Tales Of Heads

Adon got his first haircut last weekend. I think this is the longest we have gone before chopping off the baby curls- he is not quite 22 months old. I have snipped at his bangs and sides a few times while he is in the bathtub, but the majority of the curls have remained. It continues to be a shock when I see him in the morning, or when he walks into a room. But the real surprise is how much he looks like the other boys when they were his age: that Sam was when Don died, that Noah was when Abbie was born, that Caleb was when he got a book written about him. It takes me back.
I wanted to watch some home videos of the other boys this morning, so we sat and looked at film from when we lived in a ‘pretty blue house’ (coined by Aliyah?) in Waldo. After a bit, I started feeling really sick to my stomach, and had to go lay down. I told Sarah to make lunch and put the little ones to bed afterward, and collapsed in my bed for an hour and a half. What a difference 8 years make! When we lived in that pretty blue house, I had four, four and under, and would never have been able to retreat to my room when sick. I did have a good neighbor whose daughters did come over from time to time if I had a migraine; they were a homeschooling family with 8 children.
My illness today continued into a migraine, which came at a terrible time. Tonight was our children’s program at church, and I needed to be there to share a missions lesson. Fortunately, it involved showing a video, so I wouldn’t need to talk as much. But I was frightened as we got ready for church and my head was feeling so bad- these headaches usually progress to uglier things. Would I make it through the evening without throwing up?
I’ve started a biography about George Muller, and have been inspired at his complete dependence on God in prayer, and the way he would move forward in faith once he did pray. So, as I dressed for church, I prayed that God would allow me to be strong enough to give this lesson, as I kept moving forward in preparation for the night’s activities. We got to church and I was still miserable. Time came to sit by while the kids finished their verse memory game- still hurting. Then, just as I settled in front of the room and opened my mouth to talk to the children, the headache left! It was truly amazing. I was prepared to grit my teeth and act cheerful for this lesson, but found I could actually interact with the children with true joy and excitement! Our God is so good!

No Provision

I’ve come up with a motto: Just Trying To Do Better Than I Did Yesterday. After only one day with my new motto, I have already failed at that. The day began okay- I watched the sun come up and felt like it really had promise. We were headed to church, and I had already made up my mind we weren’t staying afterward for the lunch and information fair on area help agencies. My reasoning was I wanted the kids (and myself) to get a good nap today, after yesterday’s big event- Sam’s Nerf Battle Birthday party! I made 64 pepperoni rolls and two cakes, and the kids and Luke played five different versions of Capture The Flag, Nerf dartgun style. They were still pumped last night when they went to bed, and didn’t fall asleep for a while. So, a good nap was in order.
But, when the service was over and the kids and Luke all looked at me, asking if we would stay for lunch, I thought about how maybe one of them would be impacted personally by one of these agencies or ministries, and be called to be part of it, so I said we could stay. Plus, I was really hungry at that point.
The church had gotten subs from Subway and there was vegetable soup. I chowed, it tasted really good. Adon started crying when I started going around to the different tables, though, so we had to pack everybody up and head home. The kids did get to visit the tables, and came home with all sorts of goodies, like a mini-Salvation Army bell, and Richland Pregnancy Services post-it notes. The post-it notes proved to be an issue as we left; Abbie got some but Anna did not in our haste to leave the gym when Adon collapsed. So Anna decided to collapse, too. I’m standing outside the van holding Adon and Anna’s up in the van but blocking anyone else from getting in, and moaning, “I want a noooooooote pad!” I did what any confident, loving parent would do in those circumstances. I moaned to Luke, “I can’t dooooo this right now! He’s heavy and my back hurts!” He quickly exited his Buick and came over to advise Anna of her options. 1. get in her seat, or 2. get a sore seat.
I don’t like it when I crumble like that. It didn’t have to happen. On my run later, I thought about how I am just as bad as my toddler and preschooler. If I was honest, I would have to admit that the only reason I didn’t want to stay for lunch was that I have had some pretty luxurious naps lately, and was afraid I might miss out on one today. I’m like a four year old who isn’t getting what she wants. And I know better! Just this morning I was reading Romans 13:14-
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh and its lusts.
This verse clearly lays out what my day should look like, if I do want it to be better than yesterday. Be clothed with Christ, and don’t give in to my flesh. Days that I don’t even expect a nap, or any good thing for that matter, are really good days, strangely enough. Many times I do get the unexpected thing after all, or something even better.

Unexpected Blessing of the Day: all the leftover Subway subs and spaghetti and meatballs from the church lunch!

Day by Day

Another sick day. We had some stomach issues passing around three weeks ago, and now it appears we have a bug again. Caleb came home from the Cincinnati homeschool convention not feeling well, and actually stayed sick for most of that next week. I grew more concerned by the day, and thought about how this is what families with real illness and disease deal with on a regular basis. Their child is sick and doesn’t get better for a long time. It would really change our lives to have a child with a serious condition like cancer or something. Makes me glad it is only the sickies!
I like sick days, because I can put school on the back burner and concentrate on the kids and keeping house. These are things I enjoy doing, if I have the chance to do them well. I have realized that I don’t like doing school very well, because when I add that to everything else in the day, nothing at all gets done very well because it is hard to focus on excellence. Also, it is really easy to get bored with school when the weather turns nice. I don’t know if I will ever have a year where I think I have done a good job of homeschooling. Maybe the last one.
Something that has gone well for me is the missions lessons I have been doing at church. We switched from AWANA to a curriculum called TeamKID for our Wednesday night children’s program. During the evening there is a 15 minute missions lesson about a different country each week. This year we have traveled to Burkina Faso, Russia, Indonesia, Germany, Uruguay, and many other places, to find out about how God is reaching people who have never heard the Gospel. I find my own awareness and compassion growing by the week, so at the very least, these lessons have impacted me. Last week’s lesson was about the 10/40 window, the imaginary rectangle that spans North Africa to Asia and is home to millions of people yet unreached. Having just finished a biography about Hudson Taylor and his heart for China, I thought it would be good to give the kids a picture of what the reality is for much of the world- no Bibles, no Gospel materials, no people have gone there to tell them about the one true God yet. The task seems overwhelming, but we serve a great God who intends His word to reach every creature before the end.

My Little Man

Susanna Wesley was able to make time to spend with each one of her ten children individually- there is my role model, there is my goal. I didn’t quite do that yesterday, but I think I did the next best thing.

Adon, our 21 month old, like many toddlers, is misunderstood. I have attempted many things to try to bridge the gap of understanding, such as sign language and giving him a buddy. But I know deep down that what he really needs is more time with me. This is difficult since I have this appendage called Kenan, three months. He is a good baby, but his care demands me to put his needs in front of Adon’s over and over again. So Adon acts out. I don’t think he knows what is missing, he just doesn’t like the way things are.

Anyway, yesterday started out hectic. Most days are, but this had some stomach flu stirred in to the normal chaos, Caleb on the couch with a bucket. I actually like making up the couch into a sick bed. It must be a tiny part of me that would have enjoyed being a nurse. What am I talking about? I am a nurse, every day! With Caleb ill, at a certain point it was just easier to put on a video than to corral the little ones inside away from him, or outside away from me. But as we got settled down to watch, Adon started crying for his binky. I looked all over the house for it, and had a sneaking suspicion it was outside, since Adon had been out on the porch earlier when Luke left for work. This would mean curtains for the binky, since our dog Bella LOVES to chew up binkies. This would be the fourth or fifth one she’s ruined since we’ve had her. I had the thought, though, why don’t I take Adon outside with me and we can look for it together. I put on his shoes and out we went. Maybe he knew where it was, because he found the binky right away; it was under the porch step. I was relieved it was still intact, because this is the last binky I’m going to let him have- we aren’t buying any more. This isn’t even one of his, it is the weird green one that came home with Kenan from the hospital.

As we walked around the yard, Adon would hold his binky in his hand. Soon he picked up a stick with the other hand. When time came to pick up the soccer ball, he had some juggling to do. I showed him how he could put the binky in the pocket of his jeans, but he didn’t like that idea. Later, he wanted to pick up a bigger stick and found he couldn’t because his hands were too full. Then, he dropped everything in order to throw Bella one of her tennis balls. Bella pounced on the binky and pinched it between her teeth. I grabbed it from her and put it in my pocket.

We moseyed on out to the garden corner, and I started moving the bigger stones that were in it to the perimeter. Adon loved that, and sat right down to play with the rocks. Then I went to work on the corn stalks that were still sticking out of the ground, pulling them up and piling them on one end of the garden. It is good that they have such shallow roots and it isn’t too difficult to pull them, but Adon came over and gave it a try. He couldn’t do it, but it was cute watching him exert himself and grunt. He contented himself with taking the ones I just pulled and walking them over to the pile.

All this to say, I already knew the way to my toddler’s heart was to spend some quality time with him. Caleb, when he was this age, was terrifying me with his frequent head banging and escaping out the back door and into the road (!) I simply had to shut my life down for a few weeks and give him my complete attention. It was a really sweet time I will always remember, plus it birthed my first children’s book, Where’s Caleb. Not bad for a scary situation to turn out to be such a blessing.

Adon isn’t scaring me nearly as much, but I am looking forward to spending more time with him in the coming days. This month can be his. Next month will probably be Micah’s- it soon will be time to potty train!

Faith in Progress

“I felt that I was entering a covenant with the Almighty. I felt as though I wished to withdraw my promise but could not…” ~Hudson Taylor

We are parents to ten children, and while this may make us appear to be giants of faith, there hasn’t been a single time between each one that I haven’t been tempted to turn back from this “covenant with the Almighty”. Our current baby, I have mentioned, causes me often to think how he may be our last, so I have savored each cuddle and smile a lot more. Also, I think about how even if he isn’t the last, this season of life is fleeting, and it would be best if I ‘suck the marrow’ out of it while I am still able. Thoughts like these have kept me going these past few months, as we watch to see if I get pregnant again, and how soon.

But, like Hudson, I have had my moments of doubt. Last weekend I took a pregnancy test, as my cycle had not returned after 5 weeks. As I awaited the results, I was shaking! I had no idea how even though I’d been telling myself all these positive things about how our Great God can be trusted and there is no reason to fear, I must not really have believed it deep down.

The test was negative. I was relieved, but saddened at my faithless response.