Giving Thanks (inspired by)

Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our honorary little sister

How nice of God, who sent us four boys in a row, to also send us a beautiful princess baby girl we get to "adopt" in our family on the days we babysit her!

The princess and the Hillbilly!

The princess and the pirate do not always get along...
though I would never have guessed she could bring him to tears!

Enola and Eldon like to share most everything: Cheerios, slobbery toys, bibs, even fingers...

When Enola wears the bib that says "Thank Heaven for little boys," it sure takes on a different meaning! I can just see her in a few years, writing something similar on her school papers...
I "heart" boys!!!

Here they are enjoying puppets on TV together- taking turns clapping and giggling about it!

Thank Heaven for little girls! And boys!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Last week we were sitting at the dinner table, talking about the new baby. "Kids, what do you think? Are you hoping for a boy baby or a girl baby?" asked daddy. Most of the answers were predictable:

Seth: "A boy baby."
Lorraine:"A girl baby."
Agnes: "A girl baby.
Marcus, scrunching his face in deep thought: "Ummmm..... A motorcycle."

Sorry little Marcus, it looks like big brother was right (what's new?) Our next little blessing is a boy blessing!

The ultrasound was great: all his tiny little parts seem to be functioning beautifully! In the large picture at the top of the page you can see his little hands! How fun!

I am already halfway through this pregnancy, and beginning to realize that next fall I will be a mommy at home with FOUR preschool BOYS! Oh my goodness! I'd better stock up on supplies! Tattoos, swords, guns, bandages, ice packs....

Hm, maybe Marcus is on to something.... perhaps I am the one that could use a motorcycle?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You can fly?

“Watch me, Seth, I can fly!” grins Marcus, beaming with confidence as he launches into a hearty jump, which as usual, is followed by a crash and an injury. Seth barely takes notice. Ever the practical child, he knew how that story would end. Every fool with a brain knows you can't fly without wings, or at least superpowers of some kind. Yet some insist on trying. Repeatedly.

Screaming is not at all unusual in our chaotic home. If it's not an injury, it's a sibling squabble or power struggle of some sort. There may be fifty toys scattered across the yard, but two of them have their hearts set on the very same one, and they attempt to work it out with screaming and violence. Or perhaps someone looked at someone else the wrong way, or someone won't stop singing the same song over and over, or someone got there first. Surely screaming, hitting, whining and tattling will solve the problem!

Far more often then I care to admit, I address these situations with more yelling. “Kids! Didn't we just talk about GETTING ALONG? Now get back outside and BE KIND TO EACH OTHER!!!” They scowl and walk away, and attempt to settle their squabbles more quietly, at least for the next ten minutes. I rarely get lunch finished or laundry put away before they are right back at it again. The cycle repeats, adding more frustration each time, until finally bedtime comes and we end the day in exhaustion and ugliness.

When the fog of selfishness clears, I usually remember to go to the Lord in prayer. I beg the Lord for the strength and patience to make it through the next day, knowing that is something only He can provide. As I ask Him for my daily bread, it occurs to me that my impatient mommy comments are akin to asking my children to fly with no wings. “Get along!” I holler, as if they could simply dig deep enough into their tiny selfish hearts to discover love and goodwill towards their siblings. They try, with great zeal at times, and fail every day, as do I. There are some days when my own “old man” is simply too strong for me, and I see their moments of bickering as a personal insult and a rude interruption of my time, and my own selfishness merely adds to the storm of sin already brewing.

There are days when I would like to have those fruits of the Spirit, but trying to come up with anything that resembles “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” is like trying to produce x-ray vision or grow wings. I just don't have it in me.

I don't have it in me. Why does that still come as a surprise to me, just like the hard floor surprises Marcus every single time he tries to fly? Every week I stand with the church and confess I am sinner. I have heard a hundred times that my works are “filthy rags,” that my heart without Christ is nothing but nasty black sin. You would think I would get it by now! Being a Christian does not mean that I no longer need Christ at every moment. My Baptismal certificate did not come with a backpack full of holiness.

We simply cannot bear fruit using our own paltry resources. Of course, we were never commanded to do so. We have a Helper, a Loving Savior, who tenderly invites us to abide in Him. On those days when we once again find ourselves on the floor with an injury, wondering why our own superpowers have failed, we hear His gentle reminder:

I am the vine; you are the branches.

If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;

apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Monday, April 19, 2010

Why I am half crazy most of the time

A conversation I had with the boys yesterday:

"Hey boys, have you ever heard of Thomas Edison? There's a book about him here. He invented the light bulb."
Seth: "Oh Good! We need another light bulb on the front porch. Is he going to come here and fix it for us?"
"No honey, he invented the light bulb, he thought of the idea. Thomas Edison can't come fix ours for us, he's dead now!"
Marcus: "Thomas the train is dead?!"

I sigh. "Nevermind. Just eat your lunch."

Friday, April 16, 2010

good news!

Aggie's MRI looks great- no change from last time!

Praise God for His gracious gifts of life and health!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

no news yet!

No word yet about the MRI. I am hoping before the weekend- will post as soon as I know anything!
Meanwhile, here are some pictures for no reason!
Aggie on the way to Riley- she loves her Super Why computer!

It's been over 80 here most afternoons- we LOVE playing outside in the hose, the slip and slide, and in the sandbox that works well as a small pool!

Marky Malarky is doing great at potty training..when I remember to work with him!

Seth has become quite the responsible big brother and eagerly helps me take care of Eldon and Enola!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

another MRI

This afternoon Aggie goes for her routine MRI.

Another test, another time of waiting for results that are likely nothing but could change everything. We are reminded of the shadow of death that follows us, and the uncertainties of this life. I don't like it, but I am learning to say it out loud now: No amount of worry or work on my part can guarantee life or health for Aggie, (or the child I carry, or anyone.)

May her Creator and loving Father continue to sustain her and care for her, going with her today and providing for her needs in every way, even as He looks after us and the rest of His family. His faithfulness is the only solid thing.

"In the waters of your Baptism, Jesus has called you by name
and promises to be with you always."'

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy First Birthday Eldon!

To my little Eldon-

Has it really been a whole year since our first snuggly day in the hospital? I remember before you had the energy to be so spunky, when you would simply curl up and sleep on me for hours on end!

Your siblings adored you from the moment you were born, though it took them a little while to learn your name. For awhile they called you Alvin (they had recently watched Alvin and the Chipmunks!) and I even heard Marcus call you Elmo a few times!
It has been one of the most tumultuous years in our family's history! Your big sister Aggie began having seizures while I carried you, and her medical problems overwhelmed our lives for many months after you were born. Yet God helped you to grow, blessed you with perfect health, and sent you to our family right in the midst of all the chaos.

You have been such a picture of life and health and vigor- I cannot explain to you how much your simple, small presence encouraged me through this very difficult year. I cannot remember how many times I was at my lowest and simply wanted to hide away to have a pity party, yet you demanded feeding and cuddling. I often began those jobs with a sigh, but ended with a grateful tear and a prayer of thanksgiving as you fell asleep on my chest. Holding you while you slept, listening to your breath and marveling at your perfect little body, I know God sent you to me to remind me of His power and goodness.

I remember when we took Aggie to Cleveland for tests and eventually surgery, I kept you close by my side then, too. You gave me something to do with my hands, and an excuse to get out of the hospital and out in the sun now and then. I remember escaping to the hospital courtyard once, laying down in the grass with you on my stomach. Stress and tears leaked out of my eyes, but as we lay there in the sunshine. I was soothed by your sleepy snores, and I napped with you there.
You left behind the snuggly stage as soon as you possibly could, and became incredibly jumpy and giggly and active. By five months you had three teeth (!) and now, at age one, you have a mouth full! There is almost nothing you cannot chew right now: including dog food and a dried up earthworm (once!)

Enola Vandercar is your little buddy two days a week. I am constantly grabbing my camera when she is around you- for some reason you both are even cuter than normal when you are doing things together!

It has been a noisy first year, particularly because you simply have SO many strong opinions that you need to tell us all about. You absolutely must sleep on your side sucking two fingers. You must have a blanket, and it must be a soft one. You like yogurt but hate pasta or anything slimy. You like swinging but HATE the stroller You liked chewing on a sippy cup but SCREAMED at the very sight of a bottle... then after a few months you completely reversed this opinion.

In some of your moods, you insist that you must be touching mommy at all times- if you were out of arm's reach for even a second, you would SCREAM BLOODY MURDER. During this stage you developed quite the grip on my left arm- I probably could walk around not even holding you and you would just hang there like a koala! So you often "worked" in the kitchen with me, where you taught me yet another opinion: you must be in arms reach AND at eye level, or, guess what, you will SCREAM BLOODY MURDER!

I often resort to handing you a spoon covered in brownie batter to make the screaming stop. You are number five... I am getting a bit tired!

Today, your birthday, you finally decided you can walk! You were in no hurry at all- a fuss or a pouty look directed towards Lorraine immediately granted you a free ride wherever you might want to go! But alas, she does go to school sometimes, and so you finally decided to try it on your own.

You are a baby who knows what you want! You have a great sense of humor and have become quite a fun little guy! You are an enormous blessing to our family!

Happy birthday little Eldon- we love you very much!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The liturgy of Easter

I had this conversation with Marcus yesterday at church. It is a conversation as predictable as the daily “be kind to your siblings” lecture, and so each child knows the rhythm of it by heart.

“Is that Jesus mommy? Jesus died?” (serious face)
Yes honey he died on the cross, do you know why?
“For our sins?” (sad face)
That's right, but did He stay dead?
“No Jesus rose!” (happy face!)
Yes, He rose three days later. He's in heaven and someday when we die we will get to go to heaven to be with Him!
(happy face! and on to another subject...)

And so to the children, death means little. They hear about it often, but the whole subject is defined for them not by the cemetery, or by grief, or by their own personal losses, but rather, in terms of Jesus' death and resurrection. Therefore it is not permanent, nor it is the end of anyone's story. Death.... like sleeping …. or moving.