Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Remembering and Feasting

Sunday was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It is a good thing, to remember and reflect. Look back, look forward. A sweet friend reminded me of this song (We Will Feast, Sandra McCracken). The Gent and I listened to it while we held David that night in the hospital. From the garden to the grave . . . until we will feast and weep no more.

We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things, we will say together
We will feast and weep no more

We will not be burned by the fire
He is the LORD our God
We are not consumed, by the flood
Upheld, protected, gathered up

In the dark of night, before the dawn
My soul, be not afraid
For the promised morning, oh how long?
Oh God of Jacob, be my strength

Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed
You are the Faithful one
And from the garden to the grave
Bind us together, bring shalom.

Noel. Zion. David. You are remembered, you are loved.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Sad Pictures

I've neglected posting these because they are so sad. But they are part of David's story, too. The first is the a precious reminder of the redemption that's coming: David's footprint over Revelation 21 in my Bible. Then the clothes we buried David in. The drawings the children made and tucked in his casket. The beautiful blessing prayed over his casket before it was shipped to us. And the only picture I have from the funeral. I'm glad we have this one, but I don't want any more.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Rejoice with those who rejoice . . .

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
I think the body of Christ is good at this last part. And it IS good to weep with those who weep and grieve with those who grieve and mourn with those who mourn. But let’s not neglect the first part. It is good to rejoice with those who rejoice! Be joyful for the blessings and the good things and the happy times. Be thankful in ALL things.

I’m confused when people ask me if it is hard to be around other babies or be happy about other women’s pregnancies. I am so thankful for them and their precious little ones. I certainly don’t want anyone else to walk this awful road we have walked, to carry and love their child and then bury them. Yes, when I see babies around David’s age I sometimes think, “this is what he would have been doing now if . . . “ But that is a fleeting thought. There really was no other “if” for him. His physical body was not made for life here. In heaven he is whole.

Nora was talking with me about David a few weeks ago. She was remembering holding him and how proud she was to be the big sister.
I held him, Mama.
Yes you did, baby girl.
David’s in heaven?
Yes, baby, in heaven.
With Jesus?
Yes, with Jesus.
Is he sad?
No, precious, I don’t think he’s sad.
He misses us.

I didn’t have a response to that. We certainly miss him. So we continue to trust that the Lord is with us in all circumstances, and nothing is beyond His redemption.

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Year Ago

It was about a year ago that we were surprised to find out I was pregnant, and then knocked flat by David’s diagnosis. There were so many unknowns and fears and worries. I feel like the whole fall was a blur that we just got through day by day. I know I taught kindergarten and we had a playroom renovation going on and there was soccer and ballet and other stuff. I knew that the Lord would be faithful to carry us through and He was. And is. Am I thankful now that we are on the other side of it? Absolutely. By spring we could feel David’s kicks and make more definite plans for his arrival and death while we celebrated the life he had. That part isn’t a blur, but each day a gift of his life to cherish. So continue to pray with us, remember with us, grieve with us. Those “Life is Good” stickers and shirts bug me. Life is hard. God is good.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Belated School Post

We're a month into our school year and we seem to have found our groove pretty quickly. Here are the pictures from our first day of school--can't believe I have two first graders!! It's real school now, yikes!

Annie, first grade

Jacob, first grade

Sophie, 4K

Nora, toddler "play school"

Each day looks a little different, but here are the subjects we cover each day:
Annie and Jacob:
Math lesson
Drill work

Math lesson
Art lesson
Piano lesson

Literature narration
Poem memorization
Math lesson
Drill work

Math lesson
Piano lesson

Poem memorization
Math lesson
Art appreciation
Drill work
Playdate or field trip

Family read-aloud time:
Occasional math reading/project
Literature reading
Chapter books

God’s World from A-Z
Phonics Pathways

Learn numbers, letters, colors, shapes
Spell and identify name

We don't necessarily cover these subjects in order, I just roll with what's working and move from child to child, allowing the other kids to have breaks as needed, me to swap laundry, etc. A typical day goes like this:
- open with prayer
- "Nora's school"--read a storybook aloud to all, and go over a concept book with her. Then she is usually content to play while I work with the other kids.
- Read Sophie's "theme book." Her curriculum has a letter and concept for each letter of the alphabet (M for moon), so we read a book that ties into her theme each day. Then she plays with Nora.
- math lesson with Annie and Jacob
- one on one reading lesson with A and J (we've finished their phonics primer, so they read aloud to me and I help/correct as needed)
- a short teaching time for Sophie to cover some concepts from her unit, and do a worksheet (she loves them), reading lesson, and craft or activity. Annie and Jacob have a break.
- finish Language Arts with Annie and Jacob (depending on the day, some grammar, spelling, handwriting, and copywork)
- history or science lesson with A and J
- finish the school day with art, piano, or drill work

One day each week is our "Friday" and has a lighter school schedule. It might actually fall on a Friday, or this day and another day's work might be swapped if we have a field trip, dentist appointment, library story time, or some other activity planned.

So far, so good. Check back with me in February. ;)

Friday, September 22, 2017

"God Won't Ever Let Me Down"

A few weeks ago I heard a song that kept repeating this phrase: "God won't ever let me down." I really struggled with that. I get what the songwriter was trying to say, but I think it requires more nuance than that phrase conveys. I can believe that God is sovereign and that He loves me and still be disappointed in what He does, or doesn't do. For Biblical examples, see the Psalms. Pretty much all of them.

I think this Aaron Keyes song expresses what's in my heart much better:

There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You're sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You're teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You're with us in the fire and the flood
You're faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined
Who could understand Your ways
Reigning high above the Heavens
Reaching down in endless grace
You're the lifter of the lowly
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me
And Your promises are my delight

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You're with us in the fire and the flood
You're faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good and for Your glory
Even in the valley, You are faithful
You're working for our good
You're working for our good and for Your glory

Link to listen here: Sovereign Over Us

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What's Working, What's Not

Every so often I stop and take inventory. What’s working for our family and what’s not? Are we committed to some things that aren’t supporting our family goals and are stressing us out? Are there some things we should say no to? Some things to say yes to? Where do we need help? What isn’t working and how can we fix it?

Being able to answer these questions requires some kind of framework, a family mission statement if you will. Here’s ours:

“Our family seeks to glorify the Lord, and to reflect His great love for us in all we say and do. To that end, we seek to promote an atmosphere of peace and hospitality for all who live in our home and for all who enter it. Our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, our marriage, our relationships with our children, and our children’s relationships with each other are a priority.
We want to spread the Good News of Jesus in our neighborhood and around the world. We endeavor to be life-long learners as God is always refining us and molding us into the image of His Son Jesus.”

My recent inventory was a stream of consciousness jotted down on a Word document, and it looked something like this (I did this just before we started school last month):

What’s working:
Bible time
Devotion time
Chapter books – fairly well

What’s not working:
Sibling bickering
Instant obedience
Getting through the head to the heart
School is starting and I have too much on my plate – need to let some things go

What would help:
Add teatime (downtime, poetry read-aloud, memorization)
Buy small vacuum
Hire housekeeper
Figure out grocery plan/delivery/pick up
Shift some responsibility to children

Hospitality and friendship goals – once per month:
Date night
Babysitting swap with friends
Each child gets extended one on one time with Mama or Daddy
Have guests for dinner (two times per month)
Meet with Jacob’s birth mother
Me – night out with girl friends
The Gent – breakfast or lunch with friend, not work related

To flush it out a little . . .

What’s working. The children and I have Bible time (read from a children’s Bible, catechism, sing a hymn together) each morning after breakfast. We have been doing this since Annie and Jacob were two and it works well for our schedule and helps get our day off on a good note. We read through a children’s devotional book as a family each night at the end of dinner. Before rest time each afternoon, the children and I read their chapter books. (The Gent does this on weekends.) We usually have two books going—their literature book for school, and a fun or classic children’s book (Little House in the Big Woods, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Prince Caspian, etc).

What’s not working. My children had been fighting A LOT. I’m sure your kids never do this. ;) I have been providing a little more instruction—often, finding a particular child a task or game to do—and repeating over and over “blessed are the peacemakers!” This helps but we still need work. Instant obedience . . . in my opinion, this is more of a parenting failure. I call it “get off your butt parenting.” Following through consistently is hard work on parents . . . but my kids need to know that I mean what I say. So I am working on it. Getting through the head to the heart. This is a hard one. I don’t want my kids to just “be nice” and “be kind.” Because if moralism is all I’m teaching I’m failing. I want my kids to be kind and show love to each other because Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us and we want to reflect His light in what we do and say. I re-read Give Them Grace for inspiration.

With school getting ready to start, I realized I had too much on my plate. I love being superwoman and I’ll admit there’s some pride involved in doing it all myself. I LIKE to do it all myself. However, there just weren’t enough hours in the day. So I bought a cordless vacuum for quick clean up jobs and hired a housekeeper to come every two weeks. I’m getting used to the idea of paying someone else to do what I see as “my job.” I’m also trying to simplify my grocery/household shopping. I still love Aldi, but I’m supplementing that with the occasional Shipt delivery and Amazon Pantry order. Still figuring this part out. I’ve also shifted some responsibilities to my children. I started this in the middle of the summer when I was FED UP with them always under my feet in the kitchen. I realized they wanted to learn to cook and genuinely wanted to help me. So I assigned each child a meal to be my “helper” (breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner). I change it each week so each child gets to learn a few new cooking skills, practices setting the table, etc. Also, Annie is responsible for getting the mail, Jacob empties the trash, Sophie feeds Huck breakfast, and Nora feeds him dinner. Each child makes their own bed, gets dressed, cleans up their toys, carries their dishes to the kitchen, and helps put away their folded laundry (Nora still needs help with these things).

I wanted to provide a little reconnection time after our afternoon rest, so I instituted tea time. My children LOVE THIS. We gather around the table with a small snack and a cup of tea. They drink theirs from espresso cups and I read them poetry and it is such a precious 15 minutes together! Often in parenting you don’t get these sweet moments and I am so thankful for our afternoon teas.

I think the rest is pretty self-explanatory. A sweet friend and I started a babysitting swap about three years ago and it has been a lifesaver. One night a month she comes to my house and babysits my kids so the Gent and I get a date night. And one night a month I babysit for her munchkins and she and her husband get a night out. It’s awesome.

So go take inventory of your life. Keep making it better. Maybe you’ll hit on your own version of tea time!