Friday, December 18, 2009

Do you have a two year old?

Maybe I should have titled that, "Do you want a two year old?" :) Just kidding...I would surely miss this smiley boy of mine...most of the time. Yep, that's the truth. Most of the time I'd miss him but SOME of the time...I'd just float through my day not having to wonder what he was up to, in to, on to, or under. This little boy of mine has been a stinker since he was one. He is full of life, full of energy, and STINKIN SMART! See, that is where the whole thing goes wrong. There is very little that he sets his mind to that he CAN'T do. He knows how to open EVERYTHING (doors, bottles, zippers, etc) and he forgets to close everything. He likes to chew gum...and swallow it. He likes to move bar stools across the kitchen to reach high places. He likes to do everything himself. And mostly I am grateful. I mean, with 6 kids to care for, it is nice to have a two year old who likes to dress himself. And he has amazed me how he can do it all...underwear, socks, shirt and pants! Sometimes backwards...but always on. Well, except when he takes them off. Like if they get wet. Not soaking wet...just a drop a water and off it must come. Or he decides he no longer needs socks...or a shirt...or his the front yard. SIGH. The upside? He is potty trained. He can already ride a bike with training wheels. He likes to help-whether I want it or not :).

And then there is his volume level. One setting. LOUD. And he wakes up first and he wakes up loud. Everyone knows he is awake. He isn't upset loud...he is HAPPY loud. "HI MOMMY! I WAKE UP!" I can hardly fault him that it is 6:45am...he is so proud and happy "he waked up." And he has a killer smile with the sweetest little lips you ever kissed.

He is not quite the poster child for being a big brother either. He tends to "love to death" Grayson. He hugs him around the neck. He uses him for his own personal chair. He knocks him over, steals his toys, and tells him no. But between all of that...he loves him. Really. He does. Just ask him....he LOVES to say, "I love you." Well, more like, "I lub YOU!" (The YOU part is really LOUD and emphasized.)

And he has a new love of scissors. He hasn't cut his hair yet...or anything of value. But he likes to remove tags....the diaper bag name label...gone. The tag on a doll that tells her name. And he tried to remove the little applique football that was on his shirt but thankfully asked for my help. The scissors now reside high up in a cabinet. But, he found I must move them.

He keeps me busier than all the rest including the baby. He doesn't care much for quiet activities. He is a goer and a doer. (Gets that from Keith.) But he is HAPPY and LOVING. He is precious and I don't know what life would be without him. And although he positively wears me out every day...I know God has a great plan for him. I believe he will be a go getter. I believe he will be outgoing and talented and smart in whatever he endeavors. And when he is...there will be PLENTY of stories to tell of how I almost didn't survive.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Light...

God's lessons are sometimes too clear NOT to see! Case in point...this past Sunday we enjoyed a presentation at our church called The Light. Appropriately, the entire production was about Jesus being the Light of the World. It contrasted the dark and the light. And then God decided to bring the lesson home for me...literally.

Let me back up a see, I have been planning a welcome tea for a friend here at FamilyLife. Welcome teas are FL's way of greeting new staff wives. Senior staff wives host a tea in their home and invite other senior staff wives to attend. I have not gotten to host a tea before and it has been quite some time since I have even had friends in for a party. I was looking quite forward to it. I knew my friend Johanna was looking forward to it as well and it was so fun thinking of how nice I could make the tea for her. So I planned and re-planned the menu. I tweaked it and re-tweaked it. I sent out the evite (LOVE LOVE LOVE the evite). I watched dutifully every day as women RSVPd. Forty one women were invited. Twenty two said yes. (Ultimately, 17 showed up) I was excited! If I am going to have people in my home I would just as soon have a lot of women so as to make the work worthwhile!

I set out on Saturday to look for all the perfect paper products (ultimately ended up at WalMart...). I made name tags from Christmas gift tags. I did the grocery shopping. I spent Sunday afternoon and evening baking and preparing as much as I could. (The Lord was already laying His plan.) Got up on Monday and knew I was adding an extra boy to my group. My friend Amy was scheduled to be induced Monday morning and her son was coming to stay. Initially I thought how crazy it was to add a child to my numbers on such a busy day but, again, God was laying His plan because having Tekoa here meant my little boys were happily entertained and bothered me very little all morning. Because of this I jumped in the shower much earlier than usual and had that little detail done early. Once I got Grayson down for the morning nap I was a busy bee doing my final baking. There were cake balls, white sheet cake cut outs, pecan and almond turtles, pesto party sandwiches, cream cheese with pepper jelly dip, and water chestnut appetizers. By lunchtime I had all of my baking done and set about to clean. I tore the family room apart. (literally had to take apart the sectional to clean under and behind it.) I had the vacuum run and the boys were helping me steam the floors with my new Shark steamer from my MIL. THEN...(duh duh duh...ominous music plays)

THE ELECTRICITY WENT OUT! It was 2 in the afternoon on a beautiful sunny day and the lights went out. NO PROBLEM. Plenty of time for the lights to come back on...called to verify. Yes, lights will be back on by 5pm. Great, no problem. I am ready except for making the appetizer that needs to go in the oven...and the coffee and tea. So I continued doing what I could do and didn't panic. But right around 4:30 it began occurring to me...what if it doesn't come back on? What will I do? Shoved those thoughts out of my head. Thankfully, the Lord had planned a gorgeous day for the 7 boys to be outside (well, six...not counting the baby who did not nap because his fan turned off right after he fell asleep). So, the house maintained its clean until they tracked in the mud...but we dealt with that. (mostly by my screaming and yelling and throwing the doors shut and demanding that they NEVER come in my house again....okay, not really...but close.) Keith got home. Now there are seven kids and no dinner to serve. Now the sun is going down and I am panicking. How will I light up my home? How will I fix the appetizer? How will I have coffee? HOW WILL THEY SEE MY PRETTY TREE AND CLEAN HOME IF IT IS DARK? Called the electric company lights until 9pm. Great! That's when the party ends. Keith took the boys to dinner. I fixed the appetizers by oil lamp. I was still in my grubby clothes. I began folding paper bags for luminaries. I needed a way to show people we were home! I began setting out the food and paper ware. I began lighting every candle I own. I called a friend to come fetch the appetizers. I laid out things for coffee and tea still praying the light would return. The honored guest arrived first. Still in my grubbies. She assures me the house looks lovely. Keith is outside lighting the luminaries. I couldn't have survived this without him. He got out our camping lantern and hung it outside for people to see. He waited outside for ladies to arrive. I changed the dark. At this point I am thinking...hope the lights stay off...who knows what shape my makeup is in! Slowly the ladies arrive. Giggles. Lots of giggles. We pile in by candlelight. A friend loans more lamps and we nearly fill the place with fumes...cracked the windows. No heat in the house...but the Lord planned a warm day so it hovered in the high 60s in our home. A couple of ladies snuggled under a blanket...more giggles. My Godly friends blessed me with positive attitudes and praises for pulling the event off. (I didn't mention my near crying experience while preparing the food by lamp light.) Each lady blessed our guest with a blessing. We prayed. We talked. We laughed...a lot. Somewhere in there my friend who was induced that day had her baby boy and Tekoa's grandparents fetched him. Keith kept boys quiet upstairs and eventually got them all in bed. By 10pm...or so...the last lady left. And as we were saying our goodbyes...standing in the front yard watching them walk to their cars in the dark...a flicker of light appeared on the street. YOU ARE KIDDING LORD! Nope, He wasn't kidding...there it was...the LIGHT.

SO, where is the lesson in this? Well, I saw it right away because immediately I felt forgotten by God. He knew I wanted this event to be everything Johanna dreamed. Welcome teas are a little like a only get one. I had planned and prepared. How could He let this happen? But I also recognized my pride. Lord, how will I make my house look pretty? How can I light my tree or my manger scene? How will they enjoy good coffee or hot tea? How will they see my clean floors or pretty food? How will they be comfortable? I know this about myself. I am prideful when it comes to having people in my home. I enjoy keeping house. I enjoy baking. I enjoy hospitality. These are my talents. Some days it feels as if this is all I have to offer. But God really just wants my heart to be right. Melissa, it isn't all about you. Or your home. It is about your willingness to serve and open your home. It is about Johanna. It is about ME. Sigh. Okay Lord. Have it Your way. This will be memorable....

And so it was! In the midst of the darkness I saw my need for LIGHT. How I missed it filling the room with warmth and sight. I saw my humility...and lack thereof. But the home was filled with great fellowship and laughter. My friends left my home saying that ALL teas should be done by candlelight. It was intimate. And God's light is intimate. It brings us together. It warms us. And I could trace His hand all over the event and the plans and preparations. I highlighted in red all of the things He prepared to have happen in just the right manner so that when the time came...He could turn off the lights and make the event His own. Thank You Lord. I saw You there. Thanks for removing me from the equation. I really do love YOU!
(BTW...the first pics don't do it justice...the flash made it seem bright in there. The pics without the flash...well, they do it was that dark in there!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The ugly truth...

If you don't want to know some of the ugliness in my heart...stop reading now. I use this blog to process life. Hopefully, by the time I get to the end of a post, I have navigated my way through some of my troubling emotions. The emotion du'jour? Jealousy. Of whom you may ask? My husband. Does that shock you? I mean, isn't everything that is his also mine? Why yes, by way of physical belongings that is so. But one of the downfalls to having only sons is that there are some precious memories getting to be made that I get to be no part of. Keith is getting ready to take Grant on his "Passport to Purity" weekend. That is a resource created by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, president and co-founders of FamilyLife whereby a parent takes a child of the same sex on a weekend getaway to discuss purity. It is a really special weekend for the parent and child. And not only does Keith get to do the first one...he gets to do all six.

And I am jealous.

There I said it....I am jealous. I constantly find myself on the end of being left out. I stay behind with the little ones while Keith takes a boy out each Saturday morning. Memories. Someday my sons will, rightfully, recount memories made on those Saturday mornings with their dad and somehow I am doubting they will turn to me and say..."and mom, you made it possible by staying behind with the rest." I mean, come' memories don't exactly work like that.

And I am jealous.

And I feel like a jerk for it. I listened to a performance by Nicole Johnson in which she talks about building monuments to the living God with our children. One of the most notable things about most of the great monuments here on earth is that no one knows who built them. And the builder wanted no credit apparently. And she says that if we do things right we will not be given credit. If we do things right, no one will notice. Because we don't serve them...we serve HIM. So I work every day around here and not only don't get credit...but feel like a jerk for wanting some. I mean, it isn't just credit. It is wanting to be included and knowing that where sons are concerned...I am not included. YES...they love me. YES...they love on me. And why not? I am the one who births them, breastfeeds them, nurses their wounds, feeds their stomachs, cuts their hair, calms their fears, and cleans their vomit. They NEED me. But one day the phone will ring and it will be them...and they will want to talk to their dad. I see it coming. Their dad will know how to fix it. He will know where to buy it. He will know right where they are coming from. And I am mom. The one who hands them over to a wife...and their dad. And a selfless woman would embrace it. She would call herself blessed. She would look forward to daughters-in-law. And again I am a jerk because frankly...I can not be comforted by the thought of daughters-in-law. They will have a mom. They will have to accept me. And my heart just doesn't feel excited or comforted at this thought. Perhaps someday I will eat these words but right now....they are eating me.

I am thinking of lots of you who have only sons. Maybe it is just one or two or three. But I am you think these same thoughts or am I just overcome with these thoughts because I have so many sons? Or I am just overcome with these thoughts because I am a jerk? And hear me say this....I want my husband to have these special moments with these sons. They deserve it. I am just jealous....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Parents of a teenager...

It's official...we are parents of a teenager. Seriously, I think I just gave birth to that boy yesterday. I remember all of it so well. And for me...a girl whose memory is shaky at best, that amazes me about being a mother. I mean, I can't tell you a thing between giving birth to them and today...but being pregnant and giving birth...I will NEVER forget a detail. In fact, I remember very well when Keith and I would be driving to church in our little red Plymouth Neon (piece of junk brand new car...but that's another story) and I would be daydreaming. Keith never lets me just sit quietly and think. He MUST know what I am thinking at all times. Are you married to one of those? I mean, it's a lovely thing that he wants to know what is going on in this head of mine but seriously, most of the is a jumble of grocery lists and deep musings about life's hardest religious questions and I can't explain it to save my life! :) But, this particular morning, as in so many other mornings, I blurted out, "I want to have a baby." I have no exact idea what his response was but given that we had that exact conversation MANY times I know it was something along the lines of, "I know. Someday you will." And then he went back to thinking about sports or pizza or work or something and I went back into thinking about the day I would bring a little baby to church for the first time. That was a memory I thought FOR SURE would be wonderful. (Nobody told me how I would struggle to get him to stay asleep through a sermon and then struggle to nurse him with a dress on or how bad I'd sweat praying no one would notice how nervous I was...but that is also another story!)

Well, sometime in February of 1996...less than three years after we were married, I suspected I WAS FINALLY PREGNANT. I really hate to confess just exactly how many home pregnancy tests I took up to this point that sheepishly went out to the dumpster (unbeknownst to Keith) with a negative sign on them. I mean, he knew about enough of them to know that when I suspected being pregnant he lovingly ignored me and waited instead for my irregular, stubborn cycle to show it usually did...sometime around day 42! Yeah, that was fun. But, this time...was different. I told myself I was NOT pregnant. I didn't feel pregnant. I felt VERY pre-menstrual actually. Crampy even. I just could NOT figure out why my period was NOT starting. Days went by. Day 30, day 35, etc. No sign of it except for the cramps. SO, one day after teaching school I went to our TINY library in Scott Depot, West Virginia determined to find a pregnancy book that might tell me what the symptoms should be. The ONLY book in the library, I kid you not, on pregnancy was The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy, a book written by Vicki Iovine from the perspective of girlfriends telling how it happened for them. Honestly, it was NOT the book I was hoping for but I soon realized it was THE book I needed. Because right there under symptoms was written something to this effect, "Some girlfriends were never MORE sure they WEREN'T pregnant than when they WERE thanks to phantom menstrual cramps." That was ME! I read it to Keith certain that I had now made my case to justify spending 15$ on a pregnancy test. (Yes, we were THAT poor then.) Well, still thinking I was a little nuts he agreed we'd go buy one. And off to our little Kmart we went. When we got home do you think I ran upstairs and took the dumb thing? NO! In those days those tests were pricey and did not come with two or three sticks in a box. It was a one shot deal and I knew enough (thanks to all those other, ahem, negative tests...) that the most accurate time to take the test was with the first morning urine. SO we agreed to wait because I needed to know FOR SURE and was scared that if I took it at night it might be a false negative. And I laugh because I tried to go to bed at like 8:00pm! I wanted it to be morning RIGHT NOW! So I crawled into our waterbed...ah...the waterbed era...also another story. And wonder of wonders...I could NOT sleep. I had the worst pain I had ever felt in my side. I just knew my period was coming. Eventually I fell asleep...sort of. Around 4 am I had had all I could take. I woke Keith up and told him I was taking the test. He laid in bed ( I am certain thinking it would be negative) and waited! I took the test. I am telling you...I no sooner peed on that stick than it turned two bright, clear lines of positive! I could not believe my eyes. Keith got up and we hugged in a shocked stupor. Then...he went back to bed (ah men...)...and I stayed up the rest of that day. I was truly in shock. This thing I wanted more than anything else was now true and all I could think was, "What are we DOING? We cannot be ready for THIS!" But ready, set, go...we were on our way to having this precious boy of ours.

I cherish those days of that first pregnancy. Every appointment, every heartbeat, every flutter, EVERY THING...was precious and new. But that first thank you. NEVER want to do that again. And raising that first baby? thanks to doing that again either! Precious, That brown-eyed boy wrapped us around his finger quickly and before we knew it we were walking the floor with him at the tiniest whimper he made. I am so thankful that God blesses us with experiences that make us better parents as we go. And I am thankful that He gives us our firstborns who are so forgiving and so loving as to forgive us all the mistakes we make with them.

And now he is a teenager. I am old apparently. But, then again, I am still nursing a baby! LOL! I am telling you right now, if you had told me that Grant would be turning 13 and I'd be getting up at night to feed his baby brother...I'd have laughed or cried right in your face! Not to mention the other 4 BROTHERS! I'd have really laughed or cried then! But, I am telling you this...I am a woman to be envied. Yep...I said it. Just as in Bible times a woman whose womb was filled with children was to be envied. To be raising a teenage son and to be nursing a babe at the same time is nothing but God's blessing on my life. I admit, I love the stage of finding out I am pregnant and being filled with wonderment over a new life within. I am so thankful for how many times I have gotten to go through that stage. I am thankful that I did not shut off the blessings that God has shown me because I was willing to have more children. Had we stopped with Grant or Garrett...I'd have NEVER known how much better, how much easier it gets. When I give birth and hold a new baby, I enjoy it so much more now than 13 years ago because I am not filled with fear. I would have missed that. I would have missed the lessons learned and the subsequent joy. Friends, I am tired. I am stretched beyond myself constantly. But...I believe God wants to keep me that way. And technology allows me the ability to side step some of that if I chose to. I am thankful (most of the time :) that I am walking right in the middle of it because right there in the middle of it...God has shown up and walked with me. And He has given me the most wonderful gifts in these sons. Keith and I STILL struggle to lay down our lives in obedience. Our hands are often clenched tightly around the control button. But, He waits for us because He knows we love Him and we will eventually let go and trust Him again. Yes, I am getting old...but this life is short and when it is my time to go eyes will be filled with sons gathered around me and I will feel full of love and gratitude and I will go on to heaven and KNOW I served Him well with these boys of mine. I have seen enough loved ones go on before me to the is only the people we loved who matter in the end. SO...I hang on. Grant is the beginning of a beautiful, LONG legacy. God, thank YOU!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

We sang this song by Matt Redman this weekend at our FamilyLife ladies retreat. Of course I have sung this song many times prior in church but ever since I saw that Steven Curtis Chapman's family sang this at their daughter's funeral it has changed me. I mean, who can sing the words, "Blessed be the name of the Lord...You give and take away" at a funeral? So as I sang these verses and heard the story unfold I see that truly, in a land that is plentiful...blessed be His name. When streams of abundance flow...blessed be His name. When the sun is shining down on me...when the world is all as it should be...blessed be His name. OF COURSE. When life is good...God is good right? Well, yes, right. But, when I walk through the wilderness...blessed be His name. When I am found in the desert place...blessed be His name. And on the road marked with suffering...though there is pain in the offering...blessed be His name. And truly...He gives and takes away...and my heart must CHOOSE to say...blessed be the name of the Lord.

I had to throw both of my hands in the air when I sang that last part. "Lord, my heart WILL CHOOSE to say...blessed be your glorious name." Right now, the sun is shining down on me. The world is all as it should be. My family is all well. My finances are secure. My health is good. My marriage is strong. My children are thriving. But. That is today. And there is NO promise for tomorrow except that God will be with me through whatever it brings. And tomorrow...if my family is not well. My finances fall through. My marriage suffers. My children do not thrive or my health fails. I want to say BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD. It is all His. He gives and He takes away. He can do that. And I want Him to do that in my life. Take what You need Lord to make me wholly Thine. And as I stood this weekend at the retreat I knew that a family was burying their 53 year old husband and father because of cancer. And a co-laborer in Christ was sitting a few tables over still mourning a 17 year old daughter lost earlier this year. And I wondered in my heart..."Lord, can I say blessed be Your name if you take Keith from me this year or one of my sons?" And my heart grew faint...but my hands went in the air. Because will take all the gumption* (thank you Randall~and Mac) that I would have to do it but if all I could do in my grief was say those words...then God help me...that is what I want to do. Because I trust Him. I trust that He loves me. I trust that He wants my best. SO, praise You Father...You give and You take away but my heart will choose to say...BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD. ~M.

(*gumption: the perfect intersection of courage, common sense, and initiative that enables one to move forward in life regardless of the obstacles. This was a definition shared at Mac Hill's funeral this week by his best friend Randall Wood. The word described Mac and it defines well how I'd like to live and how I'd like my sons to live.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I just love love. I mean, come great is it when, after 16years of marriage and six children you can have those moments where your heart flutters in your chest after the man you married? It is a cherished memory to look into his face and be so grateful that God gave him to me. It makes me sad for all the people who give up early thinking that in order to get that "lovin' feeling" they need to keep falling in love with someone new. New love is so exciting...all of the time. But "old" love is deep and abiding. I can look into Keith's face and see the years of wisdom and experience in his eyes. I feel so connected with him because of the miles and miles of road we have walked together...and not all of it good...or fun...or exciting. But that is what makes it even better. Walking all those miles with someone and still having them stand faithfully beside you is better than fun or excitement. It is enduring and it is secure. And the reality is this: that IS love. No matter what the world sells as is a cheap imitation of the real thing. Because love never was a was a action. And I am so thankful that Keith chooses to bless me with the gift and action of his love every day. And you know what else? Sometimes it is SO FUN and SO EXCITING. LOVE THOSE MOMENTS. You see, God is a good God and He intends for many blessings to fall on those who endure...those who make Him their trust. So thankfully He weaves fun and excitement into the endurance and the security. What a ride! Keith Hutsell...thanks for taking the walk...the ride...with me. I can't imagine living one day without you. I love you Sugar! ~M.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ignore that last post. Today I am so full of frustration that any form of contentment I might have had today flew out the window around 6 am. I was up around 5:30 nursing a baby and believe it or not...I was grateful to be woken up then knowing that after I nursed him I could get dressed, go downstairs and read my Bible and then exercise...all before the least little wee one appeared for the day. I have resigned myself to functioning on less rest. I have resigned myself to the fact that not getting my shower before the kids get up is okay. I have resigned myself to the reality that if I don't get my quiet time and my exercise in early they won't happen. But I had not resigned myself to the fact that if Satan sees me arising early to be with the Lord he will tap on the shoulders of my sleeping small children and awaken them an hour or two earlier than usual. Now, don't think that I haven't come to expect this. When it happened the first morning I quietly put that child back to bed. The second morning...back to bed. The third morning it was just late enough (and yet still early) that he came down and sat with me. I took him on my walk. No problem. Not my plan but...I worked with the new plan. The fourth morning? Gage was up first...then 6:15. Should have put both of them back in their beds. But you should see their smiling little faces that radiate this, "MOM...I am SO happy to see you!" look. Pitiful. But my heart by this fourth morning was NOT ready for the early assault. For you see, they are only quiet and smiling for a short time before the demands begin..."I need a drink. I want to eat. Where's daddy? I want to watch Boz. I want that toy. Hold ME mommy." With both of them awake I knew there was no taking one on a walk with me...I am NOT pushing a double stroller up these hills. That is not exercise...that is suicide. I sit. In self-pity. Still in my workout clothes. That haven't been worked out in. It's 2:00pm. I ate terrible. Well, worse than I'd wanted to. And the scale told me this morning that the pound I worked so hard to lose the days before...was back. I am constantly working hard to lose the SAME weight. I feel tired but Grayson took a great morning nap and woke up when Gannon was going down for his afternoon nap. Lovely. And Gannon...and potty training. UGH! Can't tell you how many times I used the words "pee pee, poo poo and stop touching your penis" today. Can't tell you how many minutes or hours I sat in front of a toilet reading books, making pushing noises and cheering him along while reading him book after book. Only to get NOTHING. Pretty sure the minute I put him back in the diaper for nap he probably peed and pooped. Oh well. We start again. And my older boys? Well, we made the mistake of allowing them to use birthday money to buy "Rock Band" for their Playstation. Now I get to hear endless beating on fake drums and someone moaning loudly into the microphone nonstop throughout the afternoon. Can't wait for the newness to wear off.

The good news? I am healthy. The people I love most in the world are healthy. And happy. And safe. We have a paycheck today. It will pay bills and provide some extras. Not many...but some extras. And the sun is shining brightly. And my windows are open. And my husband loves me. And my kids adore me. And my baby has new teeth. And I am overweight could be worse. And this messy house will get messy again after I clean it so why get obsessed about it? And my loads and loads of laundry show me that my machines are working. And God cares about all of this. And even the hard stuff He chose for my cup. And my cup is a blessing...not a burden...a joy...not a sorrow. None of that stuff up there matters. And tomorrow I will feel differently. And I am determined to stop flying by these feelings and start resting in the Lord. SO, I say to my thought closet...MARCH ON! CHIN UP! SMILE A LITTLE! And already I feel the corners of my mouth turning up. Thanks Lord. ~M.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I really do love how the Lord works in my life. It is rather subtle but in an obvious sort of way. You know...when all the books or scriptures or sermons you hear all line up with a specific subject? Or when your heart is continually pierced by the same attitude or action you continue to exhibit? I have been there in the last few months. Several topics continue to pierce my heart...currently it is the topic of contentment...mostly as it pertains to complaining or self-pity. But, I am currently reading a book I LOVE and HIGHLY recommend...Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. In that book I see unfolding a lot more ways that I continually sabotage my own contentment even beyond complaining. I didn't even realize the depth of my own discontent and the habits I have that further it. Let me share some of this amazing book with you so that: a) you might be interested in picking it up and reading it yourself or b) you might be affected by what I share with you even if you never pick up the book!

First off is the list...the daunting list of a ..."prescription for contentment...
  • Never allow yourself to complain about anything-not even the weather. [Gasp...not even the WEATHER? But, I live in HOT, HUMID Arkansas...ugh]
  • Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else. [Gee, not even on vacation with JUST my husband...or putting my kids on the bus instead of homeschooling them?]
  • Never compare your lot with another's. [But, Lord, her house is so much prettier than mine...her body is so THIN...sigh]
  • Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise. [Lord, not even wishing for a daughter?]
  • Never dwell on tomorrow-remember that [tomorrow] is God's, not ours."[I guess dreaming of when my children will all be out of the toddler years is dwelling on tomorrow?]
I mean, come on...the book could stop right there. I could live on those points alone and STILL be working towards contentment the day I die. But, then she (Linda Dillow) adds this later in Chapter 4:

"When does a woman become an adult? Perhaps it's when she stops comparing her life to other women's. When she stops waiting for 'Mr. Right.' When she stops wishing she'd married someone else or that her children were at an easier stage [um...ouch]. We grow up when we see our life from God's perspective; when we thank God for the role He has assigned us and begin to see our cup as a gift instead of a cross; when each morning we ask, 'God, how can I glorify You today in my given role?' "

I guess for me it is this. Being pregnant, giving birth, raising an infant, raising toddlers, raising preschoolers, raising young children and then young hard. It is tiring. Some days I just KNOW there is an easier life waiting for me. And I KNOW I squander the joy right under my nose for the joy that doesn't even exist yet. The world is no help. "Oh I don't know HOW you do it. You must be so tired. I could NEVER do what you do. Are those all YOUR kids?" And the comments go on. And in the end...I feel all of these things. I can't do it. I don't know how I do it. They are ALL my kids...what was I thinking? :D But instead of thinking that way...and winding up discontent...I need to say, "I do it with God's help. It is a JOY. I am most blessed among women. Who is as blessed as me? To God's glory...this is my overflowing cup! I would want no other life than this one. So, with God's help...I will begin checking all of these discontented thoughts and bring them into captivity and make them obedient to Christ.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

It can get heavy....the work that needs to be done in my heart. But, I am not without hope. God has shown His light here so that He and I can get to work on it. AndI am ready. I am ready to look at today and be thankful. To stop looking back and dreaming of what was or what could have been. To stop dreaming of tomorrow and the way it might be. None of that will bring contentment. None of it. Until I start living fully in today and all that God has blessed me with and stop the complaining and the pity party..I will always be miserable. God help me. I want joy. I want peace. I want contentment. Thank You so much Lord that there is contentment in YOU! ~M.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Something BIG!

I am betting that those of you who have lived in the same city, perhaps the same town or neighborhood all of your life (as I had until I went off to college) would probably not even wrap your brain around the need for adventure and change to which I have grown accustomed. Since being married to the amazing Keith (I'm trying on new pet names for him...thanks to family camp where the guest speaker only referred to his wife as "the fabulous Susan":) we have never lived in one place more than six years. We lived in Indiana as newlyweds for six months, lived in West Virginia from the end of 1993 to the beginning of 1999, lived in Columbus from 1999 to 2005 and have lived here since then. Seems I get a five year itch or something. Or at least the Lord gets itching to move us. No, we are not moving but I am feeling the itch. Not a good thing since my in laws are building a house here to be close to the boys. The Lord has not opened any doors and we see no signs we will be packing it in...but man do I want to some days.

After going to Pine Cove I could see myself being a camp director's wife (assuming that the camp director is the fantastic Keith~how does that one sound? :) I mean, come a life that included six sons running amuck around camp grounds, horses, a lake, boats, a swimming pool, ropes courses, climbing walls, etc felt like home to me. We so admired the camp director and his passion for men and their families. I could just see Keith doing what he does....and doing it well. We love families and Keith definitely has a passion for men being Godly leaders in their homes. The privilege of working alongside the incredible counselors who are sold out for Christ would also fall under a passion of mine that I have yet to pursue and that is mentoring young women. There is just something about having all sons that makes you want to pack it in, seek out massive amounts of acreage and wildlife. I want my sons to be know, rugged cowboy types. :) Alas, God has not even made that an option...but it has been fun kicking the whole fantasy around. It felt fun to have that dreamer button pushed again. If you never have felt the Lord calling you to something new and adventurous you may not know what that dreamer button feels like. Make sure you find your button one will never want to go back. I mean, I will follow the Lord anywhere. Seriously...ok..maybe the thought of Papau New Guinea doesn't push my button like a Christian camp in Texas...but I'd still do it.

Believe me, I know that the Lord is not all about pushing that button. He leads, we follow. And sometimes He keeps you where He wants you longer than you think you'd like to stay. Don't get me wrong. FamilyLife is awesome. We love what we do here. But, as I have mentioned before...our time here has been filled with a lot of wilderness too. It has been a stretching, growing, uncomfortable ride sometimes. And I am not above admitting that when things are uncomfortable, I'd like to leave thank you very much. I guess above all, I want to be where God wants me. And I want to be useful for the Kingdom. I want to dream big dreams as John Waller sings in his song "Something Big." Something that will fail without the Lord. Ahhh yes...that excites me! Thank You God for using even me! ~M

Something Big
John Waller

I wanna see something I've not seen
Something so big
I wanna be a part of something great
Greater than me

It's time to dream big dreams
To see Your vision
Become reality
‘Cause it’s for You, by You, those who
Love You wanna do

Something so big
It’s destined to fail without You, Lord
It’s gonna fail without You, Lord
Something so great
It takes a miracle to do
We, Your children
Wanna do something big for You

We, yes, we are gonna sing a brand new song
Something so strong
We will be the sound that wakes the dawn
Something so loud

It’s time for breaking through
‘Cause there are no limits
For he who holds the truth
When it’s for You, and by You, and those who
Love You wanna do

Something bigger, something greater
For the glory of Your splendor
Something bigger, something greater
Tell the story of Your wondrous love
Your wondrous love
Those who love You wanna do

As long as we live, let us do something so big for You

© 2005 New Spring (ASCAP) / John Waller Publishing (ASCAP). All rights on behalf of John Waller Publishing (ASCAP) administered by New
Spring (ASCAP).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A ugly, ugly confession....

Somewhere along the way I became someone I really dislike. Seriously. The Lord has been dealing with me on a very tough topic and I share it with you here as a way of confession...a bringing it into the light sort of commitment. Because the reality is this...though I think I can hide the reality of a deceitful heart...the Word tells me otherwise.

Luke 6:45 (New International Version)

45The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

It tells me that eventually an evil heart will overflow into a deceitful mouth...and deceitful ways. And the harsh reality is also that people see it even when you think you are hiding it. They see the underlying tones, the clenched jaw, the heavy sighs. They see the lack of concern, the lack of commitment, the joking-yet not joking tone. And worse...some people see the ugliest side of it....the gossip, the slander, the complaining bitter spirit. And that, my friends, is where I am. I am to the place of being a person I dislike.

I guess it really began when we moved here. I hate to say it but full time ministry does not always bring out the best in people. There is this fine line we walk between being so utterly undeserving of ANY good gift the Lord provides and on the flip side feeling completely dependent on the Lord for provision in a way that makes us feel He MUST provide. (for example: Lord, You brought us DO this...or DO that for us.) I know, that is ugly. Sorry. I don't know how it happens. I mean, I feel so desperately in awe that the Lord does anything on our behalf and yet so utterly bitter when He doesn't. Does that even make sense? You see, sadly, since coming here I have seen this side of missionaries. This side that says..."God isn't doing what He promised. This is too hard. We deserve MORE." And before you know are one of them. Don't get me wrong...missionaries whether they live in Africa or Arkansas are laying down their lives for the Lord. They typically gave up ties to family, friends, jobs, churches, hometowns, houses, etc in the name of following God. But when God gets you to that point, He is just beginning to show you...the mission is YOU...not those you came to "save." He means to mold this ugly lump of clay into something that is so empty of itself that it can't even stand upright without the Potter's hands. But oh how I do not wish to be emptied. I do not wish to be an ugly, dependent lump. And yet I have nothing. I have absolutely NOTHING good to offer the Potter. And He already knew that. And He meant to use me anyway. He called me right from nothingness into a relationship with Him. And I constantly want to be WORTHY and I cannot be. I NEVER EVER will be. I mean, I lay my filthy rags on the alter and expect Him...and others to be impressed.

Isaiah 64:6 (New International Version)

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

You see, pretty quickly the filthy heart begins seeping out...overflowing out by way of a filthy mouth. A mouth full of gossip and bitterness and complaining. I mean, I am utterly disgusted at the amount of complaining I do. The Lord has shone this holy pure spotlight onto this area of my life. He has shown me that my mouth cannot be all. And it makes me see how as a woman I really am the weaker vessel. I was knit together with this wonderful complexity of emotions and the scourge of feminism came in and fed me the lie that I could spill out those emotions on everyone who passed friends, my family, my dear husband. It was a feeling that I had the right, even the NEED, to "vent" those emotions onto someone other than the Lord. I could call a friend and tell her how mad my husband made me or how frustrating my kids were. Or how another friend had hurt or offended me. Or this friend had done absolutely nothing wrong...but just that she was overweight, or had a bad outfit on, or said a really dumb thing! Who was I fooling? The ugly, dumb fool was ME! And I knew it. That's why it felt so much better to blame it on someone else. Surely THEY were uglier, fatter, less spiritual than ME. UGH. That is so ugly. I can barely stand to write it. Filthy rags.

And at the heart of the complaining is this thought: "Lord, you have failed me. You have not done what You said. You do not give me what I feel I need." I mean, seriously, isn't that the CORE of complaining? I mean complaining about ANYTHING. Believe me, I have TRIED to wrangle it into a nice neat justification. "I need to 'vent' to my friends about how hard it is to be a wife, a mother, a homeschooler, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a missionary." Right? We need to have others listen and comfort us so that we can cope. Right? No...wrong...very very wrong. I mean, it is even wrong for me to complain or gossip to my husband. To my best friend. To my sister. My closest friend. There is no one but Jesus with whom I can take my complaints. I mean, share a burden or a hurt with a friend or a spouse....sure. But complain? No. I have no right. My complaints only bring sin onto the listener. They are challenged not to complain with me. They are challenged not to think less of me...or my spouse...or my children. And I have come to this HORRIBLE realization. Brace yourselves...this may challenge you to the core. Very few conversations I have with another woman in a day don't include complaining or gossip. And for this reason, I have come to see...I need to be having less conversations with other women. Seriously. This home is my ministry. My children and my husband need all of me. I have precious little time to be wrapped up in another woman's life. I mean, ministry is NOT being on the phone talking about how hard our lives are. Or how imperfect our husbands are. Yuck. There is nothing holy there therefore it has no usefulness for me. Now, don't hear me wrong. I have some dear friends with whom I would be lost without their friendship. When we are together I am lifted up. I am reminded of God. Our laughter is honest and at no one else's expense. Our tears are over sorrows and not self pity. I could not walk this life without the joy of friends. But, I cannot be wrapped up in those friends' lives on a daily basis...and they don't expect me to be. We share a friendship that is something to be savored at sweet, short times. But the whole of my life is to be true to those within these my His service. And He has provided me these walls to protect me. To keep me from adopting the world's lies. Does any of that make sense? I mean, none of this may apply to you...or anyone else. I can't be responsible for that. Other women may have better control over their mouths because their hearts are healthier than mine. But, I see that I am not one of them.

So, let me say this. I have hope. God tells me this:

Ezekiel 11:19 (New International Version)

19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

This is my prayer. I want a heart of flesh. I want a heart that is tender to others. I want a mouth that can be trusted. And honestly, I want to talk A LOT less.

Proverbs 10:19 (New Living Translation)

19 Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

So, this is where God has me. Oh how I long to be a different woman when I read this again in a year....or a week! God, change me! ~M.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sixteen Years Ago Today....

Sixteen years ago today I woke up as Melissa Diane Golter. Sure, I had scribbled Melissa Diane Hutsell on folders and paper of all sorts but it wasn't official...yet. I awoke very early that day as our ceremony was to be an early afternoon ceremony. When I woke up the house was quiet. My dad unfortunately was not living at home...that's another story. My step mom had already left to get her hair done. And my sister lived on her own. So I sunk down into a hot bubble bath prepared to ready myself to be a bride. Much attention was given to details such as my delicately painted fingernails in a light pink frosty shade. I wanted my ring to be the star...not my fingers! Then my bag was packed...for the last time in that bedroom where I spent all of my high school years.

Then it was on to the church. We were going to do photographs separately as much as we could then do the photos of us together after the ceremony. So I arrived early to have my sister put my hair up in a french she had done for nearly every prom or homecoming dance all through high school. In fact, I remember well the first homecoming dance after she left for college and how awful my hair looked! Never again! I employed her services thereafter whenever I wanted to be glam-fabulous! My hair looked beautiful...though mostly hidden by the veil that my friend and bridesmaid Kristi made with me-well, mostly for me. I wanted it to look like a crown and to have a blusher. I dreamed of the moment that my dad would pull back the blusher and give me away. So, Kris and I bought a large headband at the craft store, turned it on its side and hot glued silky while fabric to it and sequins and beads and voila...a crown of silk! I remember a picture of me with my sheer white French garter hosiery, my garter in a pale blue so as to honor the "something blue" and my tiny white lingerie. would never fit me now...but that is also another fact, one involving six small boys that emerged from that once tiny body and forever made it not so tiny. But, I digress. Anyway...I was tiny in those pictures. Then, it was time to put on THE DRESS.

The dress was my dream dress. I had ventured to many a store in search of the perfect dress. I tried on so many pretty dresses. My step mom and I finally visited a warehouse of sorts filled with discount dresses. No special nice store. Just racks and racks of dresses in bags and ONE large dressing room with mirror covered walls. I dragged many dresses in but it wasn't until I began looking about the room at what others were trying on that I saw IT. Another girl was wearing this beautiful ivory dress with big puffy shoulders and see-through lace on the chest. I wanted it! In white of course...but all the was perfect. I am so happy to this day that I chose that dress. The lace on the chest was delicate but it came up high enough that I never had to worry about bending over. I felt gorgeous in it. When I put it on...all of my girlhood dreams were coming true!

We took all of the bride and bridesmaid pictures. There was a certain giddiness and silliness that I felt inside as I knew Keith was in the building somewhere and that we were hiding ourselves for that special reveal. Then it was time. My dad and I were suddenly alone in the foyer. Just my daddy and me. All of the bridesmaids were entered into the sanctuary. My dad pulled the blusher over my face. I instructed him carefully on how to pull it back. We practiced. I wanted NO chance that he would accidentally pull it back and leave me with a big jutting protrusion from the back of my head if the veil didn't lie flat! (something that would have happened to my dad who was NOT a man of detail!) Then the bridal march began. I felt nervous. Very nervous. My dad was cool as a cucumber. He whispered..."Slow down..." I slowed down. This was my moment. His too I his daughter away. Then suddenly there we were....face to groom and me. Keith was a young, fresh-faced man. We both were so young...nearly 22 in fact. He was beaming. Vows were said, candles were lit, a tender kiss was given and we were married!

Reflecting on it now I realize...that young girl spent that entire ceremony thinking about the ceremony...the flowers were HEAVY. My gorgeous live bouquet weighed a TON. It was so heavy in fact that the handle snapped and was being held in place by a Barbie band-aid! Literally, my forearm was aching for days afterward from holding it. It was worth it. I was thinking about the blunders that our pastor made...innocent blunders. I was thinking of the reception and the cake. Foolish, I know. But, I had done all of the planning by myself. I was exhausted. My 21 year old mind could NOT grasp the solemnity of the moment. How could I have? For better or for worse? Who can know what that better...or that worse will look like? Who can really promise at 21 to love, honor, cherish, and obey through sickness and health till death do we part? I couldn't. I just wanted to be married to Keith. I wanted the wedding to last forever. It didn't. And soon enough we were off to a honeymoon and a life filled with bests and worsts. Pretty quickly our naivete showed through and our innocence was blown clean out of the water. Satan came for our marriage pretty quickly. But , I will belief that my marriage would last held us through many a storm. Well, that and the Lord Jesus.

I wish that girl could have known how the vow to love through all that life brings would be tested to its full...and that she would come out victorious! I wish that she could have stopped and really looked into her groom's eyes and seen the future there. A future of commitment and love that he really did have for her. I wish that I could have laid aside the wedding and focused on the marriage that was being made there. It was a precious, solemn moment and I think I missed it. But perhaps a marriage is made along the way and not in one moment. Perhaps if we knew what we were promising we would have turned tail and RAN! I think I would have! I could have never known the depth of love that I would feel for that man in front of me. I would have never dreamed of how God would make us parents SIX times over. I would have never dreamed of sharing in ministry with him. I would have missed the grief...the tears and the pain dealt by our own hands and by devastating losses had that moment not come. But I also would have missed the joy. The complete, full, God-honoring joy.

I do remember God laying so heavily on my heart when he brought Keith into my life that he was to be my mate. I KNEW that Keith was God's man for me. I am so thankful for that solid promise that was put in my heart so clearly because when the storms came I felt a solid ROCK under my feet. God has been so faithful. When Keith and I have failed each other...and will fail each other again....God has been ever so faithful. How that makes my heart glad. I can face whatever comes. Bests and worsts, richer and poorer are still ahead. Death do us part is still etched in stone. I wouldn't trade a single day. The love the Father has lavished on me through my groom of 16 years is far more than I could have EVER asked or imagined. I love you Keith...more every day...more every year. To GOD be the glory!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Musings from the heart of a mother of many...

You know you are a mother of a large brood of children when you are dealing with sending a child off to middle school camp and also getting your infant to sleep through the night. Such a varying degree of emotions and struggles....and joys. I consider myself blessed to have been able to savor infancy for nearly 13 years now. Most women get to enjoy little babies for only a few short years. I remember when Keith and I got married that I felt a huge let down when the ceremony was over because (Lord-willing) there was never going to be another wedding in my life again...for me at least. I knew that special memory was behind me....forever. But, it has been a delight to go around the trying to get pregnant, finding out I was pregnant, carrying a baby, delivering a baby, nursing a baby cycle six times over. I know when it is officially over that I will mourn it also. Not in a way that says I want to go back but in a way that says...that was the sweetest time of my life. Older, wiser women OFTEN remind me that I WILL one day miss all of this beautiful my friend Star calls it. (And I plan to steal the phrase because it is PERFECT.) Beautiful mess. Life as it should be...full of chaos and beauty simultaneously. Some days the chaos overwhelms the beauty and thankfully some days the beauty the glory of God. I am trying to savor it all and focus my gaze to the horizon where I imagine how quiet and empty my arms and home will be one day when all the little boys fly the nest.
Which brings me full circle to the irony of my big family...that oldest boy trying out his wings and going to camp for the first time...and last, I am just kidding. In reality I know that this is the FIRST of MANY times he will try out his wings and take flight. Even if it is only a test is a glimpse of Keith's and my reality. Speaking of the daddy...I see him struggling to let that oldest bird out of the nest as well. We are in shock, I think, that he is even old enough to head out on his own like this. After is oh so easy to remember that first born son coming into this world. To remember him wrapping us around his agenda of walking the floor with him until our forearms ached for mercy. Remembering him climbing out of his crib for the first time, learning to ride a bike, learning to read, etc. Those memories are fresher in a lot of ways than even our youngest children because it was all new to us. And here we are again going through something new with Grant. And this time...on this half of the is painful and special. He is a great kid. All of them are. Not one of them will leave this nest that we won't sigh a long sigh of both sadness and joy. Lord, thanks isn't enough expression of the gratitude my heart feels for loving these boys so much. Thank You for creating within me a heart that feels such heights of love and such depth of sorrow. One cannot exist without the other I know that full well.

Most days though...I am somewhere in the middle of the heights and the depths. Actually...most days I am in the trenches! I am fighting the war for my kids' hearts. I am fighting the war to keep my heart turned over to the Lord instead of my flesh. I am pushing against the world, battling upstream to be obedient. So, I think that though some day I WILL indeed miss the beautiful mess....I fully intend to enjoy the quiet. I intend to enjoy life with that partner from my youth. I look forward to growing old with a man who shares ALL of my fondest memories. It is so delightful to start a memory and see him finish it. It is priceless to love our children with exactly the same amount and degree of passion. I pray we never regret any of our days here. I pray we never say, "I wish we had enjoyed it more. I wish we had lightened up. I wish we had trusted the Lord more. I wish we had seen it all clearly." I fear we will say that. It seems impossible not to. But, I pray that does not define our years of parenting small children and teens. It would be nice to heed the advice given us by so many and to actually slow down the time and not wish it away. Heavy sigh...easier said than done. I also know that parenting never ends. Adult children are sometimes more difficult to parent than a child! Oh, may it not be so! But, alas sometimes it is. And I pray that Keith and I always have passions and callings to pursue. I want to always be challenged...and in the trenches for something. Hmmmm...I fear I am getting too old. My mind should not be so full of such heavy musings. I think I have always been this way though...thus the reason to write...a heart full of thoughts.

And with is back to the trenches. I thought it might be nice to shower today! ~M.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Grayson boy...

It has been such a pleasure with this baby to have my eyes wide open to the precious moments with him in ways I never was able to with my other boys...especially the older ones. To look at Grayson and realize he (most likely-sorry honey, I am having trouble with the finality) is my last brings a perspective of misty eyed reflection with each thing he does. I don't think any mother overlooks the simple beauty of how soft a baby is or how sweet their breath smells or how great they feel snuggled up in your arms. It is addictive and has a physiological response that brings a peace and calmness over the body. So, I am trying to soak that in, literally drawing it deeply into my soul and it is like I can feel it filling up the cells in my body. Is that strange? I suppose but I am CONSTANTLY amazed at how God made a mother's body so physically in tune with her child. Last night I was away from home and my milk came in. Two minutes later Keith called and said Grayson was awake and ready to eat. Amazing. My body connected to his even miles away.
My baby is growing so fast now. He has hit this learning curve that is off the charts. He has found his hands and can hold toys now and bring them to his mouth which is so fun because he can entertain himself for a length. And he has found his tongue and he loves sticking it out. He can flip from tummy to back with ease and he can raise up on his hands and look around when he is on his tummy. It is so fun to walk in and see him peering up over the edge of his bed with a smile. And OH that smile. I was just telling Keith that it seems that no matter how many times you catch Grayson's gaze he will smile at you. And I love nursing. I love to look down at his contented face when he is hungry and really nursing hard. His eyelids are half open and he is gulping with great force and his hand is usually grasping my shirt. Or, if he is not as hungry he will be nursing and looking up at me and usually if I am looking back at him he will have to smile at me or talk to me. I laugh because then of course he is not eating but flirting! And my favorite thing right now is that he is beginning to "talk" to us. The other night the other boys were in bed and Grayson had a full tummy, a clean diaper and cozy jammies on so we laid on my bed to snuggle. I laid right next to him and when he caught my gaze he turned on his side and began a lengthy conversation with me. He probably went on for 10-15 minutes just cooing away. Keith came in and saw it and went and grabbed the camera to tape it. I will attach it and you can enjoy it too! It is rather dark but you can still see it and hear it! So precious. Amidst the pressure I feel daily of caring for six is such a treat to stop and enjoy it thoroughly. Thank You God for babies and a mother's heart! ~M.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Laying down a burden...

I wonder if my heart will ever stop longing for a daughter. Day unto day I don't give it much thought. But, then I will see a friend cuddling her sweet feminine bundle complete with dress, tights, shoes, and a darling bonnet (or one of those big goofy bows-sorry, never have liked those things). Or, as I did today, I will get word that a friend has been blessed with, not her first, but her second daughter. Or I will look at pictures of a daughter who I have known since a baby and she is growing up into this beautiful young lady who bears so much resemblance to her mother. Or I see my husband get to enjoy a fellowship with his sons that I will never have. And my heart aches. And I have to fight this tendency towards anger that I have. You see, instead of hurting~ I come out fighting. I guess that was a protective mechanism borne out of necessity in my childhood...tears are more painful than anger or so it seems. But not getting a daughter? Who is there to be mad at but God? Well, even I in my stubbornness can see there is no gain in that! Believe me, I tried is altogether unproductive...especially when my heart genuinely KNOWS that He is a good God.

So it leaves me asking the Lord, "What do I do with this pain? And will it EVER subside?" Well, I think not. I think of the pain of the loss of a loved one, at the pain of infertility, at the sting of betrayal and I KNOW those pains never subside. They just get handed over to the Lord. One day at a time. One pain at a time...each time the pain rises up again. And I suspect that the pain will always rise up again this side of heaven. Some days that feels SO HEAVY. I don't want to ache this way forever. But neither can I go on having children with the sole ambition of gaining a daughter. I used to think a large family would automatically insure me a daughter...but apparently not. For one after another God has seen fit to bless me with sons. Wonderful sons who lack nothing in light of being men and not women. I adore boyhood. It is precious and filled with reasons to be delighted. But not one of those boys can fill a daughter's void. Nor can having as many babies as possible in hopes of getting a daughter. I have come to see that the real issue is contentment with the Father. It is physically walking to the cross and setting down the burden...the anger, the jealousy, the crushing disappointment. It is laying down the questions and the lack of answers. I will never have them. I will not know why God chose only sons for me. I mean, I can attempt to fill in the blank myself but I fear I will always sell God and His view of me short so I try not to do that. So each time I feel the hurt well up so powerfully within me I go quickly to the Lord before the anger takes hold, or the tears, or the depression and I lay it down. That is what this blog entry is attempting to lay it down. As gently but as firmly as I can...I lay it down. ~M.

Just a little bit about not much!

I had the best laugh this morning after I read big mama's blog. I apologize if your sense of humor is more delicate and lady-like than mine. As for me...I get a big laugh out of funny pictures and other people's crazy habits. Probably because I am comforted by their obvious weaknesses and the fact that they can laugh about them whereas I tend to be so stinkin' hard on myself. Big mama is worth reading...she is sarcastic and self-deprecating but she also offers GREAT fashion advice every Friday...truly. over there for a laugh or two.

It is RAINING here again. It stormed ALL NIGHT. I mean, at 10pm it started and did not stop until 8am. We slept terrible because the lightning and thunder was so loud and bright that we felt nervous. And Garrett made his appearance twice to let me know he wasn't sleeping. Poor guy has hated storms since he was about three thanks to my innocent exposure of him to a documentary on tornadoes. Smart huh? Since we have a queen bed-and not a king-we do not invite large 10 year old boys into our bed...come to think of it, we do not invite small two year old boys into our bed. In fact, it was only with our fourth son, Gage, that I invited precious little newborns into our bed. And I have been rewarded with peepee tinkled sheets more than once for that decision! :D But that is ok...they are so stinkin' snuggly. But, I digress...I had to send Garrett back to his bed after reassuring him that all was well and that he'd just have to listen to the storm and attempt to sleep just like Keith and me. I love a good storm...during the day. But at night my fear of tornadoes wells up within me and I find myself listening for that freight train sound that everyone talks about. You see, my fear of tornadoes was birthed when I was about 5 and actually lived through a tornado that demolished our house. I remember nothing of the tornado except afterwards walking through the piles of debris and finding lipstick. But apparently my subconcious remembers it well for I frequently have nightmares about them. Lovely. So, between nursing a baby and riding out the storm..I am beat this morning.

Well, I have been totally unproductive this morning as witnessed by my need to blog about other blogs! I go...M.

Monday, May 4, 2009

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock and covers me there with His hand...

I am in a terrible funk. I should probably not blog but then again, probably I should. Writing puts things in perspective for me and can sometimes unweave a mess in my mind. I should tell you right has been endlessly raining here for DAYS! When the sun doesn't shine...I am miserable. Not that I mind a rainy day because I don't. Actually, I love a good hard rainy day. (emphasis on DAY. not week.) The weekend was rather long and dreadful. One house...8 people...six of whom are boys! Boys who need to get out and parents who need them to get out! Keith and I were pretty miserable. We were low energy, low patience and low on creativity. Not a good thing. Actually, I should back way up and say that on Friday night Keith surprised me with night out...babysitter planned and all. We went to Cracker Barrel and then to hear Stanton Lanier play piano. It was lovely. I sat in a pew at this church and soaked in the peaceful music. Keith stood in the back the WHOLE time and held a restless baby...good man. But apparently, despite the endless soul is like a dry sponge and that night was merely a few drops of water. See, truth is, I think Keith and I are both dry sponges right now. We both are in desperate need of a break. It has been a year since we had a night...ONE night away without kids. And before had probably been a few years. We are tired. You can only go so long without refreshing. No one would expect a person who LOVES their job to go on doing it endlessly for twelve years without a vacation. Granted, we have had days off here and there but...not nearly as many as parents of six would need. I am not asking for pity here...really, I am not. Facts are facts. We are parents of six. This is the life we chose, we are called to. We do not have family nearby who can help. It is a lot to ask even if they did live close. And I am just flat out not good at asking friends for help. Don't have the finances to pay someone and hate leaving them anyway. So, you can is a situation of our own making...thus no need for pity. But every once in a while I step back and I see two parents who are pretty well depleted and operating out of their reserves.

I think Satan just jumped on my back early this morning....very early...about 4:45am to be precise. Grayson was up for his second feeding...a reality I am having trouble accepting since he was only up once a night for a while. But, it seemed that somewhere between feeding and burping him and getting back to sleep that my mind clicked on to the thought of homeschooling. The year is winding down. And it is always at this point that I realize my failures. Can I be brutally, painfully honest here? I stink at homeschooling. Truly. And I am without excuse. I have the training needed to school my kids. I even have the creativity. What I don't have is the energy. What started out when Grant was a boy as a creative endeavor full of dreams and possibilities has turned into me buying standard textbooks and feeling guilty for it. I think of my friend who wisely chose to buy the entire set of Abeka curriculum for her kids. She made no apologies (and should not have) for the fact that all she cared about was that they get a solid, complete education. Meanwhile, I dreamed of creative whole book options to teach various subjects. But time and again, any subject that I have left to my own creativity and planning has failed. Any subject that relies on a textbook gets done because my boys can master that without much help from me. Is that sad or what? I just feel like a failure. I don't feel that my boys have really had a quality education. Are they smart? Yes! They are on level with their work but only I can really know the true potential that they are missing. And I just can't tell you the days that I LONG to go back in time when Grant and Garrett were little and I didn't have the heavy burden of school on my shoulders. I miss that with my three little ones. Gone are the days when I could just feel guilt-free about being really productive around my home, running errands and just playing with my kids. Now, if I am productive in my home I know that school suffered that day. Or, if I need to run an errand it interrupts everything. I hate the burden. Do I love having my kids home...yes, mostly I do. Do I want to send them to school? No. I just want out of the burden of knowing that if they fail at school it was because of ME. And it truly is. They are smart boys. It is my job to put all of that potential to work. It is too much. It really feels like too much. And I feel it is all on me...

And finally...I have hit such a wall of discouragement about my weight loss. I have hit a wall after losing 7 pounds pretty quickly I cannot lose one pound more. And I have 25-30 more to go. I know, I know...Grayson is only 3 months old. I am breastfeeding. I get it. But, when I am working so hard to lose it...I want some gratification. Yeah, patient. I hear you. But, I feel like I have been trapped in this body for 4 years now. And I hate it. It is not me. So, what do I do? When I step on the scale and see NO loss...I eat chocolate. There is wisdom for you!

So, that sums up my foul mood. One foot in front of the other. That is all I can do today. I need to get in the Word and hide in the cleft of the rock until this storm moves on...and it will. Love you all ~M.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A man in a boy's body....

I am a mother of boys. I am a mother of boys. I am a mother of boys. Maybe I should emphasize the word in bold that I mean to stress....I am a MOTHER of boys. Note: I am not trying to emphasize that I have many BOYS...because believe me I KNOW THAT! :D But, rather...I am trying to put emphasis on ME. I am a woman...once a girl...forever a female...but alas...a mother. Why do I tell you this? Because we are hitting puberty around here with boy #1 and it is hitting me HARD that I have NO clue what I am doing. I am a WOMAN, a MOTHER, a female for stinkin' sakes! I absolutely DO NOT get a boy's brain. Pah-leeze...I do not even get my husband's brain most of the am I supposed to get a boy's?

I mean, the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy is NOT funny. It is based mainly in poop, pee, and boogers...or things exploding. When a boy begins a sentence with: "Wouldn't it be funny if..." the answer, at least for my female mind is, "NO!" I don't even have to hear the rest of the sentence! And a boy is like a large breed puppy. You know the kind with the HUGE paws on a small body who has ZERO control of his limbs? The one who jumps on you at full force but doesn't know his own strength as he lovingly knocks you to the floor? that. A pre-teen boy hurts everyone, including himself, constantly for having NO CLUE about his own body.

But, here is the dilemma. Inside that bungling boy is a man very much wanting to get out. And as his mother I am supposed to help bring that man out. And that boy wants respect. When he tells a dumb joke or a REALLY long silly story...he wants (no, make that needs) me to laugh. And when he hurts himself or me or his brothers accidentally, he needs me to look the other way and not humiliate him for it. And when he cries (yes, boys do this) he needs me to hug him and not press him for words. After all, he is still a boy...until the man comes out. But, I fail so often. I tend to give that, "What were you thinking?" look far too often. I am the first female he has a relationship with. I want to model how to treat a woman. I want to model how a woman should treat him. Ugh. What pressure. Six sets of eyes looking at me. Oh Lord, I am definitely going to need lots of grace here. And lots of their forgiveness. But Lord, make them wholly Yours...despite me....and if I could but ask one thing more... Lord...make them wholly Yours sometimes because of me.