Category: I love being a mommy

School’s in!

Homeschoolers 2015Just when we think we know what’s up, another new season, with its changes and rhythms and surprises, comes in!

I spent the last three years waiting at the bus stop after school for my girls. It’s where we met some of our great neighbors. It’s where we met KK’s best friend and her wonderful family. It’s the place where my girls begin their hour-long debriefing of their day, every day. And for the last month or so, I watched from the porch as they walked home by themselves.

They are growing so fast, so much.

Today I went to the bus stop for the last time, at least for now. Though we have loved St. James Elementary, it’s time for a different school… one that will be located in our home.

Nothing happened to bring this decision, simply a steady set of observations over the past years about who our kids are, who are family is, what is natural to us, what is best for us.

Plus, we want to sleep in, eat fabulous home-cooked lunches, and travel whenever we want!

I’m nervous and excited about this chapter… I’m so thankful for the trust and support of my husband, the constant encouragement from my vast, widely-spread out homeschooling network of friends, my flexible job, and that God gave us these kids… and the ability to know what’s best for them during any given season!

 

Redemption Child

One year ago today, 3 months after a devastating miscarriage, I suspected I was pregnant again. This week, I am revisiting the journey of carrying and birthing our Jackson Cash – my redemption child!

redemptionchild1Unmitigated joy. It’s not a feeling I am used to, and yet, when I am around my baby son, whether he is eating, sleeping, chatting, smiling, or just looking at me with his wide, blue eyes, I feel it bubbling up.

It’s not that I love him more than my other children; of course not. But his timing, his entrance into our world, well, it’s so easy for me to see God’s hand in it.

I have probably said before how much having another child surprised us. The roller coaster of shock, elation, and heartbreak of our miscarriage last year changed me forever. It changed my perspective on mothering, family, my career aspirations, my belief in God and His works, my bond to other women, my pregnancy experience… everything.

But carrying and having Jack changed me, too. In the years between Kaity’s birth and his (6 years, 11 months…), I was often, as my Gramma H. would say, “running myself down.” I didn’t like my body. I wasn’t losing weight. I didn’t nurse the girls long enough. I should have pushed harder for natural births. I didn’t enjoy them enough. I should have taken more time. I should have planned my job moves differently. I should homeschool. I should do this, this, this, and this. AND, even better, “This person did this better. This person looks better. If i was like that person, my kids/family/body would be ______.”

What a lost cause that thinking is.

During my pregnancy with Jack, I met amazing women, mamas, nurses, midwives, birth workers, who encouraged me personally or by simply sharing their stories. Through those months – and the four following, I’ve been able to make peace with my C-section births, my ability to breastfeed, my level of patience with my children, and my role as a mama, a stepmom, a grandma, a wife, and a sister in the community of mothers.

In a nutshell, God sent me a whole lot with my newest, my last baby. While the loss of David last year brought me so many questions, the birth of Jack brought me affirmations.

God used Jack to make me listen to Him saying…
You are enough.
You are new.
You are forgiven.
You are strong.
You are beautiful.
You are young.
You are patient.
You are kind.
You belong.
You give love.
Let my joy radiate from you. Point to your son and say, “The Lord is good. His promises are real and true. I have been redeemed.”

As a result: I don’t feel uneasy when I have to nurse my son in public; I feel confident. I don’t feel shameful about the extra pounds around my waist or the gray hairs sprouting more frequently; I feel strong. I don’t wonder if my husband is really attracted to me or whether my kids really adore me; I feel cherished. I don’t feel like I missed the boat in my career; I feel like my whole future is still unfolding, and like I am showing a smart, balanced, and loving example to my children.

I was these things all along, though. I was supposed to see them that way. And it dawns on me that God could have used any number of things to clarify my vision. I am very grateful that He chose as His means of attention-getting a pure bundle of cuddly joy, one who elicits smiles in a hundred different ways, one made to fit perfectly into the curve of my chest and my heart. God sent Jack to make me a better listener…

And oh, the things I am hearing! :)

And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
 Romans 4:21

to be continued!

The Best Desires (2014)

When are you going to write again?

Rod and Kelly 12-21-13I’ve been asked over and over. I think this year is the least I have written in many. It’s not from a lack of content or desire. Maybe, if anything, it’s been that my heart and my head are too full.

This time last year, we were looking to a “small” set of changes. Rod was beginning a new job, one he’d wanted for awhile, one that would be more travel for him but more financial stability for us. Our oldest had just gotten married. Our youngest two were starting to eat from the big dinner plates… you know… not babies anymore. In our heads, we planned “big kid” trips (horseback riding, maybe New York city) and looked forward to a more mature family life. No. For real. Those were our “plans.”

A surprise positive pregnancy test on February 5th changed the essence of those plans, the essence of our future.

An even more surprising miscarriage three weeks later changed the essence of how I see everything.

fly_away_homeFour years ago right now, I learned what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4) In youthfulness, I thought it was as simple as… trust God, praise God, yada yada, and He will give you what you want. And this very day 4 years ago, after our house had been for sale since May and we planned with all our hearts to move to Nashville, I finished reading a novel that had nothing to do with anything. It was an enjoyable read in which the main characters retreated to Cape Cod during a time of crisis. I closed the cover and asked Rod,

Why can’t we live at the beach?

And The Next Day, we had a lunch meeting that changed the course of our plans, our move, our lives.

Now, when I think of God giving me the desires of my heart, it’s more like, “I trust You, God. Go on ahead.” And then I see His hand wave over me, and the plans He has for me, the ones that far surpass my own, take root and grow in my heart. His desires become mine. He GIVES me the desires He hopes I will strive for when I open myself to Him.

That surprise positive test in February changed everything. It changed our dreams of “12 more years until we’re alone” and “When will the kids be old enough to take on a cruise and not be pains in the butt?” to “Our family isn’t done yet.” So we gave ourselves this year to “try”…

This wasn’t a light decision, folks.

– THE DAY the doctor told me our baby had no heartbeat was the day our son and daughter-in-law told us they were pretty sure a baby of their own was on the way.KK turns 6 (Also happened to be KK’s 6th birthday…!)
– Rod was about to turn 50.
– I had just, just weeks before, after years of waffling, made peace with not having any additional kids. And I was finally getting in shape again…

But God used that sweet baby who was ours on earth for such a short time to plant more desires. In spite of all the reasons why we shouldn’t have wanted more kids, we did.

And in spite of a report in 2004 that we’d “probably never be able to get pregnant,” I got pregnant twice in a matter of 5 months.

Jack's first pictureSeeing our baby boy on the ultrasound screen for the first time, in June, was one of the greatest moments of my life. The ultrasound we had in February was a nightmare in so many ways. But when the screen shined with “new” baby’s little discernible body, his arms waving all around (they haven’t stopped), I felt Jesus fill the room. It was a miracle!

Life after death is a specific joy. And while it doesn’t mean I haven’t occasionally struggled with fear, stress, discomfort, or even a bit of physical misery, the prospect of having our Jack, the preparation for his arrival, the peace in knowing that this will complete our family, is nothing short of amazing.

Poppy, Gigi, and NoraMeanwhile – yes, meanwhile – there is more to life. This year, we have seen our “big kids” grow and prosper in their careers. We were given the gift of Nora, our first grandchild, who is healthy, peaceful, and a sweet, blissful blessing.

Our little girls have continued to go with the flow. They mourned the loss of our February baby (David) with us. They’ve coped with their Mama’s abilities being hampered much of this year…and let me take naps when I needed them! And they have blossomed more into their awesome selves. One of my most treasured memories of this year will be the road trip the 3 of us took to Chicagoland in June. We made it straight through together and had fun stopping for caffeine, listening to a favorite book, and getting through a torrential Midwest thunderstorm. I can’t wait to see them being Big Sisters together.

I started this year planning to go back to school for a ministry degree… taking on a second part time job as an editor…losing my last grandparent when Gramma passed on my 37th birthday. It’s been a weird year. I guess, in many ways, I’ve been reset. Just when I was feeling my strongest and most confident, I find myself most vulnerable (because at the end of pregnancy… oy! I can barely put my own pants on!) and quite unsure about how things will look in 2015.

road trip!But… I know I am living out the right plans, the best desires for me… because God put them here.

Some things have not changed this year. My husband’s hand is still readily in mine, whether it’s over the phone from a distant hotel room, a look shared between us while he ministers with his bass guitar on the church stage and I in the altar praying, next to me in the minivan we said we’d never have, or while we nuzzle our girls or little Nora together. My feet still love being in the sand. My home is still an open place for the friends I feel I finally made this year, the old ones who come to visit, and the new ones in the future.

Not long after I purged our cabinets of little plastic plates and sippy cups, we have crazy new things in our house, like a crib and a high chair and lots of onesies and even cloth diapers. It makes me laugh. We are not living the life I thought we’d be living on the cusp of 2015.

We are living a perfectly-designed adventure that I would not trade.

Happy New Year!

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Happy Birthday…

4 babies
I am the mama of 4 babies.

The best I can guess, you would have been born today, or at least, some time this week.

I carried you for 6 weeks.

I knew you for 2 weeks.

And then, you were gone, before you were ever here.

I think of you daily, with sadness and wonder and gratefulness.

In 2 weeks, you gave us joy, love, and appreciation that we didn’t have before you.

In the 3rd week, through your passing, you gave us a new dream.

That dream is a different picture of our lives,
a more complete picture of our family.
It might have included you, but now, it includes your brother.

Thank you, sweet baby, Heavenly child, for what you gave to me.

I’m sorry I couldn’t give you more, but I am your mama, forever.

just different (for David James)

angelIf things had gone differently,
in about 2 weeks,
we’d be holding you.

If things had gone differently,
your brother would not be thumping away in my womb right now.

If things had gone differently,
I would not know the depth nor the sanctity of a mother grieving her unborn child.

If things had gone differently,
I would not be able to identify with the others, so many others who have lost this way.

If things had gone differently,
we would not be smiling and dreaming and preparing for Jack.

– There is no reconciling this. I miss you every day, and yet, if you were here,
he would not be.

I love you both.
I wish things could be different,
yet I can accept and even rejoice in how they are.

I find peace in believing that you watch over us,
that you have grown strong in Heaven,
that you know we love you and we wanted you,
that you maybe even had a hand in sending  your brother to us.

After a summer of solace and renewal,
this month brings you back to the forefront of my mind.
You’d have been almost here,
and you will never be here.
But you are with us,
always with us.