When push comes to shove…dare to love

1L

Every now and then I experience one of those moments.  The kind that squeezes my heart and steals my breath.  A transient moment, nearly impossible to capture in words.

It happened as I stood heart-in-throat captivated, watching them play.  Beat-up Tonka trucks and a pair of toddler-sized plastic ride-on cars flavored the moment boy.  With “motors” whirring and horns beep-beeping they lost themselves in the pure joy of being two.  In the joy of being together.

I watched as two heads bent close, one blond and one not, working to maneuver a truck onto the patio.  Coordination that hadn’t yet caught up with determination threatened to spoil everything.  Until it didn’t.

One yellow truck and two small boys landed on the patio, stunned.  And then they locked eyes and giggled that giggle that says everything words never could.  Seeing their mission as a complete success they went after yet another truck.  Because where one is the other must be also.

Time passed and I took it all in.  The laughter, the teamwork, the friendship, the bond that won’t be broken.  And then it happened.

Smack.  Squeal.  A torrent of tears.  Four little legs pumping furiously to reach Mama first.

I swallowed hard, opened both arms and grabbed my two sobbing boys.  Drying tears and giving kisses and reminding of how Jesus wants us to love, I encouraged them to hug it out.  And they did.

Giggles restored.  Friendship resumed.  All was right with the world.

1QL

Their play continued but now my mind wandered.  Was I making this thing harder than it needed to be?  Had I just experienced Conflict Resolution 101 only to discover it was all I needed to graduate with high honors?  What was all that other stuff…all those rules and guidelines?  Were they really necessary?

In that moment, for that moment, I saw clearly.  I saw past the muck and mire of distraction.  I saw beyond the throng of well-intentioned but misleading books and articles I had stuffed my brain with.  I tossed the index of mental notations I’d been keeping and dared to think with my heart.  What I saw was simplicity in its most raw and beautiful form.  Simply Jesus.

His finger burned a few basic rules onto the tablets of stone and then He broke them down so we, in all our thick-headed humanity, could grasp them.

 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

There you go.  How much simpler can it be?

1Q

We aren’t told to love the neighbor if they’re lovable.  Or if they’re dutiful.  Or if they’re beautiful.  We’re told to love them even if they aren’t.  Because they won’t be any more than we are.  Period.

But we can’t love them in their sinful, spiteful, sometimes hateful, ugly mess if we haven’t first given Him our own heart.  He has to fix it up and fill it up with the miracle that makes it possible.

Because they’ll be times we’ll cruise right along loving each other and giggling as we land on our backsides.  But they’ll also be times when we forget we’re a team and end up in a smack-down of the wills.  And those are the moments when we need to be reminded of how Jesus told us to love…

Hard and with a whole lot of grace!

1Q2

 

PS. Hugs are optional but highly recommended.

 

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Chronicles of a Toddler

chronicles

 

 Chapter #1

 

I woke up early this morning and was frustrated to find that, once again, the sky was lit but nobody was by my crib to get me.  For some strange reason they panic when I lift myself up and start to climb over the side.  I’m a pretty quick learner and I don’t want the supervisory staff mad at me, so I’ve gone back to waiting for them to come.  But I’ll be honest, I’m not the most patient toddler in the world.

Anyway, I made a little noise hoping to alert somebody that I was awake and in need of a diaper change.  No luck.  I decided to call for back-up so I hollered across the room to my twin brother.  Nobody else has a clue what we’re saying to each other, which totally works in our favor when we’re putting together a plan.  It’s like talking in code and they all think it’s cute–it keeps them distracted while we iron out the details.

With our plan firmly in place, we started banging the sippy cups of water Daddy always makes sure we have at bedtime.  Poor guy.  He loves us so much that I feel kinda bad using his kindness against him, but desperate times sometimes require you to do things you aren’t exactly proud of.  Of course, giggling hysterically when the big people aren’t around is a sure-fire way to bring them running, too.  Shamefully, it’s a tactic we use often and always with great success.

 

Within moments, Daddy was at our door.  Bingo.

 

With the freedom we were craving and dry diapers to cover our bottoms, we had to wait while they chose the outfit of the day for us.  I honestly don’t know why they bother…we end up needing changed by mid-morning and by noon we’re lucky to have anything more than a t-shirt and diaper on.  I prefer it that way and would gladly save Mama the extra laundry, but they keep insisting.  And I’m not one for making waves, you know.

From there, the day was pretty routine.  Eat, play and stress Mama out with all the cool tricks we’re learning.  I’m not sure why she lets us play with the big kids if we’re not allowed to do the stuff we see them doing.  You should see her fly into a nervous frenzy and run around like a wild woman when we convince someone to put us up on the trampoline.  We take off laughing and she thinks we’re just enjoying the game.  Really, we’re laughing at her and also casting frantic glances toward the gate hoping none of the neighbors see her acting that way.  She really is a nice woman, bless her heart.  She just doesn’t seem to have much sense of adventure.

Of course, then there’s Daddy.  Now that guy knows how to play!  He tosses me in the air like a rag doll.  I know he wants me to love it, so I do my best to giggle with abandon.  But I’m just not sure what I’m going to do when they press the potty training issue and I don’t have that diaper to conceal the evidence of my fright.  For the moment I’m safe, so I humor the guy.  My brother on the other hand…he shrieks like a girl and goes ghostly white when Daddy tries it with him.  Poor boy.  I guess one of us had to be born with the sissy-bone and I’m just glad it wasn’t me!

You wanna know what my favorite game is?  I love to disappear for a minute and make the staff panic.  I’ll just take off down the hall and slip into a bedroom and wait.  I never have to wait long, though, because whoever is on-duty at the moment races through the house until they find me.  I try to look innocent, like I just went in search of my tractor or something and I’m pretty sure nobody is onto me so far.  But boy is that fun!  Almost as fun as standing in the open window and screaming pathetically for help!  You should see them react when I do that.  I should probably warn you, big people don’t have much sense of humor.

I know some people are into small families and I can see where there could be benefits to that.  But I gotta tell you, having six other kids in the house sure makes it easier to get away with stuff.  Like when my curiosity gets the best of me and I raid my teenage brothers’ room.  Unless they actually catch me in the act, they can’t pin the crime on me because there is always the chance it was one of the others.  Of course, they talk a lot about Jesus around here and I’m starting to have the sneaking suspicion He wouldn’t like me to be dishonest.  I can’t explain it since I’ve never actually gotten to meet Him, but I like Him.  I really want Him to be happy with me so I’m probably going to have to change my ways soon.  Ahh, growing up is painful!

I don’t want to get all mushy here, but I gotta admit I love being loved on my so many people–even though it gets overwhelming at times when they’re all asking for hugs and kisses, high-fives and fist-bumps.  When push comes to shove, these guys have my back. I might work on their last nerve during school hours, but my charm wins out and they can’t resist!

Anyway, I’d better go for now.  I borrowed (without asking) my sisters crayons to write this and I really need to get them back in the box before she finds me.  She’s a pretty nice girl but she gets a little touchy when I mess with her stuff.  Next time I’ll get permission first.  I have so much to tell you and if I get one of the staff to help me, I could write much faster!  Till then…I’ll try to stay out of trouble, but don’t hold your breath!

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 Linked up with:  Raising Mighty Arrows, Deep Roots at Home

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Baby signing and Early talkers

Teaching my babies signs has been a habit since about child # 3.  It just makes good sense to me.  Signing offers little people, too young to express themselves verbally, a way to let me know what’s on their mind.  And so around 6 months or so, I begin introducing the basics.  I don’t get anything in response until about 9 months, but by that time they know without thinking what each sign means.
Of course, this time I had twins and NOTHING has been as I’ve expected.  These little guys are systematically re-writing the parenting book as I knew it and it barely resembles the earlier editions.  
Both boys quickly picked up on the signs we taught them.  Both boys can sign simple requests and do it regularly.  But one little man has learned to talk far earlier than any of my other kids ever did.  He’s like a parrot as he runs around the house repeating just about everything he hears.
And so, naturally, when he throws his hands up at the end of a meal to sign “all done” he also clearly says the words in his raspy little voice.  Same with “more” and “eat”.  When I sign and say, “I love you!” his sweet mouth squeaks out the words, “I uvvv” but then giggles hysterically and never says “you”.
Cute, yes!  But it also kind of makes me wonder if it was really useful to spend more than 6 months introducing hand signals for words he learned to say as early as he learned to sign!
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Stolen moments…

The soft glow of the hall light wound it’s way in through the open nursery door.  The first crib revealed a tiny bum poked into the air atop little legs curled up under his sleeping frame.  Grabbing the blanket he’d wiggled out of, I pulled it back over him and ran a hand gently through his soft hair.

Moving on to the next crib, I nearly shattered the silence with my laughter when I saw a chubby face peering at me just over the crib railing.  Two big, browns eyes took in my every move and a huge grin defied the late hour.

Unable to resist his charm, I scooped that plump body into my arms and headed for the rocking chair.  He clung to me, thrilled at this rare chance to have Mama all to himself.  And we rocked.  His small head nestled itself into the warmth of my neck.  I couldn’t have moved if I’d wanted to!  What is it about the innocence of babyhood that is so intoxicating?

His little hand had grabbed a fistful of my shirt while the other clung tightly to his beloved blue dog.  Every so often I’d feel his head lift off my shoulder and see him peek up at me.  Yep, she’s still here!  And she’s all mine!  With a sigh he’d surrender to the weariness and snuggle back in.

We stayed like that for 20 minutes or so, gently rocking.  Finding solace from a frantic world, and reminding each other that it’s truly the little things that make sense of the big stuff.

When I finally took him back to his bed and tucked him in, he was ready.  His eyes stayed locked on mine until I backed away and quietly snapped the door shut behind me.  I flipped off the hall light and headed for my own room and a husband who understood all about stolen moments.  The kind that fill you up with the knowledge that you’re loved, not only by a wide-eyed little boy, but by a great big God!

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Two by two…A twin birth story

With each passing day my stomach grew, as did my love for the little life inside.  Not only was I delighted to be carrying the child of my brand new husband, but it also somehow brought healing.  A confirmation of His blessing as I ventured forth into my “new world” after a seemingly endless rough patch.  Little did I know He’d gone and double blessed me!

Using one of the many wonders of technology, the doctor did a quick scan to rule out ectopic pregnancy or some other complication.  I’d been experiencing abdominal pain and was growing at an alarming rate.  He quickly found the little sac and everything looked normal.  Nothing to explain the odd symptoms I’d been having.  Nothing, that is, until he swept the doppler to the side just a bit more and that second sac appeared.

Deep in our hearts I think my husband and I both knew {we later learned that his Mama had a pretty good guess, too} but I remember like yesterday the feeling that passed over me when confirmation appeared on the small screen.  I felt weak and just a little overwhelmed.  I’d been down this road before, having conceived twins in two previous pregnancies.  In both instances, one failed to continue growing while the other marched right on to a healthy delivery.  I had never been one that craved twins, but neither did I want to lose a baby that my heart had claimed.

Robbie (L) and his twin Ronnie, holding our twins!

My husband, a twin himself, had secretly been hoping I was harboring two and just grinned.  The girls were beside themselves with joy while the boys were a little more hesitant.  It had been 6 years since we had a baby in the house and the thought of more than one at a time took some getting used to.

I used doctors, rather than midwives, so the entire 9 months was very medically monitored.  If I could do it again, I’d likely choose a different path, but at the time everything was unknown and a very scary.  I never considered doing things a more natural way and actually sometimes panicked that they weren’t doing enough to ensure both babies were fine.  It makes me laugh now, but I desperately wanted to hold both my babies at the end and didn’t care what I had to do to make it happen.

The pregnancy was rough.  I was put on modified bedrest around 25 weeks and found myself the unhappy recipient of an umbilical hernia.  Everything was painful and I can’t say I “considered it all joy”.  I’m pretty sure Robbie {my exhausted husband} was certain I’d be pregnant forever!  Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

At 38 weeks I went in for another scan.  The babies appeared to be good sizes and I could feel that they were both very active.  So it was determined that I’d come in the next day to be induced.  I live over an hour from the hospital and there was some concern about going into spontaneous labor being so far away.  I have a history of going from about 4 to 10 centimeters in minutes and I was already walking around at 2+.

Things went pretty smoothly as they tried inducing labor more naturally than just hooking me up to pitocin.  Contractions started and I felt sure that within a few hours my body would be relieved and both arms would be filled.  That was not to be.

What started at 7am continued until 10pm with very little change.  I was contracting alright, but they were doing almost nothing to open the cervix.  Honestly, this wasn’t terribly surprising because I had been experiencing what seemed like labor for over a month, but things just never progressed.  The doctor approached us about the possibility of a c-section and we pretty quickly agreed.  I still sometimes wonder how differently this all might have played out if I was made of tougher stuff and had patiently endured my misery rather than medically interfering with the course of nature.

I was prepped for surgery and rolled into the cold OR.  I remember it being a very surreal feeling, knowing I was literally minutes away from finally seeing those two little boys.  It was my first cesarean and I clearly remember wondering if they were ever going to let Robbie in to be with me.  They did and then the procedure began.  I knew the very minute the doctor made the first incision because I could feel it!  I’m still not sure why, but for some reason the epidural didn’t take properly and I wasn’t truly numb.

My head shot up as I called out, “Is it supposed to burn like that?”  I don’t remember anybody saying anything, but I do recall the next searing pain shooting through me.

“Hey, that really burns!” I nearly shouted, feeling less controlled and lady-like with each passing second.

Robbie leaned down and whispered that in just a minute I would no longer feel anything and then the lights went out.  But in the fog, two little people made their way into the world just before midnight!

I woke in a darkened recovery room with a strange nurse and no husband or babies.  To say I was confused would be the understatement of the century.   I didn’t immediately recall the OR experience and when the nurse noticed I was awake and congratulated me, I asked her “for what?”.  I didn’t think they had been born yet and was too loopy to notice my once huge abdomen was now only moderately huge!  After a few minutes of convincing, Robbie came into the room with one of the babies.  The other followed shortly and my world was put to rights again!



Levi Wyatt (l) 6 lbs 1 oz…and older by 1 minute!                 
Quinn Robert (r) 6 lbs 11 oz





It’s been quite a year.  I wasn’t nearly prepared for how different it is to bring home two babies rather than just one.  There are some moments that I drink it all in and revel in how precious they are, little heads bent together in play.  And then there are others where I stand in disbelief at how much damage they can do in mere minutes.   They are adorable and crazy and fussy and smiley…but most of all, they are loved! 

Happy 1st birthday, Levi and Quinn!!!!

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Another child in my future?

One question I get asked a LOT is, “You’re done having kids, right?”  Most of the time I can let the question roll off my back as I understand people just don’t get why I’d want to “subject” myself to such a life.  But lately I’ve heard it soooo many times (along with being assured of just how crazy I am!) that I’m struggling a bit with a soft response.

You see, I am not collecting children.  I didn’t grow up with a notion to have a posse of kids to cash in on at tax time.  I never pictured myself driving a big, white Ford F-250 12 passenger van that I nearly need a step ladder to climb into.

I envisioned a modern home with fine furnishing and a husband whose salary was almost as handsome as he was!  But alas, it seems I was dreaming of a life that wasn’t meant for me…our home is a mountain chalet that is far too small (by societal standards) for our growing family and my husband is far better looking than his paycheck…but he loves his job as a firefighter and looks adorable in his turn-out gear!

So no, if anybody was wondering, I didn’t plan out the life I am now living.  But it was planned for me! And I would not trade one moment of it for all the unrealized dreams that fill my past.  I am insanely happy and intensely fulfilled!  So I have some trouble answering the question of if there will be any more children.  The answer people expect…and want to hear…is a firm NO.  And because I am a people-pleaser by nature, I am tempted to think we can’t or shouldn’t.

I begin to think it would be irresponsible or unfair to have another.  But when I go back to the root of my very existence, I find myself face-to-face with a Creator who commissioned us to populate the world.  I hear all the time that the world is overpopulated and I honestly can’t help but laugh.  We cram ourselves into small spaces leaving wide open land to spot the Earth and somehow end up thinking there are too many of us.

What there aren’t enough of, are God-fearing people who realize their smallness in comparison to an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Creator.  We develop ways to subdue the natural order of life and hand out Nobel Peace Prizes for those efforts that go “viral”.  And birth control being among them, is considered to be the responsible way to plan a family.

But I’m going to lay it out for you, being very real and vulnerable.  This post is hard for me because there are those who will see it that are close to me and feel strongly that my child-bearing days should be over.  And there are those who will be appalled at the lengths that I have gone in the past to prevent new life from forming within my womb.  Either way, I lose in somebody’s eyes, but I’m not answerable to “somebody”…I must give an accounting to God only.

I conceived my first child soon after I married at the age of 20.  I was boldly told “you must be outta your skull” and informed of just how very expensive a baby was.  And that was just the beginning!  When that precious boy was 5 months old, I learned I was carrying yet another baby within.  You don’t even want to know how “crazy” I was at that point, but I got to hear it constantly.  The thing was, I had been on the birth control pill and was just as shocked as everyone else.  At around 3 months we learned that I had been carrying twins, but only one was developing.  I casually wondered if the pill had anything to do with it, but didn’t give it a whole lot of thought.

Finally, the dust settled as people just assumed life would carry on with our two sons.  At that point I had been convinced that I should be done and was on the depo-provera shot.  And I got pregnant!  I carried that baby for a few weeks after we learned I was expecting and then miscarried.  I felt in my heart, whether it is true or not, that having that shot in my system is what kept the pregnancy from sticking.  And while I didn’t think I wanted any more children, I certainly didn’t want to be having miscarriages trying to prevent them.

In the process of trying to sort out where we stood on the issue, I conceived another son.  Prevention efforts after that were all non-chemical and two more little girls joined the family within the following three years.  My youngest daughter, and fifth child, was also a twin.  But again only one live baby resulted from the pregnancy.  Having conceived twins twice at this point and already having five children, my (then)husband scheduled a vasectomy and we figured the story was over.  We were wrong!

I conceived again three more times post-vasectomy, though all ended in miscarriage.  I truly believe God had a message in all that confusion.  I believe He was attempting to remind me that I wasn’t exactly cut out to fill His role and that I could no more prevent a baby, if another baby was in His plan, than I could go out there and speak a universe into existence.  Some people struggle for years to conceive, with no logical reason why it isn’t working.  Others, like myself, try for all we’re worth to prevent being further blessed, thinking we’re too financially strapped or physically worn.  But God is bigger than a bank account and mightier than all the birth control combined!

I have since remarried and have been blessed with twin boys who fill every corner of our small home with delight.  In spite of the fact that some have voiced their concern that it isn’t fair to the older kids, every last one of them is completely in love with their baby brothers.  They do play with them and love on them and offer me a helping hand to care for them, but they do not raise them.  And in my opinion, it is plenty fair to offer the big kids a little something else to love!

So while we have more than the average number of kids and it causes people concern that we may not have sense enough to do the “responsible” thing in the future, we are basking in the blessing of fashioning these little people for Jesus.  When the day comes that we must stand before Him with an accounting of our lives, we want nothing more than to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant!  You trusted in ME, not logic, and your offering is acceptable!”.

As for whether any more precious babies will join us, only He knows.  But I can assure you that we’ll do the responsible thing and cherish them if they do!

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