Sad News

My heart is very heavy this morning for a dear family we know. Their youngest son, age 13, died yesterday. When these kind of things happen it is so surreal, I look around me and back on the previous busy and carefree days, and think how everything is now different for this family, even different for us being friends of theirs. The older four were still awake when we heard the news, and it was difficult for them. They have only experienced a few deaths in their whole lives, and only now are getting to an age where it will affect them emotionally, and permanently. It is hard being the friend of one grieving; I just want to make a big feast of food or put together a big flower arrangement or compose some lovely cards or even go clean their house, anything to make the situation better. But oftentimes nothing tangible is needed or even wanted, I know from my own experiences with loss. So, I pray, knowing it is the very best thing I can do. Aliyah shared the verse from Lamentations 3 with them: Your mercies never fail, they are new every morning… and I pray, pray, pray, that in spite of the dark night they just went through that this family was able to wake up to some new mercy from our Savior.

I love this song, it was a comfort when Micaiah died:

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Refrain:
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

2 Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

3 Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

4 Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.

The Day After

I’ve been working today, at some things legitimate and some things not so much. The washer is fixed, thanks to my wonderful husband finding the source of the clog- a nursing pad! Second time this has happened to one of our washers! Read about the last time here. Anyway, trying to get caught up with laundry today, and dishes. Luke just commented that it sounds like the dishwasher has been running all day. Well, that is better than my dry, cracked fingers in dishwater, and I am thankful for it. At this time of year I think it is fun to work a puzzle, so I started one last night and have been sitting over it way too long this afternoon. I hope to get it completed by the end of the weekend. The puzzle came used, so it is still up in the air if all 1000 pieces are there.

Christmas was great. I think the kids were pretty pleased with what they got; it may have been a case of present overload for some, they didn’t know what to play with first. I got some oven hot pads (much needed as I have been using dish towels with limited success for months), a plastic ladle for our nonstick crockpot, and a spatula (much needed as I have been grumbling under my breath every time I have to scrape a bowl with a wooden spoon). Good haul for me.

Time for dinner. Luke’s mom sent us home with a ton of food last night, so the plan is to eat that up before I plan anything new. Ham, potatoes, pea salad, here I come!

 

Christmas Eve

We stayed up late last night wrapping presents. I wasn’t feeling well, and it was hard to find a comfortable position to sit as I worked. And with so many children there were so many presents to wrap! (I know, first world problems, right?) Luke and I decided that when our little roll of Scotch tape was out, we would quit for the night. Then that roll of tape proceeded to have about as much longevity as the widow’s oil! We just about got them all done. Towards the end of the evening, Luke reached for a box shaped gift and shook it. “Is this one to Sam? I don’t remember what it is!” As tired as I was, this struck me as so, so funny, and I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard. I pictured Sam opening it tomorrow morning and us saying, “Look what you got! It’s a surprise to us, too!” There were a few items under the tree that were oddly shaped and particularly hard to wrap. After Luke put down Sam’s box, he spied my attempt at covering a doll (not boxed) with paper and tape. It looked like a Christmas mummy. Then he lost it, too.

The real job begins of keeping Adon and Kenan from ripping open the gifts before Christmas morning.

Laundry Woes

Ok, so I recommitted myself to doing laundry every day. This week has gone pretty good; if I can set a timer to remind myself when it is time to change loads, I can get quite a few done. There’s the mainstream loads, there’s loads of kitchen, cleaning and bath towels, and loads of Luke’s and my clothes, because we have found that the mainstream loads can come out still smelly if something wet was left there, or if they sat there too long. Bringing me back to my commitment to doing as much laundry as I can, every day, to try to combat the ugly odors in the ‘clean’ clothes. So today was going great, until about 4 o’clock, when I came downstairs to a beeping washer with a blinking red light. The basin had reds in it and was still half full of water. It is front loading, so I put a bucket down in front of what I knew would be a lot of water spilling out when I opened the door. Aargh! I think it is a clog in the line out from the drain; it seems to want to run, just can’t drain water right now. After dinner Luke took a look at it, which means he unplugged the machine, plugged it back in, and started the ‘drain and rinse’ cycle. He came upstairs with the news that “it still isn’t doing anything”. I’m not criticizing my husband’s attentiveness to our washer; he knows he’ll have to get to work on it soon, he just didn’t want to do it right then.

Abbie and Kenan were both under the weather this evening, so Luke volunteered to take my grocery list and the older 4 out to town to shop for food and for clothes they are badly in need of. This will take a load off my mind, because I would have had to do both sometime tonight or tomorrow, and it is harder these days for me to ‘get out’ than it is for him. I always have a curfew, and feel like I have to rush around, whereas he can take his time. Maybe they’ll buy me something for Christmas while they’re out. I heard a song today on the radio, a la Dave Barnes:

we’ll all tell our stories

we’ll all sing our songs

while the kids can’t sleep from guessin’

when Santa’s gonna come

it don’t matter what I’m gettin’

cause I’ve got what I need

there ain’t nothin’ quite like Christmas Eve

 

All I want for Christmas now is a working washer.

My Flesh May Fail

My fingers are tingling as I type this. No, not from some neurological issue, just from lack of thought. Earlier this afternoon, as I was walking around preparing supper, I noticed one of my toes was feeling really irritated. It was as if something was in my sock rubbing against my toe. So, after the casserole was in the oven, I decided to investigate. Sure enough, an irritant was found, but amazingly, it was a hair, wrapped around my toe! Each time I stepped down, it would pull tighter and was rubbing a nice cut into my toe. A single hair! Years ago, I was reading in a parenting book about possible reasons for a baby crying, and they mentioned the baby having a hair wrapped around his toe. Then, recently, either Micah or Adon as a newborn actually had it happen to them. Now I have had it happen to me. I didn’t cry, though. I did see an opportunity to pamper my feet. First I scrubbed them really well in the tub. Adon then saw an opportunity to play with the teapot that was in the tub and get everything really wet. I promised him a bath later on, and we got out. I received a tube of peppermint foot mask a while back as a gift, but hadn’t yet used it on my feet. It makes a great application to bug bites in the summer; plaster a bit over the bite and the peppermint makes the kid forget the itch. I looked at the directions to see how long the mask needed to sit on my feet- 10 minutes. I’ve got time, I thought. So I sat back on my bed, foot mask and towel in hand, and went to work applying the paste to my feet. I didn’t think about how much of it would still cover my hands, and was too far away from any baby wipes to wipe them off. So I set my iPod timer with a clean knuckle and sat back to relax with my feet up. Ever notice how long 10 minutes is when you can’t do anything? I’m not complaining, though. It was nice just sitting there, breathing. I should do this more often for my hard-working feet; they are there for me each and every day and they rarely complain.
At the end of September, I noticed my jaw was cracking a lot, and sometimes when I ate, the first few bites could be really painful. When we got back from Nashville it started locking occasionally, and I was talking with a lisp, too, which was thcaring me thilly. I went to see my dentist, who did an x ray of my jaw and recommended I start with a mouth guard to wear at night to help combat the grinding I do. The mouth guard turned out to really help my jaw; I now have no pain, and only occasional popping. My dentist really felt that the mouth guard wasn’t enough to fully treat the issue and thought I should see a specialist. There are many problems with this- the specialist’s in Cleveland, and even if I jumped through all the hoops to get there, would she just say keep with the program I am already on, wearing the guard at night and avoiding hard or crunchy foods? But maybe she would be able to do some kind of one time adjustment and my jaw would be back to normal. I’m still mulling over it.
I got to thinking about things that go wrong in my body, and what lengths I will go to to try to fix them. I am sure that as I age, depending on the ailment, I may be less concerned with doing too much to fix things, especially when I know they will never be perfect again. Pregnancies have all left their marks on me, marks of ownership, a dear friend of mine calls them. Then there are the issues like my jaw where at least I have gotten to a point where it doesn’t hurt. If I can continue like this without pain, what is the need to go further with care? These are new thoughts to me, one who loves her body and loves for it to work. Someone was telling me the other day about a lady who said, “I want to enter eternity completely spent physically: not a single gift or talent or ability God gave me not used to its fullest!” What an inspiration.

As for me
I know that my Redeemer lives
and at the last
He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed
yet from my flesh I shall see God
whom I myself shall behold
and whom my eyes shall see
and not another.
Job 19:25-27

Bethlehem and Bella

We successfully completed our first night of Experience Bethlehem last night. I didn’t hear how many people came through, but it seemed pretty busy all evening. Luke, Aliyah, and Sarah had official occupations, the school age and preK children were in the angel choir, and I could choose whether to stay home with Adon and Kenan or go. So I went. The booths were set up really nicely this year; I noticed a freshness to the colors and the fabrics and appreciate everybody who puts their minds to and hearts into decorating the ‘little town’. There is a new mural behind the angel choir stage painted by one of the ladies in our church that is absolutely beautiful. Having Kenan in a stroller (with all the coats mounded behind him) and Adon walking beside me from shop to shop worked for about half a block; I kept losing Adon. There were some scary moments, too- but I reminded myself where we were and how many members of our own family were spread out over the gym. Still, I tried my best not to let Adon get out of my sight. The first set the angel choir sang, Adon was content to stand and watch. But when the kids were allowed to take a break, he was off again, too. By this time Kenan was done with the stroller, so I had him on my arm, Adon by the hand, and Anna and Micah ordered to stay close to me, too. This worked for about half a block; Kenan was getting heavy and each kid wanted to go in a different direction. I ran out to the van for my ergo carrier (so glad I forgot it, er, left it in the van a few months ago), and Kenan was settled somewhere he could sleep. He really did great the whole night; I was surprised how well since I had forgotten his pacifier at home. It got removed from its clip and the clip lost, so even if I had brought it, we would likely have lost it in Bethlehem. All in all, I think Experience Bethlehem met and exceeded our children’s expectations this year.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Bella continues. Luke has tried to install a light in her house that gives off a good amount of heat. Problem is the bulb keeps breaking, either from her bumping into it or it giving out. Yesterday morning he awoke at 5:00 worrying how Bella fared the night (it doesn’t help the situation that my mother shared with us a dream she had that Bella froze to death) and if this new bulb was still on. It wasn’t, so after work he bought one of those work lights with the handle and the cage that you hang under a car hood. He installed it in her house right before we were needing to leave for Bethlehem. All evening he feared the light was going to burn down Bella’s house, and ours, so as I got home first, he had me call him to tell him if the houses were on fire. They weren’t, but the work light was hanging down in front of the door, the metal glowing red and the plastic handle melting! Luke’s going to take it back today- a heavy duty work light’s handle shouldn’t melt after only 4 hours! Anyway, back to the drawing board as far as Bella’s concerned. Last night she only had her vest and blankets for warmth in her dog house. This morning it was my turn to wake at 5:00 am, concerned about my dog’s welfare. I figured if she was dead, I should be the one to find her, and we would have time to come up with an appropriate way of disposing of the body and sharing the traumatic news with the children. I went out and called to her through the car-wash plastic door. I heard this lapping, like she had been asleep and drooling, then saw her emerge from her house, shivering but wagging her tail. I think she’ll live another day.

Eleven

Dear Eleven,
I got to see you for the first time this morning. You are nearly 13 weeks old, and are moving those new arms and legs like crazy! Even though I have been very sick with this pregnancy, it seems to make up for that in a big way to see how good you look, how strong. Since I have been sick, I told the ultrasound tech I had a hunch you were a girl, because your older brothers are boys and I do not remember being as ill with them. The tech said she had a hunch you were, too, but it was too early to say anything for certain.
So, if you are a girl, welcome! Though my arms are quite full, in a strange way they feel like they are missing one, one I never got to hug like my other five girls- little Micaiah who died at 21 weeks gestation. I did and do get to cuddle her twin sister, something for which I am daily thankful. A loss and a gain. But you- you would be another girl for me to love, and I will always jump at the chance to hold one more in my arms.
But, if you are a boy, you join five older brothers, two of whom are directly older than you. I am sure these two especially will have many fun adventures planned for the three of you. You could be the Three Musketeers- going about doing good, with your trusty canine Bella and your swift but sure swords. A boy will not lack for fun or for love here.
In short, you are wanted, Eleven. Don’t pay any attention to that rather large number. You are loved already and preparations are already being made for your entrance into the world.
Now, about your Daddy. God has given him a great analytical (that means he’s a problem solver, Eleven) mind, but times like these his brain gives him trouble. I won’t say that he is in denial about your existence, because he knows everything your Mama knows, but he has tried to avoid thinking about your arrival some, because the logistics are problems that to him seem pretty insurmountable. Where will we put you? I tell him that this is just an opportunity for God to come through BIG in the way He chooses to provide for us and for you.
But as I trace your little form on the ultrasound picture, I tell myself, of course there is room.
We will make room.