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, December 30, 2010

Good morning

Today is not my favorite kind of day. It is a day of vacation aftermath: tired kids, tired parents, utterly disorganized house and life, hundreds of little things demanding my attention...

I stayed in bed a little bit after the kids got up this morning, assuming they were happy with cartoons. They were quiet for a bit, but then I started hearing Eldon screaming about this and that, and knew I could not stay in my warm bed forever. Another scream, and I take a deep breath, pray for patience, and roll out of bed. I opened my bedroom door and almost tripped over a small box on the floor. It rattled as I kicked it. I sighed at the messiness of my house and continued with Peter towards the sound of kid conversation.

I walked out down the hall and found the children seated at the table instead of watching cartoons. Lorraine was in the kitchen, wearing her new apron and smiling, "Mommy, I am serving everyone breakfast!" Seth was on the kitchen counter looking for the bread and cheerfully taking orders from Lorraine. The others were happily drinking Lorraine's most excellent chocolate milk and telling me what a great job she was doing with breakfast.

The cocoa pebbles crunched under my feet as I approached the table to join them, but I really didn't mind this time. "Mommy, did you look in the box?" Lorraine asked. I had not, so I put Peter down and returned to the hallway where the box was waiting.

Inside the box were two small plates. On the plates, arranged just so, sat two granola bars, a pile of M&Ms, and a peppermint.

Breakfast in bed for mommy and daddy.

Oh Lord, when these kids drive me crazy today, help me remember this moment!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hey look!

"Hey look it's BABY GOD!"

Marcus yells every time he sees a nativity scene. It is a striking phrase, one he pieced together himself.

"Baby Jesus" is something we hear all the time, but "baby God," actually more accurate, is really quite startling. It is bizarre, really, to put the words "baby" and "God" together. One brings up ideas of weakness and vulnerability and neediness, the other strength and power and authority.

Yet God, our God, has put these two things together. He is the God whose apparent weakness is strength, whose vulnerability and death is power and blessing.

A great mystery is here.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I can't make this stuff up.

This is the girl with the wild hairdo.

This is a ball that hit the head of the girl with the wild hairdo.

This is the nose struck by the ball that bounced off the head of the girl with the wild hairdo.

This is the blood that dripped on the floor that came out of the nose that was struck by the ball that bounced off the head of the girl with the wild hairdo.

This is the boy that puked in the gym when he saw the blood that dripped on the floor that came out of the nose that was struck by the ball that bounced off the head of the girl with the wild hairdo.

And this kind of thing, THIS is why teachers need breaks!

Here's to all those teachers out there who survived until this Christmas break!

Thank you all for putting up with days like this!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sleeps through everything!

When I say Peter can sleep through everything, I really mean everything! :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I think the children are inheriting some of mommy's sentiments...

The other night Seth prayed, "God, please make Peter stay a baby forever!"

Oh honey, I like him as a baby too, but God didn't make him to stay a baby forever! God has plans for him as He grows up, just like he has plans for you. We love and enjoy him as a baby now, and God will help us love and enjoy him when he's big too!

(I lecture him and myself!)

"What would you say if I prayed to God that you would stay four forever, would you like it if He said yes?"

"No mommy! I want to get big and go to school!"

So he understood the lesson, and better than the giver of the lecture, who would be perfectly happy if God allowed her to stay 30-something forever.

But God has plans for me as I grow up too, so I'm told.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

what's more insane than having this many kids?

Putting them all in roller skates!
Brave Aggie, not afraid to fall..

Almost as much fun as getting on the snow clothes and boots..

Seth feeling brave... preparing to jump, yes, jump!

We enjoyed safe travels to Michigan and back again...
but will there be safe travels in our basement tonight?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Isaiah 26:17-19

Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth
so were we because of you, O Lord;
we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.

Your dead shall live;
their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
Isaiah 26:17-19

Heavenly Father,
Apart from you we can do nothing- we know this because we have tried, and we have either failed completely, or watched our "accomplishments" topple over in the wind. All our works are filthy rags, yet in your mercy you forgive us and graft us to the vine that bears lasting fruit, your Son. When we are discouraged by the trials of this world, comfort us and uphold us, and preserve us until that day that we see these words fufilled before our eyes. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snow fun for me!

It is looking very Christmasy here in Indiana!
And I can't help but feel down right frolic-y when we get snow like this!
It is good to have kiddos who feel the same way!
Sledding fun!
I tried to give them a running push a few times, fun but not always easy!
The bigger hill by the pole barn was a bit steeper than this one and so my pushes were less graceful there.
Once my feet would not stop running and my body would not pull back from the downward momentum..and so I fell right on top of the children!
(It was totally worth it for the Aggie belly laugh that spread to all the others!)

Between the sledding, the snow balling and the snow wrestling,
this definitely counted as my workout.

Eating snow...

Really, is it such a big deal?

Because I just don't have the heart to pick this battle...

Even princess Lorriane is willing to get her hair messed up and her clothes dirty to wrestle around in the snow!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

a few of my favorite things...

Cozy Christmas traditions!
(Like daddy's Christmas train in the picture above)
Full body smiles!

Apologetic smiles...

Older siblings loving on younger ones

But my most favorite thing today:

Watching my tough-guy Marcus attempt to Turbo Jam along with me!

He was balancing on the couch doing knee lifts and giggling,
"Look mommy! I'm doing it!"
(There was a "daddy" in the background on the dvd, which is what apparently allowed him to consider that this might not be just a girl thing. His daddy will convince him otherwise as soon as he reads this I am sure!)

Friday, November 26, 2010


"I'll finish our book in a minute, honey. I need to tend to Peter."

I use the verb "tend " all the time to refer to the baby of the house. I hear crying or fussing, and I rush off to "tend," to meet whatever need it is that needs meeting. I tell the other children I must "tend," because as I go pick up the baby I do not know if he needs changing or feeding or cuddling or what. Hang on a minute big kids, mommy needs to "tend!"

I remember when Eldon was little and needed tending to, and Aggie was sick and needed so much tending to, and the others tended to each other as much as possible. I remember the day I was cooking dinner and talking to baby Eldon and dosing up the epilepsy meds, when Marcus pulled on my leg and demanded with big sad eyes, "Mommy! Tend to me!"

I like the verb "tend," and have begun to use it in my prayers. I miss my family, more than usual during the holiday season, and I hate not knowing what is going on with everyone. I have friends back home that are going through some hard times and I wish I was there to help them through. There are some in our church family who suffer, and I don't know what to pray or how to help them. So I use that wonderful verb that covers it all- I pray that Jesus tends to them. He knows whatever needs there are that need meeting, and He is also able to meet them.

Jesus, please tend to those I love in Michigan. Tend to my mother and father and sister and family; tend to my dear in-laws and my extended family. Tend to those who are rejoicing for I know not what, for those who bear sadness and trials that I do not see. Tend to those who miss loved ones like I do, tend to those who suffer both near and far. Jesus Our Good Shepherd, tend to us. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A man of constant spelling...

I wonder, has anyone ever been spelled to death?

Death starts with D mommy!
M-O-M-M-Y! that spells mommy! How do you spell "spell?" Mommy? Mommy, where are you going? How do you spell "going" mama?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you the latest puke report...

Some disturbing news this morning. A young boy by the name of Eldon woke up in a strange pile of slime and an even more strangely smelling diaper. Witnesses say the slime resembled hotdog pieces and partially-digested rasins, but we await confirmation from the forensic department. The resilient boy continues to smile his toothy smile despite the stench. Nasal impairment is suspected and under investigation.

In a strange turn of events, the older Cook children have been pronounced healthy and seem to have received an alien form of super-energy. They will be hosting a wrestling/bike riding/yelling/and havoc-making event in the Cook basement throughout the morning.

Witnesses say the mother of these children has a vacant stare and crazy hair this morning. She appears to be treating her condition with coffee and vitamins. She was last seen hiding in her home office after a round of compulsive lysol-spraying throughout her house. If you see her wandering aimlessly in the fields, please contact the authorities.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Not clean enough!

This is the kind of thing that happens if I turn my back for one second!

Eldon had just gotten out of the tub, but apparently his bath was not enough- he had to steal the bath intended for his sisters!

easy love

Snuggly soft skin, breathing you in
Siblings think all you do is sleep;
They hurry the days of walking and playing
I admire your tiny hand, sleepily resting on my arm
and wish the clock's hands were as calm as yours

The time will come for crawling and walking and wrestling
for temper tantrums and standing in the corner
for reading books and picking battles
for teaching, protecting, and letting go.
It will come, is coming quickly

For this moment, your favorite place in the world is in my arms,
next to my skin
There is no conflict between us, no hard lessons to learn
You need only know the most basic thing: that you are loved
And for now, loves comes from me easily, naturally, effortlessly
You receive it and return it in your simple ways
with each coo and smile,
small contented sigh,
wrapped softly in blankets and arms

I hold you close, while I can
Savoring these dwindling rocking-chair days.

Self- soothing can wait.
We soothe each other.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another reason for scowling...

Is there anything sadder than sweet fat thighs with bandages on them?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On Scowling

"Mommy, look at this beautiful picture I made! I am going to bring it to school tomorrow to show Mrs. Barnett!" Aggie yells. She digs through her church bag to find the picture, still breathing hard from beating all her siblings in the run home from church.

"Oh honey," I sigh, remembering her upcoming MRI, "It's beautiful, but you are going to have to wait until Wednesday to give it to your teacher. You don't get to go to school tomorrow; you have to go to the hospital so they can take pictures of your brain instead."

"But mommy!" she whines. "I want to go to school!" I watch as a hard scowl smashes the joy from her face. She stomps down the hall, a picture of woe, certain her life is entirely ruined. I suppress a smile, watching her moan and complain about this small misery. It is day 445 of seizure- freedom for that girl. She has no idea what a small thing one little MRI really is.

Yet I see myself in her, so I withhold my lecture for once. Telling her, "you think this is bad? Let me tell you how much worse it could be!" would be as unhelpful to her as it is to me when I am feeling overwhelmed and burdened. Of course, I act like her sometimes; surrounded by a million mercies, yet pitching fits over minor inconveniences. Fighting children, interrupted schedules, stomach flu, broken dishes--any one of these things has the potential to elicit sighing and complaining from me. Aggie is blessedly shielded from how much worse it could really be, and so, an MRI counts as a trial in her world. That does not make her suffering pointless, or something that can be lectured away. "God says to rejoice always, little girl, so buck up and get yourself happy right now!"

The concept "It could be worse!" is often used as an attempt to comfort those in trial by well-meaning people. When this idea comes from a Christian, the implicit message sounds an awful lot like: Jesus died for you! How dare you be sad?! Is this what the Bible says about suffering? Your laundry machine is broken. Rejoice always! You miss a birthday party to spend the day throwing up into a bucket. Rejoice! That baby you prayed for has died. Again I say rejoice! Really?

Christ has died for us, and has received the enormous suffering we deserve for our sins. Our greatest debt has been paid, and on top of that, our Heavenly Father surrounds us with His grace and blessing as His children. Surely this is reason for great joy! However, that does not mean suffering is no more. While we remain in this fallen world, we will suffer. We have not been told to wear plastic smiles and pretend it is not so.

Rejoicing and suffering are often mentioned together in Scripture. Peter wrote to the suffering church, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials" (1 Peter 1:6). Trials, from minor inconveniences to breath-taking grief, have been part of the life of the Christian since the beginning. The imperative "rejoice!" is not intended to be a heavy word of Law slapped on the back of a suffering Christian. It is not a call to rack our brains for a hundred reasons to be thankful even as we tremble under the shadow of death.

God's children suffer, sometimes greatly, sometimes without knowing why. And yet they are made able to rejoice even while suffering. The important question is: Rejoice in what? Surely not in the fact that they suffer! No, rather read the beautiful words Peter uses to direct the eyes of His fellow saints to their source of joy:

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

In this we greatly rejoice, though now for a little while we suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

As God's children, we have been given so much more to comfort us than "It could be worse!" We have a risen Savior, a certain hope, and a God who keeps our inheritance for us, who will carry us through our trials to that day when we are with him in eternity. We may sigh today, we may even mourn, yet even as we do these things, we are tenderly invited to look to that day when the promises God has given us in Christ will be fulfilled. Soon, we will be gathered with all His saints, and He will destroy for us every reason for scowling and tears.

Yes Eldon, life IS hard!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

recent pics!

OK I have been busy lately... Right now Eldon is on my lap and Peter is having tummy time right in front of me on my desk! So I'd better not spend time adding many words to these pictures!

The one at the top was from touch a truck- it was a ball this year! The boys LOVED it! (Peter slept through it all!)

Here we are at the Indy zoo- the boys favorite thing was petting the sharks! The girls were pretty jealous of this trip (we went monday during school) so we may take them to zoo boo this weekend!

Graduation! This is ELDON in his big boy bed!
Here is Peter, having tummy time on the dining room table! He makes a great centerpiece!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marcus is 3!

Yesterday, Marcus struts in the house, sticking out his jaw, with a baseball bat shoved in his pants. "Whatcha got there Marky?"
"It's my spanking bat!"
"Oh really? Who do you intend to spank with that bat?"
He puffs out his chest and declares, "The naughty guys!"
Did I mention it is a pink bat with princesses on it?

Thanks to God, for helping us make it through through three entire years with this kid!

We love you wild Marcus! Happy third birthday!

Monday, October 4, 2010

MRI day

Aggie and Josh left this morning for her routine MRI. It's funny, now that she is seizure free and aware of life again, she actually gets quite upset and nervous about this! We prayed with her before she left this morning, and she brought her Peter Pan and Curious George to help her be brave.

Please pray for her too if you think of her today!
The picture at the top is from our recent trip to Brown County. It is one of the million things we would have never let her do had seizures still been following us around everywhere!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Aggie's six!

We celebrated Aggie Sue's sixth birthday this weekend! What a joy and a blessing- ANOTHER birthday for this child, another landmark, another year of life and even health!

Aggie cheerfully brought GREEN cupcakes to her class on friday, then we had mom's group, then family fun night- all activities she probably thought were parties thrown for her sake!

Friday night the four oldest kids and daddy camped out in the yard! It got a little chilly, but the kids LOVED it! It was such a nice night they even took the fly off the tent and got to sleep under the stars!

On Saturday Aunt Mary Anne and Aunt Whitney joined us for a backwards dinner party!

She requested Shells and Cheese for her birthday- and got extra for the week ahead! What a great idea Mary Anne!

After church on sunday, we topped off the wonderful weekend with a trip to Brown County State Park! It's so wonderful to be able to let them all climb and frolic in the woods!

Praise God for six wild years with our Aggie Sue!!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

O blessed spring!

God's own child, I gladly say it:
I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it,
Gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth's treasures many?
I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free
Lasting to eternity!

Praise God the Father for His great love that welcomes His children's children into the family through Baptism!
Praise Jesus for his willing death on the cross so that we could have new life by His grace!
Praise the Holy Spirit for new birth and the gift of Life!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

five days

I am soaking up grandma papmering and newborn snuggles, and loving the free time to do things like this:

One would think that by the sixth time it would be easier to manage the tornado of bodily fluids that newborns inevitably bring, but it is still an adventure! Other than the explosions and fountains (one of which soaked the mini blind this morning- how does this stuff happen?!) Peter David seems to be a very good baby so far. He only cries when he's hungry, and almost any every way you hold him seems to be a "sleeper hold." So sweet!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The night before childbirth...

'Twas the night before childbirth, and all through the mother
Flew punches and kicks from the new baby brother.
The maternity pillow took up half the bed;
Her husband hardly had room for his head.
Sleep would not come, so she got up and wandered;
Creation and life and potatoes she pondered.
She caressed her belly, she sighed, and she smiled;
She felt a contraction, but just one, and mild.
Her belly was bursting, her hips had grown wide;
Her shoes by her husband now had to be tied.

The onesies were clean and snug in their drawers;
She was finished with all of her motherly chores.
She was no good at waiting, that much could be seen
So she paced around, looking for something to clean.
Restless and awkward, swollen and sore,
She tried to recall why she's said, "What's one more?"
Her ribs felt a jab from baby's sharp limb;
Through worries and memories her mind did now swim.
Contractions, deep pot holes, a much too long car ride,
Blood-spurting cords, bruised husband by her side,
Back labor, huge needles, the hospital bed,
She thought how "Is this much pain normal?" she'd said.
Though over the years she'd thanked God she's a girl,
She whined now, and prayed for a good epidural.

As she prayed she remembered the blessed relief:
The old-man like stranger with wrinkles, no teeth
Warm, soft, pink skin, and sweet baby smell,
Strong healthy lungs and the very first yell,
Calm sleepy sighs, quiet breathing in sync,
The best-tasting orange juice ever to drink,
The look of proud daddy gently receiving
God's newest blessing, and once more believing
That He who creates and provides and sustains,
His gifts far outweigh the fear and the pains.

Eyes dancing, grinning, skin jumpy and prickly,
she whispered once more, "Come baby, come quickly!"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Waiting for baby!

We don't want to wait any longer to snuggle our brother!

or wrestle with him!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What I love about third trimester

It now takes more energy to do the job myself than it does to explain it to the nearest kid, so I try various children out on various household chores.... whaddya know, they can do more than I thought they could!

It is obvious to everyone that yes, I do need help picking that up off the floor!

It is time to get out the fun tiny baby stuff!

I nest in peace: thanks to insomnia, I get to enjoy the peace and quiet of odd hours in the night.

I have every excuse to nap at any time of day.

The girls get a kick out of painting my toes. Soon, very soon, dear toes, I will be able to reach you again!

I begin to want to be in shape again. This little flicker of motivation will blossom into an actual exercise plan in a mere six to nine months!

I was trying to come up with a top ten list, but I am stuck, and have only complaints left, which I will keep to myself (and share with my husband later.) And so finally, the best thing about third trimester is that it means PREGNANCY is almost OVER! 8 more days at the most!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

"baby" Eldon

Anyone who knows my little 16month-old Eldon, knows he is an opinionated, energetic, and active little man. He spends most of the time running around the house now, creating disorder. He never sits, never snuggles, yet wants a good deal of attention from mommy, preferably in the form of chasing or wrestling.

He has had lots of mommy time this week, with the other boys in Michigan, and the girls in school part of the time.

One day he had a fever and was extremely grumpy for the few hours he was awake. (I suspect teething.) I was amazed: he actually snuggled me that day. He let me rock him. He and I and his blanket; his hot little body, facing mine, bent over the brother-in-the-womb so that he could lay on my chest while we rocked. I inhaled his little-boy smell: not milk and baby lotion, but pancakes and old blankie. I touched his soft skin. For once, he welcomed the quiet and gentle mommy caress, and did not try to turn my touch into a tickle-fight. His hand hung out of his mouth while he sucked on his fingers, making a puddle on my shirt. The other hand opened, and he reached for me, resting it on my arm, as if to say, "Thank you mommy, for just sitting with me for a minute."

It was as if he knew his baby days will be gone soon; as if he knew what's coming, and like me, he wanted to soak in just a few more minutes of life THIS way, before everything changes again. So for a few minutes, we rocked quietly, and he pretended to be my little baby, one more time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Behold, the miracle that is Aggie going to kindergarten!

To Aggie, on your first day of kindergarten:

Today, my Aggie flower is dancing off to school, ready to bloom in another garden. You and Lorraine have been chattering excitedly about school for weeks now. When we went school shopping last week, the only thing you insisted that you have was a green backpack, because green makes you think of Peter Pan. You wore your beloved green backpack throughout our shopping trip, and tenderly buckled it in the seat next to you for the ride home! Now it bounces along on your back as you skip off to your first day of school. My brave girl is facing her next milestone with wide open arms, a light heart, and that huge Aggie smile I love so much.

As you leave your preschool years behind without a second thought, I am reminded how quickly life is changing. It was not so long ago that you were my pink little baby, riding on my hip and loudly expressing your opinions. It was not so long ago that you were the wild toddler, running to me with skinned knees and bruises. It was not so long ago that you were sick, wandering around with dark, sunken eyes, resting in my arms when seizures had sapped all strength from your body, teetering on the brink of death and eternity.

As you began to walk out the door today, I noticed your hair was wild again- Didn't I just brush it two minutes ago? Have you been wrestling with someone already this morning? You wiggled through the second brushing of the morning, and as I fixed your piggy-tail, I gave the right side of your head one extra gentle touch. Though your scar is not easily visible, it is something I see and feel often in my heart. It reminds me of the label you wear in my mind that reads: Prognosis = Uncertain.

I will always be tempted to over-protect you, my fragile child. It is hard to let you go, to accept that you are moving on to a new stage of independence. Part of me wants to always be your gardener, to stay with you in our safe little greenhouse, tending to you and soaking up the sunshine with you every day. But that is not my job, nor it is what you need on this day. You are blooming, not withering, and you are strong enough to go out into the elements.

My beautiful flower, your warm, safe greenhouse will be waiting for you when school is over. Mommy will keep the boys from your teddy-bear blanket and your buddies, just like you asked. I will have the chocolate milk ready and waiting when you burst through the doors this afternoon. God will be with you my dear, just as He always has been. Rejoice and blossom!

I know she's yours, Lord.... please take her into your hands as she skips off to school today. Protect this beautiful flower from the elements; let nothing take her joy away. I know you love her more than I do Lord, and You have promised to be with her always. Protect her from sin and evil. Bless her with caring teachers who are wise in Your Word, with friends who love You, with all that she needs to walk in this world. Thank you for the promises that you have given her, and me, that You will be with us through this valley and someday take us home to be with you in eternity. It is a comfort as I learn to release dear Aggie. She is not going far; only into Your loving hands. Amen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

it's turning into a tradition...

It's third-trimester mat-cleaning time again!!!

It's awesome how the mats double as a slip n slide!