Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who am I performing for?

So these past few weeks have been frustrating.  I have so many different people telling me so many different things about how to run my home and teach my children.  Many of my friends have been chiding me about "doing too much" and telling me to take it easy, saying that the kids are fine and I don't need to worry. 

Other friends and family have been telling me that my children are "behind" or "socially awkward" (I won't bother pointing out that we know our oldest is behind due to his dyslexia and are spending loads of time and money to help him.  Nor shall I ascend my soapbox to pontificate ahout how homeschool  is always assumed to be the cause of misbehavior by homeschoolers, but public school is never blamed for social awkwardness in its denizens.) 

Another family member told me that he was concerned that homeschooling seemed to be more about my identity as a homeschooling mom than about what is best for my children.

Last night I was about ready to throw in the towel.   Take the kids down to Glenn Harmon and enroll them today.  Heck, Gabe qualifies for speech preschool 5 days a week, so I could just have the baby for two days a week and just Luke and Leah for 3.  And with all the people on both sides telling me how I am failing, it might be a relief to shove off the responsibility on someone else.  I fantasized about free time to sew, and clean house, and run errands with just a kid or two.

But I'm not ready to do that.  In my heart I know that this is the path God has for our pfamily right now.  Even though it would be easier to take the normal route, it is not what God has chosen for me.  And I have to remind myself of who my audience is. 

It's not my homeschooling friends.  If at some point we decide to pursue other educational pathways for our kids I know some of my friends will think I have missed God's leading and will be disappointed in me.

It's not my friends or family that blame all my kids' issues on homeschooling.  They do not have to answer to God for me.

It's the Lord.  He alone is the One I have to answer to.  The only One whose approval I should crave.

Now, it is wise to consider counsel.  It is always prudent to take criticism to the Lord and ask Him if there is anything valid or applicable in it.  But ultimately, we should be more in tune with His leading and His voice than the voices of the crowd.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

dinner conversation

Luke:  Mama, how did the devil become the devil? (notice the middle finger of grammar)

Me:  Umm.  Well, God created the devil to be His most special angel.  He was beautiful and had an important job leading the angels as they worshipped.  But the devil got jealous of God and said, "Hey!  I don't want to worship You, I want You to worship me!"  And he got some of the other angels to rebel with him. 
And then God said, "No way, Bubba Gump, and He cast the devil out of Heaven."

Nate:  Mom, I think God probably used more holier language than "Bubba Gump."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The baby is glaring at me...

from her swing.  She wants me to pick her up and stare in her sweet little face and listen to her coos. 

But I have to plan our lessons for this week, so her siblings don't grow up to be ignorant morons.  Sigh... freaking priorities.

We had a good trip and I had a lot of time in the car (only 29 hrs, actually) to think.  I have some ideas rumbling around to share with all y'all. 

But right now I must plan for the week and hit the hay.  Hopefully in that order.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Off to see the wizard.

No, not really.  But we are heading out on our trip.  We had originally planned to just go to Tulsa like we do every T-giving.  But dh's grandma is doing poorly, so we are heading to St Louis first. 

I know you are all jealous of me, getting to spend 30+ hrs in the car with 5 small children and a newborn.  You'll just have to live with the pain.

Be back in 6 days - smooch!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Things I Learned from Harry Potter

1. I have a studly husband who watched the kids so I could go see Harry Potter tonight.  Thanks, honey!

2. England is super cool looking and I want to move there, now.  And those accents, ***swoon***.

3. The scene where Ron destroys the locket horcrux is so powerful.  What a vivid picture of our battle with the enemy.  Ron knows he must destroy the horcrux, but a voice speaks from the swirling mist and lies to him.  It tells him that it knows his secrets and plays on them to destroy Ron's confidence.  Ron begins to waver, but Harry shouts that the voice is lying.  Finally Ron charges forward and annihilates the horcrux.

 Isn't this how the enemy works in our own lives?  We know what we must do.  We see the sin that so easily besets us and don't want to be conquered by it.  But the enemy lies to us and we can become entranced and duped by those lies if we don't have the voice of Truth shouting in our ears (be it the Word or friends who speak Truth).  Ultimately though, it is not our friends' job to silence the enemy.   It is ours alone. 

May we all be empowered by the Holy Spirit to destroy the enemy that desires to ensnare us.

4. I also discovered that I am a giant sap since I totally cried when Dobby died.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Numbering our days

I've been following the story of two classmates of mine, Chad and Ryan Arnold, from Oral Roberts University. You can read their story here.

It's a heartbreaking story.  One brother was dying.  His younger brother offered to be a living liver donor (the liver regenerates, so it can be split between the donor and the recipient).  The surgery went well for the receiving brother, but the donor died a few days later. 

As I was scrolling through the comment section I was amazed at some of the terrible things people wrote.  That it was a waste of life, and selfish of the donating brother (he left behind a wife and three small children).

I was shocked.  Because none of us is promised even one more breath.  This life is a vapor, a wisp, and it will be gone for every single one of us before we know it.  Unless we are the generation that takes the Great Commission to all peoples and the Lord returns, we will all taste death.

Ryan Arnold gave his life for his brother.  He did not know he would die, but he knew it was a real risk.  And he chose to act sacrificially.  My death could be meaningless.  I could get hit by a runaway car walking to the mailbox in the morning.  And it would just be a tragic accident.  No one would get a second chance at life.


My point here is not to be maudlin.  It is to say that we would be wise to ask God, like the psalmist, for the wisdom to "number our days aright."  We don't know when "that day" will be for any of us.  But we know it is coming, sure as sunrise follows the night. 

We might not get the chance to witness to that co-worker again.  To hug that child or make that phone call or right that wrong.  To forgive that hurt or take that first step of faith.  So let us all live every day as if it is our last.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sin is costly

So today we were crabby. The kids were wound up and grouchy and I was restless. So we did the only smart thing we could do. We went to the park. Usually the outdoor air and sunshine do us a great deal of good.

I decided to be extra sweet and drive the kids 30 minutes to their absolute favorite park over in Benbrook. We played for an hour or so and everyone was having a great time. It was very windy though, and as the afternoon wore on, it was getting pretty chilly. I was cold and Leah was cold so I gave the kids a warning that we'd be leaving in 10 to 15 minutes.

At which point Abigail had a meltdown. Screaming, crying, flailing on the ground meltdown. I instructed her to get a grip or we would have to leave immediately. She continued to scream and screech at the top of her lungs. I tried to pick her up to calm her down and she began to beat at me with her fists.

So we loaded up the car and left.

All the other kids were mad because they didn't think that Abby's misbehavior should cost them.

But that's the way sin is. My sin doesn't just penalize me. It hurts the people around me too. Everyone in our family pays when one of us chooses to disobey. Maybe it would help me avoid sin if I would decrease the navel-gazing and look around to contemplate how my disobedience may cost the ones I love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Have I told you how much I love my tub?

Well, not mine exactly. I mean, I'm a little big for it.

But I got this baby tub with Gabe and it just rocks.

True, most of the time I just bathe Leah in the tub with me, but she's getting more head control and really loves the water. So I whipped out the washpod today and she was so happy. She was smiling a bunch, but her smiles are brief and hard to capture.



Monday, November 15, 2010

God is a better parent than I am

I lost my wedding ring a while back. (I'm sure it is in the house somewhere, but I just can't seem to find it.) Then I lost my cell phone last week. I was getting really frustrated with my penchant for losing things when a couple of my friends asked if I had prayed and asked the Lord where my ring and phone were.

I smiled and said that I thought God would just like me to get my act together and stop losing things.

Because my daughter Abigail had just lost her glasses (4 days after I bought them for her). And we didn't pray about them. I just got angry and fumed at her.

And I tend to think God parents me like I parent my kids. Like God gets tired of me pestering Him for things I should be responsible for. Like He runs short on patience and wants some "Him" time. Like He gets frustrated teaching me the same lesson over and over and over.

But He is not a parent made in my image.

He is slow to anger, and abounding in patience. He doesn't need alone time. He wants me to come to Him. Often.

I need to sit at His feet and read the Word more. So I can understand what kind of parent He is and be made into His image. Instead of making my faults into His character.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oops!

So I know I promised to blog every day. Well, last night I came home from work, lay down in my room to nurse Leah and fell asleep. But, to be fair, I did blog in my sleep. I'm not kidding! In my dream I wrote the most awesome, epiphany-filled blog entry. But I could not remember for the life of me what it was about when I woke up. Kind of like the time I invented a card game called Margaritaville in my sleep and made a boatload of money. When I woke up I couldn't remember the rules to my super awesome game either. Sigh....

So here is another picture of the World's Cutest Baby to make up for my early napping.

Friday, November 12, 2010

In which I practice great self control in Target

Just a funny story for today.

Yesterday I was at Target with Leah and the older three kids. Leah was riding tummy to tummy in a ring sling. She is obsessed with looking up at the ceiling fans, lights and sparkly faux ornaments at Target. I had my hand behind her head, supporting it, though she has quite a bit of head control already.

Out of nowhere this stranger runs up, grabs my hand and pushes it up, shouting "Oh my goodness, you have to support her head! Is this your first baby?"

I was quiet for a minute and said, "No, she's actually my sixth."

The lady stares at me and says, "Oh, well didn't they teach you that?"

I just glared at her until she walked away.

At which point Nate turns to me and says, "I'm really proud of you, Mommy, for not slapping her. She was an idiot."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

All y'all are so smart!

So, today, per the advice of all you smarty pantses(?) I took a day off. Ish. Well, as much as one can take a day off with kids. We ran errands, bought a dishwasher (yeah!) and chilled out. My dad and stepmom came over tonight and we played games. I may do this a few more times in the next week or so because it was good for my soul.

And now I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Margin

I'm overwhelmed today. The house is a wreck. I have a fever again and my axillary lymph nodes are huge. Mastitis again? Maybe. It seems like as soon as I think I'm getting my mojo back I get sick. Grrr.

I'm beginning to see the wisdom in what my homebirth friends do. Their midwife makes them stay in bed for the first three days. Then they can get up briefly for the next 2 wks. But mostly they are to eat and nurse. And that's it.

Maybe I should have done that. And maybe I wouldn't be so tired two months later. Because right now I just want to crawl in bed (if I can scale the piles of clothes in my bedroom floor) for a day or two.

But I felt like I had to bounce back from birth/surgery like it never happened. Because it's what people expect of me. I'm the one who's supposed to have it all together, right? I feel like if I admit that I'm drowning it will mean that I was a moron. That the people who told me that I am crazy and can't really mother all these kids well were right. That I've bitten off far more than I can chew.

But does it really mean that? Or does it mean that for this season I need some help?

A problem I'm finding is that people have more good intentions than they do time. And by "people" I mean myself as well. I intend to have a clean house and do all sorts of awesome things with the kids. I intend to do amazing crafts and cook all natural foods and sew a ton of neato clothes for them. I intend to teach my kids to be servants by helping others in our church.

But I don't have time to do all the things I want to do. Is it because instead of looking to the Father and obeying, I have looked at all the things others do and assumed that to be a good Christian mom I must do them too? Is it because I've looked at the world and adopted their standards for my kids' needs (sports, instruments, activities)? Is it because I have mistaken folks' online identities for reality? (Because it's easy to look shiny perfect on the internet). I think I need more margin.

I need to have a schedule that doesn't have us running 24 hrs a day. I need free time so I can respond to the Holy Spirit's leading and help others, whether it's by babysitting or cooking or running a few errands for someone else. When I am doing so much stuff (even good stuff) that I cannot help someone out, I am not where God wants me to be.

We do far less in our family than many others do. Partly because we have a lot of kids, and partly by design. I want my kids to see that margin is not optional. It is necessary. There are so many good things we could be doing. But when I start seeing people as distractions, instead of my purpose, something has to change.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

On the lighter side - guess who's two months old?

Miss Leah Claire!



Sometimes I am just amazed. I sooooo don't deserve a baby this sweet. God is amazing - His plans for us are so much bigger and better than we could ever imagine.

As far as my other goals this week? Well, I DID get out of bed with the alarm this morning. But as I was shaving my legs the power went out. Just came back on a little while ago. So we adjourned to the backyard most of the day and enjoyed the sunshine. 68 degrees! Woot!

I will do my quiet time tonight, but first dh and I have a hot date to go get a new dishwasher. Because ours has turned into a dishdirtier. And that's not good.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Faith-full

First off, I want to say thanks to my tens of readers for their undeserved compliments. All y'all just warm my heart. (Yes, Mom, I am a real Texan. I said "all y'all" - and last week I bought gold shoes. Scary, no?)

Second, I was really tempted to not blog today just to be an object lesson from yesterday about not being Supermom.

But I noticed something today in church that got me thinking. There was a typo up on the screen during one of the songs. (Yes, I am a bit AR and notice these things). The screen read "faithfull" instead of "faithful". Which caused me to ponder.

When I think of the fruit of the Spirit, I always think of faithfulness sort of like loyalty or consistency. But what if it also means being full of faith? And what if that is really the same thing?

It requires faith to trust that as I am consistent in the daily things God will be faithful to fulfill His promises to me. So I guess I need to be both faithful (loyal, consistent) and faith-full (trusting, expecting).

May not be a news flash to anyone else, but I thought is was kind of interesting. Hope y'all had a restful Sabbath and are empowered to take on the week. This week I am working on our morning routine, so I will be reporting daily on my progress towards reestablishing good habits. I am committing to be out of bed at 7 each morning and will be consistent in my quiet time. Harass me please and ask if I'm behaving!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I'm not Supermom.

Comments I often hear:

"Whoa! I could NOT handle that many kids."
"I could not handle homeschooling - I would kill them."
"You have that many kids and you still work part time? You must be Supermom."

The truth is, I am NOT Supermom. There are days when I wonder what the HECK I was thinking. Days when I want to drop them off at the nearest school and go get a pedicure. And a glass of wine. I often feel inadequate.

But remember a chapel speaker at ORU saying "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." And I KNOW He has called me. I had my first female surgery at age 16 and didn't know if I would ever carry a child. But His Word says, "He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD." (Ps 113:9) And He has been so faithful in doing just that.

So why would He fail now? The only failure is in my lack of belief in His sustenance.

He has promised me all sufficient grace (II Cor. 12:9).

He has promised to lead me (Is. 40:11).

He has promised that my children will be taught of Him and have great peace (Is. 54:13)

So even though I joke when asked how I "do it all" (which I don't, seriously, you have not seen my bathroom!) that I function on equal parts Jesus and caffeine, the truth is that any goodness in me comes directly from Him. And the only way any of us can fulfill our calling well is through Him. By daily crying out to Him and trusting that He will provide what we need to excel.

The truth is that I don't have to be Supermom, because I have a super God. And I'm not trusting in my sufficiency, I'm leaning wholly on His.

Friday, November 05, 2010

making babies

I have friends with lots of kids. And I mean LOTS of kids. One friend has 15, one has 13, one has 11. Many of my friends have families that fall on the larger end of the modern spectrum. 4, 5 or 6 kids is a normal sized family amongst my friends.

Many of them follow the quiverfull movement, a movement that eschews any kind of contraception. They believe that we should give complete control of our wombs to God, an idea which sounds perfect in theory, but can break down in practice when we assume that ceding control means total inaction.

We always intended to have a large family.

But after Nate (severe PIH, gained 30 lb of fluid in the last week, kidneys failed, was induced and delivered a floppy, grey baby 4 wks early - thankfully he perked up quickly), people told us we should stop. I wondered if I could ever go through that again. I wondered if it would be foolish to try again.

And yet, I knew God had put it in my heart to bear more children. So we tried again. Had Susannah (preterm labor at 31 wks, PROM at 33 wks, delivery with chorioamnionitis at 34 wks), and then Abigail (PROM at 33 wks with a transverse lie, emergency c/s, chorioamnionitis again, NICU).

Everyone thought we were nuts when we got pg with Luke. But I did better (36 wk c/s) and then with Gabe I actually went term (38.5 wks, 2 cm separation in uterus, c/s, high blood pressure). My parents begged us to get a tubal. But we held on to what God had put in our hearts.

And had beautiful Leah by c/s at 35 wks. And a tubal ligation. Because I have people here who need me. And a big God who can grow my family by adoption too. And there is a difference between reacting out of fear and acting out of prayerful prudence.

My point is, go to the Father and then just obey. Yes, the world's view on children is skewed. The Church has embraced this view and even many Christians see children as a burden instead of a blessing. But that doesn't mean we are spiritually obligated to pop out as many children as we possibly can. It means we need to see kids with God's heart, cheerfully accept the ones He brings into our lives and obey Him. The point is to yield. To be putty in His hands. It's not a contest to see who can collect the most kids.

I have friends who have born children at great risk to their lives, and I worry about the children who may be left motherless if they choose to bear another child. But on the opposite end of that spectrum I had an elder at our old church tell us that God doesn't care how many kids we have. That our childbearing choices (other than abortion) are no more important to the Father than the color of the car we drive. And I think they are both off base. We need not be foolish when our bodies are screaming to stop. But children are a blessing, and we will advance the kingdom of God as we raise godly seed. So ending our fruitfulness on a whim of personal preference seems just as foolish. We must be very prayerful about any decision of this magnitude and make sure our hearts and motivations are clean before altering God's design for our bodies.

I don't want to be labeled "quiverfull" though I certainly believe I have a full quiver. I want to be clay in His hands, submitting wholly to His will.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Homeschooling, special needs, preschool and punching friends

I have a lot on my plate. (And if I ever forget this, I'm sure a stranger will remind me that I "sure have my hands full" next time I go to Costco). This is our fourth year of homeschooling. Last year was the first year that I really felt like we hit our stride. Of course, having Leah right at the beginning of this school year kind of threw a wrench into the works, but we are slowly getting back on track.

Our oldest son, Nate, is dyslexic. He is 10 and reads on a first grade level. For the first two years that we homeschooled (and the year he went to public K) I beat my head against the wall trying to teach him to read. We tried so many curriculums and strategies. Finally, last year he was tested at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and diagnosed with dyslexia. Since then we have made a lot of progress towards reading well. But Nate still needs a lot of help.

Abigail shows some of the same tendencies that Nate did at that age. After over a year of phonics instruction she still does not recognize all of her letters. So I anticipate that she may need reading help as well.

Our two little boys, Luke and Gabe, both have severe speech delays. (Can I tell you how much I cried when Gabriel finally said, "I love you, Mama" for the first time last week?) They attend walk-in speech therapy at the local public school twice a week, but it was recommended that Gabe attend full time speech preschool.

There's only one me. And with a new baby, I am limited. So we made the prayerful decision to enroll Luke and Gabe in preschool two days a week. It will help with their speech issues and give me more time to intensely focus on schooling the older three, especially Nate and Abby.

But do you know what some of my homeschooling friends said? They were appalled that we would send our babies away. Even for 10 hrs a week. "If God wanted our babies to be put in school they would be born in classrooms instead of families," one of them sniffed. And I wanted to punch the stupid out of her. In Christian love, of course.

You see, Philip and I are homeschooling right now because we have prayed and believe it is the best thing for our family and our children. But that may change later. Some of our kids may go to private school or even (gasp) public school. It depends on what God tells us each child needs.

Because we are not disciples of the homeschool movement.

We are disciples of Christ. And our educational goals for our children are simple. We want them to be well-rounded, well-read, capable servants of Christ who have the skills they need to succeed at the calling He has placed on their lives. Homeschooling is not the goal, it is the method that we are using right now on our path to raising our little ones to love and serve Him.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Breaking the box habit

Our sweet Luke was out of control. We were noticing crazy behaviors out of him. Things you would not expect from a 4 yr old - screeching, fit throwing, hyperactivity, etc. We did not know what to do.

After some prayer, I was led to look at Luke's diet. I decided to remove artificial colors and preservatives from his diet. Which meant moving to an almost completely "from scratch" way of cooking. I like to cook so this didn't seem too bad.

Except for breakfast. We were addicted to the box. Of cereal, that is. And even the healthy cereals have BHT and other chemicals in them. And most are LOADED with sugar.

So I have embarked upon a journey to ban the box from our house.

Last week I made 20 dozen muffins (pumpkin chocolate chip, double chocolate, applesauce, whole wheat English muffins, and whole wheat scones). Got them in the freezer with 8 loaves of applesauce bread. So each morning I take some out, microwave them for 20 seconds or so and the kids slather them with butter. Mmm!

I also made a 2 gallons of applesauce and 1 gallon of granola. This should last us a couple weeks.

This morning I made whole wheat tortillas and we ate them with butter and cinnamon sugar. We also had yogurt. And even though the kids are sick and crabby, they aren't acting crazy.

I purchased some ebooks from The Heavenly Homemaker and I'm really enjoying learning to cook REAL FOOD that doesn't involve cans of chemical laden crap.

Here are a few pics of my newly fixed and stocked deep freeze (notice the 12 freezer meals too! Woot!)





And just for fun, this is what happens when you don't clean off your counters before starting the crockpot. Oops!



So, please, spam me with your favorite make-ahead breakfast recipes.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I'm BAAAACK!

So, you may be wondering where I disappeared to. For almost a year. Well, life got crazy.

I had a miscarriage.

Then got pregnant again. And was freaky tired. For months. And barfing.

And then I severed tendons in my fingers. And couldn't type.

Then I worked.

And then I had a gorgeous, amazing, adorable, all-around perfect baby girl. Five weeks early. So she eats. A lot. And all night.

But now she's almost 2 months old and I'm back. I promise to write SOMETHING every day this month. I DON'T promise that it will be awesome. But I'll try.

And here's my sweet girl.