move on to enjoying and asserting themselves in Math or Reading or being vulnerable in a challenging subject. I suddenly had a heart change, resulting in a change of my major to Social Work. I began t see my fringe kids in the daycare in which I worked in a totally different light. No, not every case is a social work case, but my eyes were opened to those foster children coming through my afternoon Kindergarten classroom that were “a little more rough around the edges”. I enjoyed being a “secret weapon” substituting in more challenging classrooms. “Who’s name do I need to know?” I would ask the lead teacher of the classroom and then try not to single those kids out for poor behavior problems, but provide structure, consistency and special love to those children. It was cool to see their behaviors change a bit. Nope, I’m no miracle worker, but loving structure goes a very long way in a child’s chaos.

When I met my husband he was one of seven kids, now one of eight with two adopted siblings. He ate, slept and breathed kids, bring the second in the pecking order. Granted, he was one of those kids for the longest, but with parents who consistently ministered to children through foster care since almost as far back as he can remember, his heart and arms were just open. That’s one of the things that drew me to him. See, some can call that being a “family person” but I believe God made my “family man” into so much more through walking with others in their deep hurts and struggles. Barb and Rodger, my in-laws, did a wonderful job of sheltering their children’s innocence while also coming alongside of these really hurt little children in the foster care system. They protected their own blessing while also taking on some pretty tough cases. Their family motto? Christ is more than enough. And that was tested. And it was challenging. And they lost a lot of sleep. And walked in a lot of hard pairs of shoes. And they still have no idea of the impact they had in some of the children’s lives that came through their home for the 18+ years of foster care their family offered.

I joked with Matt that I wanted to have eight kids of our own when we were dating and engaged. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head a few times when he realized I kept repeating the same number… and it wasn’t a joke. He reminded me of how nice four sounded. Hehe. I told my friend and sis-in-law, Ellen, one time that I planned on starting at 8 so we could compromise at 6 kids. We both laughed since Ellen kept talking about a dozen children to her, at the time, new husband. Poor Ron and Matt. Our providers. They must have lost some serious sleep over the thought of feeding so many little mouths on a single salary – you know, since Ellen and I had plans of being stay at home moms. Don’t we sound awful? Hehe.

I worked as a foster care and independent living (transition program from foster care for older teens) case manager as my internship and for a year of my launching board off of college. I wanted to have a baby, but God wanted me to raise a few other kids first. When my car died from all the case management driving, I knew I couldn’t sustain at case management 40+ minutes from the office. The hours were long many days. Too long to start a family. Matt was doing his internship for school. I missed seeing him.  It was our first year of marriage.

I switched to individual and group therapy at a program designed for children who had failed out of multiple preschool/daycare settings due to behaviors. We saw every kind of case there from the lack of parenting to the product of broken homes to foster care cases. I had chairs thrown at me, was called everything under the sun, and had so many scratch marks and even a few bite marks while being spit on. Some of these kids entered our program with utter wild in their eyes. They had all the authority. Many of their parents had given up or they had failed out of multiple, multiple foster homes… and they were only 4. I had the group kids who were older. 4 years old until 6 years old when they aged out of our program. Some of the things these kids had been through would bring even the hardest heart to tears. Such innocence stripped. And all was left was a hurt, hurt frail child who hid behind aggression.

 

And there in that daily environment, God blessed us with our first child.

 

(Continue on to: The Continuation of the Back-Story)

Someone’s Gradumatating!

My Dearest Matthew,

This morning we loaded up the girls and headed down for the beginning of a few days of celebrating you. To say I’m proud of you is the understatement of the year. Six years of balancing family, ministry and schooling. I could not be more proud of your choices to take a lighter load as we welcomed three beautiful little girls into the world in their own times. I could not be more proud of your hard work and perseverance as you worked hard, realistically and gave each class’ efforts to the Lord as worship. I could not be more proud as God shaped you and grew you so much in your walk with Him over these past years. And love, I am so proud of the man of Christ you have and are continuing daily to become. It wasn’t always easy…. remember Hebrew? Goodness! And I wasn’t even taking the class! But you fought through it. And, my dear, you have managed to pull off  a 3.9 GPA. 3.9! That means the lowest grade you ever received in a class was a B+. And that was only in one class. I am floored at your ability, in Christ, to overcome so much and work hard… so, so hard at each class on your agenda. I love how you came home from some of your classes with a new plan and new focus on Christ for our family. I love how God spoke to your inner being and it splashed out into our lives. We were and still are so richly blessed by all that the Lord has taught you in seminary. And now, my love, now we celebrate. In Christ YOU HAVE DONE IT!!!

So to my Master’s of Divinity, to my Christ-centered dreamer, to the absolute love of my life I say in a resounding jubilation from the tips of my toes:

CONGRATULATIONS, BABE!!! YOU DID IT!!!!

 

The wide world is before us. Who knows where God will call us and lead us next?

But as you take the stage Friday late morning, I may resist the urge to blow a fog horn (so as not to embarrass you, naturally) but I will most certainly be shouting for joy inside, to my very core, “That’s my Matthew!!! My Matthew…”

 

Love you so,

yours.

Eden Update

I’m measuring right at 30 weeks pregnant from today’s doc appt.

Eden, on the other hand, is measuring 2 weeks ahead at 32 weeks, putting us in the 78%. While she should be just barely over 3 lbs this week, she’s measuring over 4 lbs (a large Jicama – which is some kind of an ugly veggie) of healthy baby girl.

We got another peek at her hair sticking off the back of her head and today she was folded in half into a yoga position with her feet up by her head. While she’s measuring big, its all belly so there’s hope for a less large head – which makes this delivering Mommy happy. ;)

While I’m technically 10 weeks away from her due date, after talking with the doc we’re at a 9 week countdown.

Now the question remains: will she be born at induction date or will her size cause me to go into earlier labor?

Only time will tell.

I honestly just want her staying in there until she’s “fully baked” before snuggling our newest sweetness.

And then there’s the whole Matt being gone in Haiti when I turn 37 weeks and returning from Haiti a day or so prior to my 38th week. This fourth baby might very well come with some timing surprises. ;)

 

- Thank you God for continuing to knit Eden Rose together into the healthy, thriving little one we’ve been blessed to peek at.

 

- This pregnancy still feels so surreal even though I’m 9 weeks out. I’ve been so blessed to have a gentler go around this time.

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Here’s some cute little 3D Eden Rose feet from today. =)