Sunday, January 29, 2012

There's a Rumbling within Me

And no, it's not a rumbling like "you need to eat" growling.  Or a "you shouldn't have eaten so much" grumble. Ha!
But a stirring of the soul, you could say.

This feeling is very familiar to  It's hard to an unsettled, disturbed, inability to rest, deep within you feeling.  It's a nagging, almost. Constant.  It consumes your mind, your thoughts.  Depending on the day, this slow stirring can make me anxious, fearful, or excited.

You see.  This is the same feeling I dealt with for months before we committed to adopting Blake.  I just let go of my business, my identity, you could possibly say.  I had no direction.  Just wandering.  Feeling God's presence and guidance, but no clarity as to what and where and when.

I am back to that spot.  This rumbling within my soul, something is brewing beneath the surface.  I have NO idea what it is, but I now know where it is coming from.

It is the Holy Spirit.  I recognize the symptoms and now know the source.  Which is what bothers me and also excites me.  I am bothered because I have no idea what this rumbling is foreshadowing.  A valley or a hill?  Trial or tribulation?  It is just there. 

It hasn't chosen to rear its head yet.  But what I do know is...I need to pay attention to it.  I need to do some rearranging of my life so as to lend more time to listening, being still, and waiting.  More prayer, more fasting, more time in the Scriptures.  Because whatever this rumbling represents, it is going to be something big in our lives.  I just feel it.  I have experienced it once already. 

I don't feel it's related to adoption again, if you are wondering.  I haven't felt any pull that way as of yet.  Like I said before, I haven't felt any indication as to what it means or where its leading me too.

Just know that during this time of soul-searching on my part, I feel like I am wandering. I'm in a funk of sorts.  Irritated at everyone.  Confused by everything.  Indifferent to opinions.  Misunderstanding people's lack of concern for the voiceless. 

I'm in a scary place...the unknown.  A place with no answers.  It's hard to trust and obey when you are in this place.  Like I said, I have been here before.  Just don't know what the outcome will be yet.  So I will sit idly, wait fervently, and hope that light is soon shed.  Pray. Fast. Read.

Be still my soul, I pray.

Friday, January 27, 2012

This is the Stuff

Ohhh, this has been a doozy of a past few weeks. 

This week, especially, I keep finding myself slipping into that "woe is me" mood.  So as I was driving in the car yesterday this song popped into my head.  Let me replay the movie strip that played out in my mind as I was trucking along...

"This is the stuff that drives me crazy..."
--Like only getting 4 hours of sleep the past week
--A crying 1-year old waking up the rest of the house at 3 am
--A poopy diaper interrupting naptime (for me and Blake)
--Leaving a 2 lb. package of hamburger out on the counter overnight
--Not getting to run at all this week because of being so exhausted

"This is the stuff that is getting too me lately..."
--Like how much money we spend mindlessly when there are so many in need
--Like how little of concern is given by most to the orphans of this world
--By how distracted we get with all the 'fluff' of this world and how little time of prayer
--How little we understand of God's love, sovereignty, and might power, and therefore doubt it

"In the middle of my little mess..."

"I forget how BIG I am blessed..."
--With a loving, caring husband
--With 3 passionate, vibrant, spirited children
--With health and knowledge
--With hope in an All-Mighty Savior
--With loving, caring parents and in-laws
--Food to eat
--Roof over our head

"This is the stuff that gets under my skin..."
--Like Blake's labwork appointment being rescheduled for the 4th time
--All 3 kids all the sudden getting picky about what they will eat
--Endless laundry and dish piles

"But I've gotta trust you know exactly what you're doing..."
--And recognize my finite understanding
--Realize I am only human
--Get on my knees and pray
--Realize I am nothing apart from Christ
--Know there is a bigger purpose and plan
--Realize I am living in this epic story of good vs. evil and good will prevail

"Might not be what I would choose..."
--Sleepless nights
--Revealing my weaknesses
--Facing my pride issues
--Giving up my selfish ways

"But this is the stuff you use..."
--To draw me near to the Holy Spirit's leading
--To make me weak so He can be strong
--To give me quiet time to pray in the stillness of the night
--To reveal your will and your way within me
--To glorify yourself
--To help get my attention

So...thank you Francesca Battistelli for giving me a wake-up call yesterday while I wallowed in self-pity on my way to work.  I needed the splash of cold water to bring me back to my senses.

Monday, January 23, 2012

That Thing You Do

Of all the things I have loved about our adoption of Blake, including his cute little kissable face I get to squeeze each morning, is probably my husband.  In fact, this is probably the one thing I love most about all of our kids, now that I think of it. 

We are not the PDA, make you gag, get a room kind of lovey-dovey couple.
You won't hear me calling him Lover Boy.  Or him calling me Sweet Pea.
We are not an extravagant, over the top, type of couple.

We got married young.  We had no idea what our future would hold, but we had high hopes and endless dreams.  We were adventurous and still are.  We spend our time together kayaking, hiking, fishing, camping, four-wheeling, boating, white water rafting, etc.  Those used to be the things I loved about Jerad most, was the adventurous times we shared and mutually enjoyed. 

That was until we had our kids.

I often catch myself looking at our children and looking at Jerad. I just smile thinking that we made these little kiddos together.  We did this.  It gives me this feeling of fullness and warmth fills my cup.  Now don't get me wrong, there are days when Leah gets her head-shaking, sassy talk, naughty self in a bind and she suddenly becomes HIS CHILD!  But usually, my emotions are filled with joy.

Nothing makes me love my husband more than watching him interact with our children.  Nothing makes me love him more than when he walks in the back door after work and all 3 children screech in excitement as they run up to him with open arms anxiously awaiting a bear hug. Now don't get me wrong, there are days Jerad is greeted in less than desirable ways, like when Leah's in her room throwing a fit, Autum is banging on the fridge door screaming for more chocolate chips, and Blake's in his high chair yelling for more snacks.

Nothing makes me love him more than when he makes sure to spend time with each child.  Like when he scoops up Autum and tickles her little chin, and she belly laughs so hard, her pacifier pops out.  Or when he gets Leah in a wrestling hold and tickles her thighs so much that she kicks and screams that she is going to pee her pants.  Or when he throws Blake so high in the air and he gets to coughing because he is giggling so hard in excitement. 

Nothing makes me love him more than when he observes that I need a break.  When he encourages me to get out of the house.  When he notices, even before I do, that I need some 'me' time.  And lately these days have become more needed.  When he says "what do you need me to do?" My response is usually "let's see, where do I start?"  When he sometimes tells me to stay in bed and he'll go tend to the babies when they are up multiple times in a night.  When I am in a 'poor-me' attitude and he reminds me that we are in this together. 

But what I absolutely, positively, love the most is my husband's gigantic heart.  He likes to pretend he is an outdoor manly man who likes to hunt and fish.  And I'll continue to let him put on this front, as long as I continue to get glimpses of his big 'ol heart. A heart that loves me and my ratty old sweatpants and obsession with working out.  A heart that puts up with my head in the clouds' ideas.  A heart that loves our kids.  A heart that was burdened by orphans.  A heart that was softened to poverty.  A heart that recognizes our selfish ways. A heart that wants to change.  A heart that hurts for what makes Christ's heart hurt.  A heart that burdens to help others.

This adoption has brought us closer in so many, probably unspoken ways.  I can hardly contain myself when I  think about how much Jerad has grown to love Blake.  How he has completely opened his heart to this little boy.  How he has never looked back upon our decision to make him ours.  How he treats him just like our girls.  How he has big hopes and dreams for Blake's future.  How he is concerned with what I dress him in.  How he makes sure Blake uses the blue towels, not pink ones after a bath.  How he doesn't use a princess pacifier.  How he has his own cozy coupe truck.  How he has his own camouflage.  How he verbalizes all the things he and Blake will be able to do together in another year or so.

How he is wrapped around Blake's finger in only 3 month's time.
And probably by how much Blake loves Jerad.

Ahhh, just makes me smile thinking about it.  I do not need fancy jewelry, big gifts, or luxurious vacations (although it would be nice sometime in the future) to feel Jerad's love.  I just need to see a little boy with Down Syndrome crawl over to his daddy, wrap his arms around his neck, and give a drool-filled, tongue out kiss on his cheek to be reminded of why I married this man nearly 8 years ago.

Friday, January 20, 2012


As I was thinking of all the reason's why we have been so busy, all I could come up with is that we have been running!  Running in so many ways.
**sidenote: If I miss a few 'o's in this blogpost, I apologize now, it's because Autum ripped the 'o' key off the keyboard while daddy was 'babysitting' one night and now it only works if you stop and pound it with your finger.. :)

 Now back to's a rundown (no pun intended):

Miss Autum is literally running now.  She no longer walks with her hands out front like Frankenstein.  She loves to run really fast into the room when Blake wakes up from his nap.  She screeches and waves her hands and gets so excited to see him peeking over the edge of the crib.  She loves to run into the street when we play outside.  That girl! If you turn around for one minute, she's on her way to the street. Makes a mommy have a heart attack! She has been running as a tag-along to everyone else's events and appointments.

Mr. Blake is running on his feet behind a push-toy.  He can really get going now.  He still walks and runs very stiff-legged, but we are making some HUGE progress with leg strength.  He has even taken a few steps without assistance.  He bear crawls backward to a wall or chair, slowly stands up and gets his balance...gets a big smile on his face, raises his hands in the air and takes off!  He usually gets 2-3 steps in before he lunges into my or Jerad's lap.  Just in time to back it up and do it again...and again...and again...He now weighs 21 lbs. and is 30 inches long.  He is up 1 lb. since our Embassy appointment in November and has grown nearly 1 inch as well.  He ran with me to his first cardiologist appointment this week as well.  He has one small ASD, but the cardiologist determined it wasn't enough to worry about now.  We will be heading back for a check-up in 18 months.  We have met 2 of our Early Intervention goals as well.  Blake DOESN'T run away when we pick up a book now, he crawls right into our laps and starts pointing and interacting with the textures on the pages.  He is also beginning to communicate and make eye contact.  He DOESN'T run away with his snack at snack time, he'll sit and enjoy everyone's company now.  He will sign 'want' when he is ready for more and he will look at us now while he's doing it.  He and I will be running to his opthamologist, EN&T, and pulmonologist in the next few weeks. 

Miss Leah is running to all of her social events.  She wakes up running...she has since the day she was born.  She runs around the house, runs in place while eating breakfast, runs around in between brief moments of watching cartoons, runs into her room to try on 40 different outfits in a day, runs to AWANA club, runs to play dates with friends, runs to daycare a few days a week, runs to Junior Cheerleading Squad practice,  runs to Sunday School, runs to the library, runs to greet her daddy when he gets home from work each day, runs from mommy when she is in trouble, runs to gymnastics, runs from her chore list...

I am running in and between all of these kids as well as on my own.  My running comes in many different efforts. I run 2-3 mornings a week with a friend, it is my only 'me' time.  Which is why I have to get up at the crack of dawn to make it mine!  I run around getting kids ready for the day.  I run my patience thin, when Autum decides to get into the flowing shower water (which was meant for me) one morning, after I get her dressed and her shoes on before leaving for work.  I am running to work 2 days a week again, now.  I most recently ran out of our walk-in shower trying to catch Autum after she decided to join me.  After I stripped her out of her soaked footie pajamas to join me, she proceeded to squat down and poop on the shower floor and my foot and streak out of the shower and out into our bedroom.  The chase was on.  I am also running Blake to all of his medical appointments, running between phone calls to our insurance company to make sure all of these specialists are covered.  Running between conversations with Jerad about setting up our estate plan for Blake and the girls.  Running Leah to school (literally we walk almost everyday) and then picking her up.  Running after Blake, as his new infatuation with our trash cans, is leading to a dirty mess everywhere.  Running to see what teeny, tiny Barbie accessory Autum has chosen to put in her mouth after playing in Leah's room.  My brain is constantly running wondering if I have forgotten anything, why both babies didn't sleep the night before, why Blake has so much anxiety around large crowds of people all the sudden now, why Autum likes to bite Blake, why Leah has started shaking her neck and responding with a new level of sass at my every request, how I am going to train for any running races or triathlons this year, what I am going to cook for supper, when we will ever be able to attend church again with Blake, if Jerad is feeling neglected in all of this craziness, what Leah needs for attention each day to fill her cup. 

Jerad is running just as much as me.  He is running to work every morning.  He runs back inside to grab his newly-prescribed glasses that he is not used to wearing yet. He runs fast enough to get to the local grocery store for biscuits and gravy before his workday begins.  I can't imagine why, when he can sit in the screaming, noise level 10, chaotic kitchen while I try to get everyone around, and eat mushy cereal, warm milk, and reheated 5 times hot chocolate.  He then runs home from work, and is greeted by 3 running kids anxious to see him.  He runs to change his dirt-covered clothes to sweats so he and Leah can complete their nightly wrestling match.  He then runs downstairs to run on the treadmill and lift some weights and unwind.  He then runs up the stairs when he hears me and everyone else falling apart at dinner time.  He runs to a quick shower.  Runs to clean up supper.  Runs to help me get 3 kids bathed.  Runs to help get bedtime routine going.  Runs to bed at the first hint of quiet in the house!

We are running.  We are running to a lot of things, running away from others, and yet feel like time is running from us. to rest before Round 2 of running begins for the day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A few Remarks from Blake and Autum

Posing as Miss Snow White..aka Queenie
Autum says: Since Santa failed me and didn't do something about this skinny leg little boy that mommy and daddy brought home, I have had to make some adjustments in my daily routine.  Don't worry, I haven't gone so far as to give up my role as Queenie, though!  I still scream and cry to get what I want.  It STILL is an effective tool, I can bring on the crocodile tears at the drop of a hat.  If that stinky little boy even thinks about laying a finger on me, I scream.  Enough said.  But back to what I was saying.  I like to wake up early and screech loud into the baby monitor to let mom and dad know that it is time to come get Blake out of my room, so I can continue to sleep in peace.  For some reason about 5:45 am, e.v.e.r.y. morning, Blake starts this rocking and moaning routine..."rrrRRRRrrr"  "ahhAHHHahhh" Then I follow up with "WAAAHHHH."  Not long after, someone whisks him away, I roll over and finish up my beauty sleep before I'm ready for breakfast.

What are you looking at? I was cold after bath time one night, leave me alone.
I also had to change places at the dinner table with that skinny little boy.  See, I got a new pretty pink high chair and he got my old white one.  Mommy and daddy didn't know they bought a pink one when they brought it home...hehehe.  So I was happy to accept the shiny, new, pink chair to eat in, while he was demoted to my old, sticky, raisin stuck to the seat, barbecue stained, chair.  But that is not all, we had to switch places at the table too, because you see, this kid...he likes to throw his food.  He is getting strong enough now his throws can catapault barbecue sauce covered pork loin to the kitchen walls.  He thinks it is SO cool to watch the chunks of meat race down the wall, leaving dark-colored streaks all the way to the floor--while mommy and daddy cringe. You see, a Queenie doesn't act in such a I was given his seat at the table near the wall, and he has been moved as far away from the wall as possible.  Needless to say his meat chunk chucking skills have come to a halt due to some quick thinking on mommy's part.  Every item of food he throws, he is removed from his high chair and placed on the floor to pick up..he even has to crawl over and hand it to mommy before he is allowed back in his chair.  She does this with his cups too...for some reason he loves to throw his cup on the floor while we are eating.  I love to sit in my chair from above and look down on the food-covered little meat-tosser...makes me feel like royalty.

This is the other thing I can't handle...if he doesn't like his food at dinner, he sneakily slides it over to my high chair tray when no one is looking.  I give him this dirty look by ducking my head down and looking up at him from the top of my eyelids, I swing my arms, and screech.  He just gives mommy this cheesy little grin like he didn't do anything wrong when she turns around.  Grrrr!  I don't like green beans any more than he does...I DON'T WANT THEM.  It's hard enough to dispose of those things myself without having to hide the ones he discards on my tray.  A girl can only hide so many green beans behind her back. 

Blake says:  Well, I'm starting to get this whole family thing figured out.  I have to say it sure beats my old home.  Someone comes and gets me early in the morning, right after my first morning growl.  What that crazy-haired girl doesn't know is, I do this so I can go back to mommy and daddy's room.  I get a whole hour of one-on-one attention with daddy before everyone else wakes up and while mommy is exercising.  We hide underneath the sheets.  We play peek-a-boo.  We wrestle and jump on the bed.  We unfold all the clothes mommy folded the night before and left in the basket to be put away.  We laugh.  It is the best time of day for me! 

Then right after that fun time of playing I get to eat breakfast.  I have my own highchair now even comes with food already attached to it.  I can find some old raisins or crackers down on the bottom if I look and feel around really well.  You can't beat that!  The worse part about it is, I can't hit the target on the wall with my food, now.  I am too far away.  I'm going to have to keep working on my upper body strength during the day.  I'll have to increase the number of times I drag the bar stools out of the kitchen and try to throw them down the steps.  They are really heavy, and I have to drag them quickly because mommy always finds me right before I let them loose, so that will be a good workout challenge for me to get stronger.  Anyway, with experimentation, I have realized that if a food is too crunchy, too hot to taste, is green, or smells funny, it has got to go.  The farther I throw it, the lesser chance I'll have to see it again, usually.  Especially if it hits the wall and begins to streak down to the floor...mommy gets so angry and caught up in cleaning the wall off she forgets to put the food back on my tray.  Except for now, she interrupts my meal eating and meat throwing routine by sitting me on the floor to pick up my mess.  I have had to be a bit more picky about what I toss, so I can at least sit and eat the food I like...otherwise I'm on the floor picking up food most of our dinner time.  Can't have that.  I am getting really close to walking too.  I can push my little walk-behind toy all over the house and yard...almost fast enough to keep up with chubby girl.  She just toddles a bit faster than me, but I'm getting close.  I can cruise around the living room furniture, from table to chair.  I can't get over how much different my legs feel now that I'm at my new house.  Now I know why they are attached to my body, they are actually useful...not just two things dangling behind me and slowing me down when I army crawled on the floor.  I am so glad for this because I tell you I DO NOT LIKE grass.  When we go outside I used to have to just sit in that brown, scratchy stuff...I'd wave my hands in the air and cry.  I still don't like the grass and leaves, but at least I can stand up now and not have to sit in it.  Thank God for my red wagon too...phew, what a lifesaver.  No grass for me, thanks.  I'll sit or stand in my wagon.

This was a game of shoot Snow White while she runs was pretty fun!
I am also starting to realize that the people that I live with now are always here.  I am used to having so many different women come in and out of my room, before.  Every morning I woke up I never knew who was going to pick me up and change my clothes, or who would feed me or bathe me.  I would sleep next to a different roommate every day, in a different crib, at a different time.  Now I sleep in the same bed, with the same blanket and glow worm, either daddy or mommy puts me to sleep, I sleep next to crazy-chubby girl every night, I take baths with her every night, I play with the red-headed freckled girl everyday, I eat at the same table with the same people.  I'm beginning to like this.  I need this routine.  I need these people.  I finally am beginning to relax and trust.  I know that when mommy lays me down for a nap, she will be the one to come get me up.  I know when I go to sleep at night, I'll wake up in the same crib to the same faces.  I am realizing now, that I get kind of scared when someone new comes to our house, our routine is changed, or if mommy or daddy leave for a while.  I get this uneasy feeling in my tummy and my emotions start to come out...not sure what this feeling is, but I don't like it.  And then I can't sleep at night very well, I wake myself up and look around to see where I am...sometimes I'll cry really loud to see if mommy and daddy are still around.  They always show up, thank goodness, but I still get scared sometimes.  I am really loving these new people in my life, yes...even that crazy-haired girl...and I don't want them to leave.  I sure hope they do not.  Maybe I should quit throwing barbecue pork loin against the wall, mommy always gets this look on her face like she needs to leave the house for a while...

Monday, January 9, 2012


My heart is breaking today.

You know what I wrote about Friday...a war is waging.  Let me tell you, it is real and it is happening.  Most specifically, to my adoption family.

You know Sarah and Shawn Basile, the family who we had the privilege of spending 3 weeks with in Ukraine.  If you need a reminder, their blog is:  Anyway, I feel like they are family, like Mila is related to Blake in some sort of crazy way.  Their stories collide in many miraculous ways--ways I hope someday they will be curious about and we will have the privilege of sharing with them.  And of course, the opportunity to play together.

But Mila has had an uphill battle since arriving home.  Her first struggles began on the airplane ride home with her difficulty to breathe.  She had surgery to improve her breathing and restlessness.  Then a week after that she had open heart surgery.  Sarah and Shawn believed they were in the clear.  But the 2nd day after surgery, Mila began to cry and cry.  She would only sleep for 20-30 minutes at a time.  This continued for a week or so.  The surgeon told Sarah to check with her pediatrician, who told her there was nothing wrong.  But...Sarah knew in her gut that Mila wasn't right.  She was hurting and struggling.  She pushed more with the doctors.  FINALLY, after 3 doctor's telling her there wasn't anything wrong, she discovered Mila had a urinary tract infection...probably since she had her surgery--about 2 weeks before that.  It was so bad, that they scheduled a kidney evaluation for Thursday of this week.  After speaking with Sarah Friday, she and Shawn were hoping to finally get some sleep for themselves, and for Mila to finally rest peacefully so her body could continue to heal...and so they could all relax. But this weekend things didn't improve and they are back at the hospital hoping to get answers.  They believe she is having more cardiac issues they weren't aware of or that have just appeared.  I don't know if I could be as strong as Sarah.  I know she doesn't believe she is being strong.  I know she feels like she can't handle much more.  I know she is worn out and without answers.  But what I do know is that Sarah loves Jesus and that He is carrying she and Shawn through this...moment by moment.  So, let's band together and pray for them right now.

Pray for peace that surpasses all understanding...pray for answers from the doctor's...pray for healing of Mila...pray for Sarah and Shawn's marriage during this time of trials...pray for their health to be maintained while they are strained mentally and physically...pray for wisdom, discernment, and understanding...pray for God to be glorified through it all.

Also, pray for another adoptive family friend of ours.  The Taylor family and little Jadon.  Jadon had a routine tonsillectomy last week and is still in the hospital because his body refuses to breathe on its own.  He can't seem to recover his breathing to sustain normal O2 levels.  So while you are lifting up Mila and the Basile family...say a prayer for Jadon and wisdom from the doctor's for his family as well.  As well as pray for a spirit of peace to overcome Jadon and Christie and family.  The unknown is a scary place to reside for any pray for them to be at peace in the fact that God is omnipotent.

Finally, pray for my dear friend Danielle and her adoption of Sergey.  They are still awaiting notification from the EE government about a court date for their adoption.  They are fighting the fear, frustration, worry, and all the other tactics Satan uses to bring us down, that so many adoptive families face.  Tactics that draw our eyes away from Christ and His sovereignty and Lordship and power.  So pray for discernment, wisdom, understanding, peace and hope for the Farley Family.  They have been waiting nearly a year for this precious boy to join their family.  Yet so many obstacles keep arising.  They know God has this boy planned for their family, and that their plans to adopt him align with God's will for them, so they are anxious and excited, yet feeling scared too for the hold-up's that keep being thrown their way.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A War is Waging.

Beyond reading the Frank Peretti books about spiritual warfare, I can't honestly say that I had experienced the direct result of the collision of good and evil in this world.  I hear people talk about it all the time, about the crazy things that happen in their lives that many of us can't understand, yet these people attribute it to spiritual warfare and the need to pray.  I hear of people experiencing or even feeling evil in their presence and how it stirs a feeling of fear within their souls.  Like I said, I can't honestly say I have ever experienced it or realized it, I guess...until we committed to adopt Blake.  Now two things run through my mind, when I think about this.  Either I have not lived in faith and stepped boldly enough forward in Christ before, to make the Devil feel like he needs to intercede...or I have been living ignorantly in life up until now attributing things to coincidence, etc.  I am guessing it's a combination of the two. 

The reason I share this, is I've realized the importance of prayer and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  I have realized the importance of putting on the full armor of God.  I need the Sword of the Spirit, belt of Truth (Bible verse memory), Breastplate of Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Shield of Faith, and Helmet of Salvation (assurance of hope).  If a person is planning to step out in complete faith and reliance on God's calling on his or her heart, if he or she plans to abandon all things of 'this world', if he or she is going to move mountains...then be ready!  The devil prowls like a roaring lion.  The journey of God does not consist of successes and achievements, but quite the opposite.  It consists of weaknesses and disappointments that require us to become 'weak' in Him, and then, finally, we are able to grow in all areas of our life.  It may not sound like a fun path to take, but narrow is the path as a follower of Christ. 

I feel like I experienced that firsthand in ways I am just now willing to share.  The day Jerad and I were scheduled to fly out of Wichita for Ukraine, the first time around, I went through two nerve-racking experiences within 10 minutes of each other.  Enough so that I was physically shaken and flat-out fearful!  The morning was nice enough for us to get outside, so I rocked Autum to sleep and laid her in her crib while Leah and I dashed out the front door to play a game of kickball.  I set the monitor on the porch just in case Autum awoke.  Well, we hadn't been outside long when I felt this HUGE urge to go back inside and check on Autum.  I NEVER do this because she doesn't nap well, so we all tip-toe around and whisper while she is asleep just so she will rest soundly, and I never go back into her room after she's out for fear I will step on a noisy toy and begin the endless crying again.  But...I kept feeling this prompting to go back in I went.  I walked into her room, peered over the edge of the crib, and noticed her eyes were open, her lips and face were beginning to look blue, and she was struggling to get a breath.  I picked her up, flipped her over and began to do the Heimlich Maneuver on her, then I pounded on her back attempting to dislodge whatever was in her throat.  My mind was racing as nothing was happening.  I pounded, I pushed with my fists under her little ribs, wondering what else I could do...I was crying, praying out loud...when after what seemed like a hour, she began to throw up..."thank you, Lord" arose from my lips...she threw up again and began to really cough...then she screamed and screamed.  I flipped her over and swept my finger through her mouth and I caught hold of a small metal hair clip she usually wears in her hair.  Whew.  I cried and she cried, I squeezed her and held her close while I prayed to God in gratitude.  I finally got her calmed down enough that she fell back asleep.

I laid her back down and just watched her sleep....thoughts were swirling through my head.  Where did the hair clip come from?  What if I hadn't come back in here?  What if I couldn't get the hair clip dislodged?  Why did this happen?  Can I really leave her now?  Is she going to be okay? 

I got myself together and walked back out on the porch, shaking hysterically.  As I walked outside, I saw Leah happily kicking the ball around the yard.  I quickly thanked God she remained outside while all of this happened with Autum, because I'm not sure she could have handled it.  Man, I couldn't even handle it.  I just sat down and closed my eyes for a second...honestly, maybe 1 second... before I heard yelling across the street.  I looked up in time to see a high school girl collapse in the parking lot of the school.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I took off running, threw off my jacket, and dove to my knees at the girl's side.  I yelled at the student with her to go call 911.  The girl's eyes were rolling back and she was convulsing and she was wheezing and gasping for a breath.  Her other friend told me she has seizures and asthma.  They were running a timed mile for PE class and the girl began to have an asthma attack and seize at the same time, before she collapsed onto the cement.  Trying to decide what the best thing for her would be, I turned her over on her side so if she threw up she wouldn't choke and I asked someone if the girl had an inhaler.  Several minutes later, the high school nurse came running out of the school with a decorative bag, which I later found out contained the girl's inhaler and seizure medication.  Then an EMT who happened to be driving by, jumped in and took over.  I slowly backed away, catching my breath, and looking for where Leah ended up.  I took one step at a time back to my house trying to comprehend what all had just happened in the past few moments. 

After I got myself composed once again, I felt this feeling of evilness.  I felt this darkness near me, a heaviness.  THIS is what other people had been trying to describe.  At that moment, I realized I had two choices.  One, that I could let this experience drive me into a hole in the ground out of fear and worry, afraid to move forward with God's journey for us...or I could recognize this as Satan's way of trying to bring me down, make me run in fear, and lose trust in God's power and sovereignty.  SO I chose the latter, vowed to increase my prayer time over the next few hours, equipped myself with other prayer warriors (good friends), and chose to move forward with God at my side.  BUT, being fully aware of the evil that was lurking. 

I write this not to discourage you.  I write this not for you to feel sorry for me.  I write this not for you to be fearful.  But to warn you, to help you be aware, and to remind you to equip yourself with the Armor of God constantly.  Because a war is waging out there...I am now fully aware of the seriousness of it.

So do not forget to pray.  Do not forget to remind others to pray.

THIS is my reminder to you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oh, My Poor Firstborn Child

As I have spent the past few weeks home with all of my children, I have had some self-reflection and realization of my parenting skills.  It is something I think God has been revealing to me about my heart and my children.  I have actually gone through a phase of regret and mourning, you could say.

I am realizing how many regrets I have about my parenting skills with Leah her first few year's of life.  I look back now and wish I had been a lot more patient.  I wish I would have relaxed more about so many things.  I mean, I realize how much I was concerned with my own agenda when she was younger.  I sometimes think I wasn't ready to have a child yet, when she arrived.  I was young and unprepared...completely!  I never even read 1 book about child-rearing.  Didn't even think about it.  Obviously, no mom ever knows what to expect with her first child, but I felt completely unready.  I never really liked kids growing up.  I rarely gave my name out to babysit.  I didn't really interact with kid's much when I was older.  I had my own agenda, a selfish, prideful one.  No time for kids.  In fact, I always said I wasn't having kids...ever.  No desire too, I guess.  Well, along came Leah.  My vivacious, lively, social, smarter than her own good, witty, energized, curly red-head little girl!  A child who I chose to give up time with to focus on building my business more.  A child who I got disgusted with when she made a mess that I had to clean up and interrupted my 'work.'  A child who I rarely allowed to get dirty because it got in the way of my time.  A child who I would get so angry with when she refused to nap (I must add she was not a great napper, and still isn't) so that I could workout.  A child who I would allow to ruin my whole day when she woke up early and cut into my workout schedule and triathlon or running training.  A child who I loved with my whole heart and soul, yet would get so upset with, about every little thing.

These are the questions I constantly ask myself:

Why couldn't I have seen my selfishness?  
Why couldn't I have realized that not getting a workout in everyday wasn't going to ruin my race day performance?  
Why couldn't I have realized that a messy house was 'okay?'  
Why couldn't I have realized that I had plenty of time to focus on my 'work', someday? 
Why couldn't I have realized that I only had one chance to shape her in her young years?
Why couldn't I have realized I was creating all kinds of insecurities within her by getting angry with her every mishap?

I could go on and on with the questions and regrets that have been swirling in my head.  But instead I have been praying for grace...lots and lots of grace.  (Actually that has been my prayer A LOT lately, with all 3 kids, haha!)

Still today, sometimes that girl can just get under my skin.  And sometimes she dumbfounds me daily with her wit, observations and questions I have no answer for.  She loves and NEEDS to be around people, constantly.  She is not a cookie cutter kid, she questions everything, refuses to be content with a vague answer, digs deeper, is determined to perfect everything, and has an old soul.  She has a lively spirit within her that is contagious to everyone around her. She is a spirited child, and no self-help book can define the best way to handle her.

But most recently, this is what I've discovered.  We bump heads on the things she makes me feel weak in, have no answer for, feel insecure about.  And in ways that we are EXACTLY. ALIKE.  I have realized I cannot handle being humbled daily by the things Leah does that are most like me.  That is a lot to swallow.  To constantly be shown my weaknesses, my insecurities, and my fears--day in and day out. 

You see, I am realizing it is not my child I am having such a hard time with.  It is what she represents in my own life, my own weaknesses, that I can't handle.  God uses our children to humble us, and boooooy, lately my heart is being worked on. You see, I just feel like I am enjoying Autum and Blake so much more than I ever did Leah.  I rarely worry about the mess, get aggravated with their faults, or let an interruption of my own selfish desires make or break my day.  I just feel so much more relaxed and comfortable this time around.  And that is what is getting me, I feel like I have shorted Leah on experiencing the more fun, relaxed 'me.'  Not the uptight, frustrated, self-agenda focused me.  I guess that is part of being the oldest child, he or she becomes the guinea pig, the child you learn from before the next child comes along.  Maybe that's why we have the same issues, I'm the oldest child as well.

But like I said before, I am praying for lots of lots of grace.  And telling Leah that Mommy needs Jesus just as much as she does when she is naughty.  And that I am thankful for His continuous mercy and forgiveness.  That we are all being molded and shaped, and humbled into His image.  Constantly.  So I am hoping she and I can work through this together, and that she is as resilient in this area of her life as she is in everything else.  And someday will forgive me. 

In the meantime, I'm working to forgive myself.  And attempting to make up for lost time.

Photo courtesy of Megan Hein

Monday, January 2, 2012

My New Year's Resolution to Nothing

Jerad and I have been talking a lot this week about how much our lives have revolved around BIG changes the past 6 years. So much so, that we have decided living in craziness is our life-calling..haha!  I guess we get bored if we have to sit still long.  That explains why I have 3 VERY active children, not sure why I complain when they don't sleep in, when they won't sit and watch TV longer than 20 minutes, why they are into everything, why they hate riding in cars, why they don't like to be cuddled and rocked for very long...and on and on.  But back to my first point...we have concluded that this year we DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING.  Everyone makes New Year's resolutions for change.  Ours is for NO change. 

Let me catch you up to speed on our lives the past 6 years.  I graduated college in December 2005. We had our first daughter in May 2006.  We moved to Kansas, and Jerad started a new job in October 2006.  Started new job January 2007, working at Parkside Homes, Inc--sent Leah to daycare for first time. We bought a house in January 2007 and I opened Woods Wellness out of our home. Started trying for baby #2 in May 2008. Expanded business to work with Disability Supports in Hutchinson and McPherson, started traveling 2 days a week to work in January 2009. Were told we couldn't have anymore baby's October 2009.  We moved into a rental house December 2009.   Found out we were expecting January 2010.  I moved my business to downtown Hillsboro in May 2010.  Moved into a new house September 2010.  Had Autum October 2010.  Committed to adopting Blake, May 2011.  Brought Blake home November 2011.  January 2012, rest. :)

So I have learned to "never say never." (After saying that, I realize my daughter's current obsession with Justin Bieber is rubbing off on me, because his movie is the first thing that came to mind when I typed that....oh wow!)  If you want to know why, read this.  See what I mean?

But I honestly feel like we need to rest this year.  I know this will be more difficult than being busy for us, honestly.  But I feel like I want to invest more time in building stronger relationships with my friends, for Jerad and I to get out, ALONE, more often, for us to say 'no' to more things offered to us, and just be home, and to let our hearts be changed evermore through God's work in our lives.  Simplicity is the theme of this year for us, I HOPE. 

We'll see, at about 4:45 am this morning as I was lying in bed listening to Blake cry, then waking up Autum and hearing her cry (because they share the same room), I began to think how this house was getting too small for us...