Thursday, September 8, 2011

They called it House of Grace ...

Many have lived here before. I like that history. They called it House of Grace. I love that name. I am struggling today to find that grace ... that favor that we don't deserve, but we come to expect from the God who so graciously holds us in his hands. Yet it is there. Isn't it?

I have always known that life is cyclical. When I taught, I'd have a year filled with stellar students, great curriculum and good faculty relationships followed by year with more discipline and frustration than teaching. As a parent, I experience months of cooperation, working and developing consciences, and much cuddling followed by months of strict discipline, redirection, sleepless nights, and mom and children teary eyed. We experience joy and pain, solidarity and floundering, security and fear. And through it all, whether my mind believes it or not, my heart knows He is sovereign.

For me, this is a season of great loss. If it were one thing, I might not be searching for the grace quite so desperately, but it has come in one deafening wave. My closest friend moved away. I am so happy for her, but more than I thought, I find myself wishing we were closer.

Our house was broken into while on vacation and all my jewelry, great-aunts silver, our computer with all our kids' pictures, and a handful of other things are gone. I tell myself those are just things, but attached to things are great sentimental memories from parents, grandparents already gone, and so many gifts of love from my husband. And they are things, and our treasure is not in this world, but I have to constantly remind myself of where my heart must be. Though they are things, when I walk by where something used to be, I feel that loss of security. I feel fear. I must push it aside constantly so that my children never need know there was a reason to fear. I must create the safe place for them that I find when I run to my Father's arms.

With the loss of the computer goes several outlets I took for granted. Right or wrong, the internet has really become a place of socialization, especially for someone who has spent much of their life moving, friends scattered across states and countries. I can only write on my blog, should my husband bring home his computer to work. And it's hard, and it's been a very lonely three and a half weeks home.

And with the seasons come unexpected changes in income and re-budgeting to remain a stay-at-home mom in Los Angeles and expected changes in the kids' schedules as they return to school and I find myself with more time, but to do what?

Today I find myself holding my swelling belly and pondering, what next? What next must I lose, and if I lose it will I still be able to practice gratitude or will I find myself continually comparing my circumstances with others around me? It is easy to give thanks in the easy times and today, as I search for his grace, I give thanks in the midst of loss, because sometimes there is pain in praise, but it always magnifies the giver of all good things. As I magnify Him, the loss must needs become smaller. As I thank, I allow Him to take his rightful place, and all things that could become idols, become shadows in His light. So for a few things lost, I am thankful for the associated memories.

83. Two young twenty-somethings in New York on their honeymoon, searching for just the right symbol of their love, wandering through Tiffany's and finding a silver pendant that looked like two hearts melted together as one. I am thankful for over 11 years of love with that man that God answered my deepest prayers with.

84. A small silver and turquoise ring that a Dad bought his daughter when she was twelve on a road trip in the middle of 7th grade. The destination, another home, another church, another school. I am thankful for a father who always provided love, shelter, and security in the midst of great change.

85. A silver cross given to a bride as a way of welcoming her into their family, the day before she became a Price. I am grateful for the acceptance I've always felt from Matt's family.

86. An amber cross, amber butterfly and silver chain bought for a girl on her thirtieth birthday in Krakow, Poland. I am thankful for a husband that always finds a way to make what seems like a huge deal for me, a wonderful memory.

87. A silver chest of silverware given by a great-aunt from her hope chest, though she never married. I am grateful for my family and for the heritage of faith and

88. That I was given the gift of marriage.

89. A computer that was well used and filled with thousands of pictures, videos, budgets, etc. I am thankful for the memories those pictures represent and that I was given a mind that allows me to relive those moments whether I have pictures or not and

90. That no matter how flawless I think my budget is, that it is He who supplies all my needs.

91. A silver cross and necklace. I am thankful that my husband and I share the same faith and that so much of what he gives me reminds me of where my hope is.

92. A gold and pearl ring given from a grandmother to her granddaughter as she entered her teens. I am thankful not only for such a gift and for great grandparents, but also that my sister replaced one of the missing pearls on my first mother's day, a month after my grandmother went home.

93. A Nicholas charm and a spring flower charm. I am thankful for my relationship with my mother-in-law who has year after year added to a charm bracelet she started for me, and made me always feel more special than I can begin to express. I might as well, just say it ... she's the best mother-in-law ever.

94. For the wood flower necklace with a picture of a precious five year old, glitter pasted to the middle of it, brought to me while in labor with my second son. It reminded me through the whole grueling experience the amazing good that comes out of such pain and got me through. I am thankful for my sweet kiddos and that I was able to communicate to Lucas how much that gift meant to me by keeping it in my jewelry box.

95. For the beautiful jewelry box that was my gift from Matt this past Christmas. I am thankful for the vivid memory of watching the kids' faces as I opened it and hearing them exclaim that they picked it out and

96. For a husband who searches for things that are things I would never think to need or ask for, but are so special and

97. For the memories of Nicholas organizing my jewelry early in the mornings.

98. For a church staff that made sure the house was put together enough when we returned home that the kids have never known anything to be amiss

99. For the security measures taken by the same staff and my husband to ensure that we are safe.

100. For the time we enjoyed in Texas with family in spite of what happened at home.

101. For the memories yet to be made and pictures still to be taken.

102. For this life that grows within me and that in all things, God is good and in control.

103. For a husband who understands what I feel and speaks the languages or reason and love simultaneously.

104. For visits from family.

105. For double date nights with brother and sister-in-law and yummy food.

106. That my mom and dad are coming to visit

107. That when I was at my lowest in the realization of the loss, my Matt gave me an anniversary ring to begin our 10th year of marriage and took me away to a quiet cabin, in the woods in Texas and reminded me of so many of the reasons why I love him.

108. That I can hold to this promise ...
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, HCSB)

109. That His grace is here, when my mind argues with what my heart knows.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blessings in Disguise

Well, hello blog. I cannot believe how long it has been since I've written, even though it was a conscious decision to have a little hiatus, but this week is going to be a slow one for me so I thought there is no better time to start up again.

So how can life be slow with three kids? I dropped my oldest two at the airport with my mother-in-law this morning and said a teary good-bye, and so my life is much quieter for the next nine days as I hang out with sweet Nicholas and pray that Lucas and Bethany behave and have a wonderful time in the tenacious Texas temperatures.

As I left them at the security check-in this morning, I noticed a marked change in me. If I had written this post two years ago, it would have been more panicked, as I'd wonder if they were actually going to land, if I'd really hold them in my arms in just over a week. As I've begun to live in thanksgiving and notice the miracles in mundane moments, my faith and trust and hope have been renewed and restored. Sure I checked their flight progress and was happy to hear that they had landed, but I never believed for a moment they wouldn't. That, for me, is HUGE!

This Summer has been filled with the ups and downs of parenting three children ... tantrums, arguments, discipline, redirection, frustration, joy, laughter, spontaneous play dates, sprinkler fun and victories at swim lessons. In the midst of it all, we were blindsided by the discovery that we are expecting an unexpected fourth miracle.

For a perfectionist planner who had just agreed that the third "completed" our little family, that my arms were full, that I was just finally figuring out after a year to hold down the fort with three in tow, this was quite a shock. Not to mention that for weeks it didn't seem real to Matt, while it was all very real to me as I begun to hit walls of exhaustion and never ceasing morning sickness.

And for a girl who has had a miscarriage, pregnancy is of course wonderful and thrilling, but can be filled with fear, terror and loneliness. So we held off telling people at least until our suspicions were confirmed at the doctor.

I've been asked if I'm excited and my response has been "I'm getting there." It's not that I'm not excited, it's that this is an uncertain season for me and there have already been scares along the way, but every fear has been answered fully in the reassurance of his peace. If I've learned nothing else in the last two years, I have learned that in all things He is good and in every situation there is grace.

So we are excited to announce that our fourth child will make his/her appearance sometime in late February when our family will be complete.

As I think back on all my plans and the way many have come to fruition and many have been outdone by His plans for us, I begin to realize that while there is nothing wrong with planning, sometimes the things that shock or surprise us, the times when we can't seem to get a handle on life, the seasons where plans fall apart are the very moments when God chooses to step in and say "Just step back and let me handle this one. Wait and see what I can do!" After all, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9, NIV)

As I struggle to take care of the cooking, cleaning and child rearing in the midst of intense nausea, I am reminded with every glimpse of their little faces that this is all worth it. Sometimes the difficult seasons and the sweet surprises of life are blessings in disguise. I'm joyfully anticipating this blessing!

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one's youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. Such men will never be put to shame ..."
(Ps. 127:4-5)

Monday, June 13, 2011

In all things ...

I have been on a journey of gratitude and it creates a deep and very real and abiding joy. As I'm scrubbing down the kitchen, ironing Matt's shirt for church, or sipping a cup of coffee, I've begun to give thanks in short, breath prayers. As I breathe out thanks, out goes the worry and the cares for the day and in enters more of His Spirit, and the joy overflows.

But how quick I am to forget that in all things He is good, whether that means all is peace and patience or I have come to the end of myself and just can't make it on my own.

I turned 32 last week. I am no longer thirty, nor one year past. I am, I feel, in my thirties and that seems daunting, because isn't a person in their thirties truly an adult? So often, I look around my home at scattered toys, folded or unfolded laundry, and three sets of eyes and smiles looking up at me and I wonder how I got here.

Was it really eleven years ago that Matt and I started dating? Time sure flies. I started out last week wanting to write thirty-two thanks for graces, but life happens and it didn't.

Right before we walked out the door for my birthday date on Tuesday, Bethany threw up all over the kitchen floor. I cleaned it up and mopped and was assured that I shouldn't worry about going out anyhow.

Wednesday morning, Lucas said his milk tasted funny and we discovered that the refrigerator (only a year and a half old) was no longer cooling. We later found out that the repair man couldn't come until Thursday. Of course the one part not covered in the warranty was the computer and what else would our fridge need repaired? Nothing. It just needs a new computer. Because the part wasn't covered in the warranty, the nearly four-hundred dollars worth of food loss would not be covered either.

The part had to be ordered and was not put in until this afternoon.

Friday afternoon Lucas was picked up from school, limping. Just by lifting his pant leg and seeing an ankle three times its normal size, we knew we had to go to the hospital. Three hours and a temporary cast later, we left to wait for Monday to arrive with more appointments and hopefully some answers.

I am thinking about bills and injuries and a huge grocery shopping trip to replace food and I want to panic, but worry and joy have no relationship and I must choose joy.

In times like these I understand that praise can be a sacrifice, and here I am and all I want to do is give thanks. So nearly a week late, thirty-two thanks.

51. summer squash growing in the garden
52. Nikki's beautiful smile and sweet spirit
53. the use of Robin's freezer to preserve some of our frozen meat
54. Nicholas' sweaty head when he's sound asleep
55. coupons!
56. Grace's yummy bbq and baked beans
57. hanging plants
58. the smell of jasmine
59. a house that has been clean for a week and a half (that is huge for me with these tiny little mess makers)
60. my black and pink flannel pajamas
61. two yummy meals from Robin when I couldn't cook
62. the way it seems our money was multiplied when we had to eat out several times over the past six days
63. watching Matt enjoy a documentary about Cajun women and the way they iron
64. listening to Matt's impersonation of said Cajun women
65. clean sheets
66. pedicures
67. answered prayers
68. friendships birthed in prayer
69. Starbucks gift cards
70. differentiation and growing up
71. kissing Bethany's cushy cheeks
72. Nicholas' BIG blue eyes
73. Lucas' tiny top lip
74. the way my nose fits perfectly in Matt's ear
75. Allison's cinnamon chocolate chip coffee cake
76. raspberries
77. my kids' wonderful pediatrician
78. Jessica and how much my kids' (and we) love her
79. tiny Japanese eggplants hanging all over my plant
80. anticipating a big rhubarb harvest next year
81. bread rising
82. God's graces never ending

Monday, June 6, 2011


If you spend much time with a baby in the midst of your soul awakening to God's mercies everlasting, ever present, always renewing, you realize that gratitude is a natural human instinct.

Eyes wide with wonder, mouth full-open, bursting smile, hands outstretched, squeals of glee ... he cannot speak the thanks, but his face expresses it all. Whether it's the newness of a game of give and take, peek-a-boo, a sibling walking into the room, Daddy coming home from work, eyes rolling back and blinking thanks while nursing and then sleeping, smiling, settling back in mama's arms all milk drunk in love; a baby's whole being says thanks and he is eager to keep the "game" going.

Somewhere along the way he will lose this innate gratefulness. Please and thank you will need to be taught, but seeing the natural giddiness of a thankful heart -- what better gift to give your children at a young age than the practice of gratitude; for the lapse of instinctual thanks to be brief, that they would not come of age before realizing the overwhelming joy that comes in recognizing His face in the world around them.

Life has a way of snatching this most basic instinct from us. I live in a world that since the fall, is inundated with sin ... that which has grabbed the joy and replaced it with suffering, pain, loss, fear.

And we are in the world, but must we be of it?

In the last month, I have been searching, and it is not difficult, to find Christ's face, His Breath, goodness, blessings all around me. As I've done so, I've noticed myself grow in joy, laughing to the point of tears, relishing the simple things and quiet moments.

In the word's of that Christmas movie "Love actually, is all around" and the giver of love is our Creator and He, actually, is all around.

But what of the moments when I cannot see Him? Is He also there?

Was He there when I started in my fourteenth school?

Was He there when we lived with my grandparents one summer waiting for the doors to open at another church, with another position for my Dad?

Was He there when I had to start at a new school, across the country in my senior year?

Was He there when I was told I may never have children?

Was He there as my grandfather's mind dimmed to this world, as he became trapped in a body yearning to join his Maker?

Was He there when doctor's tried to tell me I was experiencing a threatened miscarriage, when I knew I would never hold that baby in this life?

Is He there when doctor's diagnoses are grim or incomplete, causing angst and wonder?

Is He there every time a baby loses its life to a woman's choice?

Is He there when war rages?

Is He there when work is impossible to find?

Is He there when we give way to our addictive nature?

Is He there when the good suffer?

He was and He is ...

And He is always the Redeemer.

And I am called to find Him in all things, and sometimes it is difficult and I am not the soul owner of all the hurt in the world to offer reasons or reassurance of His presence, but when He conquered death and the curtain that separated our wandering hearts from Him was torn in two, the pain was not taken away, but I, we were invited to find Him in all things beautiful, peaceful and glorious filled with hurt, pain, and causing fear. He is in all things.

I hold my Nicholas and realize that all these things are gifts. That he is not mine, but His and I, through pain, suffering, loss, more pain, but greater still rejoicing have been invited to take part in this grace. That were I to hold my third baby, I would have never held His Nicholas. And that, and this faith, is paradoxical.

If we look for it, we will find His glory, but it is weighty, and it is difficult and it is far above our capabilities to understand, but it is there and in all things I am blessed.

24. the birds singing outside my window
25. zenias everywhere
26. daughter's heart to hold and mold
27. husband's strong arms around me
28. the anticipation of brother-in-law visiting
29. other moms to learn from
30. coffee percolating
31. Bethany wanting to wear dresses all the time
32. the sound of His people desperately seeking Him
33. blueberry batter cake
34. candles
35. how cute Nicholas looks in his gdiapers
36. the very kissable indentation just beneath and to the side of Matt's left eye
37. the little mole on Lucas' neck
38. opportunity to comfort kids in the night
39. Robin's brisket ... mmmm
40. moments of prayer while walking with Allison
41. reading my friends' blogs
42. a clean house
43. kids all dirty with sidewalk chalk
44. baby with skinned toes and dirty from playing outside
45. finding Matt's wedding ring after it was missing for 3 months
46. my kids, whether six years old or newborns, and how beautiful they are
47. Johanna Geesey -- how I will miss her.
48. Praise Baby dvds calming kids and baby
49. the stillness of the house before the kids wake
50. puffy clouds in a blue sky

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bitterness and Beattitudes

These past weeks have been a period of great angst, but greater still reflection for me. Nearly three weeks ago, I watched my children say goodbye to one set of their grandparents, yet again, and my heart broke.

What was once an adventure for a young bride and groom, scuttling off to California to work his way through a venture in theology, has become so much more over the course of these most recent six years. The two are now five, and the new three may just not understand why we are so far from their papas, Mimi and Nonna.

As I stood, tears streaming down my face I allowed the hurt to transform to just one little seed. Though seeds mostly bring new life, this one is destined to choke out all that is good and lovely if it is not dealt with.

Nine years ago, days before packing up a truck and loading our little car to the brim, full of new appliances, linens, dishes and promise, a lovely lady said to me "Lindsey, do not let the seed of bitterness take root. May your spirit always remain sweet."

Frustration mounts.

Yelling ensues.

Seed burrows.

I water it with my tears.

And then I pick up a book and I am struck with the realization that this bitterness has no place in a heart -- in my heart, my life. A life I gave to God nearly three decades ago. A heart I yield to his leading at the commencement of each day. For one whose God has over the years shown nothing but goodness and kindness, albeit sometimes draped in mortal confusion, bitterness has no place here.

And what of it?

If I allow it to nestle itself in the fertile soil of my heart, what do the children who I righteously take it on for get out of life, out of me?

We were never told that our earthly life would be free from disappointment; it is what we do with our daily dose that matters.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God."

(Matthew 5:3-9 HCSB)

And I'm poor and yet blessed
Mourning and yet at peace in the palm of His hands
Longing for gentleness to spill from my lips
Ever hungry
And I reach to become filled more with mercy
I push the bitterness aside, for purity
Praying His peace would fill our home and that it would begin in me.

In the midst of the dailies, the striving and the curse of Adam and Eve that is upon us, I focus on the promise through the lens of thanks.

11. the saints proclaiming His praises
12. serving cupcakes on the porch to my kids and their friends
13. naked baby soaking my pants as he listens to the bathtub fill
14. setting the coffee pot for morning
15. the promise of English muffins with peanut butter
16. the house that remains clean for all of five minutes, because I am blessed to have four precious lives that live with me
17. a flower bed overfilled with sprouts because the kids helped us plant
18. tall, nonfat, haf-caf, extra-hot, upside down caramel machiatos on Tuesday morning and the barista who enjoys my superfluous use of adjectives while ordering
19. friends to sip coffee with
20. parents who raised me to know Jesus
21. living close enough to one sister to occasionally meet for lunch
22. a God who helps me see and acknowledge bitterness before it becomes so ingrained in my heart that I struggle to rid myself of it
23. a community of friends I may never meet who are also giving thanks

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's about more than creme brulee ...

We've had an amazing weekend, from a mother's tea with Lucas and his kindergarten class, to a dual birthday celebration for my boys at Disneyland (complete with Nonna and Papa Price), to seeing my exuberant kids running to and away from the waves of the Pacific and seeing Nicholas feel sand, eat sand, and dip his tiny toes in the frigid water, to shopping for Nick's birthday and mother's day, ending with my favorite blackberry sauvignon gelato before I head to bed.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I am so excited to share the day with my little gifts and to see their smiles as they reveal the treasures they've made for me. As I sit in anticipation, my eyes tear with gratefulness for the precious lives that are entrusted to me and sting with guilty realization that I am not the mother I want for them.

Every once in a while, when I am least expecting it, out of the deepest, darkest depths of my humanity I see the ugliness of my mortality emerge. Sometimes with great embarrassment, I stifle that which I wish I wasn't. Other times, like tonight, I give way to the self righteousness, feeling wholly justified in the action, but rather than peaceful satisfaction, I see the ugliness from outside of myself and realize, I am not the person I would choose to raise these children.

I am inept.

I am hateful.

I am inadequate.

... and yet, I am forgiven.

I am equipped.

I am chosen.

Wholly incapable am I on my own, but with deep thanks I rejoice in knowing that "His strength is made perfect in my weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I admit that after a year of being a stay at home mom, and completing my daily tasks at the height of exhaustion, never being able to check everything off a "to-do" list, and getting no high-fives for a job well done, I have been able to think of many things I would like tomorrow to be. I've thought of shoes I want, dresses to wear, pedicures to receive, a day of rest, children sleeping through the night ... creme brulee.

I have considered myself deserving of being celebrated in a way I never have before, and yet when it comes right down to it, what tomorrow will mean for me is exactly what motherhood is.

Tomorrow, I will teach my children how to love and accept and to welcome with the love of Jesus.

Tomorrow, I will lay down my pride.

Tomorrow, I will show grace to my children when they make mistakes ...
to those who have not yet grappled with Christ's grace to them ...
for myself as I grow in accepting that I will never get it exactly right.

Tomorrow, I will take another stride toward gentleness ...

Tomorrow, I will rest in the knowledge that I am a work in progress and though I cannot do everything on my own, I am being led in raising these gifts by the one who loves me too much to not be the strength that I don't have on my own.

Tomorrow, I won't celebrate myself, but I will celebrate the precious privilege I have been given in being mom to Lucas Emanuel, our little light bearer who reminds me that I serve a God that comes near to me in my imperfection, Bethany Jordan who helps me remember that I have a safe place to hide when the world is too much to bear, and Nicholas Judah who is evidence of a God who knows my heart and brings victory to his children and accepts my praise, even when it seems a sacrifice of a broken heart.

To me, mother's day is no longer about my daily sacrifices on the journey, but rather about celebrating the three lives and one angel baby that bespeak my name as mother, and how the Lord uses them to draw me closer to his heart.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What I think about Jillian Michaels and the 30 Day Shred, part 1

Well, after three babies, three months of severe back pain, and three weeks of chiropractic care, I have decided to take Jillian Michaels up on the shred again.  I have never completed thirty consecutive days of this workout, but strengthening my core will obviously help my back.  I had done the first seven weeks of P90X at the end of last year, and kudos to all my mommy-friends who are able to complete the whole ninety days.  For me, I found that while I enjoyed the exercise, it was challenging to sometimes have to listen to my baby crying for me while I completed such a long workout.  After P90X, I was sure that the shred would not do anything for me, but I know I need to try.  I started yesterday and have set goals for myself. 

1. I will do the 30 minute complete workout daily for thirty days.
2. I will walk to drop Lucas off and pick him up daily (2 mile (total) walk, 5 days a week)
3. I will drink 8-10 glasses of water a day
4. I will relax in the evenings with stretching or yoga
5. I will cut back on my dessert intake

Day 1 (4/15/11) Review:
The workout was more intense than I remembered, but I love the length.  It's doable for a mommy of three.  I was super sore this morning and didn't want to get out of bed ... I had forgotten about my 30-minute workout from yesterday, and once I realized that's why I was sore, I liked Jillian a little more.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Operation Nicholas Stay Asleep

He's the most darling baby ... easy going, happy, entertaining, sweet and cuddly.  From day one, he has been the easiest of my three, but after months of his asthmatic cough disrupting his sleep, he is no longer a good sleeper.  I am one exhausted momma and he is one precious 11 month old who needs a visit from the sleep doctor.

I have been pretty content with helping him ease into sleep at bedtime, but on auto-pilot in the middle of the night I end up nursing him and falling asleep and twice in one week I have awakened to him laying on the floor, crying beside my bed and it's unacceptable.  My poor, sweet Nicholas.

Anyhow, tonight commences operation Nicholas stay asleep and it's just me and him.  When we were out of town this weekend Matt told me how exhausted he is, and my initial thought was that Nick seemed to be trying to make sense of the new hotel surroundings by nursing throughout the night.  Tired ... Matt.  You don't know tired.  I probably burnt 600 calories feeding him in my sleep.  I am tired.  Tired we both are.  It just comes with the territory of having three very active kids ages five and under.

The kids sleep soundly in their beds and Matt has fallen asleep in his chair.  I sit in bed, prepared for the night ahead when I will begin the weaning process anew.  I have my Friends dvds to keep me awake and a sweet baby to readjust to the ways of early toddler-hood.  Before I drift off to sleep, I thought I'd write seven items of gratitude.  I do this now, because when I begin the day in the red tomorrow I may need a remembrance of thanks.

1. I have a wonderful husband who took us out of town this weekend.  Even with the kids tagging along, three days of not having to cook, clean or do laundry was a much welcomed break.

2. The outlet of this blog when the kids are playing or napping during the day, or my mind is wide awake while Matt's has already retired for the evening.  It's nice to have "someone" to talk to.

3. My children would rather sing worship songs than anything else.  I know they don't always get what they are singing (as evidenced by Bethany's medley that went something like "Hey, now you're a rock star, get your game on ... Holy Spirit come ..."), but it does this mommy's heart good to hear her children singing His praises.

4. The absolutely over-the-top delicious sour cream blueberry crepes I indulged in at Richard Walker's this morning.

5. The sprouts that are emerging in my garden.  I love the reminder of the new life we have in Him when we bury our old selves.

6. That I will get to visit with friends over coffee in the morning.

7. We are about to celebrate the end of our sixth year as parents.  I can hardly believe my baby Lucas will be six on Sunday!  What a wonderful journey parenthood is.

Tuesday's Update: Nicholas was up only one time last night, and I am not as tired as I thought I'd be.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bethany across the Jordan

We called her Bethany Jordan.  

Friends, knowing how much name meanings matter to me, have asked what her name means.  Well, technically Bethany means "house of mourning" and Jordan means "descendant," but that isn't why this name belongs to her.  The first time I was pregnant, I had the most vivid dream I've ever had that we had a baby girl and her name was Bethany.  It was strange because I had never been a fan of the name, but figured there must be some significance.  A couple months later we found out our first was a boy and the whole idea left as we decided that his name would be Lucas Emanuel, because he would bear the light of our God with us.

A year after we had our little light bearer we learned that our second baby was on its way, and it did turn out to be a girl.  Her name was Rachel Katherine ... for a couple months in utero.  One day I looked at  Matt and said, "I love the name Rachel, Matt, but my baby isn't Rachel.  She's Bethany."  As we thought about middle names, I found that most often when I looked up Bethany, Bible verses would show up talking about Bethany beyond the Jordan River.  Thus her full name was birthed first in my heart and then she arrived, and there is absolutely no other name that could ever capture her  femininity, fervor for living, or her fantastically feisty personality.  She is Bethany. Beth. Bethy. Beth-beth. Bethanee-nee. B.

For me, her name reminds me of the town in the Bible.  Bethany beyond the Jordan was the place Jesus went after cleansing the temple, healing people and being called the son of David.  All of these good things were ignored by the chief priests who criticized Jesus for allowing the children to refer to him as the son of David (Matthew 21).  Bethany was a retreat.

Jesus' good friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived in Bethany and hosted him several times (Luke 10, John 11).  Bethany was a place of fellowship.

Jesus is baptized prior to ministry in Bethany (Mark 1:9-11).  It was a place of preparation.

He is prepared for his death and burial through a woman's sacrificial anointing of his body in Bethany (Matthew 26:6,7).  It was a place of purposeful adoration.

To me the name connotes a place Jesus felt welcome and comfort; a safe place.  When I say her whole name (which is most often when she is in trouble) it reminds me that even Jesus was sometimes weighted down by the worries of this life and needed to be ministered to ... that he doesn't expect me to be above neediness.

It has been a day inundated with redirection for my B.  Today, in my weariness, I am encouraged in my parenting to not make contention between Bethany and I the means or the end to these troublesome hours of discipline.  When I speak her name, I am reminded to minister to her; that what she needs isn't scolding, but Mommy's eyes, attention, redirection, yes, but more than that my heart.

And as I attempt to minister to her, I acknowledge the beauty of a God who doesn't scold, but who loves me.  A king who left the safety of heaven, and traded it in for the ferocity of the cross.  A man who has grappled with sorrow.  A Savior who has become my safe place.

I didn't understand why I was so convinced of the need of naming her Bethany when at the time it was not my favorite name, and yet as I look into the pools of shimmering mahogany that are her eyes, I realize that she is his child first and second, his reminder of his gift to me.  She is a handful for sure, but  so am I sometimes.

I am grateful that the Lord saw fit to bless me with a little girl ... this little girl.  Someone who reflects the good parts of me and the parts that God is reforming in me, but more than that, I am grateful that the Father can use the heart of a child to lead me closer to his, by reminding me that his arms are outstretched to me, always welcoming me into my safe place.

Sometimes he holds me close and other times I imagine him taking my face between his hands as I just did with Bethany, and lovingly whispering to me that my present pain, self-centeredness, or attitude is not his best for me.  It is not why he came.  In these times he redirects my heart to his purposes for me, and as he trains and guides, he gently loves and encompasses me in the safety of his arms.  Sometimes he doesn't change the situation, but with my eyes fixed on him he calms his child.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Dreams

Dream job. PUSH! New Dream Job.

I took the challenge of this contest to write a very brief story.  I think this pretty much sums up the last six years of my life in six words.  This was a contest put on by She Reads, a division of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I am hoping to be a part of the She Speaks Conference this summer.  For more information, click the link below.
She Speaks

A Conundrum

In just over a day, we'll be moving ... our fifth move since we were married nearly seven years ago. This evening, Matt took me over to our new house, and as I walked through each room different emotions coursed through me. It was overwhelming.  Not just because, I felt like each room exudes Price-ness nor envisioning how my red appliances in the kitchen painted in "sanctuary" (a really crisp shade of blue/green) will have just the right amount of sass; not even knowing how Lucas and Bethany will make the middle room their play space on the first afternoon. No, it is definitely more than that. My tiny little house is an exact answer to prayer; evidence of a God who comes close to his daughter.
Lucas and Bethany in front of our new home, Easter, 2010

Over two years ago, I walked into that living room before serving in kids' church one Sunday night. I've never experienced anything like it, but I just knew I could make that house home. The only problem was we were very happy in our townhouse on Maranatha's campus and of course the fact that the house was being used for meetings, groups, kids' church, etc. At first, I just pushed the thought out of my mind, knowing that it was just my love for old homes that was in this case misdirected. Then in August 2007, I really felt like I needed to pray for a housing miracle. We were moving out of the townhouse, our rent was now way too high, and I would often feel overwhelmed if any extra expense came up. I've always known that God provides for our needs, we had three years at Fuller paid for without loans, and the check registers to prove that we've never gone without, but it was a stress. I began to pray specifically for this little house.

I felt silly.  I didn't tell anyone how specifically I had been praying, it seemed presumptuous after all. There have been plenty of times in the past two years when I've been discouraged. Dealing with a diagnosis of hypothyroid seven months after the birth of our daughter just compounded all of that, but it also gave me hope. For months, maybe even years I had felt something was not quite right, that I just wasn't me and finally it seemed as though "it" had been pinpointed. I've struggled with having to work for the same period of time, often battling envy, not a hateful kind, but more "why do they get to stay home with their kids ... why can't I, too?" There have also been great moments of joy when I've known beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God is for me.
lake country, England, June 2008

I can definitely say that there have been glimpses of God's love for me in the past two years.   Hey, I've been on top of the world! There have also been months of debilitating pain; pain that led me to three months of a medical treatment that I believe helped, but also made life so difficult. I've questioned why so many times, it is ridiculous to recount. I think the first two and a half months of 2009 were some of my brightest. My relationship with Christ was great and thus my relationship with Matt, Lucas and Bethany were wonderful too, probably better than they had ever been. My job was great, church was wonderful, life group supportive and I was physically feeling so much better. To top that, I found out I was pregnant with our third child, a surprising miracle, my miracle in the midst of the worse symptoms of endometriosis I'd ever had. My God cared ... heard my cry for another baby ... answered.

It is easy to trust God when things are amazing. March 21, 2009 forever changed my life. Losing a child, even one you've never held, is the hardest thing I've ever experienced. Miscarriage is a progression characterized by utter loneliness and understood completely only by those who have been there. Healing is a process, one that is not yet complete in me, and while I can say that I never lost my faith in God, my faith has been rocked; affected in such a way, that up until a few days ago I've known God is for others, that he provides and cares for others -- I'd never doubt that, but to truly and completely in my heart know those things are true for me, that seemed to be gone. For this reason, I panicked about sending my kids to Texas and flying to Europe. I made sure our will was in order and cried knowing someone else would have the privilege of raising my sweet boy and girl. I endeavored to finish two quilts for each child before boarding the plane, so they would always think of me before going to sleep, since I would no longer get to be there to tuck them in at night. I wrote each of them a letter, not anything morbid, but I wanted them to know how they hold my heart! I came close to hyperventilating when I dropped them at the gateway. If I wasn't enough to keep one baby here on earth, there was nothing that could convince me that God would really choose me to raise the other two. Certainly nobody could speak words adequate enough to flush out all my questions and doubts.
Me (2 months after miscarriage) with my group of students in the Czech Republic

So many friends spoke truth into my life in the days leading up to our departure for Germany, and each one of them without knowing it, used the same words ... words from my favorite Psalm, in the version that my new Bible is in. I read the words my sister sent me over and over again on the first twelve hour flight. "The way you look after Luke and Beth is topped only by the way God looks after you and Matt and Bethany and Luke." Wow! I know how much I love Lucas and Bethany and how much time, effort and energy goes into caring for them. This comparison was and is a comfort to me and yet again I am faced with a conundrum.
Matt and I after arriving safely in Berlin, Germany

Obviously our plane didn't crash and I am thrilled to say that there were many moments on each of our four flights when I felt the loving arms of the Father hold me, calm me, bring me peace, soothe me to sleep with words of Psalms, prayers and songs circulating in my mind. He is faithful even when I question.
Me and my students on our way up to Neuschwanstein

Walking through our new house tonight is yet another reminder of a God who loves me, cares for me, protects me, right down to the exact house I imagined our family living in and carried in prayer for two years. A house isn't a little thing. A house being the means for a mother to realize her dream of staying home with her children is amazing. Peace in the midst of a storm is by no means trivial. The redemption of a fouled relationship is miraculous. Doctors diagnosing and treating medical conditions ... God's hands on earth. Children are gift from God, and being entrusted with raising them right, a heavy privilege. The solid support of a man in the midst of surrendering the ability to tangibly express your love for your unborn child day after day, overwhelmingly an expression of Christ's love for his broken children.

When I leave this apartment on Saturday, I leave behind rooms where I doubted, felt pain, places where I'm reminded of loss, but also rooms that will always signify for me God's redeeming love; a love that is too great to disallow me to question. A love that is so amazing that it hears the details of my prayers. A love so concerned with my heart that a Savior died to capture it.

So while I may not hold my third child in this life and my whys will not be answered in this life, and although I cannot always trace his hand, I can hold on to the knowledge that my God is for me; that even when I'm walking through the valley of the shadow of death, his love casts out all fear (Psalm 23:4).  My God is a conundrum to me ... his thoughts are higher than my thoughts, but he is undoubtedly worthy of my praise. I am confident that I have and will continue to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, and when I fear or question or when doubts begin to cloud my mind I will remind myself "The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord 'My Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust" (Psalm 27:13, NIV; Psalms 91:1,2, HCSB)

I wrote these thoughts nearly two years ago, about two months before we discovered our newest gift from God was on his way.  When I think about my life, it is often the times which seem darkest that I find my Lord drawing me closer to his side, calling me to a life of more complete trust in him.  I am entering this post for a scholarship opportunity to the She Speaks conference.  This event is designed to connect the hearts of daughters of the King more closely to His heart.  My heart continues to wonder how I might best serve him and his children, and any opportunity I have to better understand his heart for me and calling to me is such a gift.
Our newest gift, May 2010

 She Speaks Conference

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Changing the world

Confession: For as long as I can remember I am always looking for the next thing I can do that will somehow make me memorable.  Perhaps this is the result of moving a lot as a child and feeling the need to be known or remembered once I had moved on to the next town.  Maybe it is because as a middle child, I always have lived in the shadow of my older sister who seemed to never do wrong and the wake of my younger, artsy/gutsy sister and my Midas-like brother whose talent is enviable.  It could just be my humanity, and my natural instinct to make a name for myself.  Whatever the case, as a kid and through college I was known for my need to be at the top of my class, to engage in meaningful Socratic dialogues, to be known by professors and the head of my department.  The problem with this kind of being known is that once there was no valedictorian status to attain to, no goal of summa cum laude, no one to discuss pastoral literature or the early roots of Nazism with, this overachiever felt lost and unknown.

When I was a teacher, the need was somewhat met by the experience of kids who changed their behavior and academic achievement for the better over the course of the year, the discovery of some new mnemonic device that really worked, a great annual review, and a new contract.  Since I became a stay-at-home mom, I haven't really found anything that fulfills my innate desire to be seen.  Indeed, what I do each day (the interminable laundry and dishes, the budgeting and meal planning, the cooking and the cleaning, the child disciplining, organizing, picking up after three little ones and one not so small one) is draining.  As I've said previously, I am a perfectionist, an achiever, but nothing is ever perfect or complete on the home front and I fight against frustration constantly.  For some time, this frustration was unnamed and unnoticed as I tried to love what I'm doing, and don't get me wrong -- I do love it, but so often when the day ends and it feels like nothing has been accomplished, I lay in bed at night and guilt-fully long to do something worthy of the history books which I so long studied and taught from.

In the middle of a time with very little fellowship, much pain and sickness, greater frustration yet, Matt told me that I'm recluseing.  It's true, you know.  I pretty much have a standing coffee date with an amazing group of friends, also daughters of the King, intentional and selfless wives, intuitive mothers, and in the midst of them is messed up me, and I've felt like I don't belong.  I think time away from them, with my mind focusing on their strengths and everything about them that makes me grateful for their friendship, caused me to focus on all my shortcomings and desire to not be as well known.  I mean, I've wanted to be known as something great, but not living up to my own standards and expectations, my shadow mission of supermom, and living in raw community where it is obvious that I am not these things is so hard and yet so sweet.  I had forgotten about the sweetness; about the camaraderie that helps us enjoy the ups and downs of this journey together.

I've been thinking about this post for a week now.  I had been trying to withdraw from being known for who I really am.  (Hey, why not start friendships up when you have arrived?)  When I went to get groceries last Friday, I randomly selected an album on the ipod that I had purchased and never listened to.  It is amazing when the Holy Spirit knows what my heart is feeling and needs when even I cannot put my finger on it.  What I heard, I imagine is what my friends sometimes feel too, and so I just had to share.

You're up all night with a screaming baby
You run all day at the speed of life
And every day you feel a little bit less
Like the beautiful woman you are

So you fall into bed when you run out of hours
And you wonder if anything worth doing got done
Oh, maybe you just don't know
Or maybe you've forgotten

You, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

With every "I know you can do it"
Every tear that you kiss away
So many little things that seem to go unnoticed
They're just like the drops of rain over time
They become a river

And you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

-- Steven Curtis Chapman

So when I want to become a hermit because I am not who I want to be, yet, or when I'm just overwhelmed by the duties of the household, I am beginning to remember that it is about training their hearts; the merit of my daily doings will be in who they become.  We as mothers have been entrusted with the greatest responsibility, and though messy, the honor of the challenge to change the world cannot be taken lightly.

"She looks well to the ways of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
   but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
   and let her works praise her in the gates."

Proverbs 31:27-31

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Learning to laugh at myself

I pride myself on being organized.  For those of you who have been in my home this may seem hard to believe, but everything does have a place and I like for everything to be where it belongs.  This morning as I was showering I realized something that I had not realized before.  A year ago I could have said I've never lost a check book, debit card, credit card or money.  In the last twelve months, I have lost money, my credit card twice, thrown away my debit card once, totally misplaced my debit card another time, lost my check book a few times and lost the refills once ... without clearly marked boundaries I have very little space that is just my own.   I know that this is due in part to many life adjustments occurring at or around the same time.  I quit my job, I had our third child, Bethany started pre-school, Lucas started kindergarten, and of course all the behavioral adjustments that each child has experienced because of those changes.  I am not running on adrenaline, I do not have set deadlines, and chaos sometimes reigns in my home.  For me, the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom far outweigh the obstacles I experienced as a working mom, but the benefits also coincide.

As a working mom, I forced myself to get up before the kids so I could get ready for the day, have quiet time, make lunches, leave instructions for the babysitter, fold laundry, exercise, etc.  Being gone five to eight hours a day was very emotional for me.  There were few times that I did not long to be home.  The major down side to being a working mom was emotional.  When things got out of hand as far as cleaning goes, I would simply hire someone to come in and clean what I didn't have time for, but for the most part I would come home on Friday and clean the whole house and then have the weekend to enjoy with my family.  Now I can't afford the cleaning fairy, and as I focus on spending time with my children, always being available for their needs, never feeling the pressure of  time constraints (however right or wrong that may be), there are many days when I'd love said "fairy" to appear.

So my debit card is missing, my extra checks have disappeared ...  I am sure they have taken refuge in a place similar to where Matt's wedding ring is also hiding.  (Yes, it too is missing, but that is a whole other story.)  Please don't imagine that the house is in complete chaos.  Other than a couple loads of laundry on my sofa, it is clean ... deep cleaned, BUT there are things missing that have become a treasure to somebody with little hands, I'm thinking.   My kitchen is now my sanctuary.  It is where I create, dream, plan, and maintain cleanliness.

The old me would worry about the mess and forgo quality time with my kids to get it fixed, but the new me is looking for new solutions.  A lesson I've recently learned is that it overwhelms my kids when I say "Okay, we're going to clean the house today.  We aren't going to do anything else until we finish."  Once a week I've started saying "We're going to play a game today.  It has five rounds.  Everyone gets ______ for this round.  The winner gets an extra ________."  I don't know how it is for other kids, but games and rewards speak loudly to mine.  At least once every day, I'll say "Fifteen minute pick-up!"  I let each kid know what they are responsible for and I set the timer.  When the timer goes off we are done.  It is working like a charm, with little redirection necessary.  The house isn't pristine, but it's peaceful.

When I dreamed about staying home, I assumed I'd get better at the things I was good at and improve at the things that are a struggle for me.  If I'm really honest with myself, I'll admit that I work better under pressure (which is absent for me at present), so the  only thing I've begun to improve at is the giving and receiving of grace, but I have a long road ahead of me in that regard as well.

Today, as usual is not a perfect day for me and so I've decided to laugh at the old me and the new me.

1. When we first got married I would iron our slip covers at least once a week and always before friends would visit.              

2. I currently almost always have a load of laundry on my sofa waiting to be folded or put away.  I have stopped apologizing about it to maintenance men, friends, family, etc.
3. I used to set the table for every meal Matt and I ate together. (Now we're lucky to not eat on paper plates some nights.)

4. I don't have a picture of this, but must share why I don't ask Matt to help with much of the cleaning.  When I was working three jobs to put him through Seminary I once asked him to clean the bathroom and discovered that he basically flooded the bathroom to do so.  It took him almost two hours to finish the job.  Hey ... he was thorough, but it is not his gifting. :o)

5.  I must not be very good at sleep training.  Even though I did with the older two and am in the process with our youngest, there are still nights when Lucas cannot fall asleep.  This is how I found him (beside the laundry, haha) when I came home from Ladies' Night Out.

6.  When my kids are sick, I have an unreasonable fear that they will stop breathing in their sleep.  Here they are sleeping on our floor, so that I could check on them without getting out of bed.  (In my defense, I was very pregnant when this was going on.)

7. I have a tendency to take on too much when it comes to birthday cakes.  Until this year, it was not uncommon for me to stay up well into the night to finish a cake.  I'm learning to let this go.

Bethany's 3rd birthday cake ... Ariel

Lucas' 3rd birthday cake Rocket

Lucas' 4th birthday cake Diego

Lucas' 5th birthday cake Spider Man

Matt's 23rd Baked Alaska

Simple boats from Tangled

Simple "Tangled" hair cupcakes

Matt's simple Bavarian Apple Torte (31st Birthday)

8. I am okay with my kids running around in their underwear until they are well potty trained.

9. I used to take time to get myself ready for in-house dates.  Now I enjoy the days when I don't have to wear make-up.
10. Every year we do a Christmas card.  We rarely get them in the mail.  So that all you kid-less (or those with more subdued children) can understand the "gift" of a photo card, I am including a small portion of our self-taken attempts at a Christmas card.

So ... my priorities have definitely shifted, and I'm loving every moment in my little piece of paradise!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When I don't have a perfect day ...

It has been a long time since I've written.  Truth be told that is a result of deep discouragement.  When last I wrote I was hopeful that the months of cyclical sickness were at an end and we were on an upswing.  Unfortunately that has not been the case.  Kids got sick, Matt got sick, kids got well, Nicholas got sick, Matt got mostly better, Nicholas is still coughing but inhalers seem to help.  I was working through Nick's sleep schedule (which was totally thrown off by illness) and feeling like we were about to be 100%.  I was getting into a good stay-at-home mom groove, and then on Saturday I began feeling all too recently familiar sensations in my lower back.  It is certainly not as bad as it was, but it has put all progress on the home front on hold.

All this sickness and pain has really taken a toll on me.  I am not as patient when I'm in pain.  I cannot accomplish anything when I can't move.  Even lifting the baby to his high chair isn't doable for me right now.  Inability on my part seems to highlight the innate differences between Matt and I.  We just do not see things the same way.  I shouldn't be surprised.  Many months ago as we were driving along I voiced a revelation to Matt "I'm beginning to understand that other people don't see things the way I do."  I'm all about order and responsibility and he's all about thinking and dreaming.  We are -- a perfect match, but the differences and pain could give way to frustration.  I am resisting the urge to expect him to be an exact replacement of me on a good day in the midst of my neediness.

While I'm down, I've had so many friends offer to help in very practical ways.  Instead of being immediately grateful, I've felt ashamed.  So maybe as we (hopefully) catapult out of the cycle of illness, I must need address my pride.  And I know that's what it is, otherwise the temptation to delete pride wouldn't be so strong.  When I'm at my best, I love to give.  When I'm at my worst, it's not that I like to withhold, it's more that I have a hard time graciously receiving.

Recently we went to our daughter's first school program.  She was so excited and serious about this performance, and I was struck by one of the lines of her poem.  "When I don't have a perfect day, God smiles at me."  I look at my children each night and my heart overflows with gratitude for the gift they each are; that I have been entrusted with the weighty privilege of raising them.  It doesn't matter how hard the day was; how many times I had to redirect them, train their hearts, discipline in the midst of a tantrum ... when it comes to the end of the day and I look at my three sleeping miracles, I smile. 

Parenting so often reflects the Father's heart for us.  I want the best for my children, but often that means "tough love" ... discipline.  The best for them is to have their hearts turned toward me and Matt, so that we can turn their hearts to the Lord.  I am in that place as a child of God right now. I can feel him so dearly speaking to my heart,  "Lindsey, you needn't be so proud.  I have given you friends not only for companionship, but also for in times of need."  Thank you, Lord that you can gently and compassionately redirect a heart that has strayed from your best.

As I begin to turn my heart toward him today, I am encouraged at the thought of being known ... of being seen ... of his presence filling our home and his peace our hearts.

"The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves.  He will rejoice over you with gladness.  He will bring you quietness with his love.  He will delight in you with shouts of joy."  

Zephaniah 3:17 HCSB

Friday, February 25, 2011

Recasting, Ruminating and Retail Rewards

After each baby I spend a weekend recasting to find my equilibrium appetite and eventually over several months, my most comfortable weight.  Well, with a season of sickness in the Price home this has been put off longer than normal. So this week as my back continues to heal, I decided to re-read French Women Don't Get Fat, which outlines the "magical" weekend and the French lifestyle that I aspire to.  This is my third time reading the book, but since I loaned it out a couple years ago it has been missing.  I purchased the Kindle edition, and let me tell you that was not a waste.  It is awesome to be able to click on a reference to a recipe and not have to thumb through an index and leaf through pages to find it.  Way to go Amazon!

Anyhow, whether it is due to illness (hopefully we're at the end of it, with Matt now on antibiotics and Nicholas finishing up his second round of them), or our indecisiveness about whether or not our family is complete with five members, or my awesome girls' night out this week, or all my friends who have not only brought dinner but sweets as I and my family recooperate -- whatever the case, I've put off the recasting long enough.  However, since I still provide Nicholas' main source of nutrition, I can't go all out and do the magical leek soup.  Instead, I will be trying the mimosa soup and Matt and I will restart P90X on Monday (note: such strenuous workout is not French, but Matt needs relationship with workout and I feel so good when I exert myself daily).

This has been a week of questions for our family, some humorous, some weighty.  Why on earth did Lucas pretend he couldn't read his high frequency words? Well, his friends "bees" were still on "flower one", and he wanted his bee to be there too, instead of on flower 4's petal.  I am told I will laugh about this someday, but even now it is frustrating for this former teacher.  How do we live well, save, provide and thrive in pricey Los Angeles?  Do we need to reevaluate where our "treasure" is?  Perhaps owning a home is not the end all ... And then the question that I keep asking, why (especially when living in L.A) do I most often desire another child?  I don't know.  This year and especially the past couple months have been difficult, but the longing, never abating, is at the back of my consciousness.  Silly and serious questions abound, but one thing I do know, I LOVE where God has placed us.  I am grateful for the ministry opportunities, friendships, home, and church. 

One last thing ... I have made it to the end of the budget challenge. Dum de de dum ... This week I spent $12.96 at Target and $32 at Ralphs (saving over $60 on that trip).  This brings my grocery total to $321.43 for the entire month ... $53.57 under my goal and $138.57 under our normal grocery, cleaning and toiletry budget.  So for those who doubt the value of couponing, come over and see my little dance of joy and be convinced of its merits.  Woot, woot!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ER Ebenezer

Well, early Friday morning I had quite the scare.  Bethany (our middle child, feisty daughter) had woken up with a fever and was laying in our bed, as was our youngest who has been suffering from asthmatic coughing spells.  Trying to end this cycle of sickness, now in its seventh week, I asked Matt to take Bethany back to her bed, because even though I wish I could comfort both baby and Beth at the same time, I did not want whatever the cause of the fever was to spread to Nicholas.  I lay awake in bed, praying for peace for their bodies, praying for wisdom on how to begin yet another round of sickness, when I myself am exhausted.  My back had been hurting the day before, and I was having trouble getting comfortable so I got up and took three advil and got a little middle of the night snack, because sometimes ibuprofen upsets my stomach.

I must have just dozed off around 3:40, when Nicholas whimpered in his sleep and began coughing.  I reached over to elevate his head and experienced excruciating pain.  I screamed and yelled for Matt who had apparently fallen asleep while settling Beth down.  When he came I couldn't move and he began to help me get out of bed, saying he was going to take me to the emergency room.  It took 10-15 minutes to get out of bed.  I stood, as close to paralyzed as you can be while standing in the living room, as Matt called friends to find someone to come stay with the kids.  When my dear friend, Johanna arrived I began giving information about the kids, medications, school, etc. as best I could and then Matt asked me if we could head to the car.  I moved a little, and some of what transpired over the next several moments I remember.

Johanna told Matt that I didn't look good; that my color was draining from my face.
Matt was asking me questions that I could kind of hear, but not really.
I was in more pain than I had experienced during my three labors and deliveries (that's saying something especially since I didn't have epidurals).
The room began to close in on me and got really narrow and shiny (I know that sounds crazy, which is why I began to believe I was in the process of dying from who knows what.)
Matt called 911 and his conversation seemed to last a long time.
I kept saying "I can't breathe, I can't breathe ..." but honestly I don't know if that was audible because Matt never repeated it.
The pain continued.
I continued to believe I was dying and told Lucas and Nicholas how much I love them and was thinking about how I wished Bethany was awake so she would know too.
I was bargaining with God about how I know I rarely slow down and take things and people for granted, but if he would just take the pain away I would slow down.
The pain worsened
When Matt got off the phone I felt nauseous and asked him to get me a bucket or something (again I couldn't move).
Matt came in and I was able to hold it together until a pitcher arrived.
I then got sick and collapsed on the floor, which was the first bit of relief I had since the whole episode began.
When the paramedics came I had to be lifted onto the gurney by four men in order to keep my back as still as possible and me in as little pain as they could. (side note: the firemen in Eagle Rock are awesome!)

Now, I admit I did hyperventilate in my labor with Nicholas, but this was different.  Maybe an anxiety attack?  I'm not sure.  All I know is I am here to write this so obviously my suspicions of dying were inaccurate (hey, I've been told I'm dramatic my whole life, and I guess that doesn't end during what you think is a near death experience).

One of the hardest things about the experience was that the last time I was at this particular hospital was during my miscarriage.  After several hours of waiting to be seen by a doctor, I was taken right past room 5 in the ER of Huntington Hospital; the room where I was told that our third baby was gone.  I've had mixed feelings about driving past said hospital several times, but being right there was something else.  In the next several hours of my time in the ER, I experienced more than tremendous pain and interesting guesses as to what caused my immobility and discomfort.  I experienced sadness because of memories of March 21, 2009, but I also experienced great peace accompanied by confidence in the God I serve.

See if anyone had told me on that day nearly two years ago that I would live through the pain of losing a child, I wouldn't have believed them.  If I could have seen into the future, and witnessed myself loving life I would have been dumbfounded at the possibility.  Again, if I had been told that God would bring Nicholas (victory) and that I would praise (Judah) him because of it; if I had known I would ever love a child so much and be able to love the two I already had without continuing to wonder why I can't tangibly express the same love to a child I'd never held, I would have balked at the idea.  Although the care I received at the hospital on Friday still leaves me with questions as I continue to have immense pain, I think God had another reason for bringing me back there.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites would set up ebenezers or remembrances when God brought them through trials, and when future generations encountered the ebenezer they would remember and be encouraged.  Like I said, I don't know why I am having this issue with my back.  I don't know why I am unable to care for my own children and home because of it, but one thing I do know is God will not forsake me.  He is trying to teach me something and he's got me as still as I can be during this learning process.

It's part of who I am to question.  In my character is it to sometimes feel alone (even when I'm not).  I find it unavoidable to attempt to do it all.  I am a persistent achiever whether I can get everything done I want to or not.  So having to leave my children Friday morning was tough.  I had to trust that my friend had it under control and wouldn't judge my messy house (when the paramedics moved the recliner to get me, I saw what needed to be swept).  I had to let others do for me, to get Lucas off to school, Bethany moving throughout the day without worrying about her mom, Nicholas fed (even though he wouldn't take a bottle).  All the while I was laying in the emergency room, being ministered to by a God of grace, who knew there would be pain while laying in an all too familiar room; who understood that I had been questioning my worthiness to be called friend; who gets that it's hard for me to depend on anyone; who absolutely knows that in this season of health trials at the Price house I had been doubting our location so far from family.

Into such a mind diseased with doubt, he granted answers to questions and reassurance of his plan, even though I can only see through a glass dimly.  The diagnosis on my back is yet to come, but the resolution to my mind's wanderings, granted.

So thank you to our friends and family who called and texted.
To Johanna for giving up time with your kids and husband in the middle of the night to care for mine.
To Jeff for being willing to take care of your family's morning routine without Johanna and for running out to get formula, just in case.
To Grace and Albert who took Lucas to school and watched Lucas and Bethany in the afternoon.
For Stacia who came up with other child care possibilities just in case.
For Tom being the kind of pastor I wish every other pastor could work under (in many little and big ways over the past 8 years, God has used you to restore my faith in church)
For Allison, Mary Robin, Johanna, Nikki and Robin for always being willing to lift me up in prayer.
Again for Mary Robin, for the amazing lunch in the hospital, arranging for meals to be brought, offering to have the kids come play and much more
Again for Allison, for the amazing meal on Friday night and knowing me well enough to minister to my sweet tooth as well.
For Nikki knowing that I have a hard time sitting still but love to read ... my sweet gift from Nikki kindle has kept me in my bed or chair for the last couple of days.
For Scott and Esther, who brought an amazing meal even though your home hasn't been filled with wellness either ... still praying friends.
For the many friends on Facebook who have sent words of encouragement and have prayed.
For my parents and their prayer chain
For my father-in-law who willingly sent my mother-in-law out to be all I can't be right now.
For my mother-in-law who has done and is doing more than I could list here and for being the mother-in-law every girl hopes they will have. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
For those friends who are bringing meals and continue to pray.

I am amazed at His goodness to me (and us) through you.