Monthly Archives: August 2013

Mama’s gotta share pictures, you know?


“I see you… pretty girl… I love you so much”

Words I whisper to my baby when she wakes up, when she cries, when she smiles at me, as she’s learning about this great big world.  I hope these words I’m speaking into her ears reach her heart.  I hope she carries the truth of them always.  I hope she knows that my words are a reflection of God’s perfect love for her.

Isn’t this what we all crave?  For somebody to see us, truly, to our very soul, and call us beautiful?  To love us?  He does, you know.  Before we even knew Him, God called us beautiful.  He fashioned us carefully and tenderly while we were yet unborn, and stamped His image upon us.  Nothing else on earth can claim this beauty that is ours alone.

A month of photos


Pictures!  I might be a little snap happy with Mercy.  But that’s okay, right?  Baby obsession is healthy!  I think I took almost a picture a day, of her first month of life.  I’m curious to see the changes caught on camera…

Did you notice that handsome daddy holding the baby and flipping made-from-scratch raspberry/chocolate chip pancakes?  Yeah.  He’s mine.  And the photo wasn’t staged.  He’s just awesome like that!

Did you notice that the baby is being held in almost every picture?  Yeah.  We love her!  She’ll walk one day — I’m sure of it!





We bounce-bounce-rocked all the way to a month!


(from last night…)

We made it to the one month mark!  Not that I thought we wouldn’t, but that first month can be crazy.  Crazy sleep patterns, crazy messes, crazy no shower days, crazy mac and cheese again meals, crazy music to get the baby to sleep.

I know the music that plays on the radio station between 9:00 and 10:00PM, and between 10:00 and 11:00PM.  That’s usually when we’re doing the “bounce, bounce, rock” around the kitchen.  Tonight a song played called “Days of Grace.”  Totally appropriate.

Mercy didn’t fall asleep until 11:15PM. I held her All. Day. Long.  (Maybe a wee, tiny exaggeration?)  Yesterday was fabulous, her napping in bed and me getting lots of school done with my big kids.  Today she seemed to be asking, “Do you still love me?  Even if I won’t let you put me down?”  She didn’t cry or fuss, as long as I held her.  She looked up at me and crinkled her eyes, just like me, and practiced her smiles and coos.

Silly girl.

So we read books together.  And I did what school I could.  She must know now that 7+8=15, and Beowulf was a great, legendary Celtic warrior, and how to spell the word “the.”  We go back and forth between Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 3rd grade; so by the end of the year she should be ridiculously smart!  Oh, and we listen to Mozart and Bob Dylan on Pandora, and Toby Mac on iTunes.  She really is well-rounded in her education so far.

She learned how to pay a bill over the phone, because the internet was down, and maybe she learned not to procrastinate bill-paying.

We talked about the chickadees outside at the feeder.  Two birds come every day, so we named them Toby and Mac.  (Yes, my kids love that artist.)

Mercy LOVES her siblings!  Megan spends the most time with her, and is rewarded with huge smiles.  She loves to grin at Kirstyn too, and Cory.  She just loves to smile, really!  Cameron doesn’t hold her much, but when he held her this afternoon she craned her head around so she could look up at him.  I think she was telling him that she understood.  Everything about him.  Maybe she’ll be my other introverted child.

Mostly she winces when Zach kisses her!

She’s just like me.  I’m rubbing off on her, literally!  Sunday evening, our church had a beautiful creek baptism.  Glorious!  I cried as some of the dads baptised their kids.  Anyway, as we were walking away from the creek, I noticed Mercy’s face sparkling in the sunshine.  It was my make-up, rubbing off on her from all the kisses and snuggles.

Now I’m going all figurative on you, but isn’t that what happens?  The people we spend time with rub off on us.

My kids love the things I love, say the things I say, and do the things I do.  Mercy even has my sleep patterns, from spending so much time with me!  Yes, girl, 11:15PM to 10:00AM is ideal.  I admit.  All of my kids love to cuddle, and all of my kids are fairly laid back.  The doctor yesterday even said as much, about Mercy!  Some things I’m proud to claim, like their penchant for words, and books, and gentleness with animals, their love of the outdoors, and just life in general.  My kids know bird names, tree names, and flowers.  They even know some of the weeds that are yummy to snack on, or have medicinal benefits!  Cameron, especially, seems to enjoy pruning and weeding with me.

My oldest child hates Cheerios, bananas, eggs, and raisins.  Just like me.

Every single one of my kids LOVES coffee!  I think I’m proud of that one…  Coffee wards of depression and cancer, after all!

Sometimes my kids drop a phrase or tone that makes me cringe and think, “Oh!  I speak that way.”

And I realize that I need to spend more time with God, to pick up His ways and personality.

So, baby girl — and the rest of my children — let’s hang out with Him together!  Your mama is learning just as much as you, on this journey of motherhood.  Let’s soak up His face, and sparkle with His grace.



The word on LisaJo’s 5 street:


It’s the small things here that make a big impression on my heart.

The way he fills the soap dish when it’s empty.  Or stocks the bathroom cupboard with toilet paper.  Yes, I notice every time!  It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  He gets up with the baby, rocks her back to sleep, and then gets up with the 1-year-old too.  He makes coffee and feeds the wild things, and takes them to the basement so I can drink my coffee in peace.  Saturday mornings don’t get much better!

Little things are the concrete in our marriage.

And then there’s my small loves.  The ones I birthed.  Huge imprint, these small people.  Or maybe not so small anymore?  I’m in denial about some things!  My oldest is turning 9 in just a couple of weeks.  Um, HOW?!

Small things add up.  They grow up.  They make me fall in love, and they make me a mother.  Is there really such a thing as “small” in marriage or mothering?  Words do big things to tiny hearts.  Just a tone can set the whole day.  Small gestures of love can absolutely set your heart on fire.

Saving up $5 to buy him an orange creamsicle frapp from Starbucks.

Telling me that even if he bought me a drink every day, it would not be wasted money.

Driving home from work, just to pick us up and drive back into town for a family trip to Sam’s Club.  Where, by the way, I feel like the circus come to town!

What a big impact small can be.

Five Minute Friday

Handling hardships myself is crazy talk!


I read an article today, about how false it is to tell someone, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

It’s true, the false ring to that statement!

I won’t even try to list all the horrible tragedies that some people are facing.  But you probably know somebody who is, or you might be facing something yourself.

I was just going to talk about what I know — motherhood.

Even my midwife uses this phrase.  She said it to me when I sat in her office for my first visit with baby #4.  I told her, “I didn’t mean to get pregnant this soon!  I don’t know how in the world I’m going to handle four kids!”

She said, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

Ha!  I would have burst out laughing if I wasn’t the polite type.  God gave me that baby, my sweet Megan, in spite of myself.  He also gave me a mother-in-law that lives right next door, to help with my kids, and a husband that loves babies and doesn’t mind a disaster zone for a house.  He gave my husband a good job, so we can afford to have babies.  And he made the coffee bean.  And placed the idea of Starbucks in somebody’s brain.

There’s absolutely no way on earth I could do this alone.

Just last night, for example, I was crying at 10:30, rocking my baby #6 to sleep.  She doesn’t always sleep too well outside of my arms.  So I had a mess in my kitchen, a mess in my laundry room, dust and dirt everywhere, clothes piled high in my bedroom, stuff covering my kitchen table and counters, and a chicken in the crock pot that’s been simmering on low for days.

Maybe it’s the chicken that got me.  I’ve turned it off a couple of times now, let it cool, and then turned it back on because there’s no way I have time to pick the meat off the bones and make soup.  So it’s still just cooking.  It might still be cooking next week, or maybe I’ll just feed it to the cats.

I’d like to make bread, but I can’t even make it to the store to buy bread.  So we’re dipping shredded wheat in hummus.

I did finally get my bathroom cleaned, halfway, heading into week #4 of unclean, while Mercy was lying on my bed after a diaper change.  She seems to enjoy gazing around my room while I change her diaper, so I have about 5 minutes of free time until I have to pick her up again.  I scrubbed in the toilets, since the grime was starting to come alive, (and when you sit on the toilet you don’t really want to think about living organisms down underneath…) and I wiped down on the toilet, so I don’t have to scrub dried pee off of Zach’s hands every time he pulls himself up to the bathroom sink.

Then 5 minutes were up, and Mercy told me she wanted me to hold her again.

I wiped down the floors today.  Maybe I’ll do the sinks tomorrow.

I did take the trash out, since the maxi pads and piles of diapers were starting to stink up my whole room.

My Bible right now usually consists of flipping the daily calendar on my kitchen windowsill.  If I get up at a decent time in the morning, I can read my Bible and drink coffee all alone.  I’ve enjoyed that a few times.  But Mercy usually sleeps until 8:00 or even 10:00 some mornings, and after sleeping off and on all night, half-sitting, propped up on pillows, I’m usually gonna choose the extra sleep!

My kids watch TV in the basement until I wake up and feed them.

I’m freaking out about another year of homeschooling.  Add a newborn, and only God could pull off such a stunt!

I lean on Him, hard.

Last night, with tears burning my throat, and that sweet baby in my arms, I asked Him to help.  Just. Help.

I don’t have elaborate prayers these days!

My suspicion is, that the people who do manage to do it all themselves are full of pride.  And those people who are falling apart at the seams?  Maybe even contemplating the end?  Facing heartbreak?  Why in the world would you tell them that they can handle this… That God expects them to… That He gave all this tragedy to them.  What happens when they fall flat on their face?  Shame, and failure.

No.  If God did give it to them, He meant for them to bring that burden to Him.

And sometimes… sometimes it’s not God.  Our adversary, the devil, walks about this world as a roaring lion.  This fallen, sinful world.  This world that is not meant to be our home.  This world that is not perfect, and where people die.  And people hurt you.  And you have to watch children hurt and die.  And God never meant it to be so full of pain.

(I’m not still talking about just having a lot of kids.  I know why that happens!)

You might be lying if you tell somebody that God gave them the trial they’re facing.  Maybe a couple who desperately wants children is facing infertility.  Or a child is handicapped.  Or dead.  Or ill.

This world is ill, and God didn’t make it that way.

We did, and He offers hope.  He will take vengeance on the evil that we were never meant to handle.  He will justify the righteous and defend the innocent.

It doesn’t make the pain of this world go away, but it gives us hope.  I’m pretty sure life would be terrible without hope!

Hope is Jesus.  The answer is Jesus.

Next time you hear somebody say “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” please speak up and say, “Yes, He will, but He’ll also give you Jesus!”

(P.S.  My laughable “trials” of motherhood insanity are nothing compared to what some of you are facing!  I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges.  But the answer is always Jesus.)

Our first year


We were fairly strangers, Derek and I.

I came home from Moscow, Russia, in March of 2003.  Eight months later, I was married!  Derek lived in Pennsylvania, and I lived in Massachusetts, so this meant little face to face time, and a lot of letters and phone calls.  However, all of the letters I wrote had to be read and approved by my dad first, and all phone calls had to be chaperoned by my siblings.

It was ROUGH!  I remember being so mad at my dad a few times, because of his courtship terms, that I chose to sleep all night in the Toyota rather than sleep under the same roof as my dad.

Not passing blame, just telling our story.  My parents and Derek’s parents were both immersed in an ultra-conservative home school movement, and he and I were both the firstborn guinea pigs.  My parents have since changed a little in regards to courtship “rules,” and Derek’s parents have pretty much changed 100%.  So my sisters, and definitely Derek’s sisters, have benefited from our trial and error experience.

Even after Derek and I were engaged, we were never allowed to be completely alone.  (The letters and phone calls no longer had to be monitored, which was nice.)  There was always supposed to be a chaperone!  Talk about frustrating.  (We did manage to sneak in a kiss before we got married!)   So when we finally got married, there were just piles and piles of issues and attitudes that simply hadn’t even been presented, never mind discussed and worked through as a couple.

Frankly, I think that a couple should be one in spirit, soul, and to a certain extent body before marriage.  Who wants to sleep with someone with whom you haven’t created “sparks” yet,  through appropriate physical contact?

We were married in November, 2003, and I moved to Pennsylvania, eight hours from my family and New England home.  Those dark winter days were depressing, and we lived in our basement while we were working on finishing the first floor of our house.  I got pregnant right away, so I had crazy hormones to deal with.  I was sick because I was pregnant, and my mom and sisters weren’t there to keep my company.  My husband was busy 24/7, working a day job and then coming home to build our house.  Which was a great thing, of course, building a house, but I was very lonely!  Any free time Derek did have, he wanted to spend watching a movie, crashed on our couch.  I wanted to go OUT!

We hadn’t learned to communicate our different needs.

The summer after we were married, I finally made him understand that I really, really wanted to DO something with him before our baby was born and it would never be just him and me again.  So we tried an overnight canoe trip.  That was a horrible, horrible trip.  We started the trip off mad at each other, over an unresolved issue, and we just festered and spewed until by next morning we were barely speaking to each other.

We did try again, and this time our camping trip to two different KOA campgrounds while I was 8+ months pregnant was a sweet time together.  A special, positive memory of our first year!

He learned that even though building a house for me was, yes, love in action, I also needed love to just do nothing with me but fritter away time.  I learned to communicate respectfully, and not nag.  (Both lessons we’re still learning!)

Oh my word, I was such a nag!  I was the embodiment of a critical wife.  I remember once, he was down on his knees, grouting the tile in one of our bath rooms, and I was “suggesting” that he was doing it wrong.  HELLOO!  He’d been building houses and things all his life.  I knew nothing about construction!  I don’t think I would’ve known to call drywall “drywall” before I got married.

I would question his decisions to replace wiper blades on the car, change out the tires, or spend money on more tools.  Um, again, I knew nothing about vehicles, and he’d been working on vehicles and all things mechanical for just about half his life.

Derek is very close to his mom, and this posed a big problem early on in our marriage.  We live right next door to his parents, so that did not help!  At all.  Many days he’d come home from work and stop by his mom’s house first, to chat with her about his day, before coming home to see me.  And of course, if he was mad at me, his mom was the first person he went to.  We rarely talked through our arguments, feelings, and differences.

Think you’re not a selfish person?  With anger problems?  Get married.  Ha!  But I think we were above average with the petty, selfish fights.

Oh, the many times I stomped off down the road, barefoot, and hid in the trees so he couldn’t find me!

Yeah.  I did that.

Or the time I tried to lock myself in the bathroom I was so mad, not realizing that he was an expert at picking locks.

Or when I tried to run away from him to our second floor.  Ridiculous, since our second floor, at that time, was just studs!  He chased me right through the wall.

He kept pursuing me.  And God kept pursuing both  of us.  Now we can look back with laughter on those bumpy mountainous marriage patches, and realize that God’s grace is greater than our sin.  AMEN!  (Sorry.  I got excited!)  Our marriage today is strong and sweet, because of Jesus.  A three-strand cord is not easily broken!