Sickness

And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:2-3

Last Saturday, Adon came down with a fever. Whenever one of the babies are sick, it is difficult to tell whether this is just something a baby will get, or if this is something which will soon become the next family epidemic. Then Sunday and Monday I had a bad headache, and thought I must be the next one to fall ill. Then Noah’s version was a stomach bug. Then Micah, then Sam. So, by Wednesday night, Sam and Noah had to stay home from our church’s Wednesday night activities. They still are not eating to their capacity. It wasn’t all that bad, certainly not as bad as we had in December. That time it was buckets for everyone, with Luke and I up multiple times a night at the sound of someone getting sick. Funny how grateful one can be during an illness that at least it isn’t worse.

Luke called me after he had gotten a call from his mom, Carol, yesterday: his uncle had a heart attack and was headed to the hospital. This man is in his seventies and we don’t know him very well. I reflected that day on how differently we respond to news like that, depending on a number of factors. I remember when I got a call from Luke another time, in November of 2005. He said that Carol had called him and that there was something wrong with his dad. “I think he’s dead,” Luke said to me. When I hung up with Luke I dropped to my knees by our couch and begged God not to let that be true, to  heal whatever the problem was, to let Don stay with us. That was not to be the case, as we were forced to say goodbye to someone startlingly fast and grievously early. After this call from Luke about his uncle, however, I thought about how this situation held nothing near the urgency his father’s death had. Why? Maybe because Uncle Gary is older, maybe because we aren’t as close. But I think there is another reason. The last couple of years I have learned a little more about prayer, and how it needs to be all about God’s will, not ours. Someone is sick; this disturbs me. But does it disturb God? No, and He has a really good reason for it, whether He chooses to heal the person or not. So, I think my petitions have changed over the years to being more the right way to pray about people and their illnesses. I can see progress by looking back at my response when Don died- it may not have been wrong to ask for a miracle like I did, but I know I was praying with my wants in mind right then, not God’s will. I haven’t since been as challenged in the loss of any more loved ones, so it remains to be seen if I really have improved, in the heat of the moment.

A gal whose blog I read shared some similar thoughts about an aging person who was ill in this post. I was relieved to see that I am not the only one who has certain opinions on this subject.

Picture Day

We’ve had two children since we last had a picture taken as a family, so I was excited to hear our church was bringing in a photographer to do that for a new church directory. Saturday was the day we were scheduled to come to the church and have our picture taken. I didn’t have any expectations other than to try to have us all look decent and clean, and I think that really contributed to the day being a hilarious one rather than a stressful one. Our appointment was at 10:40. I scheduled it midmorning thinking we shouldn’t be too tired or too hungry, and would have plenty of time to get ready. And we did get a lot accomplished. Three of the boys got haircuts, almost Adon, too, but we decided to wait on his. Some of the children weren’t too happy about what they had to wear on a Saturday morning or having to brush their hair and teeth on a Saturday morning or rushing around on a Saturday morning, and at one point Micah whined, “I don’t like to get my picture taken!” before we had even left the house. Abbie didn’t want to cooperate either, which made one of her parents threaten to leave her at home, something he quickly realized he couldn’t really carry out. We were ready in good time, and I had gone out to start the van 10 minutes prior to our departure. When Luke went out to get in, he realized the van was locked! This is at least the third time the van has done this, locking all the doors when we turn it on. Luke thinks this has to do with the battery going. So, even though we might have been on time for once, something once again came along to hinder us. I was already laughing about how this picture taking was going to go, and having the van locked when we were all ready to go made me laugh more, strangely enough. But we gathered in the living room and prayed about what to do. Luke used a thin rod to shimmy through the door, and was able to push the door-lock button. We were back in business, and still laughing. “Unfortunately, this procedure has damaged our drivers’ side door” (which is already quite damaged by my accident in the snow 2 years ago) and “I’ll just put this rod right here on the dashboard so we’ll have it if the doors lock us out again” were two of the funniest things Luke could have said at that moment. I was so glad he could laugh about this.
When we got to the church for our appointment, we were only a few minutes late. It didn’t take too long to take our picture, but we noticed how squished we had to be to get us all in a ‘portrait’ setting. The directory will have all its pictures like this, so it was a challenge for the photographer to get us all in. Caleb was in constant danger of getting his arm cropped out of the picture, and they would keep telling us to put our heads closer together. When it came time to pick which one we wanted, we settled on one where most everybody looked okay, and it turned out to be the first shot taken. The photographer said this is often what happens. Kenan looks the best of all of us; he seems to be saying, “Whassup?!” We’ll get a free 8×10 out of the deal, and  a directory. I can’t wait to look through it and imagine what the other families went through to get that picture taken.

Feeling Behind

Adon was up a lot last night with a cold, so I was slower getting things done this morning. We did accomplish some good things, like starting the dishwasher and mopping the floors after breakfast, but I have only just taken my shower at 10:00. It is very therapeutic for me to do things in a certain order, and when we have a day like this (usually every other day or every third day), I like to pull myself back into a routine by
1. reading my Bible
2. starting a load of laundry
3. starting a load of dishes
That way, at least some of the essentials are getting attention first thing. School almost always has to be shelved on days like this. Carol is coming over to do piano lessons and watch the boys and littles while the girls and I go to Bright Lights, so the only other thing I hope to accomplish today is get the girls baths and showers. I hope every Thursday doesn’t turn out to be this jumbled, with no school getting done.
Last night I kept my kids in the nursery during our children’s group, and noticed a book lying on the counter that had been torn. By the looks of the cover, the book was about Firefighters, but the page that was damaged had a caveman on it. I looked at the page before it and read, ‘fire was probably discovered by accident by early man…’ or something to that effect, with pictures of these neanderthals hovering over a pile of sticks, just like in Night At The Museum. What?! What was this book doing in our church nursery? I’m sure whoever picked it up at a yard sale only saw the cute firetruck on the cover and didn’t bother to read it. Weird. I tossed the book into the trash can.
Well, I’m off to complete my list of the above return-to-routine tasks. Unfortunately, I have been performing them backwards today.

My bedroom always smells like a restaurant when I go in there after dinner. I don’t know why; the door is always closed and the room is a mite cooler than the rest of the house. Does the smell come through the vents? As I lay Kenan on our bed to change his diaper (this is where the changing table is, as he sleeps next to our bed in a bassinet), I decided to give him a bath first. This would be only his second bath where he is actually immersed in water. He is an interesting sort when it comes to being cold. Whenever we take him outside in his carrier, he starts breathing quickly and freaks out, no matter how much he is bundled or how cold it is outside. Sometimes it hasn’t even been cold outside, only the breeze will hit his face and he doesn’t know what to do with that. Anyway, when I put him in the baby tub tonight and a drop of water landed on his head from the faucet, he did that same hyperventilating thing. It is kinda funny, since I know he really isn’t in any danger, but he thinks he is. Each baby I have bathed less and less. I wash their hair every other day and wipe here and there, but for the most part they stay dry their first few months out of the womb. It makes it an event when that bath comes around.

Speaking of occasional immersion, Luke is watching the Liberty-North Carolina game with the boys tonight online. This is the closest we get to watching tv, so they are absolutely riveted on the game and five commercials that play over and over. The girls keep on coming out, too, because it is such a rarity. I love the scarcity of tv at our house. For the second half of my childhood, I watched a lot of tv. I was telling the kids at dinner that I would watch shows from when I got home from school til it was time for bed, and all day on Saturday. Yikes! It used to give me headaches. I remember sometimes I would simply lay on the couch with my head hanging over the side upside down when it hurt, but I didn’t turn the box off! Going to Word of Life Bible Institute in Pottersville (read: Nowheresville), NY for a year is what I think broke me of this destructive habit. We didn’t have tv’s in our dorms, of course, but even if we did, there wouldn’t have been many channels to watch. This was the mid-nineties, right before the Internet explosion, so there wasn’t the option of watching anything online. I remember watching the Super Bowl, though- they showed it via a projector in our classroom/chapel hall. After WOLBI I went to Liberty, and was too busy to have much time for tv, and, again, they weren’t allowed in the dorms. I do remember having a tv most years after Luke and I married, but we never had cable except when we lived with his mom. Ever since we have lived here, we only have movies and tv shows we have purchased stored on our computer. Some tv series we enjoy watching are: 19 kids and counting, Andy Griffith, Little House on the Prairie, and Waltons. The latter two I am losing interest in- as Aliyah said the other day, they make me feel weird. Little House (I first typed Little Louse, how funny) is just so overdramatic to me in my adult perspective; when I was little I loved watching it. Waltons is kind of the same way, but I like it better than LH.

When I was away last fall at a women’s conference, I kept bugging Luke at home to get online and watch the conference so he and the kids could see Keith and Kristyn Getty, the worship leaders there. When he finally did, it was during a message from Janet Parshall. All weekend she had been wearing these pantsuits like Hillary Clinton, and Luke texted me, “What’s up with the suit?!” Anyway, he couldn’t keep it on long because the kids were making a lot of noise and the tv being on added to the chaos. I love that television is an occasional treat in our family, not the norm. It is much more appreciated, and used wisely, that way.

Wedding Photos

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The wedding feast!
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Our flower girl!
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The bride herself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decisions And Onions

Since September we have been involved with a homeschool literary club. Each month we get together to discuss and share projects we have made about a classic book we read. I have really enjoyed the exposure to ‘new’ books we haven’t yet read, and also the chance to meet other families who homeschool. Some ladies from our group have been discussing how to expand the literary club into a co-op that meets regularly to share in other subjects besides classic books. At first I was all for being involved in this, but now with the introduction of Bright Lights into our weeks, I am not so sure. The new group will meet once a month on Friday, just like the Classics group, so if we were to join the co-op we would be away every other Friday. Also, each mom would take turns choosing the topic and leading a meeting. I like the prospect of field trips and a variety of interesting things to study. But it may be too much for us right now. Will have to do some thinking and praying about it.
Two essentials were gone from the house all weekend- my husband and my knives. The lesser, the knives, which have been sent away to be sharpened, I thought wouldn’t be too hard to live without. After all, I only had to come up with recipes that didn’t require any chopping, peeling, or dicing. At the first night’s meal, breakfast for dinner, I went to make potatoes’n onions and got all the way to reaching for an onion and laying it on a cutting mat before I remembered. Not to worry, though! The pie cutter and the cheese grater got the job done, however imperfectly. I like having challenges like that that I have to come up with an alternate way of doing things. I get to pretend it is the end of the world as we know it and all I have to survive is a pie cutter and a cheese grater. It is good to know that we would make it. We would just have to have breakfast at every meal.

Naptime Thoughts

Naptime is such a good, quiet time. The kids didn’t get to have a nap Thursday or Friday, so that makes it all the more delicious today. Thursday we all attended an informational meeting about Bright Lights, a Biblical discipleship program for girls. It looks as if four of our girls will be able to participate: Aliyah, Sarah, Abbie, and Anna. I am really looking forward to being part of this and allowing our daughters to get to know girls from other like-minded families in the area. The group will meet Thursdays at 1:15, a strange time for it at first thought, but since we are all homeschooling families, it isn’t, really. I am realizing more and more that naptime will have to be shelved as the older kids have more outside activities. Right now, it is only Thursdays that will be this way, but eventually we may be out and about more afternoons during the week. I’m glad the transition is slow and I only have to adjust to one activity at a time. We aren’t in sports yet, or 4-H, or anything other than church and one homeschool group that meets monthly, so I feel like this can be a good addition for our family. And I am so thankful for the timing of it- just looking at the room full of beautiful girls on Thursday brought tears to my eyes. Our daughters don’t have too many girls they can be close friends with, due to scheduling and geographical differences. Here is a group of sweet, REAL people with whom they can hone their relational skills. Thank You, Lord!
Friday we had lunch with another large family from our church. It is always an encouragement to be around other moms with the same challenges and blessings as we seek to care for and raise so many. We both love reading Above Rubies magazine and were talking about the latest issue having a few stories about ladies having babies into their forties, even some in their fifties, and what that might look like in our families. The reality, apart from what our culture may tell us, is that a woman is meant to continue bearing children until menopause! If God intended anything different, He would have designed our bodies differently! So, it should not be shocking and certainly should never be looked down upon for an ‘older woman’ to have a baby. One article closed with the thought, what more beautiful blessing is there to herald the end of one’s fertility years than a baby? I liked that. I don’t know how many more we will have, but I won’t be surprised if I am pregnant at our oldest daughter’s graduation, or even her wedding! Maybe we’ll be having babies at the same time! That would be wild.

Blessed

Home from the store- I always feel so good the day we bring home a week’s worth of food and the ‘larder’ is full! It goes fast, though. Noah and Abbie have been gone all weekend, and it actually made a difference at Aldi today. Just having two less changed the dynamic somehow. The older 3 were given another chance at Meijer, and were in and out in a half an hour. I was glad to be able to sit in the van and feed Kenan. The littles and I sang some songs, really only 2, as the ‘God loves (insert name here) song can go on for quite some time if we sing about every family member. It was cold, wet, and really foggy outside, and I think we all preferred to sit in the car and stay warm.
We’re having our picture taken for the church directory next Saturday, and Luke wants us to do white shirts again, so I stopped at Goodwill to look for some. I found a few that might work, but they aren’t all white. Some, like Adon’s and mine, will have a sweater over top, but overall I think we will all coordinate nicely.
I had hoped to have a family picture sooner, to send to the child in Bolivia that we sponsor. But these portraits weren’t going to be taken soon enough, and our child is a small baby who wouldn’t likely know whether she had a picture of her sponsor family or not. That makes me feel better about missing the opportunity. Our church may send a group to visit the children’s home there in Bolivia the summer after next, and I hope to send at least one of our kids. Maybe I’ll get to go, if I am not pregnant or have a newborn. Wouldn’t that be exciting.
I probably will think this more and more as I get older, but I often find myself thinking as I care for Kenan, ‘This might be the last baby…this might be the last time I do this… this might be the last time I do that.’ Some things I will not miss. But many things I know I will, like their little soft heads and big eyes. He is such a good baby, it brings all those things I will miss into sharper focus, and likely makes me think about it all so much more. I notice, too, that we all are better off for having a baby in the house. We’re more gentle; we try not to talk too loudly; we smile more. We might have to borrow a baby from time to time when the house eventually is baby-less. I hope it won’t be too soon.

Lost And Found

I should know by now that nursing in my bedroom with the door closed while everybody else is out in the house unsupervised is not a good idea. It was further proved this morning when I came out to jigsaw puzzle chaos- the littles had emptied out several puzzles onto the floor and were only working (half-heartedly) on one of them. Many of them were from a set of Disney puzzles we had gotten the kids for Christmas 2 years ago and had gradually lost pieces to vacuums, toddlers, and toddlers feeding them to the dog. Since these pieces were all over the floor, I told Sam to just sweep them up with the broom and throw them away, to finally dispose of them. As he was sweeping, Sarah noticed that one puzzle seemed to be all together in one place; she counted the pieces and thought they might all be there. She and Aliyah assembled it at the table only to find it missing about five pieces. I reasoned with her that the remaining pieces could be anywhere, could have disappeared long before today. But she walked over to the trash can and started searching through it anyway. What a long shot, huh? What are the odds that even one of those pieces would be found in the trash, let alone five?
But what if they were? That question was haunting and exciting, and it made me want to go and help her look.
This experience makes me think about God, who looks and looks for lost people like me until they are found. I’m so thankful He didn’t stop searching just because the odds might not have been in my favor, or because it would be a lot simpler and easier to give up on me. Maybe the thought, ‘Yes, there isn’t much chance, but what if it did happen?’ was exciting to Him, too. The Bible tells me He did consider the possibilities, and for the joy set before Him, endured the cross. I’m so glad he thought I was worth looking for, and didn’t stop until I was found.

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

Homebodies

I ended up staying home from my Bible study last night. There wasn’t any particular reason; I just felt really overwhelmed all of the sudden at the thought of driving an hour there and back, in the rain, with Kenan…too much.
Today we went to the library. We try to get there every Tuesday, and last week made it in time for Toddler Story Time. The kids enjoyed that so much that they put forth the effort this morning to get us out the door good and early. We were out of toilet paper and dog food, so after the library we went to Wal-Mart. I sent the older 3 in again, and this time they took a lot longer, though their list was shorter. Worried that something had happened to them, I was just about to take the other 7 in to look for them when out they came. Apparently they had been looking at books and makeup. Hmmm.
Looking forward to dinner tonight- I am making spicy sausage pasta. This stuff is dreamy. It originates from an America’s Test Kitchen cookbook that I promptly borrowed from the library when we tried and loved this dish. I was disappointed with the cookbook itself; this appears to be its only hit.
I do appreciate ATK- I own one of their cookbooks, and a couple of months ago made some biscuits that were in it. They turned out awesome! I love biscuits, but have never been able to make any that didn’t turn out looking and tasting like hockey pucks. This recipe was a little bit complicated, but the results were worth the work. I was so pleased to finally have been able to make one of my favorite foods from scratch, I felt like Tom Hanks in Castaway when he built his first fire. Victorious!
Tomorrow afternoon Luke, Noah, and Abbie leave for a homeschool convention in Greenville, SC. Noah and Abbie are very excited to be going along this time. Luke plans on taking 2 different kids with him to each of the 3 conventions this spring, so every one of the older set will have an adventure to tell about before it’s all over. I have a grocery list of items I want them to look for while they are at these conventions, like Caldecott winners at the used book booths and cocoa butter at the lotions and soaps booth. We’re also looking for a good set of measuring cups and spoons with handles that are all one piece. I don’t know how long I have been limping along with my broken cup measures, waiting for these conventions to roll around again. It will be nice to get those. We are thinking about getting a Bosch mixer, as well. Once I have one, it will be simpler for me to make the family’s bread. I got a mill last year but haven’t been able to do bread full time with the Kitchen Aid we currently have. How good it will be to have homemade bread every day and not have to buy bread anymore!
All this talk about food is making me hungry. I want to go eat chocolate but I really should go work out now.