Compassion bloggers

If you're not already reading the posts written by the Compassion bloggers, just what are you waiting for?

Start here. [My favorite post so far.]

And here. [I was especially touched by Melissa's words regarding sponsors at the end of this particular post.]

I'd love to hear from some of you who have a system in place for writing your sponsored child(ren). How often do you do this? Do you do it as a family? When do you do it? I need to set a time and make that happen.

Five things: in practice

One of the things Kendra noted regarding her own list of five things really struck a chord with me. In Part 2 of her series, she writes: "...what was most important for me at the time was the ability to dismiss all of the things that don’t fall under those categories."

My list of five things was very timely. A couple days after I had made my own list, we went to small group. [A little bit of information, here: Our small group is made up of several families, and we all take turns in hosting, leading, bringing snacks and supervising the children each week.]

A sign up sheet made its way around the room on this particular evening, and I had the following thoughts:

-We haven't been doing any hosting/leading/snacks/supervising kids since Audra has been born.
-Everyone else (specifically, two families) have been shouldering most of the load.
-I should try to fill up a bunch of these open slots.

The sign up sheet covered the next five weeks. I promptly signed us up to host, twice. Lead, once. Bring snacks, twice. Supervise the kids, once.

I didn't think another thing of it until the following morning, when I was filling in all those new responsibilities on our calendar and burst into tears as I did so. All of a sudden I felt completely overwhelmed with all I'd taken on to do, and sort of went into panic mode.

By the time Mark came home for lunch that day, I was slightly hysterical.

Tearfully, I launched into: "Seriously: what on earth was I thinking? I can't do all of that. I can barely do the very basics at this season in our lives- and, quite frankly, I don't think I'm doing it well- let alone signing up for extra! I can hardly manage to get dinner on the table each night, let alone get dinner on the table AND clean the entire house for company AND make dessert!

...I need you to be my advocate/gatekeeper/buffer
[insert appropriate word, here. I'm sure I used them all] and say a resounding "no" when I do things like this... because you're logical and make carefully-thought-out decisions and I'm just, not. And don't."

More crying.

At a bewildered, but patiently listening Mark. [Truthfully, I'm not entirely sure he had the slightest idea what I was even talking about at this point.]

I finally finished with an emphatic: "And NONE of these things are even ON my list-of-five-things! These things aren't even remotely my priorities right now!"

What I know about myself is this: I'm a pleaser. I like to say yes when people ask if I can do something- especially service-oriented things. I may regret it and/or grumble about it later, but in that moment of asking, I say yes. I'm also a very can-do type person. I can do that! Sure, I can fit that in! No problem. And yet, sometimes even if something can be squeezed in, it shouldn't be, for the sake of my sanity and overall peace in our home.

I also know that this is a difficult season in our lives, with our two youngest (heck, they're all young, every one of them!) in addition to one of our boys who has some challenging special needs. There will be times in our lives where these types of "extras" won't throw me into a weepy mess, I know that. But that time is not yet here.

So. Mark, being the wonderful husband that he is, called our small group leader-person the very next day and informed him that "all those slots Stacy filled in? Erase our names." [He gave a little more explanation than that, but he got the job done.]

Then when we showed up at small group the following week, Mark shared that we had signed up, but have since taken our names off the list (Except for a snack spot. Because we can buy something at the store and that's do-able). He said that we felt bad about it because we knew it created more work for everyone else, and we also knew that they had all already been shouldering the load for awhile, and while we *want* to, it is simply not the best season for us to be taking on more. (To which everyone nodded vigorously, because it's quite apparent to everyone who spends any amount of time with us that we have our hands full. :)) He asked that they would be patient with us, and carry more of the load now and we will be able to carry more sometime in the future. (And because they are our friends and love us, they were completely understanding and said of course that was fine.)

All that to say that I was thankful that I had made my list a few days before. [Yes, I'm a little slow on the uptake and should have maybe considered my list of priorities BEFORE signing up, but I'm learning.]

Now if I can just stay away from any and all sign-up sheets.

Five things

I already mentioned that I enjoyed Kendra's series on Drowning in Home Management. In Part 1, she encouraged us to identify our top five "non-negotiables".

I prayed, journaled, and asked Mark his opinion. And I came up with five things. Here they are:

-love God
-love Mark
-love our children
-feed my family
-take care of our home

Pretty general, I know. So I made notes under each one, specifying some ideas of what each of these things might entail. These lists don't cover everything under each category, they're just the first things that came to mind.

Love God
read the Bible
memorize scripture

Love Mark
greet him when he comes home
pray for him
listen when he speaks
encourage him (verbally and in notes/cards)
feed him (desserts)

Love our children
discipline them
daily memory work
homeschool them
read aloud every day
encourage them
pray for them
clothe them

Feed my family
three meals a day
nurse Audra :)
make meal plans
make shopping lists
go grocery shopping

Take care of our home
clean and tidy rooms
budget/finances/pay bills
decorating~ making our home warm and inviting

In my next post I'll tell you how this activity came in handy this past week, when I took on a little more than I could handle.

Update #3

My mom is home from the hospital. She is so happy to be home.

The doctors never really figured out what was going on. They found inflammation in areas of her stomach lining, swelling and inflammation in her colon. It seems that she picked up some sort of bug/infection, but the when or the what or the how of it remains unanswered.

Nonetheless, her pain is much better.

She's still on a liquid diet, as food is what seems to bring on the pain/cramping. The doctor has told her to sort of ease back in to eating by way of trial and error.

So, we're praying that God would bring complete healing to her body; that He would remove all infection and pain and that she would be able to eat a hearty meal soon!

Thank you, each one of you, who took the time to pray for my mom.

Feeding the ducks

Today was Mark's day off, and we decided we should get out and do something fun with the kids. He suggested that we head to the lake and feed the ducks. I thought that was a grand idea, since Adelia is at that fun stage of loving all animals and practicing their sounds, and she's never fed the ducks before.

So we picked up some cheap bread, drove to the lake, and fed the ducks.

Adelia thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread because, well, there was sliced bread.

She really barely noticed the fact that there were ducks there. She was simply thrilled that we handed her a slice of bread and she got to snack while we did whatever it was we were doing.

It totally cracked me up.

Update #2 and Our day

The endoscopy took place last night, and the doctor discovered an area of inflammation in her stomach lining. His thought is that she picked up some parasite or something while she was in Haiti at the end of March. (My dad is a campus pastor with Chi Alpha. He and my mom (and my little brother) went with a team of students on a missions trip in Haiti this past month.) This is something we had wondered about- the parasite possibility- but the endoscopy seems to support that.

The doctor took a biopsy of that area and they are still waiting to get the results back. Now to find out exactly what it is, so that it can be effectively treated.

So. Good news in that the doctor is pretty sure that that is what we're dealing with. And just knowing- versus the not-knowing is a huge relief to mom (and the rest of us). Also, this seems to rule out any of the more serious things we were fearing.

Mom was in good spirits last night and she looked much better. Thank you for your prayers. I'll continue to update you.

I'm working on a post listing my five things- based on this post of Kendra's. I'll try to get that up in the next day or two.

Spring has finally arrived here in the northwest, and we are thankful. Our cherry trees are in full bloom, and when a breeze hits them, all those little pink petals flutter to the ground like it's snowing. I love that. The tulips along our walk are standing tall, the grass is freshly mowed, the sun shines. It is supposed to be a balmy 64 degrees here, today. The kids have been outside a lot, enjoying the warm weather.

My goals today are as follows:
-get the living room tidied (and enlist the kids to help)
-get a load of laundry washed and then hung out on the line to dry
-fold and put away the clean laundry that is piling up (and enlist the kids to help)
-make dinner
-when Mark is home for lunch, take all the kids up to visit mom at the hospital. Ella came with me on Sunday, but I've gone alone or with Audra for my other visits, and the other kids have not seen her yet. (Plus- the window of mom's room overlooks the hospital's helicopter, so I know the boys, especially, will be excited about that.)
-get myself some coffee

Those things, along with loving and caring for my children, nursing my beautiful Audra, and handling all discipline/instruction throughout the day, ought to keep this mama pretty busy for the rest of the day.

I'm sneaking in a picture of Audra, here- taken about a week ago. It's now 7:45, and I'm off to get a shower in before Adelia wakes up (she's a sleepyhead this morning!)

Wishing all of you a delightful day!

My mom: an update

I wanted to give you an update- not that there is much of one- and also, take the time to thank you for praying. I realize that I didn't even give you my mom's name in my last post. Not that God needs her name- obviously He knows that- but I like to pray for people by name, so in case you do, too: Shirley is her name. :)

Audra and I spent some time with mom this afternoon. First of all, a PRAISE:

-When I saw her, she hadn't had any pain medication since the middle of the night. (Thank you, God!) However, during my visit her head was aching so badly and the nausea was returning, so they did give her something for the pain. Still, though- that was several hours where the pain wasn't so bad she felt she needed something for it, so I think we can call that an answer to prayer.

She saw the specialist this morning and he, too, is puzzled. They simply don't know what it is. They keep telling her, "It's a mystery. We're just not sure." She was pretty discouraged this morning, as he told her they wanted to do a colonoscopy and an endoscopy- but that they couldn't do either until tomorrow. Discouraged because tomorrow = one more night in the hospital, and it is hard to not have any answers at this point.

After meeting again with the radiologist, the specialist has now decided to proceed with just the endoscopy- and will try to do so sometime this evening, so that they can take a closer look at her stomach.

So the main prayer request is just that the doctors would be able to determine what is causing this pain.

Thank you so much for your prayers and concern. I am so grateful to know so many are praying, and I will keep you posted if we find anything else out.

Please pray

I'm just slipping in here tonight to ask you if you would pray for my mom.

She has been having pretty severe stomach pain (along with loss of appetite) for the past week. She went in to see her doctor earlier in the week, thinking she might have diverticulitis, as she has had it before and the pain seemed similar. Her doctor ran some tests, didn't think that's what it was, but gave her antibiotics "just in case", I guess. The antibiotics seemed to make her even more sick as the week progressed (dizziness, nausea, headaches) so she stopped taking them.

During the night last night, her pain was so intense that first thing this morning, my dad took her in to the ER.

She's been in the hospital all day, and they've run several tests on her. They've done bloodwork, tested her urine, done ultrasounds and a CT scan, and everything appears normal. They've determined that it is not diverticulitis. Her gall bladder and her kidneys are fine. The doctors seem puzzled at this point at what could be causing her so much pain.

They've admitted her until they can figure out what is going on, and she has been on pain medication all day. She'll see a specialist tomorrow and they will continue to run more tests.

Will you please even say a quick prayer for her? Some things to pray for:

-That God would bring healing to her body.
-That He would ease the pain in her stomach.
-That mom would be able to rest. (She didn't sleep at all last night and was in the ER for most of the day, also not sleeping.)
-That God would give the doctors clarity and wisdom to be able to determine what is going on with her.
-For my dad, too- that he would get some rest.

Thank you.

The more the merrier

One of the many joys of parenting is doing so alongside of our friends Mike and Amy. Amy and I have been friends for decades and I love it that our children are growing up as friends, too.

This picture was taken in September of 2007:

And this one was taken earlier today. Almost all of our kids are pictured. [Amy is pregnant with their fifth, so really there's one precious child missing from this picture.]

[Click on the picture to get a better view.]

And, really, Mike-- what gives? How is it that it took you about two minutes to get such a great picture?!

I love all these kids so much.


Had I found this verse a few days earlier, it would have been my choice for Verse #8:

The wise in heart are called discerning,
and pleasant words promote instruction
~Proverbs 16:21

Then, three verses later: "pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

I love that. Pleasant words promote instruction. How often are my words to my children -in an effort to promote instruction- harsh, critical, impatient, cold, even sarcastic?

Pleasant words. Sweet and healing words. God's Word is so good; so true.

Lord, give me pleasant words today. May these lips promote instruction with pleasant words. Help me to obey you; to choose pleasant words in place of critical ones. And may they be fruitful in promoting instruction here in our home, with our children. Transform me, Father.

Working on that today and for the days to come. May it encourage you, too- as you lead your little ones!

[And how handy that I've found my next verse already?]

Verse #8

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

{Always needing work on the joyful thing. Praying continually is a great goal. Being thankful in all circumstances ought to help the whole joyful thing. And I need a good reminder that all of it is God's WILL for me. Yep, this is a good one.}

Ten things

One of the reasons I have been wooed by Facebook is because of its brevity. I can make a one-comment status update and be off the computer in a matter of minutes. Recently, a few minutes is often all I have; and I rarely have time to put together a cohesive post.

So here's my attempt to give you a little glimpse into how we're doing, more Facebook- style than Blog-style:

1. While we're on the topic of Facebook: Does any other FB user wish for a "Like" button in Blogger?

2. I wanted to let my blog readers know (those of you who are left!) that I have been much more faithful lately in commenting back to you in the comments section. If you've left a comment on one of my posts, I've likely left you one back. [I used to do this much more but had gotten out of the habit. I missed it, so I'm back at it.]

3. I think we can officially say that Audra is sleeping through the night. It's been a couple weeks of NO nighttime wake-ups. She goes down sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 at night and wakes up usually during the 5 or 6 o'clock hour. This morning it was 7:00. Hence, we are sleeping well. [Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, sweet Audra.]

4. Ella is learning how to tell time, and that's fun.

5. I had forgotten that breastfeeding means that you sit down a whole lot more! Each evening Audra does a couple hours of some pretty serious nursing, "tanking up" for a good night's sleep, and I find myself stuck to the couch. So I've been reading books and blogs (but not necessarily commenting) and watching more TV.

6. A few books I've recently finished and can recommend:
Stepping Heavenward
Same Kind of Different as Me
To Kill a Mockingbird
[I just read this book for the first time ever. I can't believe I've gone this long in life without "knowing" Atticus Finch as a character.]

7. The TV shows we're watching:
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
(the one show that consistently makes both Mark and I tear up)
Finally, and I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I'm going to anyway: Dancing With the Stars.
And every week I say: "I wish we could watch American Idol online." It's the one other show we would watch if we could, but since we do all of our TV viewing online, it's not an option.

8. We rarely leave the house. In fact, aside from our weekly trips to church and small group, I think I could count on one hand the times we've all gone out. It's just easier to stay home, so we do.

9. I'm really enjoying Kendra's Marvelous Monday series. And Cheryl's, too. Packed with great homeschooling resources from mothers who've been doing this longer than I have. Also, I'm really looking forward to Part 2 of Kendra's Drowning in Home Management series. The "drowning" part happens to be rather relevant in this season of my life.

10. We took several pictures of all five kids yesterday after church. Here's the best one:

Easter project

We are working on this Easter project today-- we did the mixing and baking, the kids went outside to find sticks to use for the cross, and in lieu of the pipe-cleaner stick people, we colored/cut out our own. I'm excited to utilize this to tell the kids all over again about the resurrection of Christ!

Oh! I saw these little cookie nests on the Mayfly blog and think they're cute, but we'll do that another day... maybe to celebrate when we feel like it's *really* Spring around here.

What are some of the Easter traditions you do with your kids?

Adelia's birthday letter: one!

{Adelia's birthday was in February, so I'm catching up, here. Isaias' was in March, so that one is still on the docket.}

My beautiful Adelia,

One year ago today you were born. A tiny, struggling baby born to a mother who couldn't care for you.

God knew-- so long before that day, even-- that your home would be here with us, that you would be a part of our family, and that I would get the indescribable joy of being your mama. There are tears in my eyes as I type this, my sweet girl. I want you to know that I am overwhelmingly grateful for the privilege, the honor, the pure joy of being your mama. Oh, how I love you, daughter of mine. I am so thankful to God for allowing us to get to be your family. You are pure delight, Adelia. I love you so much!

Quite seriously, I think you are the cutest little girl in the entire world. I say to your daddy probably daily: “Seriously. Just look at her. Isn’t she just the cutest thing you’ve EVER seen in your whole life?” And you are. Your smile lights up a room. You are expressive, affectionate, silly, charming, endearing and sweet.

Let’s see... how do I even begin to tell you about yourself this past year?

Here are some notes I made about you, at seven months:

*you say mama
*you say dada
*you say "hi"
*you say "ugh!" (kind of a gutteral grunt) when we ask, "What's a doggy say?"
*you wave in the cutest fashion: your right hand clasped in a little fist, your thumb still poking out, and you wave from side to side. so cute.
*clapping. you keep one of your hands (the left?) relatively still, and clap the other one against it.
*you dance by rocking and usually sing while you're doing so.

At eight months:

*you're crawling (by using one knee and then sliding your bum OR using one knee and bear-crawling with one leg). Mama affectionately refers to this as your ‘booty scoot’.
*first tooth
*you're learning signs (more please, all done, thank you)
*lifting your hands to "praise the Lord!" or "praise Jesus!"

And now, at one year:

You learned to walk this past month, and you are happily cruising around the house, getting into everything and making good progress in keeping our house a constant mess. :) But you’re so cute you’re easily forgiven. And when mama asks you to clean up, you happily oblige, saying in a sing-song voice, “Kee- UH!” and helping.

What else are you saying?

uh-oh (mostly used before you purposefully drop something onto the floor)
bob-bull (bottle; spoken to mama whenever you want one- but most imploringly in the mornings.)
bi-pull (diaper)
tee-too (thank you)
eye (as she pokes you in the eyeball)
hi! (to anyone and everyone- including strangers we pass in the grocery store, other kids or moms at the library- (you'll head over to them, touch their legs, faces, and give a cheerful "hi!" you are so social!)

What you LOVE

... giving kisses (you make the rounds, every time. before naptime, before nighttime- everyone gets a kiss. and you love this so much. as soon as you’ve finished your bottle you sit up, grin, and reach for the first available recipient of your kisses!)
... your baby
... cheese and cheerios
... your bottle
... mama & daddy
... ella, isaac and isaias
... getting into isaac's legos or isaias' cars all lined up on the ottoman
... being snuggled after you get hurt or reprimanded
... snuggling with daddy in the wee hours of the morning (mama is convinced that any early-morning wake-ups on your part are for the sole purpose of getting some one-on-one time in with your daddy!)
... touching the computer (though it's a no-no)
... when mommy's in the shower, so that you can pull the curtain open and knock things into the tub, while getting very wet.
... music and dancing to it.

Things I don’t want to forget:

*the way you used to pucker up for a kiss, your lips pursed together like fish lips

*the way you say your happy "hi!" all day long, crawling around from room to room, greeting each of us

*the way you snuggle up in my arms to drink your bottle, peering up at me with your dark eyes, playing with my fingers, making little hmm-ing noises, occasionally sitting up to see what's up with the older kids. (precious times, these. i'm feeling tearfully nostalgic, knowing that these times are nearing an end with you, dear girl.)

*the way you do little tummy crunches to get herself to a sitting position. you rarely roll over: you just pull yourself up.

*the way you practiced standing: legs spread, waving your little hands to keep your balance, and then happily plunging forward into our waiting arms.

*sitting at the front window with you at noon- waiting for daddy to come home for lunch each day. banging on the window, saying "da-dada" and looking, looking. singing our daddy songs until he comes: ("Oh where is our daddy?" and "Oh, Daddy daddy") so serious when he comes, and then, "hi!"

*your happy chatter each morning, and your "hi!" when we come in to get you. and then your snuggles- head snuggled up against me as i carry you out of your room.

*your expression over food. you are constantly talking, humming, making little noises over each and every bite. you are NEVER silent when you’re eating, not even for a moment.

*standing up near the two tall toy bins (your "gate"), in the kitchen doorway, watching the rest of us scurry about.

*the way you chew on your baby doll's soft hands when you’re sleepy.

*your delight at finding your baby before bedtime.

*your dear snuggles and loves for all of us before bedtime.

*the little "oof-oof" sounds you make for doggies [and every other animal].

You have been such a gift to our family. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you in the years to come!

I love you, dear girl.

~Your mama

Baby shower decorating: the "diaper cake"

My mom came over last week and said she was responsible for the decorating for a baby shower- specifically, five centerpieces- and did I have any ideas?

I didn't.

But Google is my friend and I discovered something called a baby diaper cake. I may be out of the loop, but before this Google search, I'd never seen or heard of a diaper cake in my life. But I thought the idea had potential, and I really couldn't think of any other ideas, so that became the plan.

The result:

Pretty cute, huh? I was actually quite proud of how these turned out. My mom bought a package of diapers, some ribbon, rubber bands and rubber duckies, and we set to work. Mom held Audra while Ella and I rolled the diapers, mom helping when she could, and I formed the "cakes". Isaac helped, too. We were quite the team.

So if you ever need an idea for a baby shower decoration, here's my one and only idea. It's practical, too: the expecting mama gets to take home all those diapers!

First lost tooth

It came out this morning at church, after grandma gave it a good wiggle. On the way home, Ella announced that she was going to make a wish. We'd never discussed that in regards to losing a tooth, so I asked her where that idea came from. She told me that in this book, the little girl made a wish when she lost her tooth. Aha. So now we do the tooth fairy thing and make a wish.

Mark mentioned during that conversation that whenever he made a wish as a child, he wished for a good wife. [How sweet is that?]

Ella later informed me that her wish was for vanilla ice cream. We're such ice cream lovers, we'll be happy to oblige. But I might choose Bailey's Irish cream, myself.

I love it that this girl finally lost a tooth. She's been longing for this day for several months!

Verse #7 (and our new habit)

In all honesty, I feel a little cheaty about choosing this verse to memorize. Not that "cheaty" is a word. [In fact, spell check is clearly telling me that it's not. Spell check would prefer that I use the word chesty, actually, but I'm ignoring that and moving on.]

Well. Here's the verse, and then I'll tell you why I feel cheaty about it.
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

A good verse. And I need it. The cheerful heart part. I really struggle lately (okay, maybe always?) in sounding like a drill sergeant with my children, and I want so much to be a joyful, fun, smiling mama. [This morning I literally thought about hanging up a big sign for myself that says, "Lighten up."]

But the cheaty part is that I already know this verse. Not that I've actually taken time to memorize it before, but it's just one of those verses that I've heard so many times that I know it already. I don't know the reference, though. So I will be memorizing that.

But even though it feels a bit cheaty, I'm going with it, anyway. I'm still working on memorizing the last two verses, and because, like I said: I need the cheerful heart this verse speaks of, and it will be good to meditate on the verse and pray toward that end.

The kids are memorizing it, too. Cheerfulness is the new habit we're practicing. They're far quicker than I am at learning, and I figure if they "get" it and walk around all cheery and smiling, it just might be contagious. I've also bribed them just a bit, by telling them that the cheeriest child gets a jelly belly at the end of each day. [That may not seem like a lot to you, but to our children who rarely get candy, one jelly belly is ALL it takes.]