Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Choosing Joy

Women often say to me, "You must have easy pregnancies!" or "You must love being pregnant!", when they learn how many children I have.

Not so. I don't believe there is such a thing as an "easy" pregnancy. Every pregnancy is fraught with at least some amount of difficulties such as morning sickness, hormone changes that cause acne or a roller coaster of emotions, leg cramps (I got a Charlie horse in my sleep last night!), insomnia, back or hip pain, weight gain, edema, preeclampsia, pre-term labor, bed rest, being overdue, or even miscarriage. The truth is that every pregnancy is difficult. It really is a continuum of difficulty and not an either/or thing.

Honestly, I believe that whether you enjoy being pregnant or not is less about your physical comfort and more about your attitude and your perspective. The truth is that having joy is a CHOICE. It really is within your control to enjoy pregnancy by changing your perspective and dwelling on truth. When you realize what a gift from God it is to be pregnant, a privilege not given to every woman, and that it is truly a miracle to bring a new soul into the world, it should change your perspective no matter what pregnancy symptoms you suffer from. When you realize that you cannot make yourself become pregnant, despite doing all the things required toward that goal, but that it is God who is the Author of life, you will have a heart full of thankfulness.

Yes, some pregnancies have less symptoms than others, but I am honestly enjoying these last few pregnancies more than my first few, despite being older and it being more difficult on my body, because my perspective has changed! I have chosen to enjoy them! It also encourages me to see other friends who continue having children despite difficulties in their pregnancies. What a testimony of God's grace! They can only do so because they choose to count it all joy. That humbles me when I am wont to complain.

Of course it isn't always easy to choose to have joy and, yes, there are times when I am full of complaints (just ask my family). However, when I choose joy it honors the Lord and gives me a heart of thankfulness! There is nothing like complaining to make us feel even more miserable and sorry for ourselves. Our joy is really about our perspective and who our eyes are on! When my eyes are on myself, I will always be miserable, no matter what degree of difficulty I experience.

This is true for any trial in which we find ourselves. Choose joy today.

In Christ, Laura

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Amalea

This is Anna. Here are some pictures I took of Amalea.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Doing It All and Falling Short

I haven't written in forever! There is a reason for that: 8 kids! Life is busy. And #9 is on the way in early October. I had a free moment today, however, and some thoughts I wanted to write down. The kids are all happily playing outside, so here goes . . .

If you have ever wondered about someone, "How does she do it all?", the answer is SHE DOESN'T!

There is always something that has to give. How does she always have such a clean, organized house? Well, she sacrifices her free time and doesn't get to read that good book after the kids go to bed. How does she do all those amazingly cute crafts with her kids? Well, her house is a mess! How does she have time to have such an elaborate garden? She is behind in laundry! How does she have time to make gourmet meals or sew a quilt or knit sweaters? She sacrifices some area of her life in order to accomplish those things.

The truth is that nobody can keep up in every area of their lives. The problem is that we look at the lives of 10 different women and take what each is an expert at, measure our own lives against that, and then feel miserable when we fall short! Then we deal with an overwhelming burden of false guilt. I know I do it!

The solution to this problem is twofold:

First, stop comparing yourself to others! Get off the blogs that show only the amazing parts of one's life, but not the not-so-pretty parts. It's not real life. I had to stop reading a blog that showed a woman's beautifully decorated house, complete with all of her do-it-yourself projects. Not only did it make me feel terrible about my own house, but I was comparing my house with 8 children to her house with one baby. If it doesn't encourage you, but leaves you feeling discouraged or guilty then don't read it anymore!

Second, ask God what areas of life He wants you to be an expert in and focus on just a few. Stop trying to make yourself be someone you are not! If you are not a gardener, then don't feel guilty about not gardening despite the organic, fresh food craze. If you don't like doing crafts with your kids, don't feel guilty. I don't like doing crafts with my kids! But I do like reading to them, so we do that everyday. I have pared my life down to just a few hobbies. I don't feel guilty anymore that I am not a scrapbooker and that I do not like to plant flower beds.

Despite knowing these things about myself, I still struggle and have to fight my feelings of falling short all the time. The truth is I don't get it all done, nor do I have it all together. Nobody does! How do I take care of and homeschool 8 kids everyday? By sacrificing areas of my life that other moms don't have to because I just don't have time. Areas that I enjoy--Like this blog, like running, like my obsession with reading. But the neat thing about having many children is seeing God gift them in ways in which I fall short. Anna loves flower gardening and sewing! Elyse plays the piano and violin. Katria loves to organize and make things beautiful. Haven always has an apt word on her tongue to encourage and speak truth. Semaiah loves bugs and is our comic relief. Jonas makes amazing things out of wood. I will never be able to learn all the skills and hobbies in which my children are becoming experts. That is the blessing of children!

So, don't compare your life to others--not your marriage, your home, your children, your gifts and talents, interests and shortcomings. God hasn't called us to be good at everything. He has gifted us each uniquely. Fight the tendency to compare and go to God when you are feeling that burden of falling short.

In Christ, Laura

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Pictures!

These are some pictures Anna took of her sisters recently. The first one is a picture of everyone, including me, who got a haircut one day.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Second Wedding Comes Out of Truman's Accident!

No, I am not kidding! Isn't God great? Another wedding is happening as a result of Truman's accident. This week our friend Sarah, who is Katie's oldest sister (the Katie who flew up to care for our children during Truman's accident) said "Yes!" when Robert, a gentleman in our church, asked her to marry him! They were introduced to each other when Katie and Sarah were visiting in February at an engagement party for Raphael and Katie. However, it was not until April that they first started talking at luncheon at our house when Katie and Sarah were visiting for Truman's big birthday bash. God had all of this planned when Truman drowned! He had all of this good planned to show His glory and that He can be trusted even during the worst trials of our lives!

We are SO excited for Robert and Sarah and know that God has amazing things planned for them. To God be the glory! Robert and Sarah will be married on September 21st. Not only will we have the 2 sisters in our church, but they will be married to guys who have known each other for other 10 years!

In Christ, Laura

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Amalea's Accident

Yesterday was a rough day, but I am thankfully reminded that it was not as bad as last year and Truman's accident. However, I think having gone through what we did with Truman it was more difficult than it would have been because Cameron and I were dealing not only with the emergency, but also all of our traumatic memories.

We were helping good friends of ours move yesterday. It was about 2 pm and I was in our friends' daughter's bedroom with all of our girls, keeping my kids from underfoot. I set Ami down so I could open the window because it was getting pretty warm in there and as soon as I pushed it open it fell down on Amalea's finger. It is one of those older homes out in the country with all of the original woodwork and the windows are wooden and heavy. Amalea started to scream and I saw that her finger was caught. I lifted the window, saw that her finger was not only bleeding but completely chopped in half from the cuticle on, grabbed her under the armpits and ran to Cameron screaming. He took one look at it and we started to get ready to go to the hospital and made arrangements for our other kids. I immediately started to panic and I know it was because such a flood of emotions and memories came rushing at me from last year. I drove and Cameron rode in the back with Amalea in order to hold her hand so she couldn't do any more damage to it. We took Truman and Semaiah with us. Thankfully, my friend's aunt gave us directions to the freeway because I had no idea where I was going and couldn't think clearly.

Poor Ami screamed the entire way to the hospital. It was the longest drive of our lives. There were so many 2 lane, winding back roads to go through until we got to the freeway. Amalea was in so much pain she was shaking and biting her other fist. I felt so helpless and I know Cameron did, too. All we could do was pray. I was praying that God would move cars out of my way, that He would make them go faster, and that He would relieve my baby of her pain. At one point, I passed a car, shaking from the adrenaline, praying that another car wouldn't be coming in the opposite direction. I came up to lights and wondered if I should run them. On the freeway, I was speeding, praying for our safety and praying we didn't get stopped. My only thoughts were to get Ami some pain relief. At one point, some comic relief, Truman saw a lake and said, "Mommy, water! Mommy, I go water?" I said, "No, Truman, no water," as I thought to myself that he is blissfully clueless about what happened to him last year and had no idea what was going on with Amalea. (Indeed, Semaiah fell asleep on the way to the hospital and when we got there we discovered she only had 1 shoe on and we still don't know where the other one is!).

Thankfully, when we got to the hospital they gave Amalea some pain medication right away and wrapped up her finger up so that she couldn't touch it. She had calmed down some by this point but we knew that she was still in a lot of pain. They took an x-ray and thankfully the bone was not broken. However, the tip of her finger down to her cuticle was severed and hanging on in the back by a millimeter of skin! Babies' fingers are chubbier and the bone doesn't go to the tip like ours. The ER drs. called a plastic surgeon. He came to look at it and when I asked him how it looked he said, "It's oooo-kaaay," and Cameron and I knew it was pretty bad. However, he was optimistic and told us that he was going to try to reattach it. The hard part was that we had to wait 4 hours from the time Ami last ate--which was around 2. The next 4 hours were so difficult trying to keep Amalea distracted and happy. I knew she was so hungry and I couldn't nurse her and I knew she would not fall asleep despite her fatigue because I always nurse her to sleep. Finally around 6:45 they took us to the operating/procedure room. They started an IV and then I left--I could not watch. Cameron stayed with her. They gave her ketamine to consciously sedate her and told us it would not knock her out, but would probably make her sleep. Well, after 1 dose she was still moving all around and talking. They waited awhile and she would not settle in. So, they gave her another dose. Nothing. She was still talking and moving! They gave her Versed and she settled down so that she was still enough that they could work on her finger but she talked through the entire thing! She was saying, "da-da" and blowing raspberries and yelling out (the finger was numbed). I could hear her out in the waiting room! The dr. said she has never seen a baby NOT fall asleep! We have always known Ami was pretty feisty--just like our Elyse--but when Elyse needed stitches the Ketamine knocked her right out within minutes and she was snoring! No, Amalea is one determined little girl, already walking at 10 months. She is opposite in personality to Truman, who is gentle, sweet and mild-mannered. She has a temper and is stubborn! LOL! Nursing is a challenge, to say the least, because of her acrobatic poses. My other children think it is pretty comical to watch her nurse--not so much for me because I am the one who has to wrestle her and keep her still every time!

After they sewed her finger back on, they put sort of a cast on it and wrapped it all up so that she could not get to it. She was so crabby by this point. They finally allowed me to nurse her and within 30 seconds she was asleep. We left about 15 minutes later to go home. As we were getting in the car the cast/bandage job slid right off! We were in such shock, but so thankful that we were still at the hospital. We went back in and had to have it re-bandaged. Finally, around 9:30, so tired and hungry, we headed home. I forgot to mention that Cameron had been on-call the night before and had only had 3 hours of sleep!

I was able to look at Ami's finger when the bandage came off and I was so impressed with how good it looked! I was also shocked to see just how little skin held the entire tip of her finger on. I knew it was bad, but I was shocked to see just how bad. We have a picture of the x-ray and you can see that the tip was almost completely severed. Poor baby.

The room that Amalea had her finger worked on was next to the procedure room in which Truman was when the ambulance brought him in. It was very emotional for Cameron and I to be in there. I sat in the same waiting room in which we sat while Tru was in the ER and a flood of memories came back. The nurse who helped with the reattachment of the finger remembered Truman--all I had to do was say his name!--and she said, "He is a miracle." She cannot believe that today he is a normal little boy.

Today, Cameron took the oldest 6 kids to church and I am resting at home with Amalie and Tru. They are both napping. She doesn't seem to be in any pain and doesn't seem to mind her bandage. I am glad she isn't crawling anymore so she doesn't have to use that hand. The finger that was injured was her ring finger on her left hand.

We go back to the plastic surgeon in a week to see if they were able to save that finger. The surgeon was pretty confident that it will be fine. She may have issues with her nail growing normal. If the finger doesn't do well there are several options we can discuss then. I am just so thankful that she is no longer in pain!

Thank you all for praying for us when I asked yesterday on facebook. It is SO comforting to know that people are praying and care about our little girl.

In Christ, Laura

Friday, June 28, 2013

Been Busy

I just realized that it has been over 2 months since I have posted! Definitely the longest stretch I have ever gone without writing. Life has just been so busy! We have been in the middle of a kitchen remodel these past months and it has consumed a lot of my free time--researching every detail of it. We still aren't quite done; we have the backsplash and floor to complete. Our next project is putting in French doors where there is currently a bay window and extending our deck to the end of our home. We filled in our back door in order to make our kitchen larger and therefore have no back door right now. It is a little inconvenient to get to our deck right now--through the garage and around the house. We will soon remedy this.

In addition to being busy with a kitchen remodel (and not having a sink or a stove for over 2 1/2 months!), I have just been busy with homeschooling and caring for 8 children! One big change occurred in my eating habits when I read "Trim, Healthy Mama" last November. I highly recommend this book. It has been great and I lost all of my baby weight much quicker this time. I usually hold onto 5 lbs. until I am done nursing, but by putting into action the principles outlined in the book, I lost all of it when Amalea was around 4 months old--without my milk supply suffering. In fact, Amalea is probably our chubbiest baby! I am also doing My Barre 3--an online workout--and loving it. A friend recommended it to me and I cannot say enough good things about it. Check it out! I also read a book recently called "You Can Change" by Tim Chester. It was one of the best Christian books I have ever read. Currently, I am reading "Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl" by Nate Wilson. It is also a fantastic book!

Katie, our friend that came to care for the children during the time of Truman's accident, got married in May and we went down to NC for the wedding. It was a double wedding: her sister, Rachel, got married the same day! It was so good to see all of our NC friends, whom we have not seen in 3 years! My friend Lori, who has 5 young boys, and her husband, Eric, hosted us for almost a week! They were so hospitable and laid-back and she is a great cook! The past 6 months have also seen us host Katie and various family members of hers for extended amounts of time when Katie came to visit Raphael. We have loved having them stay with us! The big news right now is that one of Katie's sisters is now courting a guy in our church! God is so good!

Truman is doing great! Almost everyone I run into wants an update on him. I am so thankful that so many still care about our little guy. He is developmentally right where he should be for a 2 year old. He loves trucks--he has a mild obsession with them--and is either playing with a truck or looking at trucks in books. He knows all the different kinds of trucks and construction equipment. It is so cute! Recently, he and Jonas starting sharing a room. I am so thankful for the "brothers" and that the Lord blessed us with another boy. Truman is such a sweet, unassuming little boy. He is very friendly and so tender-hearted (although he has taken lately to laying his entire body on top of Amalea when she is crawling).


Last week, the 5 oldest started running track through community ed. It has brought back so many memories! I just want to get out there and run with them. They are all fast, and a couple of them are REALLY fast! I am so proud of their willingness to jump right in and try a new sport. Their enthusiasm is contagious! The oldest 4 are also still participating in archery, outdoor in the summer.

Amalea is 10 months old and just took her first step. She goes with the flow, is a very content baby, but is also very feisty. She reminds us of Elyse.

That's it in a nutshell. I promise to post more frequently and I think Anna has a bunch of pictures to share!

In Christ, Laura