Thursday, February 23, 2012

The teen years.

This past Saturday Brock turned thirteen. I am officially a parent of a teen now! It really is a blur and crazy how fast those years go by. But I must say that I consider myself very lucky to have been able to watch Brock grow from a tiny 6 lb. 1 ounce little guy to the person he has become these past 13 years.
Brock has always been a mild-mannered, people-pleasing, good-humored, tolerable, patient, thoughtful, witty and likable and many other great things. We watched him change from follower to leader in our home among the kids after his sister died and as more kids have been added to the family. He fills his role well and there is added happiness in our life because of his presence in our lives everyday.
Some 13 year olds can be very demanding, but not so with Brock. At this point in his life he is loves video games and his PS3, but is equally happy to let his brother and sisters play it too. He puts forth good effort in all of his classes at school and enjoys the saxophone, social studies, science and math. He is signed up for lacrosse this spring and hopefully will get some time to play more golf this summer too. He has lots of friends back in Michigan and is making new ones here in Minnesota as he gets the opportunity.
He still is always willing to do what I ask of him- like help with Crew and Teague or give up something for someone else, like a seat on the couch- when asked the first time. It amazes me and I try to let him constantly know how much I love and appreciate his obedience. I marvel at it more and more as the other kids grow and never respond the way Brock does. He sets the bar high when it comes to obeying your parents.
And yet he's not afraid to speak his mind and let us know when he feels something isn't fair or that he wants some space to himself. We are lucky that he is in our life and family and I sometimes I try to imagine how life would be if we had lost him in our tragic incident too. He came very close to not being here with us and I don't ever want to take that for granted. I don't deserve any of the kids I have in my life- they are all true gifts to me and 13 years with Brock has certainly been more than a blessing. It's been my joy to be his mom.
And friend.
He just got Face Book- as we made him wait until he was legally 13 to get a page. I got to be his first "friend" and somehow I am fortunate to be mom and friend. I hope that our relationship will grow even better with time. I'm am sure there will be days where we don't see eye to eye on things or where we need a little extra soace from one another. But for now I can honestly say that it is a remarkable and wonderful thing to have a teen in the house. Or maybe it's just Brock. =) He really is a great kid and I hope that in the years he has yet to grow and learn and share his life and goodness with the world that the world recognizes a tiny bit of his greatness and gives some of it right back. Happy teen years to my Brock!
{That cake Brock requested is here if you want to make one of your own...Pillsbury Turtle Cake. Delicious, easy and makes for a great birthday cake!}

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sometimes it's best to look at the bigger picture.

I recently started a Biblestudy at my church with a group of women and the first two week's topics have been joy and peace respectively. I wonder if it is more than coincidence that these two topics were first up- which just happen to be two of the things I have been praying for more of in my life. I don't know why it is, but even after all the years I have spent getting to know God better and having a personal relationship with Him through His son, Jesus, I still find myself surprised and amazed when He seems to listen to and/or respond to my prayers.

It has been good for my heart and soul to have this time with other women who have hearts longing to know God more and live according to what He has called each of us to; it has been good for my heart and soul to dig deeper into the Scripture and "see and hear" stuff that is always there, but doesn't always jump out at me during my morning quiet times. It has also been good for me to be reminded of the many ways God has, does and WILL work in my life and in the world around us.

I happened to add a few photos to my FaceBook account this week and at one point I clicked on an album titled, "Snapshots of 2011". I was surprised and the number of photos I had taken and uploaded through the year. It was fun to see the different highlights that I had added and as I looked at the screen with all the smiles and happy memories it was like a little wave washed over me. It was the kind of wave where I almost couldn't believe I was looking at "my life". The pictures above are some of the photos I was looking at. I smiled to myself and thought, "ow lucky am I that these are the pictures and memories and people in my life?!"

Far too many times and through the stress of daily living, I find that I just get dragged down. What these little thumbnails reminded me of is just how much I have to be grateful for. I DO have reason to be filled with joy each day! I DO change diapers non-stop and wash lots of dirty clothes and more bedding than I care to admit that I do each week. I do have dreams and wishes for my husband and kids that go unfulfilled each day- and many of my own that take a backseat to life right now. But more than anything the Biblestudy and seeing these pictures and sensing that God has me right where He wants me to be right now has been a wonderful, calm reassurance in my life this past week.

I don't know what the Snapshots of 2012 will include, but I do know that even through the daily trials and stuff that seems monotonous and routine around here, there is sure to be some truly happy times; some memories that I will treasure for a long time. I am so glad that I was hit with the reality of how blessed I am and maybe the reminder or idea for me to stop and take a look at the "bigger picture",which is actually a compilation of lots of little pictures, every so often will help keep a tiny bit of joy bubbling inside me. Hopefully it will allow me to be thankful and peace-filled too, as I see all God has done in my life. He truly is a good God. Between the digging in, the prayers I've said, the sharing and doing life with others and the snapshots you see of my family and that is more than enough proof to me that God is working all things for good in my life. I've done nothing to deserve His goodness, except accept I'm a sinner and believe in His Son, Jesus. And He just keeps making something beautiful of my life. Sometimes it's up to me to simply step back and take a look at the bigger picture. One day I look forward to seeing it all from Heaven's vantage point too!

Monday, February 13, 2012

True Love.

On this eve of Valentine's Day I am feeling less than romantic. In the past 24 hours, we have had a couple of sick kids which means extra loads of laundry and baths to be done. We just had the flu bug at our house 6 weeks ago. So I was less than thrilled that it has hit again. In addition to stomach bugs, we had a vehicle picked over by some random strangers as it sat out in our driveway. That type of invasion just makes me feel so unsettled, even though nothing was taken from us. It just brings to light the "bad" that is out there- never far away.

Bella has to have two teeth pulled tomorrow morning; Teague is teething and has a nice diaper rash to go along with that. There are a few household items that need attending to, and I have a couple of fun spots that are driving me crazy from where I bit my lip a couple of days ago. I'm sure I could add a few more things to this list, but I am sure you sort of get a big enough picture with just these things from one day in my life.

I've said it before that sometimes it feels like life just wants to drag us down. I'm not even sure who or what or where it wants to take us, but I get really bugged that it piles up and weighs us down at the same time. I keep writing about wanting to find joy and happiness in life once again, and I feel like we continue to make the effort to do so, but no matter how hard we try the bad stuff outweighs the good. The fun is squashed by the not-so-fun. Almost all the time.

I am a big believer in fighting back. Even though I let myself and everyone around me down with my bad attitude way too often.

My mom mentioned the quote you see in this post which says, "Commitment begins where fun ends." I have been thinking about that for a couple of days and especially so as my thoughts turn to Valentine's Day and all the things we see and hear about love this time of year. I was thinking about how long it's been since Chip and I have had a moment to ourselves. Much less any type of romance or dinner out together. It's been longer than I can remember. I was thinking about how our relationship was so different when all we were concerned about in life was "us". We had all the time in the world for fun and for laughing and hanging out and experiencing things without ever worrying about getting anyone to bed on time. Or about paying for co-pays and having doctor visits and dental appointments on school days or about having diapers on hand or lunches ready or any number of other things that life demands of us on a daily basis now.

I was thinking about how unlikely it is that we should still be together as a couple. We have lived through the loss of a child. We have lived with a daughter with major medical needs and have 5 other "needy" children to watch over each day too. We don't do what the relationship 'experts' say about going on weekly or monthly dates. We often go to bed in seperate rooms because someone is sick or crying or we just fall asleep exhausted and it's too much effort to go to bed in the right bed.

I couldn't help but think about our wedding day. None of the things I've mentioned in the previous paragraphs even crossed my mind as I took those steps down the asile, hand-in-hand with my new husband, Chip. I was thinking about the hugs we would share with our friends and loved ones as they congratulated us on our love and wished us the best in our marriage. I was smiling as I thought about the cake we would cut and eat together. Our first dessert as husband and wife...carrot cake with coconut frosting! Mmmm! I was thinking about how handsome I thought Chip looked- even with beads of sweat on his brow from the heat and humidity of that August summer day. I was thinking about the details that had fallen into place for us to have such a beautiful, intimate ceremony. I was trying to hold on to how fast the day seemed to be flying by.

But not once did I think about or picture a life where we would have to start laundry at midnight and bathe kids after a long day. Not once did I picture having to make rules about who can use the laptop or that I would yell for someone to turn the tv off 4 times before they actually listen and go to the dinner table as asked. Not once did I imagine holding a tiny body in my arms and know that weight would still come to mind as I missed my little girl. I didn't picture a life where instead of going out for a nice dinner together, we simply tried to get everybody through the meal without crying. I didn't picture a future where we would stand hand in hand and sing "It Is Well With My Soul" as we recalled memories of our firstborn daughter's 4 short years of life together and share a grief like none other I have ever felt before. As we walked down that aisle to start our life together I never imagined any of the "worse" that we had said in our vows. I thought only of the better. As most brides and grooms do.

It's hard to see past the beautiful gowns and the flowers and the shiny rings and the hair that is perfectly in place. The guests are all smiles; even the rainclouds and downpour that happened on our wedding day couldn't dampen the love and joy that we felt- inside and out. It was all we had in our hearts and on our minds.

But in real life, the flowers wilt by evening. My dress showed wear and stains by the time the first dance played~ the song...Fly Me to the Moon. =) My feet began to hurt on the drive to our bed and breakfast. But even then, there was a smile on our faces and love was in the air. There was no denying the happiness we felt. It was evident on our faces. We had our head in the clouds and we were more than thrilled to have them there too!

I am thankful for the vows we made on that day- August 12th, 1995. I am thankful for a God who has shown Himself faithful to us in our darkest hours, in our moments of bliss, and in all the ordinary days we've shared through the years. It's true. The fun has worn thin most of the time at this phase in our lives. The demands placed on each of us far outweigh what have to offer to each other and to everyone else around us too. But one thing stands out in my mind.And that is the choice we have in making it work. We choose to stay together. We choose to believe that there is coming a day when we'll have more "fun" again. We choose to believe that God has brought us together and when we said, "I do" it meant we do always. Not just when things are pretty. Or fun. Or easy. Or when the skies are cloudless and blue.

Commitment is something that takes hard work. I know you all know this. But what I think we forget or fail to see in our culture and through the media so often, is that commitment is so worth it! There is something amazing about being able to look back after days or weeks or years of not-so-hot times and see that you made it through that together. There is something so humbling to me on the mornings I wake up with my hair sticking straight up and dark circles under my eyes and my breath doesn't smell very nice and then Chip greets me with a "Good morning, Beautiful."

That is a God-thing, if you ask me. =)

I know we have a love we don't deserve. I already told you we do most things wrong when it comes to building a strong and lasting marriage. We do however know that even when we wish everything in life could be different that we are still grateful to have each other. We still have work to do and lots of ways to improve the way we show love to each other. We still have lots of reasons to say, "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" too. We still have more times than we care to admit where instead of being grateful for one another, we wish we could take a break from "us".

But we stick it out. We are commited. Deep down we know that from the very beginning there was something special. Something bigger than that which we could see or feel had a plan for us to be together as one. Even when things didn't turn out the way we imagined or dreamed. His plan was one of Love. For better; for worse; in everything.

This Valentine's Day I know that even without a box of chocolates or a vase full of pretty flowers or a romantic dinner out that Chip is the one for me. Forever. I know that his love is real- even on the days it's hard to see or feel. I know he knows this about me too. And it's not because of anything we have done right. But only because of the One who continues to show mercy and grace to us and holds us together.

I am thankful more than anything this Valentine's Day for the true love of God. I hope that you are thankful and can see it and feel it in your heart and life in a real way too. May you know and share this love with others around you- today and always.

I have to close with this:

I love you, Chip.

Forever and ever.




Monday, February 06, 2012

Oh, Crew!

Sometimes I feel like life is too much of a blur. Does that happen to you too?! I know so many of us are good at savoring the little things and many of you are good and/or eveb great at documenting so many of the moments that come and go, but I still find that I sometimes wish I could just freeze-frame life for even just a few hours.

This is our Crew...or Crewman as we often refer to him around here. He is still the one out of 6 kids that keeps us hopping more than any other. He is still so strong-willed and demanding and he has mood swings that make our heads spin from morning til night each and everyday.

But once in awhile he flashes his big-eyed, huge smile my way and I can't help it- he melts my heart and I feel that thing inside that literally would attempt to swim across an ocean for him. I feel that way for all of my kids. Especially when their little arms reach up for a hug, or when they pull you in for a kiss. I feel it when they beam at me with accomplishment- over something I have spent hours upon hours trying to help them learn.

That moment he was placed in my arms is one I still keep tucked in and stored as a treasure in my heart. It will be there forever. No matter how big he gets, no matter where he ends up living and spending his time when he's grown, and it will always make me feel like I am the lucky one. I know Crew is my busy, growing boy. And it is a privilege for me to be the one to watch and help him a little bit each day as he grows more and more into the person he was made to be all along.

{He's playing Cooking Mama in the picture above. He still LOVES to cook- in AND out of the kitchen.}

Oh Crew, we love you!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A family favorite.

I figured since I am in recipe-posting mode from the previous post, why not post a family favorite {which a friend asked me for the other day} and share it with you. It's our tried and true recipe for homemade Buttermilk Waffles. This one comes from my mom too. That's her hand-written recipe in the picture. It is wrinkled and splattered and shows wear from use. That's how much we love this recipe at our house.
In fact, we are having them tonight. Breakfast for dinner...if I could convince my kids to eat breakfst for dinner every single night, I probably would. I love the ease of it and the fact that all my kids like breakfast food. It makes life easy to make meals like this.
To make these waffles, simple get a bowl and mix all ingredients well. But not too well. A few lumps and bubbles here and there is a good thing. Then heat a waffle iron to the toastiness you prefer and enjoy. Simple. Delicious.
Especially with a side of sausage or bacon or fruit and a nice frothy orange julius.
I might have to share that recipe with you next. =)