Thursday, May 30, 2013

Together Through Pain

The dilemma hit me while grocery shopping recently. Now that I shop alone, I have the luxury of spending the time deep in thought. Something sent me to remembering my pregnancies and the months and months spent debilitated, writhing in pain from the stomach spasms, wishing the 9 month puke-fest would end. I remembered sweet friends who were there for me and well-meaning individuals whose words felt more like salt than band aids.  Then my mind went to my girlfriends who had recently faced far worse situations. I thought about how often I felt I was groping in the dark as I sought to be a true friend in the midst of their pain.

I dawned on me how much we need to hear from the ones who have actually walked through the valley. They’re the experts.  We need to equip ourselves with how best to “weep with those who weep”.

This is why I’m doing this blog series.

I’ve asked some women who have walked through significant trials to share to school us in how to be a good friend to the hurting. Of course, everyone’s situation is not the exact same. But I think you’ll find what they have to say extremely helpful and a great starting point for coming alongside someone in your life who is walking through a similar situation. I know while pre-reading their posts, I have been learning and realizing how things I’ve said or done in the past may not have been as comforting as I thought it was.

Next week, we’ll kick things off with a phenomenal guest post by a woman who lives with chronic pain. Then we will move on with one post a week in this series hearing from women who have experienced childhood trauma, infertility, miscarriage, death of a loved one, and more. These women will share what was and more importantly was not helpful during these times.  We'll call it "Together Through Pain".

Be on the lookout for the first post on Tuesday!

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Of Flower Girls, Family, and Lakes

As I mentioned in the last post, we went up to Northern Michigan (my place of origin) to go to my cousin's wedding. My cousin, Carly, is like a little sister to me, and she had asked Adriana to be her flower girl. Our family stayed in a lakeside cabin next to the chapel where the wedding was held. I think the best way to tell about the trip is in my favorite form- pictures. But I have a mother fail here. I spent a lot of the weekend with Adriana as we had girl-time enjoying the many wedding party activities. And Ava was, as always, tagging along as close to her big sister as possible. My boys, however, spent much of the trip traipsing after their uncles and cousins. And when I got home, I discovered that my camera card had not one single photo of my boys from the whole weekend. Not one! And they looked so stinkin' cute, too. Major mother fail.

Freezing water or not, toes must be dipped...
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It's a kid's duty to throw back anything that the lake has worked hard to wash onto shore...
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After the dress went on: "I feel like a Daddy's princess."...
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With one of my other gorgeous cousins...
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Two of my brothers and my sister...
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Sweet then natural...
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My parents and more of Hannah...
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Nephew + bow tie = irresistible
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Pre-wedding jitters: "Mom, I'm so worried. What if I mess up?"...
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Man and wife...
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Two peas in a pod...
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It's a treat to have a front-row seat watching their sister friendship develop...
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He's all mine...
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My mom had just lost her sister unexpectedly a few days before the wedding, so being with her siblings was extra special...
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A more realistic family photo. It's fun to watch your mom put on her little sister hat...
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Soldier Boy

I'm currently in recovery mode from driving up to my cousin's gorgeous wedding in Northern Michigan. And I truly mean recovery. The ride there we did through the night. Sleeping kids in the car= pure bliss. The way home we spent 15 hours in the car enjoying a range of activities that made me remember why I hate road trips. Tired children entertaining themselves with who they could annoy the most, Ava dumping the food and drinks we were letting her snack on, me puking in a grocery bag as I got carsick in the Allegheny Mountains..the next morning it was like a hangover without the alcohol.

So while I'll blog about the lovelier parts of our trip later, I thought you might enjoy seeing my little brother (the family soldier) and his fiance's engagement pictures that I was able to quickly do when he flew in to meet us for a full day. Just head over HERE for a peek.

I'll see you on the other side of the laundry pile...

Monday, May 13, 2013


About a month after our wedding, I turned to my new husband, eyes welling up newlywed adoration, and shared an idea that sounded entirely romantic to me: "We should get a puppy."

My romantic puppy snuggling bubble was immediately burst by the horrified look on Steven's face. I was informed that he had no intention of ever owning anything with fur, gills, or scales. Instead a few months later, a sonogram showed that he had gifted me with a little thing that would turn out to have big brown eyes and soft hair. But pets were never to be.

This has found the kids and I doing the only thing there is left to do: making pets out of insects. My kids were jumping up and down with excitement the other day at the siting of the first cicada. (Just you wait, my dears. Just you wait.) Then they spent the better part of the afternoon making pets out of every caterpillar they could get their hands on- naming them, making them cardboard homes, doting on these poor little creatures, and seeing who could use their new "pets" to scare Dad the most.

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And if I'm entirely honest, there are many a day that I thank God that my husband refused to give me one more thing to clean up after...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Can I Just Skip Mother's Day?

For the first time, I've found myself dreading Mother's Day, wishing I could skip it. A whole day to celebrate something in which I daily feel I'm failing. Excuse me if that sounds too extreme, but that's the truth.

It sent me analyzing (as most things do): Why is this so hard? Why has there never been anything else in my life that I can seem to get a good handle on? I love my kids, as in crazy-off-the-wall-take-a-bullet-for-you love. So why is this so darn difficult? 

I think I came into motherhood with this divide and conquer attitude. I expected it to get easier the more experience I had under my belt. I do it every day, for goodness sake; so why don't I feel like I get any better at it?

Here's where I think the Lord is meeting me in my questioning. 

This is a ministry.

But it's distinctly unlike most other ministries, since you don't walk away from it. You will often be ministering the moment you wake up before your eyes are fully open or your coffee has even entered your mouth. Ministering when someone has just destroyed one of your favorite possessions. Ministering while you try to eat or prepare dinner. Ministering when you're sick. Ministering when you're feeling especially moody. Ministering to someone who doesn't want you ministering to them. Ministering after you thought you had everyone tucked in bed for the night. Ministering at 2 a.m. when you've not fully cognitive. Honestly, you'll even do some ministering when you're just trying to use the bathroom.

This is not easy stuff, people.

Then I'm reminded of Luke 9:23-24:
"And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

So maybe, just maybe, as moms we have an advantage. We get opportunities 24/7 to follow Jesus in denying ourselves. But then, I'm confronted with the fact that I can't do this myself. It's too overwhelming.

Enter Ephesians 3:14-16:
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,"

So not only has God named my exact family with each of their exact personalities, but then HE supplies the strength through His Spirit. 

This is a daily battle, but also a daily ministry. And if I'm seeking the strength of God's Spirit, I have the opportunity to have an effect on eternal souls even at 2 a.m.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Encouragement Paper

Because, in this house, sometimes we all need to chill with the correcting and start encouraging....

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Friday, May 3, 2013

DC Days {American Indian Museum}

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Now that the weather is warmer, we're back to our family tradition of D.C. Days, as we now call them. D.C. Days are simple: they involve taking advantage of one or two of the large amount of free tourist attractions that just happen to be short drive from our home, a single backpack filled with the necessities, an Ergo for short-legged little gal in our family, and at least one Starbucks trip. ("It's Mommy and Daddy's reward for keeping four kids alive in a big city.") We've found these days to hold some of our favorite family memories.

This last one was a trip to the American Indian Museum...

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