Monday, August 29, 2011

His Perspective

"You never know the truth of a situation until you understand it from the perspective of Jesus"-that was the message from our Pastor this week at church.  We have been exploring the subject of "When Life Hurts" over the past several weeks on Sunday morning.  There is no doubt that our family has been under attack lately.  We've not been healthy, there hasn't been much of a schedule and the grownups around here are physically and emotionally drained.  

It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes Sophie Kate to recover from illness.  I think I say this every time, you would think I would have caught on by now.  She has literally only gone to school 4 days in the last 3 weeks. She is missing her friends, her therapy and her smile.  To put things in a little perspective, I went to 2 CT scans with 2 different children at 2 different hospitals all in 1 day last week.  After spending 12 hours in the ER with SK due to some lingering issues with her latest bout of "the sickness," I then went with my middle son to the ENT to see about his "bionic ear" that isn't being very bionic these days.  That 24 hours was topped off with the news that there is going to be surgery #3 on the "not so bionic ear" this fall.  If you are keeping count, our fall surgeries are up to two now, one for SK and one for Jacob.  P.S. other children and husband, I am no longer taking any appointments for fall sicknesses, procedures, doctor's appointments or surgeries...we're FULL!!

This is just how we roll though.  Seriously, if you know us then you know this about us.  I almost laughed out loud when I was in the ER with Sophie Kate and the nurse started her sentence out with "In rare cases...."  Oh, honey just plan on it then cause we live in the world of rare cases.

Scratch last weeks post about me hoping SK can string together more than two days at school, I am just hoping from more than one day this week.  I miss summer like no body's business and let me add that I am not liking being a grownup right now either.  We need some serious prayer covering us over here.  I feel like we are barely keeping our heads above water and I'm getting real tired.

"You never know the truth of a situation until you understand it from the perspective of Jesus."  The world's truth shows pity for my daughter, but Jesus shows compassion, the world tells me she doesn't matter, but Jesus values her.  The world makes fun of her, laughs or stares but Jesus loves her.  The truth the world throws at me would leave me hopeless, but in Jesus there is hope.  

Praying for His perspective each day, thanks for checking in on us.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Turkey Creek

Just because school has started back doesn't mean summer is officially over, we took "time out" (in a good way) and headed over to Turkey Creek last weekend for an afternoon of exploring new territory.  

Here's some of what we found over there...

Love that face!

Turkey Creek is a nature preserve not far from our house. How is it that we have lived here with all these boys for so long and have never discovered it?  

Grey started out happy...

But once he realized he was floating around the river bend the fun ended abruptly...

Thank goodness for big brothers...

Even daddy got in on the action...

Are you wondering where SK and I were during all this? We were spontaneously combusting in the oppressive heat all for the sake of a fun time for the brothers.  Don't say we aren't willing to sacrifice for them because it was HOT!!

They are so fun...

It was a good day, thanks for checking in on us.

Monday, August 22, 2011

When She's Better

Ahhh, a fresh new week, hopefully it will be better for us (and by us I mean "the sister") than last week was.  Sophie Kate finally started feeling better over the weekend after being sick for 3 days with a nasty virus.  She woke up fever free Saturday morning, her eyes were brighter and we even got some smiles out of her...a very welcomed sight indeed! It would be nice if we could try and string together more than two days at school, my dear. 

The boys were especially concerned about her this time, asking about her when they got up in the morning and when they would get off the bus in the afternoon.  I think it was the way she looked.  I mean, I hate to say it that way but she felt rotten and you could see it all over her face.  My middle son Jacob told me on Thursday morning, "We prayed for Sophie last night."  Thinking he must have asked prayer for her Wednesday night at church, I told him that was very sweet of him.  Then he added "in our room"...hold up there, now you have my attention..."in your room?" I asked.  "Yes ma'am me, Cooper and Grey prayed for Sophie Kate last night in our room, I led the prayer."  First of all I have to pause here and say if any of my children would be leading prayer anywhere it would be Jacob, he has the heart of a servant.  Secondly, I really didn't know what to say.  I was so humbled in that moment.  

I am not telling this story to be braggy about my kids, please know that because Jacob is who he is in spite of his parents and thankfully so.  Y'all we are seriously inadequate to be in charge of these boys, I just hope we don't mess things up.  I was thinking back to what I was doing while my sons were in their room praying for their sister.  Was I washing dishes or clothes?  Was I actually doing something somewhat noble and caring for their sister?  Was I holding her, I do that a lot when she is sick.  Was I on the computer or watching TV...because what I do know is that I wasn't in that room with them while they were praying.  

I am so blind to what is going on around me because I am still too focused on what I can't change.  Thank God He has a hold of these boys instead of me.  Thank goodness He is molding them into the young men He would have them be. I'm pretty sure I wasn't praying for others at the age of 9, I'm very sure I was consumed with selfishness though.  So, here it is right in front of me, scripture brought to life. Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  

This is the good, this is the treasure that comes out of darkness.  I don't want to miss this, I don't want to be stuck dwelling in a place that may never change...wishing and wanting for something that may never happen.  What have I done with my pain?  That question was asked of me today in the message at church, well it was actually asked of all of us, but it was spoken through a megaphone to me.  What have I done with my pain?  I have settled into it somehow, I know that must sound strange to some.  I have grown way to comfortable in it for sure.  

Have I allowed God any entrance to the place I keep my pain?  No, not lately.  Sure I did in the beginning when I thought He was going to step in and just heal her so that we could all move on with our lives, but no, not in a long time. Have I been open to the good things that can come from all this?  No, thank goodness He is working out the good in spite of me though.  I don't want to miss this...what God has planned in the life of our family.  I don't want to be a bystander/observer.  I want to be an active participant.  Wow, what God is teaching me through my children! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When She's Sick

Three days into school and my girl is already sick.  She has a fever and is trying to vomit even though the surgery she had a couple of years ago prevents her from doing so.  The look on her face makes huge tears roll down mine.  When Sophie Kate gets sick it's a total body experience, you see it on her face and in her vital signs.  It manifests itself in fevers, vomiting (or rather trying to), lots of coughing, gagging and sneezing...her body trying to rid itself of something that doesn't belong.  

The worst is how it settles on her face and in her eyes, her big smile disappears and her eyes barely open.  I find her awake when I get up and can only wonder how long she's been up fighting sleep or is it sleep fighting her?  Is she hurting, is she in pain, will sleep just not come because of her discomfort?  Is she hot? Cold?  We've all been there but the difference is that she can't tell me where it hurts or what I can do to make it better.  So in between her cares, I hold her.  I was told in the NICU  that a mother's body temperature will adjust to the temperature needs of her baby.  If the infant is too cold the mother's body will provide heat to warm the child up and if the baby becomes to warm the mother's body will cool down...I did find that to be the case as I held my baby girl close day after day. Does it still hold true now that she's three?  I don't know but I hold her anyway and she seems to find some comfort in that and is able to close her eyes for a few minutes.

My tears are for her pain, for the look on her face and for the helplessness I feel.  My tears are for so many good days she has had and for the future that is so uncertain.  My tears are for her upcoming surgery and for the pain I know she will be in then, they are for the deep desire I have to take this all away from trade places with her if I could.  There is no good that can come from wishing and wanting things to be different though because they are not, so we will take things one day at a time and I will be right beside her.  It is my honor though to help her this.  It is my privilege to be by her side to care for her, comfort her and love her.

1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

Thanks for your prayers for our girl. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

One Week Down

With one week of school under our belt, we are slowly but surely succumbing to a schedule around here.  We were whipped last week long about Thursday, Kindergarten will most certainly wear a fella and his parents out.  Sophie Kate who had gotten out of the habit of napping regularly, quickly rediscovered the wonderfully refreshing qualities a good nap will do a body.  It seems Preschool is equally tiring for baby sister. 

Thankfully our teachers had mercy on us and gave very little homework as we worked toward adjusting our bodies back to wake up calls at (ugh) 6:30 for the boys and double (ugh) 5:45 for me.  I am sure my husband is laughing to himself right about now as he has left me many a summer morning sleeping soundly on his way out the door to work. God bless him, now he gets a little payback while he watches me drag myself out of bed each morning.  I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here but suffice it to say I am NOT a morning person.  God love him for putting up with me this week at 5:45, our marriage must be strong cause it was sure put to the test this week, ha ha!

Everyone seems thrilled with their teachers and there has been little to no grumbling from our oldest about school starting back, which thrills me.  Grey comes home each afternoon, so excited to tell me about his day, I love that. Sophie Kate while not enjoying the early morning hour, has very much enjoyed seeing her friends again and being back in her classroom.  Sister is a lot like her mama.

Grey had some other notable firsts this week as if starting Kindergarten wasn't enough.  He went to a new Sunday School class and Children's worship for the the first time this past Sunday, such a fun worship time for K-4th graders at our church, so glad he's a part of that now.  He also had his first sleep over.  Now, he has spent the night away from home before but only with family, this time it was with his buddy Jacob.  Yes, it's been a lot to take in.  Please time slow down, didn't he just get out of his baby bed?  

I guess there is something to be said for the schedule we are finding ourselves in once again.  There is some predictability and routine-ness that we can find some comfort in, right?  I am trying to convince myself of that anyway.  We can't just continue on in the carefree, unpredictable days of summer, can we? Maybe the scheduled days are there so that we will appreciate the unscheduled ones that much more. 

We found ourselves without Internet for two days here this week and I didn't appreciate it one bit.  Seriously can I not go two days without Internet?  A sad commentary I know. On the bright side my Mac and I were able to enjoy some Starbucks coffee and free WiFi together, wherein I promptly emailed Chad at work telling him that maybe this whole "back to school" thing wasn't so bad after all. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

First Day of School

A year ago, in August of 2010, I was at the bus stop with my three boys sending only two of them off to "big school." My friend and neighbor was there as well with her three boys sending only two of her's off to "big school."  We made the comment to each other a year ago that "this time next year" our baby boys would be getting on that same bus.  Guess's "this time next year."

My youngest son started Kindergarten this week.  Not only did he start Kindergarten but he rode the bus on the first day, that has never been done in the history of first days of school in our house.  Sister and I have been left to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and listen to a kind of quiet that we just don't like.  He was excited though and b/c of that he helped me hold it together until that bus drove off with all my boy babies in it.

Jacob-3rd grade, Grey-Kindergarten, and Cooper-5th grade.

The night before school started Grey came out of his room after we had put everyone to bed.  He crawled up in my lap and said that he was so excited about "big school" and riding the bus that he wished it were already morning so that he wouldn't have to go to sleep, dude was ready for some Kindergarten!

The brothers weren't completely opposed to the idea of school starting back either, so it was good all around.

Waiting on the bus...

Still waiting on the bus, but at least we were waiting with friends.

Best friends...

The picture above was taken by my friend Misty and I think it totally captures these two...maybe they're discussing what the first day of Kindergarten is going to be like, so cute!

Cooper, ever the big brother, taking care of his little brother.  He even walked over to his classroom (of his own accord) after school let out in the afternoon to find Grey and take him to their bus.  Love these glimpses into his heart, maybe there is hope that he will not be completely consumed by the selfishness of this world.

When Cooper and Jacob were younger I remember one of them asking me if I just sat at home all day waiting for them to come home.  I thought that was so cute.  "Why yes honey, that's all I do, just wait all day for y'all to come home," I said with a laugh meanwhile thinking to myself, if they only knew.  Well, I have to admit that on Tuesday of this week that was true.  I couldn't wait for that bus pull up and did little else that day besides have a meltdown after the bus drove off that morning.  

I got the scoop on everyone's day and to my surprise got quite a bit of information out of these boys whose usual response is "Ummm...I don't know or I forgot."  Grey told me his favorite thing was computer class, because the teacher told him that one day if they are good they will get to play games on the computer.  Now, they didn't get to play games on the computer that day, but just the thought of one day possibly getting to play computer games put it at the top of the list.  I thought PE or recess would make the top spot but no, to my surprise Grey deemed that he didn't even like PE.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing, did someone get on to him or hurt his feelings, I had no clue what was going on.  He said he didn't like PE because all they did was go over the rules and they didn't get to do anything.  Ah, mystery solved I get it now, hang in there G-man it will get better I promise.  I see PE jumping back up to the top real soon, but that made me laugh.

I know y'all are probably thinking that I have left someone out of "first day of school" pictures.  Sophie Kate doesn't go every day of the week to preschool so she started the day after the boys.

Ready for her first day...

Well, she was kind of ready for her first day.  It was early and SK hasn't been getting up and getting ready like that since May.  It will be so worth it sister, remember what a good time you have at school?

My favorite thing from Grey's first day of Kindergarten was when he told me, "Mrs. S let me have pony."  Pony, in case you may not know, his Grey's well loved, well worn and most of the time extremely gross smelling stuffed animal that he takes everywhere he goes.  Pony went to Kindergarten with Grey because I was adopting the philosophy of "ask for forgiveness instead of asking for permission."  He stayed in Grey's backpack until rest time, when Grey asked his teacher if he could get him out and she said yes, love her!

I even received two email updates, one in the morning and one in the afternoon of how their day was going, complete with "first day of school" pictures, love her even more!! After all three boys came home with basically no homework save for a small reading assignment for Cooper, I deemed the first day of school a success.  The only problem I feared was that Grey was going to think, ok that was fun now I'm done, and really wasn't going to appreciate having to go to school everyday.

The second morning of school, Grey got up and with pony tucked under his arm, sleep still in his eyes and the warmth of his bed still lingering on him he climbed up in my lap and said to me, "Mama, I really liked preschool.''  Uh, oh here we go, so I asked the question that was being begged to be asked even though I knew better, "You did, why?"  He answered, "Because I got to stay with you."  So it ended up that I cried the first and second days of too buddy, me too.

Thanks for checking in on us.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Preparing for a new school year

The school supplies have been purchased, there are new tennis shoes all around, teachers have been met and clothes have been laid out...all that's left now is the first day of school.  All four kids will be at the same school for one year...Sophie Kate in preschool, Grey in Kindergarten, Jacob in 3rd grade and Cooper in fifth.

At times our life gets put into one of two categories: before SK was born or after SK was born.  I don't know whether that's good or bad but it just is.  So before SK was born, I was pretty active in Cooper and Jacob's classrooms, not room mother but just available whenever I was needed.  I went on field trips, helped in the classroom, did things here and there for the teachers, etc.  Since SK was born, there hasn't been much of first we were just in survival mode and then that shifted somewhat into constant doctor visits and therapy appointments which I tried to do when the boys were in school.  

I remember being told by parents who had gone before me that it would get better, that eventually I wouldn't be sad all the time and things would slow down and we would find a "new normal."  I hated those words "new normal" and I hated just about any advice I was given b/c I didn't want to live with this.  Well, it has happened, what they said was true.  Things are better, we aren't in survival mode anymore.  We have found a "new normal," we don't have multiple doctor visits and therapy appointments every week.  

We have a nurse now and Sophie Kate goes to preschool and gets lots of her therapy there.  Our doctor visits have gone from every 4-6 weeks to every 6-12 months.  I am going to have some free days every week this school year.  

I remember talking to someone during a particularly down time well over a year ago and they asked me what is something that I used to do that I have not been doing SK was born that I would like to do (does that make sense)? Well, my answer was I used to be up at the school from time to time.  I want to go back up there and volunteer in my boys' classes.  I know some of you may think I am crazy, but sometimes you just want to do normal stuff, stuff you used to do. 

So, for the first time in 3 and 1/2 years I was able to sign up (with confidence that I could actually do it) to help in my son's classrooms.  I am going to be a guest reader, I am going to help my Kindergartner with fun Christmas crafts, I hope to go on field trips and I plan on having lunch with my boys whenever I or they want me to all while my baby girl is being well cared for.  What a blessing, I am so thankful, we have come so far with this girl of ours.  I never thought this day would come 3 years ago.  My friends who are struggling through the places we have been, I am praying for you, it will get better.  Keep doing what you are doing, you are doing your best and it will get better.

Isaiah 64:4 "For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him." 

Now, I am putting my baby boy on the bus the first day of school, granted he will be with his brothers, so if I survive that it will be all downhill from there, ha ha.  I'll let y'all know how it goes. 

Thanks for checking in on us. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What Does She See?

In a small, cold, dimly lit room by a voice devoid of any feeling or emotion I was told that my newly born baby girl would never know who I was.  After hearing medical jargon that I as a nurse was barely familiar with and after being told everything that my baby girl would never accomplish, tacked on at the end I remember being told that she would never know I was her mother.

So now after three and a half years have passed, what does she see when she looks at me?  Since I haven't heard her sweet voice call me "mama," I can only take my cues from what I see on her face.  I can see when she is calm, content and peaceful.

I can see when she is uncomfortable.  I can see when she is in pain and by the look on her face and the way she carries herself I can see how severe her pain is.  I can see when she is sleepy and I can see when she is happy.

What does she see when she looks at me?  She sees someone who tends to her needs and cares.  She sees someone who loves her and provides a place of rest, comfort and healing.  She sees safety and a familiarity, it's something we have formed over time.  

When I go into her room in the morning, I always say "Good Morning" to her in a sing-song kind of voice.  She smiles so big back at me that sometimes I think it may spill over into a little laugh.  I scoop her up and take her into the family room and I know she can feel the strength and assurance in the arms of someone who won't let her down, won't let her go and won't stop fighting for the best things in life for her.  

I have no doubt that when she sees me, she sees her mama and when I see her things outside these four walls seem to not matter anymore.  It's her and I engaged in moments where silence speaks louder than words ever could.

Psalm 27:13-14 "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (NIV)

Thanks for checking in on us.         

Monday, August 1, 2011

What she's wearing

I'm taking a departure from the serious nature of the posts lately to go with a guilty pleasure...Sophie Kate's clothes of course.  Being the only girl after 3 boys comes with its privileges, I guess.  

What she wore to church this week...

See, the reason SK gets to be so well dressed is because SK's friends are well dressed.  We beg, borrow and sometimes pay for the cutest outfits seen around town a few years ago, ha ha.

Another reason SK is so stylin' is because SK's friends and family are extremely talented...

Chad's sister smocked this for SK...

My sister made these for SK....

I love consignment sales and I love swapping clothes with other mamas, it makes me happy so see someone else wearing the clothes SK and the boys once wore.  I immediately recall...oh the boys wore that for Easter one year, or Sophie Kate had her picture made in that when she turned one.  It's special to me to see some of her clothes being worn by other little girls we know.

Sophie Kate also has 2 grandmothers that keep her in good supply with new dresses, play clothes, etc.      

She's a blessed little girl and it has nothing to do with the clothes she wears.  It has everything to do with the people around her who love her to pieces.  This is what I remind myself when I feel alone in my circumstances.  God has placed wonderful people in our lives who adore this girl. People who are not afraid to take on our girl and her family or if they are they don't show it.  This is truly a journey and thankfully we are not in it alone.

Habakkuk 2:3 "But these things I plan won't happen right away.  Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass.  Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day."

Thanks for checking in on us.