Thursday, May 26, 2011

Andrew Phillip

My boy is 6 years old today.  I know every parent says it, but I can't believe it's been 6 years!! 

He came after two miscarriages, and an incredibly rough pregnancy.  By the time I was 6 months along, I had gone into labor and been put on bedrest and crazy medication.  I stayed in bed for 2 months, continually contracting, until my doctor finally allowed me to deliver on May 26. 

After 2 months of bedrest and cramping and medicine that made my heart race and everything that I experienced in that pregnancy, I was so happy to finally have it over with and be able to hold my baby.

And then he caught Group B Strep during delivery.  By the time the nurses realized he was struggling to breathe, and got him to the nursery, he was purple and having a heart attack.

It was the scariest day of my life. 

He spent 10 days at the hospital, on antibiotics.  On June 4, I finally brought my baby boy home.

Now, he's 6 years old.  He's my crazy boy.  The only one of my children to visit the emergency room as a result of a stunt.
The only one to kiss a skateboard with his face and get right back on.

The one who stood on the top of his crib as a toddler, to wrap the chains of the ceiling fan around the blades.  Who would wake up at 3:00 am when he was 4 years old, because he was smart enought to know everyone in the house was asleep and he could climb up on daddy's desk and get his beloved remote control helicoptor.  The one who struggles with a speech delay and just this week started to cal Amerie by her name, instead of "Mamway."  The one who's "painfully shy." 

He's also the only of my kids who thinks of the most carefully thought out question about the world, who wants to know the "how" and "why" behind everything that is and does.  The one who can't sit still or fall alseep or be serious for 30 seconds.  :) 

He's my boy.

I joke all the time that God gave me 3 girls and only 1 boy for a reason.  He wears me out every single day. He fights with his sisters and refuses to obey, simply because he's stubborn.  ;-)  He's hyper and he's always hungry and he hates green beans like no other.  

But that little boy loves his mommy, and his mommy loves him.  I know that at least once a day, he still needs to climb in my lap for a few minutes and just "Be."  I treasure those moments every day, because I know that all too soon he will be too big for my lap.  And when the moment is quiet, and him and I are alone, we have the best conversations.  I love his heart and his mind.  I know God has big plans for him.  
I took this picture last night.  I told him to smile.  I was lucky he let me take his picture.  :)

I had to promise this one to get the other one.  :)  He's teaching himself to move his eyes and his eyebrows independantly.  I have yet to get it on film.  ;-)

I love my bubba.  I love him so much. 

Today is Phil's day, so I won't get to spend it with the birthday boy.  But tomorrow, he wants to "buy stuff." That's all he has said to me.  "Mom...can we buy stuff??"  I don't know where he got the idea that "buying stuff" is what you do on your birthday, but I promised to take him to the train and hobby store.  :) 

I'm hoping he can stay reasonable.  ;-)

Monday, May 23, 2011

El Salvador


I've said repeatedly that I've had a lot going on in my heart and my life that I would love to share, but I just can't right now.  It's the main reason I've been such an inconsistant blogger. :)  I have so much to figure out, and as much as I'm an open book and would love to blog about all of it, I just can't at a time where nothing is certain and I might have to go back and change something i wrote.  ;-)  I'll wait until I've prayed and prayed something through, and I am very certain of God's voice.  Then I will share it. 



This is something that has been a long time in the making, but God's timing is perfect and the time for me to go is now.  Well, technically November...but you get it.  ;-)

I have always felt the call to missions.  From the time I was old enough to know what a missionary was and what they did, I felt the call.  I also carried a huge fear with me.  I said to God, "I will do anything you want and go anywhere you send me, as long as it's in the USA."  ;-)  I held back.  I was terrified of the dangerous possibilities in some areas of the world that the Lord could send me.  What if He called me to a place that was hostile towards Christians?  What if I was attacked?  Or even worse, what if I was martyred???  I couldn't take the chance.  And I didn't even know if He was going to send me on missions!!  And if He did, how did I know where He would send me?

It was within the past few years that I finally got to a place spiritually where I could release my fear to Him and know that no matter where God sent me, I would go.  I think going through the darkest parts of my divorce grew me the most.  I developed a deep love for our Lord like I had never known was possible, and I knew that no matter what happened in my life, His presence would surround me and He would walk with me through it.

The other thing holding me back on missions was my babies.  :)  For most of the past 10 years, I have either been expecting a child, or nursing one.  I said to Phil many times that I wanted to go on one of our church's mission trips, but I didn't know when I would take a break from having babies.  ;-)  I think it's safe to say now that I'm on a break.  :)

So...this is where El Salvador comes into the picture.  Our church (along with many churches in the US) has teamed with Compassion International to sponsor a church in a struggling community.  We are now working with Iglesia Sion church, in El Congo, El Salvador.  :)

From the time Pastor Gocha stood in front of the congregation and told us of the partnership, I felt the pull.  But I tucked it away.  This past March, some members of our church went back to El Salvador.  When they returned, I felt God say, "it's time."  I became filled with an excitement and passion and love for the people of El Congo.  I had NO IDEA how I was going to get myself there.  :)  But I knew I was going. 

I have been praying and praying ever since.  I had made the desecion in my heart to go, but I was afraid to act out in faith.  Every time I laid out a fleece, God responded with "yes."  I heard His voice clearly..."Liz...I'm sending you.  I will provide the money.  And you will not struggle financially to put the money together.  It will be clear that it is from Me."  I've even had a strong desire to learn Spanish, and have been teaching myself.  I'm hoping to purchase some material for learning more than the basics within the next few weeks.  And thanks to the awesomeness of Facebook, I have created a couple friendships with some people my age from El Congo.  :)  This was God, too, i am sure.  I do not accept friend requests from strangers, but I received one from someone from Sion church, and because I wanted to get to know the people, I accepted it. That particular friendship has been a huge blessing in my life.  I've learned so much about El Salvador from someone who's lived there their entire life.  My heart is already in El Congo.  I cannot wait to meet the people and pour out the love that the Lord has put in me for them.  I am so EXCITED.

Back to the acting out in faith part...this week my sister and I have been struggling with faith.  We know for certain that our God is BIG and that He can do anything.  We have no question over this.  But we struggle with doubt over His desire to act because of our prayers.

"What if He doesn't want to?"

Or "I knew at the time God told me _______.  But what if I heard Him wrong?"

Or "What if He changed His mind?"

The conclusion we came to this week, after discussing it like crazy, is that if you know you heard God's voice, you have to act according to that.  Even if you doubt it later.  When you doubt, pray for your faith to be restored.

Yesterday, our Pastor preached an answer to the question, "Why doesn't God answer my prayers?"  I won't go into the entire sermon, (I highly recommend the entire "Why?" series that is avaliable here.  Click on "podcasts.") but Pastor talked about "faith."  God hit me hard when he said that faith is not believing that God can, it's believing that God will.  I KNOW that God can provide for me to go to El Salvador.  I KNOW God called me there.  But why am I afraid?  During the service, I talked to God and released my fears.  When I left the sanctuary, I turned in my application and $200 deposit.  I trusted God.  I always knew He could, but I now believe He will.  He has already put so many "impossible" things in order so that I am able to go.  And while I was working in the nursery for the last service, an opportunity arose for me to expand my monthly income.  That was one of my specific prayers.  That God would add to my income, and I could put the extra money away for El Salvador without scraping together what I currently live on. 

God is good.  I say it all the time.  But He is so GOOD.  My heart feels like it will burst with the love and joy I have for Him and from Him.  And I am very excited about spending time in El Congo, getting to know the people and pour out God's love.  :) 

We serve such an awesome God!!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day

It's almost Mother's Day.  :) 

I would expect a mother of four to look forward to Mother's Day.  I've earned it, right?  Four times over??  Breakfast in bed, handmade cards, a day off.  :)

Lol. Not exactly.  Mother's Day is one more example of the changes God has done in me.  For most of the years that Phil and I were married, he tried to make Mother's Day special for me.  And I soaked it up, looking forward to "a day off" for weeks beforehand.  Quite often, he had drill the weekend of Mother's Day and I ended up pulling through a fast food drive-thru so I wouldn't have to cook dinner on my "day off."  I didn't even care that we couldn't afford fast food.  I wasn't about to cook.


In two days, it will be Mother's Day again.  This time, I am officially a single mother.  There's no breakfast in bed.  :)  No handmade cards, unless I ask the kids to make them for me (this is part of being a homeschooling single mother), although i did get a special one from the boy I babysit. :)  And I'm confident that I will be making dinner for everyone and not getting a "day off."

I am totally okay with this!!!

I feel like this will be the most special Mother's Day that I have ever had.  :)  Now that I've finally gotten over myself and allowed the Lord to actually mature me, I can see what this special day is all about.  It's about moms.  About being a mom.  And having a mom.  It's about this...

And this..



And this...

I have been blessed with an amazing mother.  I mean it.  I couldn't ask for a better one.  She is super special and I thank the Lord for blessing me with her as my mom (my dad's pretty awesome, too!!).  She's an incredible example of a Godly woman.  She showed me, by example, how to love my children and know that they feel loved.  We have a great relationship, and always have.  She selflessly gives and loves each of her kids, and adores her grandbabies.  I wouldn't trade her for anything.  :)

And my kids?  All I have ever wanted to be was a mom.  Somewhere, tucked away in my heart, I hope I can have a couple more children someday.  But in the meantime, I spend every. single. day. thanking the Lord for blessing me with four children.  I'm 29.  I have a 9 year old, almost 6 year old, 4 year, and 2 year old.  I look at them and can't believe I have them!!  I wake up every morning with them crowded in bed around me, I kiss them and tell them I love them and I think they're super special all day long, and at bedtime, I kiss their forheads and praise and thank the Lord for creating such beautiful, special children and allowing me to spend my days with them!!  I can't believe how blessed I am.

Mother's Day isn't about me anymore.  :)  It's about them. 

It's about the woman who felt the same way about me that I feel about my babies (sometimes I can't grasp that!!)  And it's about the four precious children that gave me the title of "Mom."

I will wake up on Sunday and kiss each of them.  I'll tell my mom, again, that I love her.  And I will have a very special day. 

Because God is so good.  And He has blessed me abundantly.  :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My WIC rebellion...

Yesterday morning, the (5) kids and I headed off to a WIC appointment.

I have been in the WIC program for awhile now.  A couple years ago, they completely changed their program and nutritional guidelines.  In most ways, this was a good thing.  More fruits and veges, farmer's market coupons (whoo-hoo!!!!) and whole-grains. 


I now find myself getting in a little argument with the nutritionist every time I go.  :)

I suppose I could just slide under the radar and not tell them I feed my kids whole dairy.  I don't have to mention that I would never knowingly buy low-fat anything.  Phil was firm on whole dairy, and since the man is a darn good personal trainer and very knowledgeable in nutrition, I think his opinions hold some weight.  In all the research I've done on my own, I've drawn the same conclusions...fat is good for you.  Your body needs it to function.  Especially children, whose bodies are growing at an exceptional rate.

So, it always comes to this...

:::ahem:::  "It says here that you feed your children whole milk.  Is this true?"

"Yes.  Yes, it is." 

"You do know that here in the WIC program, we only recommend low-fat dairy for children over the age of two?"

"Yes.  I am aware.  But I'm firm in my belief that their developing bodies need the saturated fat found in dairy products."

Now let me tell you here that this conversation is always AFTER I am told that my children are beautiful and healthy and perfect on the height/growth charts.  They're proportionate and completely within healthy weight ranges.

It goes on...

"Yes, but here in the US we're seeing an epidemic of obesity and heart disease.  By switching to skim milk, we belive we are making a positive change."

"Yes, ma'am.  I understand this.  But my kids don't eat like normal American children.  They live on fruits and veges, whole-grains, and meats.  The only fat they get is from their dairy, and you're not going to convince me that a fat-free diet is healthy for anyone, especially children."

At this point, my rebellious, defiant side is flaring up.  I don't like being told how to feed my children.  I may not have a degree in nutrition, but you'd better believe I've done my research.  I know what's healthy, and why.  I know what's good, and what's bad.  I tend to get a little overly emotional when I'm told that I'm harming my children through their food.  Do I feed them fast food on a regular basis?  Nope.  Do they eat prepackaged foods the majority of the time?  Not at all.  I can hardly get myself to buy Goldfish crackers.  I finally relented and started buying Triscuits and Wheat Thins, because I'm just too lazy to make my own crackers.  But seriously, whole milk?!  Come on...

So this is what the nutritionaist said to me, in her final attempt to sway me from whole dairy...

(Said very sweetly, but a bit arrogantly)  "Let me just put it this you realize that in one glass of whole milk, there is the saturated fat equivalent of 6 slices of bacon??  Just think about that for awhile."

Bacon, you say?

As much fat as a 6 pieces of bacon?

I was thinking, alright...

"Should I tell her that up until recently, I fed them raw milk, too??"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Oh, What a Tuesday!!

Yesterday was an interesting day.  Had it been 6 months ago, it would have sent me into either a fit of overwhelmed anger, or depression.  I thank the Lord that I am through the dark valley and I made it out the other side. I'll was scary for awhile.  But God is good, and He saw me through it.  Now I can take a bad day and laugh at it, while I roll my eyes at forces beyond my control.

Here's a list of my day, mostly in order of how it happened...

1.  My 2 year old started her day 6:45, instead of the usual 7:30.  That 45 minutes goes a long way toward her mood...

2.  My mom called to tell me that when she went to her car in the morning to leave for work, all of her consoles were open.  The theory is they were looking for cash, because they left anything remotely valuable.  Of course, this is the ONE TIME I forget to lock my van.  And even though they didn't take anything , it really bothered me.  :(  The perpetrator was kind enough to leave me an animal cracker, though.  And no, I'm not kidding.

3.  While trying to steal kisses from Amerie, I somehow got headbutted with her teeth.  It split my lip open and was kinda painful.  :-/  It's still tender this morning.

4.  Andrew was swinging his arms while walking through the kitchen and hit his thumbnail on a kitchen chair.  This bent his nail halfway up the nail bed, and split it up to the bend.  There was blood.  And a lot of tears.  And oh, the crying!!  Of course, this was during naptime, too...

5.  It was one of those days (and know what I am talking about) where each child was exceptionally needy and whiny.  I couldn't walk 5 steps without a child crying and holding my legs.  I finally lost my patience at my son in the evening, when I couldn't even use the bathroom for 2 minutes without a child whining or tattling at the door.  New rule in this house - If you're not bleeding or broken, don't knock on the door when mom's in the bathroom!!!

6.  I've been struggling with a lot going on in my heart and my mind the last couple of weeks.  This was weighing on me pretty heavily yesterday.  Thankfully, I think most of it was resolved last night.

7.  Although I felt super busy yesterday ( by evening, my feet hurt from being on them so much), I don't think I actually accomplished much.  :(  I washed the kids bedding, but that's all I crossed off my to-do list.  I'm hoping today is better.

8.  As I was heading to bed, I found out that a good friend of mine lost a coworker yesterday evening.  My heart breaks for the man's family, friends, and all of his coworkers.  Please keep all of them in your prayers.

I'm thankful, again, for my relationship with the Lord and for all He has done for me and in me.  Days like yesterday don't knock me down anymore.  Today, I woke up with joy and peace.  Maybe today will be like yesterday, or maybe it will be full of happy circumstances.  I don't know.  :)  But God has today in His hands, just as He had yesterday, and He walks with me through it.  The comfort and awesomeness of this continues to amaze me.

We serve an awesome God.