How I thrive (survive/stay alive) with 5!

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear that sentence about once a week. From friends. Family. Even strangers.

And I know what they mean. What they’re really saying.

“I don’t know how you put up with so many kids for so many hours a day.”

Why would a sane person have 5 of them? Why would they choose to stay home with them? And how in the world do they do it?

Okay. Here’s the answer. For any of you considering 5 kids. Considering homeschooling. Considering jumping out of a plane with a mended parachute.

One-God. Honestly. I couldn’t do it without my morning time in the closet (literally) with Him. Tucked away from the world. Cramming verses into my head. Scribbling prayers that often end with “help me.”

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Two-Quiet time. “Do not come out of your rooms till 3:00.” This house shuts down from 2:00-3:00 every day. Not kidding. The introvert in me craves this hour of silence. It’s golden. Do not speak to me. Do not cry. Do not come near my bedroom door.

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Three-Video games. Judge me. It’s fine. But our kids get an hour of “screen time” every day after quiet time. They come up, get a snack, then waste their brains for an hour. So in total, I get (count it) 2 hours of “me time” every afternoon. And it’s glorious!

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Four-Schedule. Things run like clockwork around here. I’m a legalist when it comes to routine. A little OCD maybe. The big boys know what to do when. They know when  it’s their “school with Mom time,” “watch Esther/Kenan time,” and “alone time.”

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Five-Trampoline. “Everybody outside right now.” I say it almost every day. “Go. Just go. Everybody on the trampoline.” Because we all (me included) need fresh air. We need to jump. Throw balls at each other. Curl up in blankets and read books.

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That’s just 5. I could name tons more. Helpful friends. Jeremy’s support. Family close by. Simple curriculum. Crockpots. Audio books. Minimal expectations. Ritz crackers.

Is this the life my 18 year old self envisioned?

Not a chance. Not a single piece of my current reality matches up with my original plans.

And that could scare me to death. Make me doubt.

Or it could make me humble. Reliant. Leaning hard into the only One who really knows.

God doesn’t make mistakes. With our jobs, families, locations, or callings. With our kid-count. Money-count. Achievement-count.

He just keeps loving us. And strengthening us. And being extra gracious to us.

And in the irony of it all, I find myself echoing these same words back to Him.

“I don’t know how You do it.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3)

 

 

 

 

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Forgive the drama…We’re really excited over here!

“Well, it looks like I’m gonna have to let you go.”

Usually the beginnings of bad news.

“Stephen, you just graduated today.”

Excuse me. What?

Y’all…after 11 years…Stephen was released as a patient from the Pediatric Neurosurgery Department of Baptist Hospital!!

We didn’t see this coming. Thought we’d be doing x-rays for years. Figured this final door of our story would keep swinging open.

But not today!

I hugged Dr. Couture. Had to. Couldn’t help it.

We met in 2007 when he dropped the world’s biggest bombshell on my lap. All while I lay fighting for my own life in the ICU. He handed me procedure names and unanswered questions. And phrases ending with “we won’t know for sure till it’s all done.”

I processed and cried and waited for days. In a world without a husband. In a world that may end without a son.

But for grace…

You know what Dr. Couture told us yesterday?
-They only do this surgery in infants every other year (because they don’t normally make it through the trauma that caused the injury).
-There are only 10 metal plates like Stephen has in the whole world. 10!!! And our boy is wearing number 9 or 10.
-He would never forget Stephen.

And we’ll never forget him. A doctor fresh out of medical school. Who took on a nearly impossible case. Who can’t look at our son without saying, “Amazing.”

But mostly we’ll never forget how faithful God was. In who He sent our way. In how they got there. And in what He used them to do.

We’re over the moon over here. All tears. And shock. And yes…it’s been 11 years but by God’s grace, it’s done.

I know God loves us. Really. I do. I’ve based my whole life on that one big fact. But today…it feels all new and real again.

We serve a God who just keeps loving us. And just keeps being faithful. And just keeps amazing me through His beautiful (but not always easy) plans.

Wow…

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“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20,21)

 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)

 

 

 

 

 

Today we go back to hard places…

Every 2 years we do this. Sit in that waiting room. Stare at the x-rays. And every 2 years I hate it.

He was 16 months old when those screws were drilled into his skull. 16 months old when that baby rib was transplanted into his neck. 16 months old when that metal plate secured everything back together.

And 16 months old when everything I thought I knew about being a Mom got crumpled. Wrecked. Smashed into pieces like our little car.

He’s 12 now. And healthy. And happy. And most days clueless of the fine-line scar that runs up his neck.

And most days I’m fine. Really.

But maybe not today.

Some scars never go away entirely. They are arrows to the wounds we’ve endured and grace we’ve encountered. They’re proof that God gives us what we need when we need it. And reminders that we’ll never, ever be the same.

Today I’ll choose to see it like that. Choose to not let that stiff waiting room air suffocate me. Choose to smile as his doctor explains how this and that are in place.

And we’ll rejoice. All of us.

Because yesterday was hard. Today may be. Tomorrow is unknown.

But God is faithful. And present. And close to terrified 16 month olds in unknown hospitals. Close to confused 12 year olds in old hospitals. And close to still broken Moms in memory-filled hospitals.

Today we choose thankfulness!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

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We can all be thankful for THIS…

There’s one thing you can be thankful for tomorrow. One thing you can jot down in your journal. Or mention at family dinner.

And it’s not what you expect.

Sometimes I go to bed at night thinking about how many times I failed during the day. Counting the number of moments I raised my voice. Regretting the minutes I spent on routine instead of relationship.

Shocked faces and broken tears because of Mom’s sin can leave scars too deep to forget.

You know what I’m thankful for as 2018 starts its conclusion?

…We all mess up…

Every stinkin’ one of us.

You get frustrated with your kids. You rush them to bed. You say things you regret. I know you do because I do too.

And we’ll both do it on Thanksgiving. The family time will feel long. And our patience will prove short.

Today, on Thanksgiving Eve, let’s embrace this truth…We will mess up because we’re all really big messes. We’re image bearers of God trapped in a body of sin. And the battle will overtake us.

But for grace.

The shock of my sin fuels the shock of His grace and fills my heart with overwhelming Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow let’s be thankful. God sees our messes as a chance for overwhelming grace.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ” (Romans 5:6-8) 

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Hmm…it couldn’t possibly be me behind that locked door??

 

 

What we just learned about marriage…

Here’s a little marriage secret we’ve recently come across…

Marriage is easier when you like the one you love.

I committed my life to Jeremy on that hot day in July 2002. I committed to love him forever and ever til death do us part. And I do that. Stay in relationship with him. Through the good and bad. Hard and easy.

But it’s not easy. We’re not fools. We know the value of marriage counseling. We know the tears. We know the silent treatment.

Our walk in the park the last 16 years has been more like a climb.

But we’re at our best when the love is closely tied with the like. When we’re laughing.  When we’re doing something fun. When we’re acting like 18 year old “children” again.

When…tell me please… is there possibly time for “us” with kids and work and life???

It’s been tricky. We’ve had to prioritize date nights. We’ve had to budget for them.

We’ve had to value the “like” as much as the “love” to actually carve out time for us.

And it’s made things so, so much better.

Friends, marriage is tough. Let’s not be fooled. Only by God’s grace can we make it another day. Only by God’s grace can we expect one sinner to love another sinner year upon year.

But along the way. As His perfect love fuels ours. Let’s have a little fun together. Let’s remember what brought us together in the first place.

And let’s like each other while we love each other as we climb these mountains together.

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Psalm 118:23-“This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

II Corinthians 5:14-“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.”