Our year in smiles :o)

Wait for it...

I am waiting. Waiting to cry; waiting to rejoice. Waiting to go; waiting to be home. Lately I feel like I'm never where I want to be, physically, spiritually, emotionally. That nagging feeling that I should be getting groceries when I'm walking with the kids, or that I should be at home doing laundry when I'm with a friend. I feel impatient to grow and understand situations, when I clearly am not ready for answers or understanding of such magnitude.

Carl leaves for a TDY (temporary duty) trip on Monday, but he'll be back by Friday. I really dislike a lot of things about these monthly one week TDY that he's been tasked with. First, I have to be a "single mom" for a week. That stinks. Then I have to be alone for a week. I'm not an introvert, so that's actually a sacrifice for me. And there's all of the random cleaning and upkeep that he helps me with over the course of a week, which I have to do. So on the Sunday before he leaves, I am embarrassed to say I start to prepare myself for a cruddy week of "waiting for Dad."

I also have been waiting for my body to heal from this miscarriage, and to mentally heal from it too. I am okay with the whole process. It's odd to watch myself experience the stages of grief, and know my clinical state. For the most part, I'm good. But I'm not patient in the process. I'm ready. I'm ready to try again. I'm ready to carry another child, to feel the kicks, even to go through labor. I am ready. But God isn't. And so because I know that his plan is greater than mine. I will wait.

I was driving to the chapel this morning, and heard this song on the radio. You may have heard it by John Waller, from the movie "Fireproof." I have gotten so used to grumbling over how I hate to wait, and how ridiculous it is that things don't happen in an American minute. This song gave me an idea. For each day that Carl is gone, I will deliberately find ways to "wait correctly." While I'm waiting, I will praise, and serve, and love. While I'm waiting.


A quick update, just so we're on the same page, you and I: We found out that I was pregnant on April 20, via home pregnancy test. I was quick to share the news with everyone, because, well, I was just so DARN excited. We are READY for number 4! Two weeks later, I started to miscarry. After a trip to the emergency room, sonograms, blood tests every two days, more sonograms, buckets of tears, many sleepless hours, and a hard conversation with my kids, today we found out that this IS an actual miscarriage. There was some doubt for a while, since my hormone levels continued to rise despite the miscarriage. Usually those levels decrease as the body rids itself of all baby related tissue. So that's the deal. Short and sweet. There will be no Christmas baby for our family.

But that's only the smallest part of what this post is about. As I sat in the waiting room of the ER with one of the most amazing women I know, I noticed this tiny little girl. She was maybe 4 months old. Her little arms were splinted, and she wore an oxygen tube across her nose. It was obvious that she suffered from birth defects as her mom (maybe 20 years old) pulled a syringe full of formula out to feed her through a tube. In that moment I realized that as horrible and painful as a miscarriage feels now, a lifetime of watching my child suffer from birth defects is so much worse. According to this site (and numerous other sources that I've found in the last few weeks, while attempting to comfort myself with knowledge), anywhere for 2/3 to 3/4 of miscarriages occur because the baby just isn't forming the way it should be. And although I deserve every bit of pain and anguish watching my child suffer would bring, God granted me mercy. I know that's a weird way of looking at it, but I know that's what I was supposed to take from all of this.

You may also know that I recently started attending the chapel on base instead of going to Creekside. The move has been great in many ways, but also very difficult. Creekside is full of AMAZING people who became my family when Carl was deployed. These people opened up their homes, lives and groups to me and my children, and I honestly LOVE them. So when I started to feel God's pull for us to attend service at the chapel, I was less than thrilled. I went through quite a few weeks seeking counsel from my PWOC ladies, and toying with the challenge. In the end, I decided that whatever God had for me to do at the chapel was obviously more important than my comfort level, and happiness with attending Creekside. So we began attending service at the chapel, and I prayed and waited for God to reveal the work he had for me.

How arrogant was I to think that God moved us because I was useful to the chapel community? Through this whole miscarriage process, I realize now more than ever that, in spite of my own ideas for what I thought God had in His plan for me, He had something totally different in mind. God didn't have any "work" for me. He brought me into this body of people to care for me, right now, when I've needed it most.

And I know, without a doubt, that my Creekside friends would have prayed, and loved me, and helped me as much as they could, but in logistics alone, I would have never been as cared for as I am now. They are amazing people, and I hope that God has "work" for me there again someday because I miss Creekside like crazy, but for now, I'm in God's will, and that has turned out to be a good thing. And as another amazing woman reminded me the other day, watching God's plan unfold when you listen makes it that much easier to obey the next time he calls.

A friend once told me that in her life, she can label her difficult moments in life with "Even If" questions, and I think that true for everyone. No matter what happens, we hope to be able to choose to fall back in line with a positive answer to those questions. For me, a couple of "Even If's:" Even if God's request makes me temporarily unhappy, do I still believe that what he has in store for me is better than what I have now? Even if I don't get to have the baby that I thought I would, will I still say that He is good to me? After answering no to questions like this more than I'd like to admit, I'm glad to say these are a couple to which I can finally answer yes.

And like always, my one little bit of media, You Hands, by JJ Heller. LYRICS

And Counting....

This is going to be a really brief post, but something I feel strongly about. If you know me, that doesn't happen often. I'm being serious. I rarely have STRONG opinions on anything. I'm pretty middle of the road, and moderate. I tend to see multiple sides of an issue and don't generally pick sides. That's just how God made me.

But lately I feel a little, well, judged. I'm expecting baby number 4, and if you include Carl's daughter, that will make a grand total of 5 kids. Don't get me wrong. I am freaking out a little. 3 children is a lot of work, and I know 4 will be a big adjustment. But, NO, I don't think it's too many, or I wouldn't be having another child. At this point, I pretty much know how pregnancies happen, ya know.

So in my defense of all of the, "the world can't sustain that many children," or "don't you think that's excessive?" comments. I'd just like to say that my children bring me joy in a way that nothing else on Earth does. There is no replacement for family, and I want my children to have a large family. And I don't think it's wrong, or irresponsible to wholeheartedly invest myself, and the majority of my resources in what I absolutely have the most passion for. If someone has a passion for cars, 3 or 4 cars isn't excessive. What about shoes? I'm not likening my children to material possessions. I don't think of them like that. But the happiness that comes from having and raising my children is unmatchable at this point.

If I found something someday that made me as happy as being a mother makes me, then perhaps I would look at investing my time, passion and resources into that (not at the expense of my children of course), but for now, there isn't anything.

Okay, so there you have my STRONG opinion.

Sew Crazy

I don't have so much time for words lately, so my pictures will have to do for now. I've been spending most of my spare time (HA! Spare time is so non-existent!) sewing these days... I find myself daydreaming about my next sewing project rather than actually doing what I should be! Anyway, a few of my creations...

An apron for Grace- complete with velcro waist and elastic neck-strap so it's completely kid do-able.

Pillows for the kid's Easter baskets. This is Riley's. Grace's has orange and lime green flowers (bright, like her), and Asher's is Curious George.

Valances for my dining room.

A fun twirly skirt for Gracie...

And a snuggie for Riley (he rolls the sleeves up). I also made a cute monkey snuggie for Asher.

Asher is turning 2!

I can't believe how the time has flown... No words can express, so here's a few pictures instead.

I don't even want to consider what this is going to feel like at 15 or 20!

Reusable shopping bags...

I am completely aware that this blog is not going to be popular with my "green" friends, still I continue.

I have, for a long time, despised the fabric "earth-friendly" grocery bag. I think they're silly and trendy. Let me preface this by saying I don't think people who use them are silly, but the idea of bringing a grocery bag in to the grocery store to take home groceries is just plain odd. While I know there is a logical argument about grassroots movements, and how one person making a difference turns in to hundreds of people which may have an impact, I just think this is a step in the wrong direction.

The idea is: bring a bag with you, and use it over and over and save landfills from plastic grocery bags. After all, plastic bags take forever to disintegrate.

My multi-faceted problem with the idea: 1. Those bags hold a ton of bacteria and make people sick. Where do we store these bags? In the trunk, definitely not a germ-free zone. Are they used for a multitude of purposes like a diaper bag? Sometimes. How often are these bags washed? Rarely if ever. And if they are washed, is that any better for the environment than throwing away plastic bags? 2. How long do these plastic coated fabric bags take to disintegrate? I know that plastic in general takes 1000 years. Does that apply to these bags too? We're basically taking a plastic bag and reusing it 80 times, getting sick in the process, and then throwing it out eventually. Seems counterproductive. 3. If we're really worried about our impact on the environment, then why don't we just load our groceries back in to the cart without using any bags? Why not just take them package by package? I mean, that would be the most "environmentally friendly" thing to do, wouldn't it? And while we're at it, we should probably just stop buying anything that comes in any sort of packaging. Only fruits and vegetables, and lets carry meat by hand too (I'm being sarcastic). 4. We have to PAY for these bags. If that doesn't scream trend, I don't know what does. I think it's awesome to have a social trend that makes a positive statement. But when super grocery chains are taking our money so that we can participate in this fad, there is not an "environmentally friendly" stance behind that. It's about the bottom line.

I guess I'm feeling a little underwhelmed with the "green" movement these days. I'm all about making positive steps toward conservation, but it seems like sometimes society can really jump on a bandwagon before thinking it through. So next time you see me without my reusable bags, please don't judge me. I promise I won't judge you for having yours. And I'm off my soap box.

Dixie Lullaby

I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately. In general, there are very few days that he doesn't cross my mind, even though he's been gone for nearly four years. Most days, something reminds me of him, or one of the kids asks a question about him, which causes me to take a trip down memory lane. I've heard no matter what, the holidays are always particularly difficult for those who have lost a loved one. I don't know exactly why that's the case for me. I didn't necessarily spend many holidays with my dad that I remember. In fact, after 22 years of overlapping life between the two of us, I only have distinct memories of two different holiday seasons. The time that I did spend with my dad happened mostly during the summer, so it would make more logical sense for me to reminisce then. But really, when are my emotions and my cognitive self synchronized? Rarely, if ever. So during the holiday season, I make cherry popovers, to remember him. I reflect on the previous year, and wonder what he would have been proud of, and what he would have wished I did differently. I wonder what life lessons he would have liked to share with me, and which of my personality traits came straight from him.

As the day of his death approaches, I consider his last days, his restful hours, and even his last moments. I wonder what it felt like for him to leave this world, and enter the next. I consider his views on the world and our mortality, and then I put them aside. I remember seeing his cold grey body, hardened, in clothes that he would have hated, lying in the funeral home. I remember sobbing with my sister, gripping her hand so tightly. I think about how guilty I felt over enjoying the company of my family in a time of such grief, and taps playing, and placing a flower in a deep hole in the ground.

But for every one of the thoughts I have about his death, I have five about his life. I think about how he must have felt as a child, the oldest of five, with my grandmother as his mother. I wonder if he knew as a child how amazingly blessed he was to be raised by her, or if he learned that later in life. I remember his work ethic, and wonder where it came from. I remember his really big hands, and imagine all of the places, surfaces, and workspaces they've been. I consider his military career, how he ended it, just to take it back up. But the best thing about remembering my dad is that I always end back up at love.

When I was growing up, I was embarrassed to have divorced parents. But as a teenager, anything that makes you slightly different than your best friend is embarrassing, right? I never really got why my mom and dad couldn't love "right." As I've gotten older, I more understand that they both loved, and just the right way. They both loved more than most, and feared less than others. My dad was married several times. I seriously don't even have a count. That would embarrass any teenager right. As a very young adult, I considered this to be one of his major faults. I saw that he never stuck with a marriage when it got hard. It's funny how time changes everything, isn't it? Now I don't see his multiple marriages as failures so much, but more as his inability to contain his love. My dad loved relentlessly. He may not have known how to make a marriage work, and his past may have precluded him from maintaining all the structural work that a marriage requires, but he loved without ceasing. It was the one thing he always did, and always did well. I think he believed in the eternal redemptive power of love too. He never gave up hope that one day he would get it right. So while some may see my dad as the ultimate ladies' man, that would be a gross understatement. He was the ultimate man, period.

I've been attempting to put together his past in patches and other little keepsakes. I often feel so inferior for not knowing where all of these little pieces of his life fit. But tonight I heard Pat Green's song, "Dixie Lullaby," which I haven't heard in a long time. It reminded me of how unimportant all of those little things are, but how much more it means to pass down that love, and that love of family that my father gave to me. So tonight, I sang my kids their very own dixie lullaby, and danced with them in the living room.

And on the day that God took away one of the most important men in my life four years ago, this year, He is delivering my husband from a certain Hell of its own. I believe that's just one more example of how God can make anything good. I am humbled to serve such an amazing, thoughtful God. I love how, while He's taking care of the entire world, He is an individual God for me, and I am thankful for the time he gave me to learn from my father.

If you can't use the sound for whatever reason, here are the lyrics.
Here you'll find the everyday musings of life, as I see them, which is probably not the same as you see them... Mother, baker, student, wife and woman, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes in conflict. Enjoy!
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