Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Day Of School

Jillian - 1st grade
Chloe - 3rd grade
Nathan - 4th grade

And Wyatt. :)


I recently found out that my mom has cancer. It’s quite advanced and has spread to multiple parts of her body. When she called me (the first time I’ve talked to her in over three years) I was in shock both because of the fact that she was calling but also because of the subject matter. Apparently, she didn’t want to tell me – she wanted another family member to do it. She had told other members of our family about two weeks before I found out and, from what I understand, she only told me herself because my grandmas pressured her to. I suppose how I found out is beside the point now.

The reality is, she’s dying. I don’t know how much time she has left exactly. She was supposed to go to the doctor to get a better idea of her treatment options last week and then call me. She didn’t call, but I guess she spoke with another family member because she is now supposed to be coming back to California to stay with her mom. From what I understand, she didn’t get any information from the doctor.

Lowell is a little confused by the strength of my emotion since learning the news. He says that my life won’t change at all if my mom dies because in all reality, I’ve never had a mom. I don’t really have a relationship with her to lose. That is very true. My life in the day to day moments won’t change if I lose my mother, but a very large part of my fantasy life will die. The problem is that I’ve never given up hope that I would someday have a relationship with my mom; that someday she would come into my life and begin to fill all those places that were left void and hurting. I’ve dreamed about the forgiveness and reconciliation, the long heart-to-heart talks that don’t really explain all the wasted years, but at least answer some of my lingering questions. I’ve dreamed about understanding, about being able to explain to myself why I wasn’t wanted; why she made the choices she did; why I was never enough to make her stay.

Pastor Greg did a sermon last week on forgiveness and debt. He, of course, talked about the parable of the debtor (Matthew 18); a man who owed the king a ridiculous sum of money – like billions of dollars – and in mercy, the king forgave his debt. Then the same man went to his slave and demanded that the slave repay the much smaller debt he owed to the man, even imprisoning the slave when he couldn’t pay. Needless to say, when the king found out what the man had done, he was furious and sent him to jail to be tortured until he could repay his entire debt. The point of Jesus’ parable is to show the huge debt that we’ve been forgiven by God and to demonstrate how we are to forgive others.

One of the points of Pastor’s message was that the only person who can forgive a debt is the one to whom the debt is owed – the homeowner can’t call the bank and say, “You know, I’ve decided to forgive myself this mortgage. Thanks for your time.” Only the bank can forgive a debt. This was important because often we try to “forgive ourselves” for something we’ve done. The truth is that we need to accept forgiveness from God or from the other person – this acceptance is how we achieve peace because, by definition, forgiving ourselves is not possible.

How does this relate to my mom? Well, part of the sermon was that forgiveness can’t be offered without acknowledging what debt is actually owed. When there is a hurt or an injury against someone, it creates a debt. In order to forgive someone, I need to figure out what they owe me. For example, did they ruin my reputation? Create an emotional injury with harsh words or by lying? Is there a physical debt – such as when someone steals a prized possession or causes harm to a person’s body? So the question for me is, what does my mother owe me?
Time. Lots of time.
Missed events – the birth of my babies, my wedding, birthdays, recitals…
Emotional damage caused by her leaving, lying and not following through on her promises.

Once I know what the debt is, I can forgive. Another part of the sermon answered a very common question – what if I can’t forget? The answer is: I continue to forgive and release the debt each time it pops up in my mind… One of the most famous parts of the parable of the debtor is that Jesus commands us to forgive 7x70 times. This isn’t supposed to be taken literally as “forgive only 490 times – not 491 or 492 times”. What it means is that we forgive generously because we have been forgiven completely. I always thought about this passage as referring to 490 different sins, but it could also be understood to mean that we forgive the same sin 490 times. I forgive my mom. And then, a couple hours later, I feel angry and hurt again so, I forgive again. Then I remember again, and I forgive again. 7x70 times. Because that’s what has been done for me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Written Monday, in Preparation for Surgery

I’m having surgery tomorrow. I’m getting my tubes tied. I wonder where that phrase came from – did they actually tie the tubes at one point? Tomorrow I’m going to be cauterized, not tied.

Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want any more children, I don’t. Not at all. Honestly. If you told me that I was going to have another child, I would cry. Ugly cry. For a long time. That being said, it feels weird to know that tomorrow I won’t be able to have any more children.

This will also be my first time having surgery of any kind. I know this is a common procedure, but it still makes me a little nervous. What if something happened? What would I want my children to know? What have I left unsaid?

I hope my children know that I love them. I hope they have seen that I’m not perfect, but that I’ve done my very best to love them and to accept them unconditionally. I hope they know how much they have taught me about unconditional acceptance. Specifically I want to tell them:

Chloe, that day when I was horrible to you and then apologized and you asked me if I was trying my best… You said that you loved me no matter what and that it was enough that I was trying. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to tell you how much that moment means to me. I’ve always been hard on you and I know you’ve questioned whether or not I love you as much as the other kids. I hope I’ve shown you since then that I adore you and I’m so proud to have you as my daughter. You make me look good because you are just such a naturally wonderful person. You make is seem like I’m a good mother simply by being you. The person you are is beautiful, Ooie. You are caring, responsible, thoughtful and incredibly creative. I am very excited about what you’re going to become. I dream of the Godly woman you will be, of all the people you will touch with your incredible spirit, and of the difference you will make in the world. I love sharing our passion for design, color, art and music with you. I just love doing life with you.

All my kids make me so proud. The Trace Adkins song "You’re Gonna Miss This" breaks my heart every time I hear it. The song is about appreciating every moment of the life we’re given because of how quickly they are gone. It also fills me with guilt because I know how many moments, hours, and days I have let slip by me because if being stressed, tired, selfish or for whatever reason. I have no excuse for all the times I’ve snapped at you, growled at you, expected you to be perfect, or ignored an opportunity to spend time with you. And while I deeply regret all these times, I can’t get them back. So, I pray that you’ll be understanding and accept me for the fallible, selfish human that I am. I definitely need grace – I hope that I have taught you to be quick to offer grace to others and I pray that you’ll forgive me for my abundant number of sins.

Nathan, you have always so desperately loved your daddy and I am so thankful for that. At the same time, you’ve definitely shown me that you have a soft spot in your heart for your mom. Well Buggy, I have a soft spot for you too. You are too much like me and for that, I’m sorry. I know that I’ve shared my anxiety and my worrier tendencies with you. I hate knowing that my little angel, my baby boy, is stressing and worrying about things that are much too deep and too big for him. I love that you care baby, and I don’t want you to stop caring by any means. What I wish for you is that you will learn to “look at the birds”. Remember when we talked about that? If not, ask Pastor Greg at church – he’ll tell you all about it. God cares for the birds – they don’t worry. How much more will he care for us?? You are an incredibly smart, funny, wonderful little boy and you are quickly growing up into a young man. I pray that you will treat all women with the respect that you are learning to show me; open their doors, carry things for them, remember “ladies first” and compliment them all the time. You are a blessing my little man and I love you abundantly. Even though it always scared me to think about it, I am proud to have raised a son who loves his country and who is willing to fight for it. Know that I am always proud of you, proud of who you are and who you will become. You have been created with a purpose and with many gifts. I love your spirit Buggy.

Each of you was created a Masterpiece. Just like the song that I sing to you – you are created exactly how you are supposed to be. God has a plan for your lives and He wants to use you to bless the world and to teach people about Him. You were created with your special talents and abilities specifically for this purpose. Don’t ever feel bad about the person you are – there is a reason for your personality, for your uniqueness --- and I wouldn’t have it any other way!! God did create you. And He does love you. You all know that. Don’t let anything that happens in your life convince you otherwise. There will be pain in your life – we are not guaranteed a life without pain. You know that, you’ve already experienced it. Just remember that through the painful times, there is a reason – God is growing you, He is using difficult circumstances to create character in your life. Think about it, that’s the way we learn – through uncomfortable situations and also through discipline. The Bible says that God disciplines those he loves. The same goes with your dad and I. We discipline you because we love you. It is because we want you to grow up to be healthy, responsible adults. And to keep you from greater pain that may come from certain behaviors. There are some days I believe that if I were somehow in charge and could change things, I would do everything in my power to keep you from ever experiencing pain. It is horrible for me to watch you go through any kind of pain – physical or emotional. But I have to remind myself that sometimes, it is for the greater good. That doesn’t always make it any easier.

I remember, for example, watching Boogie struggle with friendship issues with another girl and I know she got her feelings hurt but I didn’t step in because I wanted her to learn how to navigate that situation on her own. Boogie, it breaks my heart to see you hurt and to hear you cry. I just want to wrap you in my arms and protect you from every sort of pain. But I can’t. and honestly, you don’t want me to. I feel grateful that you have two older siblings who will look out for you as you grow up. Keep them close to you, make them your best friends… you are very blessed to have them.

I love how deeply you love your siblings. I love watching you hug and snug with them and I also love how you want to spend time with them. I know there have been problems with finding a way to split Chloe down the middle so that you and Nathan both have someone to play with, but I love that you all want to play together.

Jillian, you are my firecracker. You are passionate about life and about music. I love how you seem to be filled with music, even at the grocery store – you can’t help but twirl and spin. You are so beautiful and so strong – you are a leader, baby. Be sure to lead others in the right way and to use your leadership to benefit others, not to hurt them. You have the potential to be a huge force in life – whatever you choose to do, whether you really do become a rock star or if you decide to do something else. I know that you will be successful, if for no other reason than you don’t take no for an answer.  You are so smart, so very smart and such a joy to be around. You are my little angel and I love you. I can’t wait to see how you grow and learn – how you change and how God leads you to become a powerful woman. Remember though, being powerful sometimes doesn’t mean being loud or pushy. Sometimes there is great strength in silence and in being a servant to others. You are going to change the world baby, whether it’s the whole world or your corner or it – you are going to be a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see what you can accomplish.

I know a large part of your lives growing up will be helping the family with Wyatt. And I’m thankful for that. I love how our family works together and helps carry the load of everyday life. Wyatt was definitely unexpected, but definitely a blessing.

Wyatt, my littlest angel, I can’t begin to tell you how much I love you. You don’t have any tangible experience with me loving you because you are so little. For that, I’m sorry, but please believe me when I say that I adore you. I love your little faces, your expressions and especially your smiles. Your smiles bring tears to my eyes. When you talk, your favorite sound is Ma. I tell myself that’s because you’re trying to talk to me and tell me that you love me too… I know, Mom can be delusional at times, but its only because I love you. I have no idea what God has planned for your life but I know what you’ve accomplished already – you’ve brought joy to my life and to our family and you have reminded us how God uses unexpected circumstances to bless us – even when we don’t understand them. You were not an accident – you were created by God to be a part of our family and I am so thankful for you. I love you, Beenut and I’ve loved you since before you were born. I’m thankful for you, not because you had to stay in the hospital necessarily because I hated seeing you in that bubble, but because you brought your dad and I close together again and because God used the situation of you being in the NICU to grow some of my confidence and assertiveness. I have come closer to being who I would like to be because of you, so thank you my little one.

Each of my children have so incredibly blessed my life… I just want them to know how much they are loved.

One Word -- Smile

This was a few days ago, but a-ha! A smile!! :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Have Hidden Your Word in My Heart

We’re learning new memory verses. So far, we’ve learned 5. Psalms 119:11, 34:1, 18:1; Phillipians 4:13, and James 4:8. I’m very excited about how quickly the kids are learning and how they are motivated to learn more and how they are reminding me that we need to practice them.  It has become part of our routine that every time we’re in the car, I call out addresses, and the kids take turns reciting them. We have index cards rubber-banded to the visor with the “to learn”s on the back side and the “to practice” on the front. The most recent verse, Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden (or cherished) Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” This reminds the kids (and me) why we’re learning the Bible. It wasn’t one of our verses, but something they learned in church, but Chloe recently had a great opportunity to learn that Truth can be very helpful in difficult situations. She was having a tough time sleeping and was being plagued with scary thoughts that she said she couldn’t get out of her head. The “big word” at church that week was “The bad times are the best times to praise God”. So, in her fear that night, she started to sing and to tell God what she was thankful for. And before she knew it, she fell asleep.

In their class at church, they don’t always have a memory verse. Sometimes, like lately, they have had “big words” or “big ideas” and these ideas are carried over from week to week. They also talked about courage, honor and integrity at one point during the summer. Then, from week to week, they talked about people in the Bible who exemplified these characteristics and those who didn’t. They learned about David, Daniel, Mary and Paul, among others.

I have spent a huge amount of time over the past 2 weeks fighting with our cell phone company. We have Nextel and the coverage in our area is getting less and less reliable so we were going to look into switching to Sprint. They are the same company, but different networks. So, it started that they were going to let us switch without having to extend our contract, but we would have to buy Sprint phones. Then I called again and I was told that they were having a promotion for people in just this situation where they could get me a phone for $.99. The only condition was that I could only pick from a couple of phone styles. Fine, I can live with that because I just need phones that actually work without hanging up on everyone that I call. I placed the order for two of these $.99 phones and they were going to overnight them to me – free of charge. This was on Thursday. Friday night I get a phone call saying that the order wasn’t really processed because the lady forgot to get my credit card number. So, I gave it to them and at that point, it was too late to send out the order Friday so I should expect the shipment on Monday morning. Monday at about 3pm, I looked up the tracking number and discovered that they had delivered our phones already --- to the wrong house. They used our old address. When I placed the order, the lady didn’t confirm the mailing address and so they got shipped to our old address. This began what has amounted to 10 days and literally 7 hours of time spent on the phone with these people. I have called them 10 times (not exaggerating) and have gotten 8 different answers. I believe the only reason I got the same answer three times was because I spoke to the same person twice and the other time, the person I talked to left a message in my file to transfer me back to him should I call again… I’ve been promised a call back from them three times now… The first was on the 8th, the second time was the 10th and then again today they promised me a call back. I told them I was infuriated and that this was completely unacceptable. I let them know that if I didn’t get a call back today by the end of business, I was going to cancel my contract with them and demand to not be charged an early termination fee. Also, I need to have my bill for the last month refunded because our service has been so terrible, and I’ve had to spent most of my time on the phone with them. It has really been an emotional deal – you may think I’m silly, but fighting with people is something that I tend to avoid, not go in search of. I have had to argue with these people, be overly assertive and often control my temper with them to avoid screaming or crying at whatever representative has just told me another wrong answer. I don’t like these situations and to have to get up every morning and intentionally put myself in the middle of it has been exhausting. In addition, I have had a less than perfect week since Sunday…. But more about that later.

So, I am waiting… Its 3:15 right now… Will I hear from them, highly unlikely. Will I cancel my contract… I’m still deciding simply because I don’t know what other cell phone carrier to get and I don’t want to go through all this again… Not Verizon, they’re too expensive and not ATT… We had problems with them and so Lowell has sworn off ATT… So, what’s left? If we use a company who doesn’t have a contract, we have to pay for the phones… So, I feel stuck. I’m forced to deal with this completely unacceptable customer service. I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. Does Sprint care? It certainly doesn’t seem like it – so what are my options? Spend money I don’t have (and shouldn’t have to spend) on phones for another company, or continue to get screwed (there’s just no other word for what they’re doing to me) by Sprint…. There is not good option here.

I’m sure you didn’t want to spend the last few minutes “listening” to me rant about large corporations, but I am just furious about this. I’m stressed and angry and upset… So, instead of feeling that way -- I'm going to remember - The bad times are the best times to praise God. When I get put on hold for the 7th time, I'm just going to use that time to pray for a friend, or to hum a worship song, or to count my blessings. Or maybe I'll work on some more memory verses. :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Pictures

Just wanted to quickly update in a photographic fashion. :)

Daddy loving a Peanut.. Look at the shoes!! :)
Chloe and her BFF Abbi playing PlayDoh during their sleepover.
I had 7 children. At 10pm, there were ALL still awake.. And then come 5am, they were all awake again. :)
Jillian and her sleepover buddy, Sarah. They were watching Rango and eating popcorn. They also played with their Little Pet Shop toys and played dress up.

I can finally go outside a little because now Wyatt can ride in the Snuggi! Love this invention!
Also part of the sleepover adventures, this is Nathan and his BFF Nate (also Nathan) who are digging a moat around the burial site of a spider they killed. They were worried that the ants would disturb the corpse. Weird little boys. :)
Love this picture. This was at work, the day before my last day... Doesn't he look thrilled?!?! :)
So as a quick synopsis.. I'm not working anymore. Lowell has been working substantial amounts of overtime to make up the difference but we decided that it just makes more sense this way. I started my practicum this week and there's not much to say so far. I'm learning all the agency paperwork and getting orientated at the school.
The kids start school on Monday. They've been getting more and more anxious. Jillian runs to the calendar every day to count down. Thursday they have back-to-school night and I'm excited to learn who their teachers will be.
Wyatt has his two month shots tomorrow - granted, a few days late, but we've been really busy. He weighs almost 10 pounds if my calculations are correct. He's still fantastic and doing a great job sleeping.
We are very blessed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Single Step

I got satellite Internet today. We have a 30 day trial period before we have to decide whether or not it is worth it... Its moderately faster than dial-up but NO WHERE near the blessed-ness of cable. My major hang-up comes from the 2 year contract and the fact that my husband has just informed me that we will be likely moving at the end of our lease.
I think he gets bored. He finds things about a house, a company, a job... that he doesn't like and decides to move on. I agree with him on a couple of his points - I would like to have an air-tight house so we are not inundated by all types of bugs like we are now; moving would give us the chance to have high-speed Internet again; we also might get a pool; and the yard here is very high maintenance. With me not working (I'll elaborate on that in a minute), all the financial burden falls on Lowell and that leaves him even less time to mow and weed-eat the yard. (I'm using a lot of hypens in this post.. Just an observation.) My biggest hang up is I HATE MOVING!!! I don't want to move again so soon; I just finally finished unpacking. Our lease is up in December so we still have awhile to figure out what we want to do... I'll keep you updated.
About working, Sunday was my last day at New Life Center. I am bummed about not seeing my friends anymore but I do feel blessed that God allowed me to ease my way out... I was able to go to part-time and still see my co-workers at least a couple days a week. Now I won't be there at all. It definitely hasn't sunk in yet, and I'm sure I will begin to go a little stir crazy without the adult interaction. That being said, I start my practicum next week.
I have training tomorrow to help me learn the signs of abuse in children. This is a required class because I'll be working at a parochial school one day each week. I am looking forward to trying something new, although I'm a little leery because I have never really thought that I wanted to work with children. Honestly, kids make me nervous... I worry that I won't have the energy that working with children requires.
Fortuitously, church was about worry this weekend. The major message of the sermon was to do everything that I can and then to trust that God will take care of the rest. So, what can I do in this situation? I can try to rest as much as possible, exercise, eat well, take opportunities to refresh myself and pray. And then trust Him with the results. Worrying won't help me.
I'm mainly saying all of that to myself as a reminder...
In an attempt to refresh myself and also to answer my creative urges that have begun to return finally, I have decided to start scrapbooking again. I can't being to tell you the last time I completed a page... Or even started a page. I'm horribly behind - but I'm not going to focus on that. I want to focus on the process of creation instead. My other focus is going to be on creative usage of the materials I currently possess. I want to see how much I can get done using only the supplies I have. This is a multi-faceted decision - financial, creatively challenging, and practical -- if we move in a few months, there will be less to move. :)
My original plan was to begin scrapbooking tonight but I find myself so far behind in the things that I need to accomplish -- phone calls to make, emails to respond to, bills to pay, that I find myself shying away from the idea.
No, I have decided --- there is no time better than the present to begin. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, right?!? So, here's to first steps. I pray that you will begin your own journey today -- remember, don't worry -- do all you can, and leave the rest to Him.

Friday, August 5, 2011


It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. I’ve logged on a few times and checked for comments and felt that there was so much that I should write about… And then immediately logged off because I didn’t even know where to begin.

I still don’t know where to begin.

Wyatt is doing great. He’s due for his 2 month shots this week. I’m not looking forward to that but I am anxious to find out how much he weighs. His schedule has been hit and miss; some days he will sleep 6 hours at a time and others where he wakes up every 2 hours. He’s doing a great job holding up his head and has starting cooing and smiling. He is definitely a mama’s boy, preferring my company to anyone else’s. He’s also at the stage where he physically can’t move himself, but he doesn’t want to be immobile either. He will cry so that we will prop him up into a sitting position or cry to be held in front of someone as they walk around. He wants to be big so bad.

The bigger kids still love him and enjoy helping me take care of him. Jillian has learned how to change a diaper and loves that “privilege”. Chloe does a great job overall – she changes him, answers his cries, feeds and burps him… She’s a huge help for Lowell when he’s sleepy and responsible for Wyatt. Nathan treats him a little like a pet – he ohhhs and awwws over how cute Wyatt is and likes to snug with him, but doesn’t want to do any of the jobs that contain the possibility of yuckiness. Nathan does not want to be puked or peed on, and I don’t suppose I can blame him, however he did change a poopie diaper the other day. Without even being asked. Way to go Big Brother!

The bigger kids are getting a little stir crazy. The first day of school is August 22nd. They had a sleepover last week and then Nathan had a sleepover birthday party. We’re going to have some girls over Sunday night for the girls. We haven’t been back to the pool but I’m really hoping we can in the next week or so. Its really hard to get them to have the amount of physical activity they need every day because its just so hot. Another factor that makes it difficult is that I can’t go outside with them because there is no way for me to watch the baby and be outside at the same time. We don’t have a monitor yet so I have to stay inside with him, or make frequent trips back inside to be sure that he’s okay. That doesn’t allow me to play any games with them or to get involved in any outside projects. Because of them being inside so much, they have started to get on each other’s nerves and have begun to fight. I can’t begin to tell you how many disagreements I’ve refereed in the past couple weeks. I have been amazed at just what can start a fight and baffled at how to get them to stop. I still haven’t quite figured it out… I can’t wait for school to start.

Speaking of school, my practicum starts on August 12th because that is when school starts at the parochial school where I’ll be working. I’m pretty nervous… I think I’m mainly scared that I’ll find out that I’m not good at what I’ve been working so hard to do. On the plus side, we will be getting internet at home again because I have to have it for school. I don’t know when exactly, but at least we’ll have some sort of internet at home!

We have a missing kitty. Indy, our white cat has disappeared again. I still haven’t given up hope that he’ll show up again. This isn’t the first time he’s disappeared and he was gone longer than this last time… There have been quite a few nights when I’ve had to comfort the kids because they are worried about Indy. I'm still waiting to see how Lowell decides to handle this. I'm pretty sure he'll come home one of these days very soon with a kitten. I hope it's a gray one - I already have a name picked out -- Cinder.
The name comes from a new series of books that Nathan is addicted to -- Warriors. Its about different families or clans of cats and their adventures. We've had to go to the library 3 times over the past two weeks to get the next books in the series. I love that my bibliophile status has passed to the kids. They all participated in the summer reading program at our local library and each earned a free book. We ordered them yesterday and they are anxiously awaiting their arrival. :) I had to tell them three times that there is no mail on Sunday. Hopefully they will come Monday.