This is Strong

Sunday, July 22, 2018

These girls.

this is strong!
this is brave!
this is beautiful!

They have been through more in their first decade of life than you or I will ever experience in a lifetime.



Combined, they’ve bravely endured:
4 months in hospitals
8 surgeries
9 intubations
7 catheter procedures under sedation
4 blood transfusions
and upwards of 100 ECHO’s and blood draws!

 

So grateful every chance we get to connect these two who have matching silver scars the length of their torso.  But they share more than the trauma they’ve been through.  They share a faith, a strength, and a bold braveness that inspires.  They talk unreservedly about their heart conditions, but they also talk about normal, healthy, tween girl stuff!
They stay up till the wee hours of the night giggling in their makeshift tent.
They charm neighbors and sell lemonade.
They swim, and consume ice cream en masse.
They have goofy inside jokes and tease each other like sisters.
Fiercely competitive at cards.
Dearly devoted in friendship.
Regardless of time apart and miles that separate, whenever they’re reunited, theirs a special bond that brings this momma to tears.

I shared in my last post how God has grown our faith through the heartache we’ve watched out girl endure.  He doesn’t leave us alone in our pain.  He is present.  And he redeems!….
This precious friendship is part of God redeeming this story.  A story that in a million years  I would never have chosen to write for my daughter.  But God, in his providence, has brought into our life some of our most cherished friendships…..all because of broken hearts!
He loves to heal the hurting.
To bind the brokenhearted.
To redeem the seemingly irredeemable.

Why Shalom?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Why Shalom?” a new friend asked me last week.
Are you Jewish?”

For a decade now, this word has been a deeply significant part of our family’s faith journey.
Our daughter ‘Evangeline Shalom’ was named on a bitterly cold January afternoon in the middle of snow flurries, with great intentionality, (and we felt, at the time, a prompting from the Lord.)

The word ‘Shalom‘ means ‘peace’.
Evangeline ‘Evie’ Shalom, our angelic 9 lb. bundle, completed our perfect little family and ushered in a season of 5 children 5 years old and under (gulp!)
Peace.
Yes please.  We could use a little peace in our lives.
And this sweet, passive, easy-going baby was just that – perfect peace.  Peace for 10 blissful days.

…..then the storm.

A storm that rocked our world and shook my faith to the core.
At the bedside of our baby, we faced the near certainty that we would never bring her home from the hospital or hold her without tubes and probes and drains and monitors.  Chad and I had gut-wrenching conversations preparing for a funeral and making decisions that no parents should ever have to consider.  I remember a wave of bitter confusion when the meaning of her name came to mind while I held her bruised, blue, cyanotic hand in the dead of my darkest night.

Why Shalom?

Why did we name this child “peace”?  This child whose little life was anything but peaceful!!
I wrestled with the notion for the next days….weeks…and then months as she took two steps forward, and one step back on a long, grueling road to stable.  For the next two years our life centered around more surgeries, sedations, monitors and medications, diagnosis and doctors appointments, blood draws and biopsies, intubations and infections that I can count.
But her name wasn’t a mistake.
…and it wasn’t some cruel cosmic joke.

God taught us through the messiest, most painful, stretching, agonizing, disruptive season of our lives, that peace is not reflective merely of harmonious circumstances.   We learned what it meant to be at peace….at peace in the storm!   To cling to the only unshakable thing – Him – when our world was unraveling.
To trust His unchangeable qualities when our life was in disorder.
To hold fast to the promises of who He is, when what today brings is only uncertainty and heartache.

Not circumstantial.  Not emotional.  Peace is not the lack of a storm, but a lifeline in the storm…..a sunbeam of hope and glimpse of eternity when the agony of this world has been too much to bear.


“Shalom” is inscribed above our breakfast nook where I see it 1,000 times a day as I serve our family and clean our messes.  Reminding me, over and over, of His peace.  In the ugly.  In the uncertainty.  In fear.  In the storm.

He is unchanging, unwavering, unshakable.  His character is compassion.  His plans are for good.  He’s not bound by space and time and circumstances.  He is eternal and he sees….he cares….and he redeems all things.

Grateful today for His shalom of peace for every storm and season, past, present and future.

Peace I leave with you; my peace Igive you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

…..Beautiful “Shalom” sign crafted by my friend Jerri!
Go to our Instagram page where we are GIVING AWAY an identical sign with your word of choice!

Just Go With It, Momma!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The census is way down at our house this week with 4 of our 7 children visiting family out of state.
That leaves “only” three at home.
(Practically a vacation for me!)
I figured I’d have a record amount of uninterrupted time and I planned my to-do list accordingly.

With overcast skies as an excuse to not leave the house today, my best laid plans included staying in my yoga pants, working on my business from home, and filling the blow-up-pool to entertain the two youngest.


After we finished a pancake breakfast on the patio, I employed by teenage son to blow up the kiddie pool (no small endeavor).  After which, we realized that the backyard hose wasn’t working.  (Do you have any idea how many rubbermaid containers filled and carried outside it takes to fill a kiddie pool? )
While Tristan worked on re-plumbing the backyard hose system, I heaved 10,000 buckets and basins of water outside.
Whew!!
That was a lot simpler in my mind that it ended up being!


Well into the late morning now, I settled myself on the patio in my adirondak chair in blissful 79 degree weather with my bible, computer, pen and paper, journal, juice and sighed deeply!

No sooner had I cracked my computer, Eden wanted his sunglasses.
90 seconds later later, Gigi needed a towel (you know….so she could dry off and then get back in the pool again!)
It’s now been at least an hour since breakfast, so they are “staaaaaaarving” and requesting a snack.
Eden stubbed his toe on the concrete….tears.
Gigi needed her hair pulled up in a ponytail….again.
When I told Eden to stop drinking the pool water, he then of course needed his sippy cup.
Gigi was grossed out by grass that got tracked in the pool and Eden was mad she wouldn’t swim with him anymore.

What a neurotic notion on my part that they’d play contentedly for hours!
I think we stayed outside for a total of 27 minutes before Eden’s teeth were chattering and it started to rain.

The pool toys are now strewn all across the patio, towels are soggy, my journal is wet from splashing, and my creative juices are the only thing that are not flowing!


Im pretty sure this is where the term “throwing in the towel” comes from.
As I dried everybody and everything off, I silenced my headstrong tendencies to pound out some overdue correspondence and polish off projects, and instead, I climbed in bed with my cranky toddler.
And Gigi too, snuggled in saying she was tired and cold and just wanted to “rest, not sleep“.
Lying in bed with an unproductive morning behind me, and my arms full of cold, cuddly babes taking naps, I couldn’t help but smile.
How many moments like this do I miss by striving to “do” instead of being content to just “be”?


Grateful for these end-of-the-rope mommy moments that readjust our life and realign our priorities and remind us….
Remind us that our children are not just little comrades of chaos to disrupt our day and shake our sanity.  Their requests, demands, dirty diapers, needs and interruptions are all a means by which God is sanctifying us.  Our pouring out for our kids weeds the self-centered gardens of our hearts and gives us a gift we dont know we need…..that of laying down our lives for our children.  A sowing that will bear fruit and that makes a difference.
In the daily grind.
With dish-water nails and messy bun.
In the moments of feeling unproductive and measuring our worth by measuring our accomplishments.  It’s then that one more sippy cup needing filled can drive us to our knees, slow our distracted pace, and focus our weariness on the wonderful gifts that are ours.

Give yourself a break.
Just go with it, momma!
Go snuggle those little loves and pull the covers over your head for a while!