Saturday, March 31, 2012

Just Breathe

Just Breathe...

The Christian life is like breathing in 
(pulling into our souls the life-sustaining power of the Spirit)

 and breathing out 
(expending that life-giving power to others). 

The Christian life cannot function without both actions.
--Robert Benne

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Sick kids: Is there an up side?

 A child wilts, with a fever and a cough. I comfort him, and cope in my own way.

Denial:  This will not go through everyone.
Bargaining: If I feed us all oranges, maybe we all won’t get it.
Compromise: They might all get it, but I won’t.
Acceptance: I might as well plan for it, since we are all going to get it eventually.
Resolve: If it’s going to happen, I might as try to find something funny in it.

Last night I spent the night “sleeping” with two fevering boys plastered to my sides, hacking all night long. By morning, the germs in my bedroom formed an actual cloud over the bed. Nothing funny about that.

Yet, this may turn out for good.

My theory: the cloud of germs I have been breathing in all day has given me superpowers. I can see things that you cannot.   Allow me to open your eyes.

Good out of evil: the up side of having a sick kid

Thursday, March 29, 2012

the weight of it

Sometimes  I look at these kids and think:

My heart is going to burst with the joy of them

my back is going to break with the weight!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Loud but (partly) true: On Depression and Shouting Accusers

Everything is louder when I’m depressed, from the kids to my conscience.  And it is impossible to make either of them quiet for long.

 “Have you been feeling unreasonably guilty about anything?”
Most mothers have been asked this question by a medical professional:

I remember saying  “No,” while inwardly crumbling a little. Please just don’t make me talk about this any more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

at least he's happy

Can you relate? :)

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Monday, March 26, 2012

A heart with room for all people, and their buddies too.

The more the merrier, says Aggie, and that applies to people and stuffed animals, too.  This girl just loves her buddies.

Last week I was busy and grumpy in the morning, trying to hurry through the list of needs and get them out the door for school.

Aggie hurries too, but she stays cheerful and creative even in a rush.  That day, she brought one of her buddies to school for show and tell.  She found a fun way for him to ride, peeking out of her backpack so it could see.

"Mommy, look at my buddy mommy! Can you take a picture of it?" Her voice reached me through the other voices clamoring for me, but her request was not as urgent as the diaper leak and the mess and the fighting boys.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Coming soon? Sara and Clara

So I've been thinking a lot about writing.

It felt great to give life to the book that was on my heart. Every few days I hear from someone new who tells me they were encouraged by it. It is amazing and humbling. It makes me want to write more.

I love to blog, and I do hope to write another book in the next year, or two or three. 

Two or three books, or one book in two or three years? I don't know- that's partly up to you I guess! 
The more of you who volunteer to watch my kids, the sooner it will get done! Any takers?!

Just kidding. 
Sort of. 
Not really. 

But that's not my point.

Friday, March 23, 2012

What is it like...

to manage so many kids all the time?

Sometimes people ask me that, and I don't know what to say. It's loud and busy and frustrating and wonderful and infuriating...

I'm not the only one who lives this way. And it's refreshing when someone else gets it. Or when I see my life on TV, and it's so exactly right that I laugh until I cry, and I keep laughing about it even days later.
Source: via Nancy on Pinteres 

No, I am not talking about the Duggar family.

It was an episode of The Middle.
In particular, the first part, the morning and evening "routines."

Watch it here.

Note the father's helpfulness.

My life is ridiculous. Just like that. But it's pretty funny to watch it on TV.
It's funny when it's someone else :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Among (many) other things today... these kids found big pieces of Styrofoam in the front yard by the trash and decided to use them to make "snow!"

I have so many reasons to grumble today.

But God knows what I need, too, and he gave me one moment to keep me going...

God, please don't let my inner complaints obscure my vision completely. Help me to see them. 

From where I'm standing I see weeds.

From where I'm standing I see:

A weedy pile of kindness.

The kids were jumping on the trampoline. They begged me to come with them. I needed to get just one more thing done, so I shoo'd them all outside so I could concentrate. I took my time. I needed a break from the little ones who had been fighting all morning.

Just a few minutes passed, and the door opened. "What do you need?" I grumbled. I really needed to concentrate. I really wanted quiet.

"Here mommy, I got this for you." My little boy set a dandelion on the table and then headed quietly outside again.
"That's nice honey, thanks."
I go back to work.
Again, the door.
Again, a flower from a different child.
A reminder that they are waiting.
The door, another flower.
A pile of flowers. A demand for a vase.
Squeaking door, running feet, tiny child with a pile of flowers and a smile.
A demand for an explanation of why dandelion heads with no stems can't live in a vase.
An open window for the flowers, so they can "enjoy the sunshine and fresh air."
A satisfied smile, and another gentle reminder that they are waiting for me on the trampoline.

I still needed a break, and I still wanted to concentrate.

But they won me over with weedy kindness.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Steadfast Walls

On most days, one of my six children is “THE ONE:” the One that I brace for at the beginning of the day; the One that is testing all the boundaries; the One whose head butts against authority, reason, and the laws of nature all day long.  I am the wall, and there is at least One who bashes into me. I plant my feet, remind myself that I must stay strong for the child's good, and I brace for impact. Again. And again.
Sometimes, when daddy comes home from work, I complain to him. Sometimes I ask his advice, and we brainstorm.  Sometimes I demand that he keep "that one"out of the kitchen while I cook OR ELSE.

On the really bad days, I say nothing at all. I notice that he has come home, and my muscles instantly relax. I can stop being the wall! Another wall is here, and he should have all kinds of strength left in his body! I am relieved, I let my guard down, and I start to feel how exhausted I am from being the wall all day long. I feel the bruises, and I nurse my wounds. He probably doesn’t notice, but he will when the next conflict erupts. 

Soon, screaming commences, feet come running, and, strangely, I do nothing. It’s like I’m not even there. Someone is mad about someone doing something and all I can do is look vaguely towards the little people and think how tired I am.  And then dad intervenes, and I am vaguely guilty and vaguely relieved and so, so tired.

Sometimes walls just go numb, and then they collapse. 

And the children would get out, were it not for backup walls shaped like daddy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Compassionate Craft Idea

Last week, the girls and I made signs for this contest at Epilepsy Blogger

 If you have children between the ages of 5 and 11, please consider doing this with your child! It is very easy to enter- please see the site for details.

Whether or not you know someone with epilepsy, use this opportunity to talk with your child! 

What is a seizure?  ("An electrical storm in the brain," is a good, simple explanation or children.)

Should we be afraid of someone who has seizures? 

What should I do if I see somebody having a seizure? (for the kids- keep calm, protect them from hurting themselves, and tell an adult!)

How should we treat kids with seizures, or with other special needs or medical problems? 

How would you want to be treated?

Aggie knows that she had seizures and she got better. When we talk about other kids with seizures, she usually assumes they will get better soon, too. Sadly, that is not always the case. In fact, one girl at our school has had seizures for years, and so far they have had very little success in controlling them.
So we prayed for her, and  we prayed that God would give us opportunities to be kind to her and others that might need special kindness.

As usual, the girls were ready and willing to brighten somebody's day with their artwork!

Uphold and help all those who struggle with seizures. Send help, relief, and healing according to Your will. Strengthen those who wait, those who treat, those who give care, and those who research.

Teach all of us to be compassionate and kind to those with epilepsy and all who struggle with trials of body or soul.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

Please keep us in prayer as well this week, as we (me and the girls) head back to Cleveland for an appointment with Aggie's tumor doctor! (We already have her MRI results, so we are not expecting any surprising news!) Please pray for safe travels, and plenty of mother-daughter bonding time!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book, recommended, despite the title :)

Rebekah is hilarious. And honest, too. Even when I don't agree with her, she scores extra points for wit every time. For example, I like the "If you give a Mouse a Cookie" book, but I think I like her ridicule of these books even more:

If you give a mother a Laura Neumeroff book

Girls, do you know how wonderfully horrible that first year of motherhood can be? Know what you know more fully. Read this book.

boob hell
about Boob Hell (from the author)
I went to Boob Hell when I had my first baby. I thought I was the only person who'd ever been there. Then I thought every nursing mother had been there. I thought a lot of stupid things. It only seemed right to put them all in a book for other people to read.

My husband and I always referred to that year of our life as Boob Hell, so when this book needed a title I really couldn't come up with anything else. I'm sorry if you have to hide it from your kids. I'm hiding it from mine too. I commend to you e-readers.

Visit the website here to read more!
If you want to read it, buy it or buy it or borrow it through the Kindle lending library.  

Portrait of the author by Jack Gilbert

Thursday, March 15, 2012

a serious question about biters

My three year old has me at my wit's end tonight. He bit three different people today.

One sibling.
One high-schooler.
One little guy- not a brother.

It is not very fun to be the mom that says, "So you might see some teeth marks on your little guy's arm today.  Yeah, sorry about that. My guy bit your little guy for no reason."

I could really use your advice, friends. If any of you have had "biters" before, please share your wisdom with me.

Cute smile. Strong jaws.
A few things about this child:
- he's generally quite happy and sweet
- he has a temper that flares HOT and quick- this sometimes leads to angry biting
- he loves to wrestle and play on the trampoline- this sometimes leads to excited biting
- he has bitten completely unprovoked- including the baby minding his own business! bored biting?!
- he also pinches (hard) in these situations, too.

- other words to describe this kid: Happy, cuddly, cheerful, compliant, affectionate, eager-to-please (and this is why this confuses me so much!)

Tips? My mind and ears are open!

A trough for them, and a break for you.

'Round the Table Meal

Why had this never occurred to me before?
(Many thanks to you, Carol Drews!)

For lunch, or the nights when dad is not home and you don't really feel like cooking... Just throw some food on a plate and let them stand around while they eat!

Or, sit, as they did one warm night in February..


Rules for the kids
1. Take one thing at a time- no need to hoard! I can always make/cut up more! (this one is hard for the 2 year old!)
2. If you've already had one, wait till the others have one before you take a second.
3. You don't have to eat anything you don't want.
4. If you take it, you eat it. Or you find someone else who will.
5. No running around. Stay around the table (or on the blanket) until you are excused!

stand-around snack
Rules for Mom
1. Fill the plate with healthy stuff so you don't have to hover. (Who cares if they eat only 2 things? They will get their tummies full!)

2. Know that if you share with them, you might accidentally bite into something with slobber on it. Either be vigilant, or eat your own stuff.

Three Pigs in a pod :)3. Yes, it is a little bit like feeding pigs from a trough. Try not to tease them about that. If you do, the boys will probably start oinking and picking everything up with their mouths, and the girls will demand plates.

See also Mom Tips You Can Use

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


 “He sure is a lively one, isn’t he?”

The little guy flashes his dimples, as if he knows exactly what gained him freedom from the pew.

I set him down in the narthex. He drags his blanket cheerfully as he runs from me.

My four year old is at my side. He was not being naughty in church, but I know better than to trust him in the pew while I am out with the baby. He is also lively.

Baby has discovered the heaters, and opens the control panel.  His dimples dare me to stop him.
Pretty sure his little hands are not strong enough to turn the knobs, I stay seated. I close my eyes, a little, and try to catch a word or two of the sermon.

 My four year old does not. He decides to climb the scaffolding. Baby sees, squeals, and runs with his blanket to join him. He trips, cries. Big kid swings and laughs. They are SO loud.


We go outside.

Of course, they don’t want to run outside. It’s dark, and a little “creepy,” says my son.

Actually, the evening is gorgeous. A spring breeze passes over us, and stars twinkle above us. The night is as calm and soothing as I wish my boys were.

The temperature is warm enough to taste like spring, but just cool enough that I would be chilled without somebody in my arms.

I sit with my little somebody, and his blanket, on the cool cement steps.

My climber no longer wishes to climb. He’s cold, and a little scared. He sits on the other side of me, and leans into me. The baby sees his big brother snuggling, and smiles. He reaches with his tiny hand and pats his brother’s head. Brother is flattered and happy, and they both snuggle closer.

Warm, calm, like the night, they snuggle into me.

I breathe them in, grateful.

I exhale.

The moment is gone.

The tiny hand has decided his brother’s head makes a great drum. Brother thinks it is funny, too. Baby grabs brother’s lip, brother softly bites, and they share a slobbery laugh.

I roll my eyes and smile as I gently scoot them off my lap.

You don’t understand, but you gave me the still photo I needed. 

I capture things when I breathe them in, and I have stored that sweet breath of grace in my heart.

You can go play, now, little ones.


Remember last week when my sister shared her awesome post "Scatter the Darkness?"
I am pleased to announce that she has started her own blog!

She takes my breath away...or is it God's work in her?  Yes, that too.

See what I mean: visit her blog Scatter My Darkness today!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jump up, jump up and get down! Jump around!

From where I'm standing I see...

My baby on a trampoline.
Smiling at me, innocent and happy.
"Wow, mom, I didn't expect to see you down there!
What a nice surprise!!!"

From where I'm standing laying down I see...
Those dimples and curls!
slobber on the trampoline

I feel...
shaky legs from bouncing 
spring in the ground--green grass under my back
grateful to be healthy enough to live this life today

I see...
A boy, so innocent, he does not know what comes next when I do this...

I do as mothers should. I give my child "wings!"

I bounce my children in the air sometimes, singing AYO...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sister love and Epilespy

 It took me several months with seizures to realize that we had entered into an entirely new lifestyle.  I could no longer take the children to the park, or swimming, without at least one other set of eyes. There were simply some things we had to eliminate completely, just to simplify the things I needed to think about.  I was not going to teach them Spanish.  I could rarely find the energy to do a complicated craft.  I would probably not be hosting many sleepovers.  The children and I would be skipping many social events.  The other children were forced to make sacrifices, and I truly hated that. 

Lorraine was the one I worried about most....

Read the rest here:  

I am honored to guest post here today! While you are there, be sure to check out the rest of the things Mandy is up to- what an amazing woman!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Perfect Motherly Accessory (Mom Tips You Can Use:)

Fellow mothers of small children, consider for a moment how your wardrobe had changed since you have become a mother.  High have been heels replaced by sneakers. Necklaces remain unworn, because if they are worn, they will surely be drooled upon or eaten. Shirts are chosen not for appearance, but for absorbency, with colors that will hide the various shoulder stains.There is no time for fussing with pantyhose when the child is pounding on the bathroom door.

We’ve come to accept it. We must dress appropriately for our job.

Now that you have reached this crucial state as a mother, ceasing from covetousness of style and glamour, and humbly donning your practical uniform each day, let me offer you one more accessory to complete your work uniform:

sorting out the mess: Depression quiz

Is it depression or just a bad attitude? Is it something you can pull yourself out of? Why are you feeling the way you are feeling?

I'm sorry, I really can't sort that out for you.

You might want to start here:
Is it depression?  Take this quiz from the Mayo Clinic. It may help you decide whether or not you should see a doctor.

As terrifying as it may seem, I encourage you to say it out loud to someone.
"I think I might be struggling with depression."
Just say it.

Your own feelings may be fickle, but the foundation of love and grace that upholds your life in Jesus will not change. Hold on to the Rock. And may those who love you surround you with unconditional love like His.

It will not always be this way.

Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;

lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever

and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Psalm 61:1-4

Read more of my thoughts on depression HERE.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

MRI results

Monday, Aggie had her routine MRI.
Yesterday, we heard the results.

No Change.

What wonderful words. 
No change today. Another day like yesterday.
Another day of grace.

He had no obligation to do so, yet God graciously showered on us day after day of seizure freedom. He gave us an Aggie in bloom once again. He restored her energy, and her joy for life. The door to my heart creaked open ever so slowly, and He gave me the courage to love healthy Aggie again.
            I remember the moment the dam burst. It was about a week after surgery. Aggie and the other children were eating lunch; jabbering, teasing, joking around the table. I wish I could remember the joke that inspired The Laugh that broke down all of my walls, but I cannot. I only carry the memory of an unexpected moment, a sudden, shocking lightning bolt of joy that went from her lips to my heart.
            It was a girly little giggle, a giggle that turned into a beautiful and contagious belly laugh. It took me completely by surprise. I had forgotten she could laugh like that. She used to do it all the time, but I had forgotten. I had been loving sick Aggie for so long that I had forgotten many things about the way she used to be.

  The way she is again.

Weak and Loved: A Mother-Daughter Love Story by Emily Cook
Now available on $9.99 kindle $4.99 epub $4.99

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Depression: Why I hide.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were talking about depression.  It’s interesting, we agreed, how it seems easier for someone in the pit to lean on a cyber-friend, or a distant friend, or anyone other than the people that love them in their own homes.

I'll come out when I'm ready.
I nodded along with him, and agreed. That is my tendency as well. I feel this way for a few reasons, I explained:

 1.  I’d rather appear weak to anyone else on the planet other than my husband.  2. He won’t understand, not in a personal, experiential way. He’s never been in this pit. I want to talk to someone who understands.

Then a few days later, the pit snuck up on me again, and I remembered. (How could I have forgotten?) I remembered that there are 2 other very important reasons that I try to hide myself from my dear husband when I am depressed.

1.  The rage.
How did I forget about the rage?
I’ve said before, my depression tends to be severe but short-lived. This helps me (sometimes) identify the symptoms. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book recommended: "The Problem of Suffering"

This author is a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.  Having suffered the loss of two children, he
He speaks with refreshing honesty about the contradiction in suffering experienced by the Christian. "How can God love me and yet allow this to happen?"  We wonder, but we are afraid to ask.

He asks the question. He wrestles. He shares with us the fruit of his wrestling.  We receive no trite slogans, no neat philosophical systems, but honesty, and faith drawing strength from Christ, and Him crucified.

If you grieve, and if you question, please, buy this book:

The Problem of Suffering: A Fathers Hope
(Buy it here)

"Let us think honestly and speak biblically: Philosophically speaking, theodicies end in betrayals and sin against those who suffer; theologically, we preach Christ crucified, not suffering justified (see Romans 8, Augsburg Confession Article 5)." (Schulz, 21)

and Listen to Gregory Schulz on Issues, Etc.

Monday, March 5, 2012

MRI day

Today is another MRI day. Routine follow-up. (most likely)
Just going through the motions. (probably)

Aggie is aware enough to be nervous now. When she was sick, she was not this way. She was too tired, too confused to be nervous...

So last night,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Too many ideas!

Hi friends!
I have a problem.

It's a good problem, but it is still a problem.

I have too many ideas in my head!

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Can you please help me sort them all out? I'd be so grateful for your two cents...

Click here to take a SHORT 4 question survey
(you will remain anonymous!)
You may just help change the course of the universe!

Or my next book...

or at least, this blog...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The calm jar

I actually did this thing I found on Pinterest, and it worked out quite well.

Introducing: The Calm Jar

(To learn how to do this, click here.)

Shake the jar and watch the glitter slowly settle.  Not only is it shiney and pretty, but it is a great object lesson.

"Calm yourself down. When the jar is calm and you are calm you may get out of the corner."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guest Post: Scatter the Darkness by Amy Orban

The post that follows has been written by my dear sister. 

 My sister: There is nobody else on this planet that can make me play, cry, laugh, pray, lecture, roll my eyes, scream, and rejoice like you. What a joy to see God's work in you today. Thank you so much for sharing these words with me. Love you lots! Em

Scatter the Darkness by Amy Orban

In 2007 my sister gave me a CD called “Scatter the Darkness,” along with a small book she printed which had the lyrics to every hymn on the CD. Inside she wrote a small message to me about finding quiet moments with Jesus in the busy life of a big family, and how the songs inside reminded her of me, and of grace and grandparents and childhood memories and gifts from God.

This was one of those gifts that I put away on a shelf and did not look at again for a long time. The meaning and thoughtfulness behind the gift was lost on me, mainly because I was too wrapped up in myself to even think about it. Also because I was resentful at my perfect sister with her great life and beautiful kids and church family. I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to hymns.
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