Friday, November 30, 2018

Such a time as this...

So it's been awhile since I last posted, but I am due for an update post!  Most of you probably follow me on Facebook and know Liam recently had a heart cath procedure this past week.  This was due in response to his last cardiology visit which captured some higher pressures on his echo.  We were hopeful that these pressures were not consistent and that the heart cath might be able to balloon or stint some areas to relieve it.  However, the findings were that Liam's conduit and valve show severe calcification and stenosis, increasing the risk to any interventions by cath, and further indicating that now is the time to do his (hopefully) final heart surgery to get in a larger conduit to last into adulthood.

While obviously this news was hard to hear, we have been extremely blessed to have had virtually no interventions needed since his last surgery in December of 2010 - 8 years is a great sign to us that his next surgery can last even longer, and that any future interventions will be able to be made by cath and not surgery.  Huge praise!

Dr. V is looking over the cath results and meeting with the surgeon early next week to figure out the game plan and then scheduling will be calling us with dates after that.  So we should have a surgery date by next week! Eeek.  This is a whole new ball game with an older child (and now younger siblings at home), so I plan on doing some blog posts with how I am preparing our family and Liam for his upcoming surgery.  Just being in the hospital overnight for the cath was very different than our previous stays, because Liam is now much older and we also have our other children at home to care for as well.  God was so gracious during this recent cath, and has given Dustin and I much wisdom on how to proceed in preparing for surgery.

We appreciate your prayers for this upcoming surgery and will keep updates coming on here.  We love you all!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Weeds and Wildflowers

Back to my annual posting on the blog! LOL It has been way too long friends.  SO much and then not really a lot have been going on around here.  This past year has been a year of growth in all directions, steadily plodding forward day by day.  The kids are growing at rapid speed physically and emotionally which has me digging deep and looking up DAILY (sometimes every minute!) for strength!  It is a unique season of sowing seeds and harvesting all at the same time.

This morning I was reading in Hosea about God's faithfulness.  The contrast between His constant desire and love for us to look to Him alone for all of our needs, and our human waywardness to desire wordly ways to fill those needs is a constant source of struggle for the Israelites, and I find it also true in my own life.  God remains the same: longsuffering with us, faithful, true, holy, redemptive and above all, loving.  Even in our transgressions against Him and His character, He chooses to offer us reconciliation. 

These weeds of our flesh can become a beautiful bouquet when we let the Master pick us, prune us and re-plant us in His beauty and set us apart into a display of His splendor and glory.  I am ever so thankful He does this when I call out to Him.  This idea of turning chaos into beauty and order is His specialty.  I took this picture of the the bouquet my kids picked for me...we like to call it our wildflower bouquet - illustrating again that weeds can be beautiful in the right setting and in the right hands!

Just some tidbits of thoughts and ponderings today.  God has been leading me into a new season of work.  One which does satisfy my longings to create my art, but in a way that I am a bit unfamiliar with.  It also involve some financial risk, so I am trying to trust Him and follow, but it is difficult!  Trusting in who God is and who I am in Him is critical for me to be able to step forward. 

And since it's been sooo long - here are some brief updates for our family!

  • Momma's got a new ride!  Yes, that's right, we squeezed 3 kiddos into the back of a Camry for a long time, but as they get bigger, we needed to adjust our transportation method!  SO I am now in the #minivanclub.  I actually LOVE it and not sure why there is stigma around such awesomeness!  It's the greatest thing in my world since Mac n cheese! Ha!
  • Liam is doing great health wise, and all other wise.  He just got braces last week...Where is my little boy....gosh he is growing up fast!  We had his biannual cardio check up a couple weeks ago and there remains no change on the echocardiogram, wooohooo!  This is good news for us.  I believe his pressure remain in the 40/50 range, which is stable for him.  We do however, need to go get him a MRI of the heart as a baseline for future visits, to be sure the right side of the heart looks good and is not growing (meaning overworking or enlarging).  They are unable to accurately see this aspect of his heart on the echo.  We have this scheduled for May 7th.  He will be doing this unsedated, which we think will be fine, but challenging for him to be calm and still.  We would covet your prayers for him for this test! 
  • Noah is doing great as well.  He is FULL of life and energy, headstrong, confident and detail oriented (a.k.a. takes everything apart and curious about EVERY.THING).  I call him my "passionate" child!  He is a joy, and growing into such a smart and funny young boy.  Parenting him seems to still be a bit of a challenge at this age, but he is teaching me to grow in that.  It's never a dull day around here!  
  • Adeline is just the sweetest, but can get a little bossy with her brothers!  And they let her! Haha.  She is very motherly and loving with them, already showing empathy towards her brothers's meltdowns and frustrations by patting them on the back and trying to hug them during those moments.  She is STILL napping 2x a day which is a WIN in my book!  She is generally content and happy as long as she has something to munch on....definitely my best eater so far! Ha!  She is also in 94% for height, so she is growing quickly!  She is pure sweetness at 16 months old.
  •  Dustin and I are doing well also, still plugging along on our fixer upper home, doing various projects here and there.  Maybe someday I'll post some before and afters! Other than that, we are not growing like weeds, and have turned into fabulous adults, LOL! Just kidding, we are just not as exciting as the kids.

Hopefully I'll be able to update more frequently here!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

When you just don't know how to parent THAT child

It's me again.  I aspire to blog more, but life has me in the thick trenches of parenting right now and I just can’t quite seem to get it together enough to type out cohesive thoughts to make a post lately, ha!

I had a conversation with my hubby over the past week and I confessed to him and said “I just do not know how to parent this child!”  Our lil 2 year old (as seen above in a fitting picture) is a completely unique, strong willed little boy...well, probably more of a typical toddler, but my oldest spoiled me in his toddler years being dubbed as the easy one now, ha! I find myself in this season waving the white flag of surrender on an hourly basis.  I have become quite the Jekyll and Hyde momma, either harshly yelling at him to just STOP! or standing there is disarray not knowing what to do or say feeling like "I give up!"  I am at my total weakness with him.  The Lord has shown me His strength and wisdom through this time and I am so grateful He cares for us even in the details of life.  His compassion and mercy never fail to amaze me.  And bless my little ones heart, he can be the sweetest boy imaginable....but this parenting deal….it’s tough!

Earlier this week I was watching a video on the Weather Channel about an eagle.  The video showed rare footage of an eagle swimming in a bay.  Its wings flailing to stroke the water, meanwhile his head always remained just above the water.  He really actually looked like he was hurt because that was not his element, but the commentary stated that eagles sometimes do this when they catch a fish that is too large and heavy to pull out of the water.

Isn’t that what parenting is like sometimes?  Our children are such an immense blessing and treasure, however we can feel like we are just struggling to keep our head above water, plus it feels like SO MUCH WORK sometimes!  Not to mention it APPEARS as if we are just treading water!  But we know the reward we carry for hanging in there, even if we or others can’t see the fruit because it’s hidden under water.

The Lord spoke so powerfully to me in that video – many other things as well.  He has indeed equipped me for the task but it is a daily journey with Him.  Here are a few lessons He has shown me lately:

Prayer – I have cried out for the Lord to help me more in this season of my life than I can remember for a really long time.  I am in constant prayer asking for forgiveness, that the Lord would take the reins, that He would give me wisdom on what and how to parent and that He would make known to me His peace, that it really will be OK.   

Perspective – Just like the eagle knew the huge blessing he was carrying under the water, I need to remember that my children are a blessing from the Lord, a GIFT from Him.  Even though I may struggle and feel like I am drowning at times, when I focus on who God is and who I AM in Him, then His peace enters in and I can partner with Him as He guides me and sustains me.  The grace of the gospel reassures me and places my feet on a firm path.

Picking my battles – This has been really big for me because I struggle with allowing other’s expectations to guide the way I parent.  Recently I have decided to stop battling at mealtime…It has been a constant source of frustration and trouble for me since our firstborn started eating.  Eating has never really come easily for my children, but I feel like meal time is a really important relational time for young kids, and I don’t want a huge focus on food anymore.  I feel like this is a place that Joy has been stolen from me and I want to reclaim that.  This is new territory for me, because I think other’s expectations of how that time should look really influences me in in how I parent through that, and I want to let go of that ideal.  

Perseverance – The book of James and Hebrews tells us that God promises a crown of life to those who persevere under trial and that this work must be completed so that we may be “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).  Joyful perseverance, I believe, is how God uses us to testify to His love, strength, power and glory.   I am using this time to lean into Him and to practice faith in believing that He is completing some a LOT of things in me in the process.   Just like my toddler, I am a work in progress with my heavenly Father.  Parenting in and of itself is a pursuit in perseverance, raising children into adults.  Praise Him for the grace he freely offers! 

Peer pressure – In a good way!  I find myself very needy in regards to surrounding myself with encouraging friends and family during this time.  They press me onwards to focus on Christ and encourage me that I never walk alone, nor do my children.  Even when I am a complete mess of a parent, God is always with my children.  I faithfully believe He can also redeem our greatest fears and worries for them.  I have a great group of godly women who pour into me constantly and I am so blessed and thankful for them!

Practicing grace – I am seeking the Lord continuously in this area.  I still do not know for sure what this should fully look like as it relates to parenting my children, but I do know the Lord is showing me ways to live simply and root myself in His gospel of grace.  The gospel of grace IS simple – Because Jesus Christ died for ALL our sins, past, present and future, in Christ we are a new creation, forgiven and accepted, adopted as God’s children and heirs to His kingdom.  All that is required of us is that we BELIEVE and accept this gift of GRACE and this truth.  Our children need lots of grace (as do we all!), so it gives us a chance to reflect on the grace offered to us through Christ’s sacrifice as well as model that for our children. 

Press in – More of Him and less of me.  Period.

Plainly said, I don’t have all the answers and that is OK!  With Christ, he promises I can do ALL things because of Him who GIVES me strength - it is a gift from Him, He delights in me!  In this weakness, I can lean into Him to make me strong.   I am turning my cry into thankfulness for the gentle way He is leading me and the truths He is speaking to me.  Even though on the outside, it may only look like I’m a sinking ship, or a swimming eagle =)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Let's say NO to shame today

So I was walking and bouncing Adeline around for the 127th time today to get her to take a nap and I start to feel the weight of dirty, disorganized house.  I'm having some of my closest girl friends over to dinner tonight, so naturally I am trying to clean up a bit.  But life starts getting in the way....I am getting frustrated at my youngest son for dropping his plate of lunch ALL. over. the. little girl who just WILL NOT nap today....and my oldest who bless his heart, has been asking a TON of questions about his schoolwork today.  It adds up to one defeated momma, even before I can have my first cup of coffee.

I struggled between wanting to just be a mean mommy all day, crying my eyeballs out and taking a nap (the nap almost won!).  But then I started shifting my perspective as I started to pray.  I thought about how manipulating our enemy can be, how he knows exactly the buttons to push, so we hide in the dark and feel the lies being fed to us.  My anger soon turned to laughter as I realized the way we can be strong in the Lord is to expose our weakness for His glory and put our hidden struggles in the light.  I have let shame run my emotions for too long and today, I'm hoping to gain a little peace and relief.  And not in an ordinary way, but I'm going to share some of my mess.  And realize IT.IS. WELL. WITH. MY. SOUL.  My mess is not WHO I AM, but rather a hopefully temporary (hopefully!) state of my environment.  The lie comes when we believe whatever it is we feel shame about, is who we are, what defines us.  The truth is we can be thankful for our weakness, because it's an oppurtunity to share His light and His glory with others.

SO here it is folks (warning some messy, unpretty, NOT Pinterest worthy shots are below)
All these bags hanging out in the corner of my bedroom = BLESSED - it's all the clothes that have been given to us for Adeline (and clean laundry in the basket!)  THANKFUL!

And un-made, messy bed, means I actually got SLEEP last night with a 3 month old.  PRAISE to God!
This is some unpacked odds and ends still waiting for a home in our new home we were blessed with last year = GRATEFUL for the BLESSING this home is to me and my family!

This is our office....WHEW!  This disaster is also a blessing because it means I have work to do.  And BLESSED with a job I can do from home and be with my littles.  GLORY to God!

Underneath all that clutter is the kitchen of my dreams being built.  And the mess on top is mostly from the little who are my biggest gift ever.  THANK YOU Heavenly Father!

This unorganized mess is again, my kiddos, who I am so thankful they are curious little people who love exploring!  And they are so creative using the gifts God gives them.  And yes, LOVE Veggie Tales on T.V., which makes momma happy and keeps me sane!

My little work station in our living room - Even in my busy season of life, I am thankful that I can be in the midst of such beautiful people, my family, everyday.  I will continue to be grateful for all this seeming imperfection. 

I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. 
I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad.
Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me; let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to Him are[c] radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him from all his troubles. 
The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! 
You who are His holy ones, fear Yahweh, for those who fear Him lack nothing.Young lion lack food and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.
(Psalm 34:1-10)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cardiology and Cookie Crumble

Dr V performing the Echo

Liam had his bi-annual cardiology checkup yesterday afternoon.  This was the first time EVER I have not gone to his cardiology appointment…sigh…but with a nursling and a toddler afoot, it only made sense to keep them at home with me and have dad take him.  Because sometimes the appointments take an hour and sometimes 3!  Thankfully yesterdays was in, out and uneventful!  Dr. V actually performed his Echo which is kinda cool, and reports that Liam’s heart has remained unchanged from his previous reports, which is GREAT news.  We have time on our side for sure, and a good, good God who hears and answers our prayers.   So, we get another 6 months in the all clear zone!

It’s been a challenging week for me…I think the week before his appointments always heighten my stress levels, and add in a nursing 2 month old and 2 year old and we have a whole other animal in itself (as I’ve been dealing with strikes, near-mastitis, and other lovely things this week also!).  It’s also a busy time in my work life with a lot on the table at the beginning of the year.  Phew!  Sometime I just need a break, and sometimes I’m thankful that I have a baby to make me stop and take a deep breath!  

With all of that and it being Friday, I was in for a little treat.  I started making this quick cookie crumble a few weeks ago after going dairy-free for, yep…. you guessed it, the nursling.  I needed something sweet so I could feel somewhat human after giving up all my favorite dairy-laden treats.  This has been my number one go-to treat, so easy and so yummy.  It is almost too easy to make, and if you’re not careful, you could easily get addicted and start hiding it from your kids, haha.  So here is a la recipe:

Quick Cookie Crumble 

1 ½  Tbsps. Butter or Non-dairy butter (I use Earth Balance)
3 tbsps. flour
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. quick-cooking oats
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp of chocolate chips (or a handful, you know, depending on what kind of week you’ve had, I use Enjoy Life brand)
Additional healthy add-ins if you feel too guilty eating it plain as above: fresh fruit and/or nuts of choice

In a small bowl, measure out flour, brown sugar and butter.  With a fork, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it becomes a small crumbly mixture.  Next add in the vanilla extract and oats and cut in to the mixture with your fork.  Last, add in the chocolate chips and mix.  Eat your sweet little treat (in the pantry, away from your kids, trust me on this!) and make everything right again.

Happy Friday!