Middle Love

Both of my middle children got to do something fun with a friend this week. Abbie was invited to a girl’s house for her birthday on Wednesday, and today we are hosting Caleb’s buddy.

Abbie was originally invited to a sleepover a few weeks ago, but the distance and inconvenience of it was off-putting. Plus, we really don’t do sleepovers unless they are at our house, and we don’t even do that anymore. Unless you count every night. Kids everywhere. So I was really wanting this afternoon with her friends to work out. I ended up driving her to Marion, giving me some good alone time. I was going to shop thrift stores over there for maternity clothes, but it started to rain and I would rather be home laying down or eating (see previous posts). Abbie’s friend’s mom shared some toddler hand-me-downs for Julia, so I came away feeling quite blessed.

Today we picked up Caleb’s friend, and planned on going to the Y since it is raining again today. He seems so uncomfortable in our home when he visits, but came out of his shell once we were in the van headed to the Y. Right when we got here, someone discovered puke in the pool and they cleared it and cleaned it for the next half hour. I felt bad for Caleb and friend, but we just waited it out. They finally got to swim and slide, and appear to be having a blast. I opted not to swim today, and am glad I did. I couldn’t stomach getting in right after an episode like that. The kids are happy, though.

 

New Mercies

I commented in my last post that I don’t miss much of it now that we don’t go to the Sunday church service. One thing I miss is the opportunity for Luke and Aliyah, especially, to play music and sing together. We do some songs in our makeshift Sunday morning service at home, but it isn’t as good as having a mic and having a sound system (hopefully behaving) projecting. The other night when Luke’s cousin visited, we sang some songs together, and it was so nice, we put more effort into it than we had been and the sound was great. This makes me want to dress up our Sunday offerings from now on, too. Plus, we’ve got Christmas tunes to practice on piano.

Luke has a controversial situation in his school system with a student that has gone on for a few years now. The student was due to be in his class this grading period, but Luke has just found out there will be some change and the student will not be in it after all. I believe this is one of those ‘He answers before you even ask’ kinds of mercies, and am hoping this is the closest Luke gets to the controversy.

I’ve been asked again to paint the window of a business in Bellville for Christmas, in time for small business Saturday. This isn’t because I have much talent; there are a lot of windows and few volunteers. Last year I volunteered, thinking, how could I not do something like this, and did a couple of holly wreaths. This year, all year, I have been thinking of a way to incorporate Christmas cookies- they can have simple round shapes and nice bright colors. I thought of a gingerbread boy and girl; the boy is putting a star on the top of a Christmas tree cookie, and the girl is looking on, delighted. I did a sketch earlier that I’m pretty happy with, I just have to decide how ornate the gingerbread people should be. Less is more on a window.

 

 

Hello Thomas

The two littles are watching Thomas the Tank Engine. We have cleaned house and really don’t want to get any toys out, so cartoons it is. A relative of ours is visiting that we rarely see, so in one sense we want to make an okay impression. On the other hand, he only comes around once every five years. What’s he going to do, ridicule us on Facebook? Big deal. But he’s a good guy. Lots of stories and talk. He likes to talk.

We haven’t been to a Sunday church service in a coon’s age. It seems more reasonable to get together as a family in our home, than keep visiting churches we are fairly certain are not going to be a good fit. I have been thinking about what I miss about going to church on Sundays, and it is surprisingly little. I do like to share in some kind of Christmas musical or pageant from time to time, and it would be nice to find a concert or two this holiday season. Maybe the local paper will have a list, or I can ask around.

On Thomas, Duncan was passed up for a ride in a hot air balloon for the twins’ birthday. What kind of children’s programming is this? Don’t worry, he set the balloon loose. Maybe he can give the twins a ride now.

 

Something To Celebrate

I have to remember to pull the chicken out of the oven when I am done here. It is not baking, just sitting in the only free space I could find in our cluttered kitchen. But I am not complaining about my full larder- this means I can cook and bake things that make me cry with happiness.

On October 1, I took a pregnancy test, and the positive result was not a surprise. But it did give some legitimacy to the emotional rollercoaster I had been on for a few weeks. At one point, I was experiencing a panic attack similar to those in my postpartum days, and I wondered if it could be menopause. No, just a really intense pregnancy. I’m not feeling well physically, and that gives way to feeling down and depressed a lot of the time. As I go through my days, two thoughts are always at the forefront:

If I could just lay down…

and

When is the next time I can eat?

Because, anytime I am eating I feel good, much better than when I am not eating.

This has birthed (ha, ha) a new appreciation for good food, and I actually get pretty excited about certain meals these days. The other night, I was not up to cooking dinner, so Luke asked Sarah if she could make something. The plan was to have chicken pot pie, and I had all the ingredients for that, but it sounded gross to me. She decided to transform the ingredients into a chicken noodle soup, that further transformed into chicken and noodles when it turned out too thick. I put some in my mouth and immediately wanted to cry, it was so good. It tasted like Bob Evan’s, but better! And now I knew how to make this dish again, and feel good again, for much less money than Bob’s. It is for dinner tonight, too!

Making Mexican rice last night, and smelling it come out of the oven, aroused a similar teary reaction in myself, and I got to thinking. Man, there are some foods which are so, so good, and what a sweet mercy of the Lord to have this pregnancy be one where I can celebrate those foods and not have to avoid them. Here is a list of the ones I’m loving right now:

Chicken and noodles

Mexican rice

Guacamole

Chicken salad with grapes and walnuts

Tomato basil soup (the smell of basil sends me over the moon!)

Tuna salad (seriously, the saltiness is great)

Fried eggs on toast

Blue cheese dressing

Kettle chips

Peanut m&Ms

Anything with Sriracha mustard on it

This is only what I have discovered so far. I still have six months to eat to my heart’s content.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to promote overeating, during pregnancy or otherwise. I only gained five pounds in my first trimester, to my surprise, so I must be doing something right.

Please note: The real celebration, the real joy, comes from knowing our little 13th (16th) wonder is on the way. Though I feel crappy, it isn’t anything like other women experience during pregnancy. I’m just trying to put a fun spin on things while I’m feeling so low. Thank the Lord for good food; I might be much lower without it.

Weird But True

I just had to get away this afternoon; packing and preparing for our trip to Virginia had me a bit rattled. When I am alone in the van, it is so quiet and I am aware of all the sounds the carriage and doors make. There was a strange scratching sound today, which reminded me of the mice. A few weeks ago, Luke was leaving to take the kids to cross country practice. As he backed out of the driveway, ahead of the van in the rocks was a mouse with a baby in its mouth. It sat there a second, as if in shock, then ran with its cargo into the weeds. I was convinced that it must have fallen out of the van when Luke left. This was confirmed a few days later when I was sitting at a light in town, and all of the sudden there is a mouse on my windshield! I turned on the wipers and made it jump off and escape behind a streetlight. We have had mice chew through wires in previous vehicles, so seeing these creatures nest in our van concerns me. But Luke doesn’t seem worried. Just wait until one comes to meet him while he’s driving, this time on the inside of the windshield.

Last week we got a strange package in the mail. It was an ordinary brown box, and weighed next to nothing. Curiosity was killing me, waiting for Luke to come home and open it. He wasn’t expecting anything, and frowned when he pulled out 200 pairs of earplugs, the kind you’d use in factories or around heavy machines. What? He called the company, which wasn’t all that helpful. “I guess it’s your lucky day!” The operator responded. What were we to do with all these earplugs? Aliyah was headed to a Tenth Avenue North concert that weekend, so Luke planned on trying to sell some there. When they got there, they saw that the event was giving earplugs away for free. Oh, well. We are set for life as far as healthy hearing goes.

 

Where We Are

I’ve been well so long that I forget what it’s like to be sick. Last night a (rare, now) headache started, and I’m slowly recovering from it this morning. Sitting and walking slowly around the house, I see it all in a new light. Do we really live in such a mess? I read once where the author assured that we have to decide what level of tidiness we can manage, and try to keep things there. Well, I must have dropped the bar; this place needs work! With the older kids gone Saturdays at meets, and me not even able to boss the littles effectively today, I see how much I do and how not much I delegate. Not good, says Jethro to Moses. True, true.

Life itself seems to be in a state of disorder and confusion for us right now. We have not found a church that we feel ‘fits’, though I know this takes time, and goes both ways. You get when you give. But  ‘a girl without a church home’ has never described me. I mean, I was in church before I was born. The closest thing to a wilderness I’ve experienced before this was our brief try at a church plant, but even then I had my married family to surround me, if not many church family members. (Luke’s dad was the pastor and his brother in law the associate pastor/elder. We rarely had more than twenty at a service, as I only had four children then.😃) But God is my portion.

My mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. While it was not a surprise, it still signals the closing of a door on some things in life, and ushering in a new season of uncertainty. We would like my dad and mom to move closer to us so that we can help with her care, but that means even more changes for my dad, who is feeling a bit overwhelmed already. All in God’s time.

So, that’s where we are. Lots of tangled messes waiting for God’s deft fingers to work them out.

 

Good Things

Martha Stewart likes to promote the fun, fanciful, and fine with the above phrase. From vegetable noodlers to warm slippers, these are the things to have right now, to enjoy life to the fullest. I read something today that reminded me what the true ‘good things’ really are.

I guess a woman with cancer refused treatment because she was pregnant. Then, the baby, a girl, had to be taken at 24 weeks and did not survive. Then, the mom died, two days later. She leaves behind a husband and five children. Man, right there is a couple of people I would just love to hug. I will look for her in Heaven, but him? He’s got a very difficult row to hoe. I doubt it is feeling very much like a good thing to this husband and father that his wife and baby are gone.

A BSF lesson question ties into this, too, in a strange way. It says, “What results of suppressing the truth (see Romans 1) do you see in your own life and what will you ask God to help you do about it?”

I wrestled a bit with this thought, then concluded that maybe a good place to start would be to isolate some problem or issue I am having right now; perhaps this difficulty is a result of me suppressing God’s truth. But then I thought, that isn’t the only reason we have trouble in our lives. It may be just as likely the bad thing is not a result of my sin, if we’re talking averages.

And let’s not forget these dear ones who hardly know how to move forward without their sacrificial wife and mother. Nothing in this says, they must have suppressed the truth to get here. In fact, this has God’s truth written all over it, but it still hurts. So. Badly.

Sigh. But who of us really know if we would trade a single tear, a single blow, a single loss, if we could see it all the way He does. I would be willing to bet we’d see them as Good Things to rival Martha’s any day.

Be Anxious For Nothing

I was praying this morning that I could avoid being anxious about something, only to hear news about something else later today that caused more worry than that thing before. (I’ve been mentioning prayer often, but that shouldn’t give anyone the impression I’m very far along on this spiritual journey.)

Maybe the bigger thing WAS my answer, as if to say, you think that was a stressor? Try this. And remember that some people deal with even worse, every day.

The kids are at cross country practice. I’ve got the younger six with me at home. It is so pleasant outside right now, with a cool breeze and approaching clouds to take away the sun’s brightness and heat. The bugs are so loud you can make out little else. I love the sounds, and the smells, of fall. Anticipating a new season never disappoints.

Today is Aliyah’s birthday. She’s 17! I remember much about her birth, and bits from her childhood, but not as much as I would expect. We just live life with each other, day by day, and those early days get farther away. She’s a great young lady, in spite of my many sins raising her. This, of all things, should encourage me not to worry about tomorrow. For seventeen years now, and more, it has been out of my hands.

 

Next Big Break

My prayer this morning was, please help us to be gentle. Anna gets a tooth knocked last week, then this week begins with Julia and her sore arm. The kids were playing outside last night, and she came in crying and not using her arm. She has done this before, both falling and favoring her arm, but it is usually better by morning. This morning she was still in a lot of pain, so I took her to Urgent Care, knowing from Adon’s visit there that they would do an x ray. The doctor there simply manipulated her arm a bit- twisting, bending, moving, which Julia hated, of course. But then I noticed she wasn’t crying a whole lot about the x ray, and when she returned to the exam room she started reaching for books and Sarah’s water bottle! I think the doctor popped something into place. Maybe it was a waste of money to go there just for her to touch her arm, but I didn’t feel like I should ignore symptoms of a sprain or break, and I know I may not have had the confidence to move her arm like that.

So, I’m happy. Julia’s running around, back to being busy. Hopefully we can have a more normal day here soon. These injuries are exhausting.

Fortuitous

So said my soft spoken yet verbose dentist of the break in her front tooth. It didn’t go so far as the central tissue being involved, and didn’t damage the root. I almost burst into tears when I heard him say that word, as if it were just the right stroke of luck. No, it was God, working in mercy, as He so often does. I don’t know if my dentist is a believer in God; he serves enough pastors and sheep in our community not to be familiar with all that. I hope he was struck once again with the mysterious ways of Him tonight. That would truly be fortuitous.