The Resting Place

I hate when I make excuses. Nothing makes me feel worse than not following through on what I know deep down I should be doing.

While some excuses may be valid, most often we’re just trying to get out of what’s good for us. Here have been some of mine in the past:

“I can’t go for a walk, it’s winter.”

“I can’t expect to grow in my faith, I have little kids.”

“I can’t communicate openly with my spouse because I am afraid of being yelled at.”

These are poor excuses that only limit me and my ability to walk in freedom.

So as a part of my brave initiative for 2015, I have been determined to ratify excuses in my life.

I have been trying to find time to spend with the Lord. I shared in a previous blog post that I felt the Lord asking me to wake up before my kids so I could start the day with a clear mind and a heart that’s set on him.

Although it has been a battle, with the kids starting to wake up earlier and earlier, I am really enjoying the moments I manage to get.

Even still, with my best intentions for getting up early, my plans can be sabotaged by innocent kids.

A while back someone shared with me the idea of simply leaving your bible open at a natural resting point in your house. The suggestion was that those times when you take a moment with your coffee, or stop to think about supper, you end up in the Word.

I have done this a lot the past couple of years as I’ve endeavoured to not give in to the excuse that in my current stage of life I will be distant from the Lord.

My resting place is just under the cup cupboard. I naturally pause there, in the midst of dirty dishes and to do lists. With my bible open, I receive truth and encouragement from the verse that’s up next in my daily reading.11004078_10155212755090431_1645523712_n

During the toughest season with my daughter, I was not getting much time for anything at all, and my resting place was the half wall between the kitchen and living room in our old house.

I would stop there, checking on the kids while prepping food, and God would whisper something to me through His word that kept me going through those extremely challenging months.

My husband started doing the same thing, I think accidentally. Because of his Bible being open, God used it as a chance to really speak to me.11026773_10155212761665431_691383642_n

 

In this passage He challenged me to not think like everyone else, but to continue to put my trust in Him. It was exactly what I needed that day.

Take some time to see where your natural pausing points are around the house. These spots may just become your Holy Ground.

Hebrews 4:12 says

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Having your bible open symbolizes its power in your life, and your permission to have God speak to you in the midst of everything, everyday.

“That was fun, but now we’re done.”

*Eli’s birth photos are courtesy of my amazing Corina Riley, who was not only my doula, but captured these stunning pictures, moments I will treasure forever.*

We knew Eli was going to be our last baby from the start. There was no accident in the eighteen month age difference between the him and Amayah.

We wanted more than two kids. Andrew and I both enjoyed multiple siblings, and all the two kids families I babysat seemed to fight more.

After Amayah, the thought of another pregnancy, another birth and potentially another colicky newborn terrified me to no end.

So we made a brave (or stupid) decision to fast track our family and have the last one right away and move on.

My first months being pregnant with Eli were so depressing. I cried all the time, wondering why on earth I had done this to myself – all day sickness and a daughter that didn’t sleep?

It’s funny how a year can fly by just like that and the little boy that I questioned if I should have conceived, has been one of the brightest lights in my life since the beautiful day he came.

There are many reasons why we can’t go through with having another baby, some too personal for even a blogger to share.

But as my baby boy grows at lightening speed, the reality is hitting me.

No more newborns.

That sentence alone can draw tears from my eyes.

When I think about that part my heart aches – it’s such a short season.

I will miss that feeling of extreme pain to extreme joy, and the awe and wonder of a new life.IMG_7881_Edit

I will miss the proud look on my husband’s face as the new baby lays on my chest.IMG_7890_Edit

I will miss the soft cuddliness of a new baby that can hardly move and the thrill of showing a new baby off to older siblings.

All the parts that sadden me the most are over in a few short weeks.

After I had Caleb I thought there was no way that we would get the three kids we wanted. Pregnancy was so hard, and birth so difficult, I believed there was no way we could go through the process again.

But we did. Two more times. And that was the bravest thing I have ever done in my life.

Getting pregnant the first time we were excited and naive, but the following two babies took all the courage I could muster to commit to carrying another life.

I wouldn’t trade my three precious children for anything in the world.

I’m reminded of a Daniel Tiger rhyme: That was fun, but now we’re done. It’s time to say goodbye.

Well parts weren’t so fun, and now we’re done, so I’m letting myself say goodbye to that stage of my life that came so slow and left so fast.

I thank Jesus for the privilege of allowing me three incredible experiences to carry and then birth my babies with no drugs and great skin to skin bonding.

I thank Jesus for a husband who stood by me the whole way through, and continues to loves me even though he saw me at my worst, three times.

Caleb, Amayah and Eli – you each changed me for the better. I’m so proud to say you are our family.
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The Best Date Night Ever!

date night blog.001Now that you have hopefully agreed to go on three dates in three weeks, here are a few things we have discovered that help us with our dates!

Remember I said yesterday that half our dates are out and half are at home? Here are some things we’ve learned about our going out dates.

1. Pray that day. It seems like every time we plan to go out, the kids don’t sleep well, life feels like a disaster and we end up getting in some varying degrees of an argument.This is totally the enemy trying to keep us from this much needed time together. Pray on date day that the Lord would guard your hearts and that no offence would be easily taken up.

2. Choose a question to ask each other. How many times have you got to a restaurant and suddenly felt like you had nothing to say? Or we end up talking about how to deal with a parenting issue that’s been really challenging…or even worse: FINANCES! (we’ve now learned just to never talk about finances on a date…)

I crave deep conversations and too many times I came home feeling disappointed and like we had paid a babysitter for nothing until we started this.

Before we go on our dates we each think of something we are going to ask. It can be as ridiculous as “what animal do you see yourself as?”, to “where would we live if there were no limitations?” or “what has the Lord been speaking to you about this week?”.

Our conversations have taken us places we couldn’t have imagined with a pre-meditated question.

3. Leave the kids. The first time we left Caleb to go on a date, my little baby was two weeks old! It was our first anniversary and we had the blessing of parents close by who we felt very safe leaving him with.

I remember running into someone that night and them looking shocked that we didn’t have our newborn with us out for supper. I felt so guilty for leaving him alone (even though it was really only two hours).

Looking back, I see how that was one of the best moves we could have made, setting the precedent off the bat that our marriage comes even before the kids, and that the best thing we can give our kids is a strong relationship between us.

When it comes to babysitters, we totally understand seasons of not feeling like you have extra to pay one. We are blessed to now have a “babysitting fund” that is a top priority in our monthly budget.

If you don’t have family near by, offering to trade babysitting with another couple is a really great idea. We tried this a few times, and it worked great. It was one of my friends, so I knew her kids, and vice versa. Be creative, but don’t give up trying to come up with a way to get on a date!

4. Keep it lighthearted. Studies show that laughing together and trying new things create a bond between a couple that can help carry them through the tough times. Trying new food, walking a new path, or sharing a new experience all can draw you closer.

 

 

 

Too busy not to date.

It’s the weeks that we look at our calendar and say there is no time for a date, that we know we are too busy not to carve it in. We actively clear two or more hours of our schedule and make one happen.

I’m thankful that with my husband, there is always time for a date.

Our church has taken on the “date night challenge”. You can too, even if you don’t live anywhere near us!

Here are a few reasons that Andrew & I make time to “date” each week. I would say half our dates are at home dates, and the other half we get family, friends or a babysitter to stay with our kids.

1. No matter what is going on in our lives, when we stop to spend time with just each other it reminds us that we got married because we enjoy each other, and that we value one another and put the other before sports, friends or other things that we would enjoy doing in our spare time.

Even when there is no “spare time”, creating this space energizes our relationship as it speaks volumes to one another that we are in this for the long haul.

2. Couples that laugh, talk and have fun together, literally do stay together. Even if it’s a stretch to find common interests, find one thing that you can bond over!

One thing I love about Andrew is that early on in our relationship he took a chance and tried some things that I liked, even if he assumed he wouldn’t. It challenged me to do the same. Turns out even though some of these activities, movies or interests weren’t common in the first place, they are now.

3. Life quickly becomes an administration project. I know with working together, managing a household, dealing with three kids, we can quickly only talk about things that are simply administrative details. Even when we try to avoid it, work and the kids seem to always creep in to our conversations!

This can damage intimacy if we aren’t careful to talk about what’s going on inside of us, and how we’re growing and changing.

When you have deeper, more meaningful conversations with just about anyone else in your life except your spouse, that’s a red flag. Don’t worry though, it only take a little effort to get back on track!

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(Photo booth at the date night challenge! Photo cred: Brooke Haus)

So here’s what our church is doing. We have each committed to go on three dates in three weeks. It takes three weeks to form a habit, and we know that once you experience regular dating again – you won’t want to go back to your routine before!

God gives us another for whatever challenges we may face!

 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

Don’t let the chaos of life dry out your most precious relationship!

More more information on dating your spouse and the Date Night Challenge visit www.datenightchallenge.com

Torticollis Trouble

When my first born was two months old I was down on the floor playing with him and I watched his eyes follow an object. I noticed that his head didn’t follow the one direction.

I took him to the doctor and learned about a condition I had never heard of before – torticollis. This is defined by an abnormal, asymmetrical head or neck position, which may be due to a variety of causes. The term torticollis is derived from the Latin words tortus for twisted and collum for neck. (wikipedia)

This took us on a one year journey at a rehabilitation centre, with many stressful days.

I had a lot of guilt. I had followed everything the hospital told me about tummy time, not leaving him on his back, etc. Caleb was one of the first babies treated for this disorder at our local rehab centre.

When it came time to make the decision on whether we needed to pursue helmet treatment, I found the decision excruciating. There was no guarantee that the treatment we were doing at the time would correct it, and if it did get worse, his facial features would start to pull out of line.

We prayed and felt that we were not to go ahead with treatment, which involved traveling eight hours every week for the first while.

In the end me did make the right decision, and the physiotherapy did correct his flat spot, strengthened his neck and corrected his tilt.

Then Amayah came along. I was overly cautious to make sure that we watch her neck and went far above and beyond what was necessary for a newborn in preventing flat head.

But she was diagnosed with torticollis too. Her’s wasn’t as bad, and with what we knew from our extensive treatment with Caleb, it corrected itself.

I couldn’t understand how my two kids had this condition. What were we doing wrong?

Now with Eli, we were almost obsessive with making him do tummy time, laying on his sides, and keeping him off his head when not napping.

Then all of a sudden his flat spot appeared and quickly became bad. The doctor told me he had “stage 4 torticollis”. I had never heard the term “stage 4” used to describe anything but life threatening illnesses, and I was sure we’d end up having to make the trip to an Alberta hospital quickly, before his eyes, nose and mouth were pulled out of line, and dangerous pressure was put on his brain.

I came home from the doctor and cried to Andrew. We were doing everything we possible could, and I was embarrassed. The first thing a medical professional always assumed was that we just left our kids on their back all day.

This week we had our assessment at the rehab centre that Caleb was treated at. Our therapist said we were the first repeat cases in siblings he’d seen.

Got to love being the exception in weird things like this.

Then they told me something that has finally freed me from my guilt. Repeat cases like this are generally caused by how the babies are carried in the mother’s womb.

It still was affected by my body, but we legitimately did do everything we could to protect our babies from torticollis.

Sometimes circumstances literally are completely out of our control. No matter how hard we tried with our kids, they were going to get a dangerous flat stop if not caught.

Even though out of my control, they have not been out of God’s control, or out of his watchful eye. After we caught Caleb’s case, they were astonished that a first time mom observed it, but I know that God made me aware of it.

We still don’t know if we’ll have to go for a helmet with Eli, but I know that so far my kids have each avoided the life long detrimental affects of torticollis as we have continued to pray that the Lord would bring all things hidden to light, and to make us aware of the things we could not know on our own.

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Caleb “reading” Eli a story to help him stay calmly in his side lay positioner.

 

Baby weight blues

The third baby has been hard on my body. And I’ve been hard on myself.

In all honesty, I’ve been really struggling with feeling extremely frustrated with my weight, extra skin, and other things I don’t like about myself since giving birth one last time.

I’ve felt a little ripped off. I didn’t gain any extra weight with Eli, so I thought I’d be “back to normal” quickly.

So not true.

I have struggled with gaining weight after baby like I never have before. Maybe it was having a newborn at Christmas. Maybe it was not having a spring baby (I used to walk so much when the others were new babies).

Whatever it is, I’ve been discouraged to say the least.

One of my brave things for the year has been to accurately look at my fitness goals, and not beat myself up, but be realistic and take steps forward.

The mind battle I play is always that I’m not doing enough. I’m not exercising enough, eating well enough, drinking enough water.10967053_10155127990595431_1905459958_n

Andrew has taught many times to just ask yourself if you’re doing more than you used to. Who cares if you’re doing enough, but are you doing more than you have been? Are you making progress?

So last night, I was bravely speed walking in -30 weather, have a conversation with myself and the Lord.

I was mulling over the concept of “loving our bodies.”

I haven’t been feeling much love toward my body lately.

So the Lord flipped it for me. He asked “does your body love you?”

Well what does that mean? I asked.

Is your body feeling love from you in terms of choices your making? Even if you aren’t doing everything you want to, are you making progress?

I found this to be really encouraging. This challenged the mental side of me. My body wants to be cared for by the side of me that nourishes, strengthens and encourages myself.

I need to treat my body in such a way that it would be appreciative of my decisions.

I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone else, but I feel at peace in changing my focus. I can be zoned in on making sure that my body is feeling the love, rather than if I’m happy with how I’m looking.

If I care for my body in that tender way, hopefully the results I want will come, in time, and with a healthy mind!

Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (AMP)

The longest three minutes

Today I lived through the longest three minutes of my life.

After a busy week, this morning I was a running a little behind getting over to the church, so Andrew hauled all three kids the long ten step walk.

I got there, talked through the service with Andrew, then realized I should check on the kids (who had been just playing in a Sunday school room).

Caleb walks in and I asked where his sister was. He didn’t know.

I went downstairs, and heard very, very faint crying.

Now our church is not big, it couldn’t be “off in the distance” crying.

Suddenly I was concerned that she had locked herself somewhere in the dark, most likely the bathrooms.

I went there first. She wasn’t there.

Weird.

I looked in all the usual little spots downstairs, while calling her name.

The faint crying stopped.

“Amayah, baby answer mommy!” I started yell panicked. I had heard of things falling on kids and them being too hurt to scream out.

No answer.

My panic was starting to rise.

“Caleb, get daddy now!”

My husband does not get rattled easily, but when he couldn’t find her downstairs either, we both started to freak out.

I was nearly paralyzed. JESUS!! Where could she be? Why isn’t she answering me!

We both ran outside and circled the building. She wasn’t wearing a coat, and it was cold. If she was outside, she could get lost quickly.

Jesus!!! 

My terror was now to the point where I was going to throw up. I was hyper ventilating, and the other girl in the building was starting to cry.

Caleb started to get emotional, “I just want to play with my baby sister again.”

Oh Lord, don’t do this to us, please don’t let this kind of thing happen, I prayed.

Suddenly the other girl yelled, “I hear her! I hear her! She has to be somewhere in this area!”

I was frustrated, there was no way she could be there, I had already looked and she wasn’t in the bathrooms!

Well I opened the door to the ladies washroom, and there in the pitch black was my beautiful baby girl, smelling yucky like a poop, with a very concerned look on her face.

Instantly my sheer terror transformed into incredible relief.

I started bawling and shaking, rocking her back and forth, “Where were you? Why didn’t you answer me?” and thanking Jesus over and over for showing us to her.

I think she crawled under the vanity, and I must have missed her in the dark with her being silent, but I’m still not sure.

All I know, is today I realized all over again how important my kids are, and experienced, for a moment what it would be like if something happened to one of them.Amayah

I love my kids so much, and that’s basically all this story revealed. They are three of the best things that have ever happened to me, and I continue to trust Jesus to keep them safe from all my deepest, darkest fears.

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.
Psalm 16:7-9