Category Archives: love

The one where I cry over a wet diaper

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You’re going to laugh at me.

This morning, I woke up early.  (No, that’s not the funny part.  Don’t laugh yet!)  I normally sleep until Mercy wakes up, since it’s hard to get out of bed with a baby draped over my lap, you know?   But this morning I woke up worrying about something, so I snuck out of bed and made coffee.  The boys weren’t even awake yet!  My house was quiet like my favorite 11:00pm quiet, only the sun was shining.

I heard footsteps upstairs just as the coffee finished brewing, so I darted back in the bedroom to hide with my cup of coffee.

I settled back in bed with coffee and a book.  Mercy woke up and climbed back in my lap to nurse.  As she did, I caught a whiff of her rank, wet diaper from nursing all night, and I had a sudden pang of nostalgia and sadness.  I wondered if it would be the last time I noticed that smell, combined with a warm, snuggly baby in my bed.  I would miss it, I realized… a scent marking this cozy time of motherhood.

Now is when I thought you’d laugh.

I knew I’d be sad about all the other lasts.  The last time teaching a baby to wave bye-bye, to blow kisses, or how a cow says “Mooooo!”  The last time I get open-mouthed, slobbery baby kisses, or laugh at a baby just discovering her belly button.  The last time I cheer wildly…  irrationally excited about first steps… and watch siblings get just as ridiculously excited.  “MOM!!!  Come here quick — Mercy is STANDING UP!”  A tiny miracle that — watching life unfold.

Last shared peach, sticky juice trickling down baby’s chin and Mommy’s arm.

Last time watching a toddler’s face light up as the fireflies blink on and off, and watch them chase fireflies in erratic patterns around the dusky front yard.

Last time hearing a toddler giggle with delight as I place a new brother or sister in their arms.

How can I be done, having babies?

No, never quote me on this, because I have an incredible weakness for the tiny ones, and you just never know…

But I do know that my growing-up children need me, and it seems like the bigger they get the more they need.  I don’t know how to be a grown-up Mommy.  Emotions from an almost 10 year old girl are way more difficult to handle that the emotions spewing from a 3 month old that just wants to tuck in and nurse.

How in the world do I take care of big kids?!

I wish I could pause time right now.  I’m not looking for later on… when things get easier.  (My guess is that’s a myth!)  My life is perfect right now.  I have a baby, my favorite thing in the whole world, and my older kids are independent, helpful, and still think I hung the moon.  They still hold me hand, tell me I’m the best mommy EVER, and ask me to tuck them in bed at night.  Half of them still scramble to sit in my lap when I sit for a movie.

So yeah, this morning, with a warm, stinky baby draped across my lap, I had a moment.  I watched my sleeping girl… memorizing her.  Freezing this moment in time.  Her chubby fingers twitching in sleep, the ones that like to pat my face and poke my nose.  Damp curls, growing longer by the day.  Perfect, healthy skin on that beautiful face, her adorable lips and tongue still making unconscious sucking patterns.

Oh heavens, I’m going to miss this.

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P.S.  I also sniffled a little as I tucked Zach’s outgrown fleece hoodie into a give-away bag.  I have no more boys to save clothes for!  It’s been a rough day for Mama.  *serious bawling going on over here…*

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Our first year

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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!

A week of extravagant loving

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My husband went back to work today.  I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a little panicked about this day!  (Me, alone, with six kids…)  He took the whole week off of work last week, just to spend time with us and help me out with kids and household stuff.

He’s been reminding me of Jesus.  Because, honestly, all week I’ve felt kind of guilty that he “wasted” a whole week of his vacation time on me!  Extravagant love.  I told him this last night, about the guilty feeling, and thanked him for giving me a whole week of his time.  He said, “No, nothing I ever do for you is ever wasted.”  He called it a wise investment, this week with me.

Love can leave you feeling vulnerable, because sometimes you can’t repay.  Sometimes you have to accept extravagant giving, and realize that in the heart of the giver, you are worth every single moment or penny.

And it can make you fall hard in love all over again.

I watched him sweep and mop the floor this week, just because he loves me.  He rocked my newest baby, and my bigger babies, and took care of kissing the boo-boos this week, and made pot after pot of coffee, did laundry, re-filled the soap dishes, changed diapers, bought us ice cream, took us to the park, drove us to a tea party and time with friends 2 hours away, built a tee-pee and slept in it with the boys, rubbed my back, organized the basement and the shoes, went down the slip and slide with the kids, chased away bad dreams, switched out bed sheets, put my bedroom and bathroom back together after painting, built a campfire and roasted hot dogs… and if I could be cheesy for a minute?  My heart caught on fire too.

I kept thinking, “He has nothing better to do?”  and it was true.  He chose that he had nothing better to do than lavish his time and energy on all of us, his family.

He kept saying, “I wish I’d done this with all of our babies… taken a whole week off!”  I said no, we were okay.  And maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it back then?  I’ve been upset before, that he couldn’t just see that there was hair on the bathroom floor and please vacuum it up because I’m really not supposed to life anything heavier than the baby!  I fumed instead of communicated, and took for granted his love.

(Now, I’d like to think I’m better at just letting go some of those messy things.  My kitchen floor didn’t get swept for days last week, and the crunch was an inch think by the time he swept it up!  It didn’t bother me.  My laundry room is a disaster.  I kid you not — a disaster!  It’s okay though.  My bathroom hasn’t been cleaned since before I went to the hospital.  That’s OK too.  I had company over to see the baby, and they sat at my table where discarded kids’ PJ’s were plopped next to the breakfast dishes.  Like my wise husband more than once has said, “What’s important will get done.”  I’m breathing in a baby, and her vanishing newborn days, and trying to focus on the other sweet young people in my life.)

I think that love, when not taken for granted, and just accepted in all it’s forms, can overwhelm you with its power.

We’ve had a rough year of it, my man and I.  Probably the roughest, relationally, since that infamous first year of marriage!  But it’s also been the sweetest year of all.  The thing is, God’s grace and love shine when we are weak.  And because we have God’s heart beating in us, we are stronger and more in love because of our struggles.

Yep!  I kind of love this amazing guy.  And Mercy, just so you know, in those those arms is one of the best places in the world!

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Join

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Today I’m joining Lisa Jo and her 5 Minute Friday crew.  It’s a beautiful community of honest, real people.  They pour their hearts out for 5 minutes straight and then hit “publish.”  No changing words!  I rarely join them (it’s SCARY!), but I’ve been inspired by my sister Anna’s storiesGo check her out!  You won’t regret it.

Join…

Join.  It requires a giving and a taking, this joining.  Always, when things are meshed together, there is NEW created!

I joined this family when I married my husband.  I choose to join myself permanently.  I joined the throngs of motherhood the day I got pregnant for the very first time, and now I’ve re-joined that group 4 times since.  We’re joined at the hip, the boob, the ankle, and at present babe — the hair.

I didn’t mean to join these groups so early!  My mother became a wife when she was 27, and gave birth to me when she was 28.  I just assumed I’d follow in her footsteps.  I’d see the world first, work longer at an orphanage, get involved with more children’s ministries.  And now?  I AM doing this.  (Well, minus the orphanage…)

My joining, it happened 4 years before my planned time, but God always has better planning.  Every single time.  He has me join friendships and places and situations to my life that are sometimes scary, sometimes uncomfortable, but I join anyway.  Because I choose to be joined, by Him.  It’s my surrender.

Beauty flows from surrender, and I have 5 breathtakingly gorgeous children that are joined to my life permanently.  That were created through a joining.  Through them I see the world, and I see God’s heart, and I work His kingdom work.

Yelly Mom with a big head

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I have been drop-dead exhausted recently. I know, I know — how entertaining is that?! But this is my Motherhood Chronicles. And right now, on the time-line, I’m TIRED! Dee and I sit down to watch a movie, and yep, you guessed it — I fall asleep! Without fail. Even if it’s a movie I asked him to pick up at Redbox!

The thought, “You could be pregnant…” crosses my mind, but then I laugh hysterically. (Also in my head, yes. I try very hard not to look like a dork!) I laughed the other week when Babycenter.com sent me an e-mail titled, “10 Reasons You’re Not Getting Pregnant.” What? You guys think I’m TRYING?

I DO love my kids to death, and I DO want more kids. But maybe not quite yet?

You can ask Dee though, I’m already catching baby fever here and there! I say stuff like, “Babe, if we just have 6 kids, how close do we want the next baby to be to Zach? Not too far apart in age, right? I mean, they need to be pretty close to be playmates.” Yeah, when I say stuff like that, Dee reminds me that Zach isn’t even a year old yet. So we have time…

He’s good for me, that man.

He sets boundaries. He knows I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to kids! I’d have a million of them, but then get stressed out and be “Yelly Mom.”

True story: The other day we were watching a WWII movie, set in Denmark, about the people hiding their Jewish neighbors and helping them escape to Sweden. So, the main mom, right? She’s upset at one point. My Cameron, he says, “Hey mom! That girl, the one with the big head, the yelly one — she looks like you!” Thanks, son. I’m not afraid to fish for compliments, so I asked, “Does that mean you think I’m pretty?” (Movie-mom had blond hair.) He half-snorted. “NO!” My other kids were all quick to chime in unison, “We think you’re pretty, Mommy!”

Sometimes their honesty melts your heart, and sometimes it hits you like a ton of bricks.

I’m almost positive Cameron was comparing me to movie-mom because of the blond hair and european cheekbones, not because of the yelling. But it still pricked my heart!

A mom at church said something that keeps reminding me of the right heart-tone towards children. We were in the nursing-moms room, talking about large families, and I mentioned how I easily get impatient. She said, she too, gets frazzled in a crowd (8 kids). She told me about the other day, when her kids went upstairs to watch a movie. One little guy wandered back downstairs to spend time with Mommy. She told me, with her hand over her heart and a happy sigh, “I just love that!”

She treasures those one-on-one moments.

If I’m gonna be honest here, I have to say that I sometimes grump about kids constantly trailing me, begging for Mommy time.

So I’m working on that! “Me-time” is hugely over-rated. I’m pretty sure that even though Jesus withdrew to be alone at times, He would never have scowled at a child that found His resting place. He would have delighted in that child.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and my goal is to treat my 5 beautiful children like the precious treasures that they are! I will seek to bless them as they have blessed me. I can’t even imagine not being a mother!

Empty means full, ’cause it’s always opposite day in the Kingdom!

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He takes his Bible and heads downstairs to read.  I roll up my sleeves and settle in to tackle my stack of dirty dishes.  I think about that scripture passage about married women caring for the things of the world, how to please the husband.

Plates with caked-on cheese, endless dirty underwear, smashed Cheerios, toys all out again, children to love on, sippy cups to fill, favorites to remember, toilets to wipe, checkbooks to balance… things of this world.

I remember when I could sit for hours and study scripture.  I could pray with my face to the sunshine, instead of prayers whispered with my face soaking up a hot shower.

Would I trade it?  The things of this world for the heavenly things?

Not in a million years!

The thing is, it’s one and the same, the heavenly and the worldly things I mention.

I am advancing God’s kingdom, and I’m doing it right here in my home.  I am raising and nurturing eternal souls.   And I am yelling to the world, “See this man?  See our crazy, unstoppable love?  I’ll show you scars, but I’ll show you forever too… and that is just a TASTE of God’s love.”

When a million years is gone, my investment and my treasure will still last, for millions and millions of years times inifinity.

My 10 minutes of Bible snatched here and there, it is GOOD!  (I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t snatch those minutes every day. Sometimes Facebook woos me louder than I listen to the Holy Spirit.)

My worship can be fingers scraping gunk from the kitchen sink, my lips matching soul with, “Sweet By and By.”

My worship is a 7-month-old babe that has four teeth pushing through, and wants to sleep with me all night long.

… And worship is making sure that Husband, on the other side of Babe, doesn’t get lost in this shuffle of motherhood.

Worship is listening to the love behind the demands of, “Mommy!  I want MOMMY to put me to bed!”

… And giving in to those demands, even if my mommy heart feels all wrung out for the day.  The weird thing about empty is, at least in the upside-down world of grace, the heart fills back up when it gives past empty.

Birthday Letter

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                                                                March 25th, 2012

Dear Megan,

Happy Birthday!  Are you really 3 years old?  It snuck up on me this year, your birthday.  You’re my baby girl!  It doesn’t seem like you should have birthdays.

When Kirstyn was born, I always knew I’d have another daughter.  Maybe lots of them!  I treasured the moments with my firstborn girl, always, but I wasn’t as sad as now… thinking about you growing up.  I might not have any more baby girls!  I want you to know that I have loved every single minute of your baby and toddler years.  You were a delightful, sweet, beautiful child.

You still are, and I’m still treasuring every single minute!  I’m soaking them up with all the Mommy sponges I can find.

I love the way you yell, “WAHOO!!!” when you’re excited.  Which is pretty much all the time.

I love the way you beg to go with me. Everywhere.  I used to carry you with me everywhere when you were a baby.  Daddy probably got tired of a third person on date nights, but I just loved holding you so much!  I barely let you out of my sight.

I remember in particular carrying you around the D.C. Zoo when you were maybe 6 months old.  You were in the Beco carrier, and I kept telling Daddy and Grammy, “I just LOVE carrying her around!”  I think they just smiled and ignored me after a while.

I love how you ride up to bed on my back, and we do “Where’s Megan?”  It cracks you up every single time, when we finally find you in the bathroom mirror!

I love the way you pile up a million things in bed with you.  Blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, purses, books, flip-flops… all your treasures!

I love how you make up a bed for Auntie Anna on the floor next to you.

I love the way you dance to “Cowboy Song” (Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”) and “Funky Jesus.”

I love the way you run around the kitchen table.

I love the way you crawl up in my lap, and your body still melts into mine.

I love how you plop your head down and ask me to scratch it.

I love that you still fall asleep on me.

I love watching you jump on the trampoline, your hair flying and your still-chubby (but not much) baby girl legs tucking up underneath you.

I LOVE your giggle!

I love the way you eat peas, broccoli, tomato sauce, and granola bars.  And plain cereal, without milk.  Just like me.

I love when you sometimes call me your “Mommy Anna,”  because then I’m two of your favorite people!

I love how you tilt your head back and grin.  Totally cheesy, but it works!  You melt my heart every time.

I love that you adore shoes.  All of them.  Shoes aren’t my thing, but hey — I’m up for learning new tricks!  I can’t wait to go shoe shopping with you.

I love that you share my love of coffee, and I love our morning coffee parties.

I love how you ask for the last sip!

I love watching you and Kirstyn have tea parties and play dress-up.  You’ve got the perfect big sister!

I love your brave spirit.  Like when you took off roller skating into the crowd spinning around you at Starland.  I’m the one who got dizzy, not you… watching my tiny little girl join that huge mess of people.

I love that you love.  Freely.  Openly.  Shy and flirtatious when the situation warrants!  You are beautiful, dear heart.  I love you so much it hurts.  You’ll understand someday, when you look at your own daughter and realize, “She’s me, but not me.”

You’ll realize that one day, too soon, she’ll stop bringing you dandelions.  She’ll go plant roots of her own.  So you’ll hug and squeeze her to smothers, and beg her to choose a book for you to read aloud.  So you can have one more time of soft baby girl on your lap, her hair under your chin, her heart inches from yours.

You’ll be head-over-heels in love, just like me.  So you don’t mind, do you, if I sneak into your room and steal a kiss?