Hello, Fall. I’ve Been Waiting For You – 5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall

Hello Fall. I've Been Waiting For You - 5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Hello, fall.

I’ve been waiting for you.

By far, Fall is my favorite time of year. This year, the Minnesota weather has been cooler than normal, so it started feeling like fall in late August.

While some are still mourning the loss of summer…I am celebrating fall.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall

5 Reasons This Mama Is Grateful For Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

ALL. The. Apples.

By late August, I am ready for orchard apples. While Pink Lady apples are my choice when it’s not apple season, they simply do not compare to orchard apples.

I wait ALL year to pick those first apples so we headed to the nearest orchard on September 1st. It was lovely – we went early on Friday afternoon and were alone in the orchard picking a bounty of McIntosh (my favorite) and Zestar apples. Now the kids are running to the fridge for an apple after school and we don’t have to fight over what constitutes a ‘healthy snack’. I’m grateful our favorite orchard is just 10 minutes away. We’ll buy apples as long as they have them (and hopefully stock up just before they’re out).

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it does make all of us rather HAPPY.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Boot Weather

A former life guard, I used to love baking in the sun. And, after all those winter indoor pool hours, humidity never bothered me. That is, until we had kids. I’m not sure if I changed and can’t handle it, or if it is caused by becoming a walking pack-mule who hauls kids and their stuff everywhere we go. Either way, I loathe the heat and humidity and love the 70 degree days with a cool evening. Cooler nights mean no bugs – in Minnesota where the running joke is that the state bird is really the mosquito, a no-bug evening is a gift.

And, finally, fall marks the return of boot-wearing weather. Tall boots, short boots, rain boots, leather boots…so long shorts! Oh, how I love boot-weather!

Routines

While I miss the kids while they are at school, I love the repetition and structure of the fall schedule. It feels like we’re shaking off lazy summer days and stepping into productivity. This summer was less structured than ever before and it was wonderful. But I was also very ready for it to be done. Actually, I was ready about a month before it ended. While the lack of structure is rejuvenating and relaxing, I just don’t thrive in an unstructured environment for an extended period of time. I find I accomplish less and lack motivation without deadlines or places to be.

After this first week of the fall schedule, I’m exhausted, but I am loving the return to BSF, kids in school, and my morning routine of waking up before the kids. In the morning I feel ready for them to get up. At the end of the day, I feel so much more productive and like more has been accomplished than on the majority of summer days.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Fall Fun

Bonfires, apple, raspberry and pumpkin picking, hiking, collecting leaves and taking in the colors, cooking soups and baking pies, football, soccer and more! There are so many activities on our fall bucket list, there just isn’t enough time to do it all. Fall activities make up some of our most treasured family time of the year. We’re off to a great start but have much more to do fit in before fall ends.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Hot Cider, Tea, Coffee

I love sitting outside on a cool morning or evening holding a warm mug of hot tea, cider or coffee. It’s kind of silly, but the smell and warmth of the mug in my hands is just better in the fall. In fact, I’m going to go get a cup of something hot right now.

 

What do you love about fall?

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An Accident – No Longer A Slave To Fear

 

An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.comToday I am choosing to tell this story, not out of self-pity or for attention, but for two very important reasons: First, to raise awareness of Epi-Pen safety, and second, to share how God was faithful, and how His presence gave tangible peace and help in a situation that was very scary for our family. Here goes…

Yesterday was a normal summer day.

The kids and I got up, ate breakfast and took a walk to the park.

Upon returning, we got ready and a neighbor invited our son to join them for the afternoon. The girls and I ran errands and came home for naps.

30 minutes into rest time, I found our 4-year-old sunshine girl on the floor, surrounded by books. We headed downstairs to read the books in the library bag.

We read every single one.

When finished, she asked if there were more books in the bag. Standing, I told her we read them all and walked to the kitchen to start cleaning.

She dropped from the couch to the floor and looked in the bag. I washed one dish. I heard a strangely loud plastic ‘click’ and looked at her.

I couldn’t see what she was doing. She was looking down at something behind the bag on the floor. It was such a strange noise, I asked her if she had broken something.

At my voice, she looked up – her eyes wide, as big as quarters. At her shocked, fearful look I ran.

In her hand was the Epi-Pen Jr. we carry everywhere for our son’s food allergies. It was out of its case, the blue safety cap was on the floor, and the orange end was pressed into her pointer finger.

The blood made it clear it had been activated and injected into her tiny finger.

As I lifted her, clasping her finger in my hand, tears and sobs flowed freely. She cried so hard she was nearly hyperventilating – in fear, in pain, and in shock at a curious moment turned horribly wrong.

A thousand things raced through my mind as I grabbed an entire stack of napkins off of the kitchen table. I cradled her in my arms while applying pressure to her finger.

Did she have epinephrine in her system? Was it too much? Did the needle damage her finger? How could I have been so stupid to leave it in the bag where she could reach it? How could this happen with me 10 feet away?

NOW WHAT?

Familiar words flashed through my head.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. The LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
-Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Deep breath. Thank you, Jesus.

I quickly prayed, Lord just HELP us.

I pressed my forehead to hers and spoke softly, asking her to take deep breaths with me. Needing to hold her, I needed her to be calm enough to call the doctor and have them hear me.

Though her eyes remained wet and fearful, she was able to calm down enough so I could call her doctor. I hoped they would to see her in the clinic.

The nurse quickly asked a doctor what our next steps were. Take her to Children’s Hospital. Now.

Not as I’d hoped. Fear threatened. So many What IFs?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
– Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

I called my mom. She left immediately to come watch the baby.

Then I took a deep breath and called my husband. You guys, I am so thankful to be married to him – he was calm and kind when he did not have to be. He immediately left work to meet me at the emergency room.

As I spoke, explaining to others what happened, she got more and more upset. I kept it as brief as possible, but needed to give enough information to be clear. She could not calm down. We snuggled for a bit and looked at her finger – still bleeding but slower.

Now I could see the wound went THROUGH her finger – in the underside of the joint at the end of her pointer finger and out the top. 

I began to be concerned about damage to her finger along with epinephrine that could be in her system.

We covered it with a band aid. Still holding her, we prayed, thanking God for being with us and asking for His peace and comfort.

I reassured her that she would be ok and that she was not in trouble. 

She told me it hurt. And that she was scared.

My mom arrived. While I grabbed my purse and phone, my mom prayed with our daughter and made sure I was OK to drive. I was, so my mom stayed with the baby and we left.

In the car, I took some deep breaths. The words from a worship song came to mind:

I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.
(No Longer Slaves, Bethel Music)

I recalled how God has worked in my life when it comes to fear over the past few years. This is it. In moments like this I either move forward in faith, demonstrating changed character, or revert to old habits.

I prayed for strength and peace so I could help our daughter calm down and be the mom she needed right now. I prayed that even in this situation, as fear rose up, that it would not paralyze me.

There was no time for that. She needed me.

The Holy Spirit did not disappoint – His presence and peace washed over me. 

Sunshine girl was still very upset in the car. Unable to hug her while driving, I needed to calm her down with words. I couldn’t use the radio because I wanted to be sure I could hear her clearly if anything changed.

I asked her to sing me a song. I often ask her to sing to keep her busy, or to calm her down.

She would not.

So I sang to her – off key, strained, but as happy-sounding as I could manage. I sang her favorite songs from church and BSF. Worship is a powerful thing in fearful circumstances – there is not a lot of room for fear when praising God. I felt calmer, stronger, with each off-key word.

Jesus Loves Me This I Know…Holy, Holy, Holy…Joy to the World…she began whispering the words with me. So I kept going. The Bible Is A Treasure Book…Good Morning God…

Now that she was calm, I tried asking a few questions about what happened.

I asked her if she knew it was the Epi-Pen. She did not. We usually keep them in a black case. This particular pen was ‘extra’ from school, kept in the bag we use for activities, so we never forget to have one with us. (We’ll need a different plan going forward)

I asked what she thought was going to happen. She said she wanted to know what the orange part does and began choking back tears. (I’m grateful it was not closer to her face)

I asked if it surprised her. She closed her eyes and nodded yes.

I asked if it hurt. Fresh tears. Yes. 

I choked back my own tears as I considered how she was just a little girl being curious and then a needle shot through her finger. How it was scary and hurt so bad and how she was also afraid of being in trouble.

I asked if it hurt now. Surprisingly, she smiled and said her finger felt like ‘nothing‘. Upon further questioning, ‘nothing’ meant numb. While glad it didn’t hurt, numb might not be a good thing…

We rounded the corner to the hospital.

I am grateful my husband beat us there. By phone he told me exactly where to go. As we rounded the corner from the parking ramp to the emergency department, his face was kind and concerned – no judgement.

He took our daughter from my tired arms and we walked in together. His presence was a relief, encouraging and strengthening.

They handed us masks because of the recent measles outbreak. We sat with a triage nurse. This was all familiar – I remembered being here before with our son for an asthma event.

Our daughter’s vitals were good. Heart rate wasn’t too fast. Some relief set in.

She was shy but cooperative with the nurse, her bloodshot eyes peeking out over her Mickey Mouse mask.

The nurse asked questions. We answered.

And we waited.

In the room, sunshine girl wanted to sit on the bed and was thrilled to hear she could pick a princess movie.

She sat alone one the bed. She watched carefully, curious about everything the nurse and doctor did. If this child does not go into the medical profession, I will be shocked. She is brave, remarkably calm, curious and excited by every doctor visit. No matter what they ask of her – shots, looking at her injured finger, you name it – she will do it as long as she knows it has a purpose.

For the remainder of the visit – the only time she got upset was when I asked the doctor if we could dispose of the Epi-Pen at the hospital. The sight of it evoked obvious memories of pain and fear.

The doctor examined her finger and asked us all kinds of questions, starting with ‘I’m assuming this was an accident?’ I told him what happened, shoving down the mom-guilt for another day.

Long story short, her X-rays showed no fragments of needle or bone, and it appeared the needle went between the finger bones, through the joint. She could bend it with pain.

The doctor cleaned it up.

The working assumption is epinephrine injected after the needle passed through her finger, leaving behind a doozy of a puncture wound. It was both interesting and scary to learn that if epinephrine is injected in a high dose into the joint, it can cause blood vessels to constrict so much that blood flow is cut off to the finger. This constriction can be so severe, it can lead to necrosis and tissue death.

Eek.

The doctor reassured us this was not the case and sent us home with instructions to use bacitracin and band aids on the wound, give Motrin for pain, and watch for signs of infection.

As we left, the doctor mentioned these injuries are actually very common. I guess we weren’t unique.

Sunshine girl was actually pretty peppy as we left the hospital.  She was more thrilled to wear her Hello Kitty sticker and to bring home printouts of her x-rays to show people her bones.

Here is a photo of all of us in our lovely masks.

An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.com

A few lessons from this story:

  1. Accidents can happen even when a child is being supervised and in the same room with a parent
  2. Epi Pens are life-saving devices but can be quickly activated in the hands of a child with dangerous consequences
  3. While it is important Epi-Pens be accessible to adults – a purse or bag can be accessed by a child – I need to think through where ours will be located at home so we don’t forget it but have it in a safe place
  4. Children’s Hospital in St. Paul has amazing staff who were efficient, kind, and made our daughter and us feel comfortable and well cared for
  5. We have amazing family and friends who showed up and prayed for us when we needed them
  6. God is not distant – His presence and help is real and tangible and He is faithful
  7. God’s word is alive, powerful and active, giving peace and comfort in real-life circumstances
  8. How we respond in a scary circumstance may determine how our child responds
  9. God has made our sunshine girl to be amazingly calm and fascinated in medical situations

We are so very grateful.

An Accident 1 Accident 3 An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.com

Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – God is faithful, still.

Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent: 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope | thisgratefulmama.com

Watching our third baby suffer in pain from silent reflux is not any easier than with the first or second child.

A tiny baby writhing in pain, arching their back and screaming, red-faced until they have no more breath, is gut-wrenching for even the seasoned reflux parent.

Silent reflux is still awful.

While this time around we were more proactive in asking for and accepting help, daily, we were in the trenches, trying to soothe our hurting child. And, as I shared before, this time around, we also struggled to help our older children cope.

It was not easy for our children to watch their baby sister suffer either.

Many days, I sat back and observed how our entire family was affected by our baby’s pain. I often wonder why? Now when I say why, I don’t mean the science behind it – I actually understand that quite well by now.

No, I mean WHY?

Why would God allow a baby to suffer this way?

Why our children?

Why is this so hard?

Why isn’t He answering my prayers NOW?

My emotional response is to ask why, neglecting to go any deeper. Asking why only allows me to dwell in a dark place of mourning and frustration. It is not wrong to come to this place on occasion, but staying there long does only damage. There is no hope there, and as your little one suffers, trust me, you need all the hope you can get.

Like many injustices and suffering, we may never know why on this side of heaven, so dwelling there is not a fruitful endeavor.

Instead of asking why, I should be asking where God is as we walk through it.

I don’t know why He allowed this again, but I do know where God IS.

Right here.

With me. With my husband. With our baby. With our older kids.

He has not looked away even for even one second, even thought there were times we took our eyes off of Him.

God is not surprised that our baby has reflux.

He made her. Carefully. Without mistake.

God is allowing reflux to happen for a reason, even though I want it to be over without all the suffering.

I also need to ask WHAT is God doing?  

What is He teaching our family?

What is He working out in me?

What is He equipping me to do?

For now, it is evident He is teaching each member of our family to be more dependent on Him. He is teaching my husband and I to trust Him with each child He has given us, and to parent with His strength.

And to trust His perfect timing.

I am grateful that we have already seen Him work in this situation twice before – and He has an excellent track record. God never changes. I am confident He will work here too. I have already seen how He has used these experiences already to encourage other reflux families, just like I have seen Him work for good in our family’s life because of our son’s food allergies.

I expect Him to show up big here too.

God walks through all suffering with us – comforting, supporting, equipping, and carrying us through the worst of circumstances. He gently, lovingly guides us freely offering peace, kindness, love and forgiveness along the way.

From day one.

I admit, I do not agree with our baby suffering, but God’s character is good, regardless of our circumstance.

I trust Him and believe He will use this suffering for good. The countless hours spent fervently praying over our babies for relief have not been spent in vain, although I do wish He would answer those prayers now.

He answers all prayers in His timing. And I do trust His perfect timing and care. And that His ways are higher than my ways.

He knows the entire plan for my life, my family’s life, and this sweet baby. He is working for good, in something that feels only bad. The Bible is clear that God works for the good in ALL things of those who love Him – And I believe Him. And so I cling to this truth.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

He has shown Himself faithful to me and to each of our children.

So, while we walk through this, we keep our eyes fixed on Him. We expectantly wait for Him to make His presence known.

And every day, He does.

Because He is faithful, still.

 

*I CANNOT wait to share how God has worked in this situation already – our daughter has improved SO much since I started writing this in July. In the craziness of those days, I never published this – so here it is (With a few more posts to come explaining new lessons learned about infant reflux the third time around, and just how God’s timing was perfect in this situation).

It is Well With My Soul.

picmonkey-sample

I woke up this morning surprised at the election results. I really had no idea who would win, and to be honest, I would have felt surprised no matter who won.

Regardless of how you voted yesterday or of how weary you feel after this political season – the wounds revealed and created during this election must be addressed. This election was heartbreakingly divisive. My heart hurts – although today the presidency has been won, the path to get here makes it feel like no one really won.

There is no easy fix – the pain in our nation simply cannot be erased just because the votes have been counted.

I think moving on is going to be difficult for many on both sides of the vote.  Throughout the election, my eyes were opened as the band-aids were ripped off old wounds and as new wounds formed and festered in the issues that divide us all.

I may not be able to fix all that is wrong in our nation, but beginning to move on starts with me. 

Today, I step back and focus on TRUTH.

We have much to be grateful for. Today, the TV will stay off and social media can take a hike. My house is full of the best medicine I know – piano hymns, a baby babbling, and a little girl playing dress up. I thank God I live in a democratic country, and have the privilege to vote that many fought and died for. My focus is on the people I love, and the God I serve. Why not take time to be grateful every day? It is November 9. Today is a great day to begin th HABIT of practicing gratitude with your family as you prepare for Thanksgiving. Start a family gratitude journal or set up a gratitude tree.

There are no perfect voters or candidates. See me. See you. See Donald. See Hillary. Need I say more? Each is imperfect, and we pull from an imperfect pool of candidates for leadership. We make decisions based on carefully calculated glimpses of who candidates are. Then our voting decisions are clouded by our own imperfection and sin. The only true judge is Jesus Christ who knows all things, and who examines the heart and mind. And to this measure, we all fall short.

The only future we know for certain is in Jesus Christ. Just as we cannot ever truly know the hearts of those we seek to elect, we cannot foresee the future repercussions of our choices. We choose the candidate who best suits us and our own vision for our future.  Only God, the Beginning and the End, can see all of eternity. Thankfully, the Bible tells us that eternity has already been won, even if it doesn’t detail everything that will happen between now than then. We don’t know exactly how, but we know the victor is Jesus Christ and He mercifully invites each of us to join Him.

No leader can stop the plan of the perfect God. He is sovereign over ALL creation, knows all things, and has already won eternity. No matter our circumstance, He has overcome the world. If you are disheartened today, step back and look UP.

O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. 2 Chronicles 20:6.

One nation, under God. Many in our nation have tried to eliminate God from society. But the truth is, we are a Nation Under God whether we like it or not. He is still sovereign, even when we ignore, disrespect, or don’t believe it. Jesus is King, no matter who our president is. And He can and will use any leader to bring about His purposes on earth. Trying to stifle God’s presence has not done much to improve our nation has it? Instead we are more divided than ever. Instead of pushing God out, we need to cry out to Him and ask Him to heal our nation as only He can.

Our nation needs healing and love. Let it start with you as you love your friends, family and neighbors. Now is not the time for ‘I told you so’ or to tell others they got it wrong. What is done is done. Reserve judgement, offer encouragement, hope and practical help. Start listening more than talking. Freely extend forgiveness, love and respect. Since there are no perfect people, this means we need to give respect even if you don’t think a person has earned it – even those in leadership. Choose to treat all people as God’s beloved. Stop comparing – we are all in need of a savior. Here is a good place to start:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

There is peace that transcends all understanding. The Bible has a lot to say about peace offered by Jesus Christ. Months ago in the mess of the election, I chose to fix my eyes on Jesus. It wasn’t easy keeping them locked there with everything going on around me – only by His strength. Last night, I went to bed early with the firm trust that no election result can pluck me from God’s good, sovereign hand. I slept well. Have you ever felt such peace? It is more valuable and more powerful than any assurance a world leader can offer.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Prayer keeps us grounded in Him. We can not be in line with the will of God if we are not spending time in His presence in study and prayer. He will give you direction and where to go from here. Focusing on WHO God is and WHAT He has already done in a time that seems hopeless gives joy and peace that transcends comprehension. Spend time now in His presence and ask for His view of our situation and practical ways to extend love and grace to others.

In this day of seeming uncertainty, I pray we can claim peace, cling to the certainty of God’s promises and let the healing of our nation begin with us.

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

It is well with my soul. How is yours?

 

On Our Son’s Sixth Birthday – What I Love About You!

Today our son Aiden turns SIX.

Somehow, six years have passed since we first saw his sweet face. Time is a strange thing – it seems like he has always been, yet it seems like I blinked because he was just born! And now I can hardly pick him up.

How. Did. That. Happen?

While I may not understand how time can fly and go slowly at the same time, I DO know this – we are SO proud of him.

We love him more than we can ever express.

And we are so grateful to be his parents.

I’ve spent the past few days savoring his birthday celebrations with friends and family. It has been so fun to watch him be the center of attention, and to see him laughing and enjoy being blessed by those who love him.

Today I want to celebrate his special day by expressing how grateful we are for who he is, and the way God made him.

Aiden, this post is just for you.

Love, Mom.

 

Six things I love about YOU & the way God made you

  • Cautiously Brave and Wise
    • I love to watch you make wise decisions. You have amazing, God-given discernment for a six year old! This is something you were created with. Since you were small, you have removed yourself when uncomfortable or afraid. You willingly step back from activities or situations you know you should not participate in, and you do it while still being kind to your friends or whoever you are around. You turn off TV shows that are not nice or are frightening without a second thought. ‘Be careful little eyes what you see’ is something you’ve always inherently known and acted on. While being naturally cautious, you bravely take calculated risks. You have regularly, bravely faced and accepted medical treatments that scare you because you understand you need them. And we have watched you excitedly try new things and boldly go new places while joyfully meeting and making new friends.
  • Puzzle-Loving, Problem-Solver
    • Not many six year olds I know get excited about doing a 1500 piece puzzle with their parents, especially when they know it will take a week or more to complete. It is fun to see how you approach problems and puzzles alike with determination and follow-through. You are great at following instructions and sticking with something until it is finished. You were building Lego sets unassisted so early, we were amazed at your ability to focus for long periods and to complete complex projects. It would not surprise me if you become an engineer some day. Certainly God has blessed you with attention to detail and a joy of taking on and completing challenges.
  • Lover of God’s Word
    • It was fun to help you fill in your ‘About Me’ book to bring back to school and share with your class today. My heart swelled with joy when you chose the Bible as your favorite book. And you know what? I believe it really is your favorite book. It amazes me how much you know about the Bible. We have read every night since you were a baby and you have absorbed so much from church and BSF. It is our privilege to read the Bible with you at night and to see how you apply what you learn from it to your life. You ask thoughtful questions that show you ponder what it says and take these things to heart. Some of the content in there has been concerning to your cautious mind, and yet you keep coming back to God’s word to learn more about who God is, and what the Bible has to say. I love how God is drawing you closer to Himself as we read.
  • Kind and Empathetic
    • At your school conference, your kindergarten teacher told us you are a good friend to others, and are always looking out for others. We nodded our heads proudly because we see this in you at home. You love others well and treat them with freely given kindness, compassion and respect. When you were three, we learned Ephesians 4:32 which states: Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. We see you living this out daily in the way you treat family and friends. It doesn’t mean you don’t have conflict with others – you do, just like the rest of us. What it does mean is that we see you being quick to forgive others and to move on after conflict has happened. You are also really good at stepping back to see the perspective of others in the situation, and are quick to say you are sorry. It also makes me so proud to hear your concern for others who are struggling and to see how you extend help to those you know you can help.
  • Big Brother
    • Being a big brother to two little sisters is a BIG job. And it is a job you did not get to choose. But you are a big brother and I am so proud of you in this role. You are so sweet and gentle with your baby sister Audra. She lights up when she sees you because she loves you as much as you love her. And it is no secret that Adelyn feels the same way. I love how you spend time with her, playing with her and hugging her when she is hurt or sad. You are thoughtful and considerate to include Adelyn in what you are doing and in playing with your friends. It makes me so proud when you encourage your little sister to follow rules or obey mom and dad, and to demonstrate how to do so with your own behavior. I love the excitement you have every morning about seeing both of them. Thank you for loving your sisters so much and for being the loving, protecting and kind big brother that you are.
  • Uniquely Aiden
    • There is no one on this earth who is just like you. YOU were knit together with care and love by the God who created the entire world and all the people and things in it. God made no mistakes and did nothing carelessly when He created you. I love who you are and who God made you to be. It is our prayer that you will see yourself as God sees you and that you will know HE loves you even more than we can, with His perfect love. We pray that you will continue to grow in faith and confidence in who God made you to be, that the most important identity you have is in Christ Jesus

Today, and every day, I am grateful for YOU.

oct-16

Kindergarten Happens.

 

Kindergarten Happens | thisgratefulmama.comSchool supplies, backpacks, and school forms – we have them all. Obviously, I knew it was coming.

And yet…

How. Did. This. Happen?

In just one week our oldest child will begin kindergarten. And he is so excited. So ready.

While we can savor these last few days at home together, Kindergarten is happening – whether I am ready or not.

Kindergarten is happening

Life will be forever different. Instead of spending most of his time home, with us, he will spend most of his school year days with classmates and teachers.

I will miss him fiercely.

And so will his sisters.

It is hard to not dwell in sadness of what I will miss out on in his life. I will no longer have the front row seat for his school challenges and achievements. I realize this was true in preschool too, but he was only going two days, and now…FIVE!

Most of his activities and experiences at school will be learned only when he or a teacher shares it with us. Second-hand, after-the-fact.

I pray he loves school so much he can’t contain his excitement and wants to tell us ALL (and I do mean ALL) about it.

But as this new season begins, despite sadness and a little bit of fear, I just cannot hold back my joy and excitement for all he will learn in this new adventure.

New friends. Personal responsibility. Art. Gym. Newfound independence. Social skills. Letters. Math. Science. New challenges. History. And oh, so much more!

And my favorite thing to think about?

Reading.

Whether in kindergarten or first grade, he will go to school, and someday, when he is ready, he will READ!

Our son will take all those carefully practiced letters and sounds and something will click. He will start to see how individual letters link together to make words. Then he will begin to read simple words, and then sentences, and…suddenly…he will read for himself.

And he will be able to write those words and sentences.

A profound, life-long set of skills for communication and learning.

Instead of needing parents to read and write for them, our kindergarteners will soon do this for themselves. Suddenly, a wealth of information is available to them, in black and white.

Books. Magazines. Newspapers. Posters. Billboards. Instructions. This grateful mama’s blog (whoa that is a strange thought)…And SO. Much. More.

But what excites me the most?

The Bible.

Our son will have the ability to read and study the Word of God for himself.

Take that in.

How exciting is THAT!? 

No longer will he have only heard the stories of the loving sovereign creator of the world. No longer will he have to rely on verses we’ve helped him memorize (although we will continue to memorize more as a family).

He will be able to read it ALL for himself. He will experience how God speaks to His children through scripture.

The Bible will become alive, personal, and precious as he explores it on his own. It is my prayer that the Bible will become our son’s most treasured possession, and favorite book.

I am SO GRATEFUL he has the opportunity and gift of going to a safe, academically strong, public school in the United States.

We are so, VERY privileged.

And so, with apprehension, sadness, joy, gratitude and elation, I am preparing myself to send him off on the school bus for his first day of school.

He is so excited to hop on that bus. Ready to learn. Ready for the independance. Ready for new friends. Ready for kindergarten and all that is in store for him.

And so, grateful for and expectant of how he will grow this year, I pray I will also be ready.

I choose to surrender my sadness and worry while trusting God with our son’s safety – He’s got this.

As I watch our son’s excitement and joy, I choose to dream and hope right alongside him. Ready or not, I can’t wait because he can’t wait.

Our son will do just fine out there in the little part of the world called kindergarten. In fact, I know he will thrive.

I will likely be one big mess of emotion as he steps onto the school bus that first day. I will do my best to keep it together for his sake (and my neighbors).

Kindergarten, ready or not, here we come!

Hands FULL. My Cup Runneth Over

Well hello there. Wonder where I’ve been these past months?

On May 11, 2016 at 12:34 pm, we were blessed by the arrival of our daughter Audra Grace at 7 pounds 9 ounces.

Audra Grace

To say things have been busy…is an understatement. In fact, I don’t have time to be writing this now, but my soul and my brain are in serious need of writing therapy.

While I expected an adjustment period, I was unprepared for what a third child adds to the mix. Our hands are FULL.

One month in, I was just starting to get used to three children. We started getting out of the house on time, and figured out how to grocery shop with a baby and toddler in the cart, and 5 year old in tow…

But when silent reflux showed up at 4 weeks, it threw me for a loop and I’m still playing catch-up.

Many days are a blur. In some ways it seems like we’ve had this baby forever, and in other ways I feel like I blinked and she’s 7 weeks old.

How can that be? The newborn period is so very short.

My hands are literally FULL. Most everything is done with one hand. The other is holding a baby… shopping, cooking, cleaning, reading to the kids while they hold the book…

At times I feel like everyone needs a piece of me, and there aren’t enough pieces to go around.

I feel worn out, and fear I am not giving the older two enough attention. I am grateful  as they throw their arms around me without judgement or resentment. But as my 3 year old snuggles in with me at night and says, “I need you, I miss you”, I feel the pang of mama-guilt mixed with the joy of being loved unconditionally by our children.

And so we snuggle tighter, and a little longer.

Despite challenges, what I see looking back on the past 7 weeks is  an abundance of blessings.

A big brother and big sister falling in love with their baby sister is one of the most precious things I have ever witnessed. I love how they are ready and willing to help grab diapers, pacifiers, and burp rags, or to just sit and talk to her. They are my second set of eyes, alerting me when she spits up, is crying, or needs something. This baby is VERY well tended to! It is fun to watch the older kids play together more than ever because their parents hands are often full. I am grateful to see how easy going they have become and how they are growing in responsibility and love.

And then there’s my husband. My hero, yet again. My rock through pregnancy and delivery. My encourager. The tenderness he has shown as he cared for me and our family after delivery is inexpressible.

Selfless. Persistent. Loving. Enduring.

This man took over so much around the house and with our kids. He entertains and plays with our kids, filling our home with giggles and squeals of delight. He brings me beverages and snacks while I feed the baby. He cooks, cleans and runs errands, all while working full time. Thoughtfully, he recruited help for me when he had to go out of town on a work trip so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. He is a full time, hands-on daddy and husband.

When we’re having a rough reflux-day, he comes home from work early to give me a break.  In the middle of the night, he takes over rocking the baby when she can’t fall back asleep. And he encourages and compliments, while graciously biting his tongue when I’m not doing the same. I am so grateful for his faithful, patient, selfless service to me and our family as he loves us through actions.

Words can simply not express just how grateful I am for him. Words fail me.

Our family and friends have blessed us beyond measure. Gifts, meals, visits with helping hands and loving arms have been given in abundance. We have been so generously cared for, the thank you card list keeps getting longer an longer (some day they will actually get written and be mailed!).

I feel the prayers of many lifting our family up as we adjust to being a family of five, and as we pray for Audra to feel better. We are so well loved, cared for, and covered in prayer. When I think I’m at my limit holding this sweet, crying child, a phone call or text message comes through checking in on us, or to tell me they are praying for us – always in perfect timing, bringing tears of joy and the feeling of being known.

And I feel no doubt that the Lord who created these precious children sees me, knows our struggles, and is carrying us through. We trust in his healing of Audra’s reflux, and that it will happen in HIS perfect timing. We trust that any present suffering is being used for good, and we expectantly wait on Him to show us exactly what He is doing here. I feel his loving, comforting arms as others selflessly step in to serve us and to lift us up.

He withholds no good thing from us.

We just have so much to be grateful for. I refuse to wish these days away, reflux or not. So we focus on gratitude, on our family, and keep our gaze on Jesus. Time is flying by, and we commit to soak it all in, no matter how busy or exhausted we are, or how much this sweet hurting baby cries.

Our hands may be full with these three precious children, but our life, and hearts are overflowing.

My cup runneth over.