Saturday, June 28, 2008

We're Going On a Trip

In our favorite rocket ship. Zooming through the skies. Little Einsteins. Sorry, anyone with small children can appreciate that little ditty.

So, as part of the new job, we're heading to a worship conference to run lights and video. The girls are officially being spoiled. I got slightly teary-eyed after handing them over today. Okay, so maybe more than teary-eyed. Pretty much enough for Mr. N to say, "I'm so glad we're homeschooling, because I can't imagine what you would be like in the fall." But in reality, school is only like 6 hours. This, is 7 days, and I don't get to tuck them in!

My sister and I talked about this awhile back. We had kids to spend time with them! I know everyone can use a break sometime, but I just don't feel like at this age I really need a week-long break. A few days away at a spa while Daddy watches them, great! A week away while we work and they stay with family, not so great!

They are being very well taken care of and are going to have a blast. (I can't say as much for my sister, but I did load her up with Dr. Pepper and chocolate for the week. It was a small thank you present for her week-long babysitting.) The surprise is still a surprise, until tomorrow, I think, weather permitting.

I do believe the sister will be blogging for me over here at her family blog. It is sure to be very entertaining with the kids aged 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 for the week! Leave her a little note of encouragement if you stop by. Oh, and feel free to send her some more Dr. Pepper and chocolate if she starts getting low!

I'm going to enjoy getting to know some new people on the 10-hour road trip in a church van that I will be taking. Mr. N will be flying, so he'll be there way before me!

I am not sure how much time we will have for blogging or if I will even have WIFI, so this may be a bit of a bloggy break for me. We will be back on July 4, so I'll hopefully be able to update you then if need be.

Tomorrow is the day that the Carlson's will be going to the hospital to deliver baby Caden. Please pray for them as they will be needing many prayers. They have posted some specific prayer requests on their blog here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Packing Life

So, we're going on a little trip. This is the trip where the girls are going to Aunt H's for a little spoiling, remember? I'll tell you where I'm going tomorrow. For now, just wanted to let you see how our packing went today.

We started with laundry. Because, well, I prefer to pack clothes that are clean. So, in my very-planned-ahead-always-prepared way, we went to Wal-Mart earlier in the week and I made sure to get detergent and softener so that we would have enough for the bazillion loads we needed to do.

Enter Exhibit A.








So, I put a cap from this bottle, a cap from that bottle. Do oh, about 3 loads. Then, I notice this....


Exhibit B. Closeup of bottle #1.














Exhibit C. Closeup of bottle #2














What is the difference you say? Precisely! There is no difference, other than size! Two bottles of fabric softener! UGH! I wondered why everything felt so fluffy coming out of the dryer! Like I said, it only took me three loads to figure out that there was no soap involved! Very fluffy, not-so-clean clothes and towels. Three loads. My little helpers didn't even notice.
And just so you can enjoy my laundry adventures with me, here are pics of the girls "helping" me fold laundry. This is a little something we like to call Laundry Jumping because obviously it is easier to fold towels while jumping on the bed. (No, this is not allowed in our house, just so you know.) Clearly they are very obedient and focused helpers. It would have been so much better for you to see the video, but this is all you get.

We're driving the girls half-way to meet my parents tomorrow who will take them the rest of the way to their destination for the week. They are still clueless about the surprise and totally giddy about the whole thing! I'll be back tomorrow night. Gotta go finish their packing, now that the laundry is actually clean and fluffy (after a little trip to the store this morning for bottle number 3).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

African Cornflakes

We went to Wal-Mart yesterday. (I know, this story can't be going anywhere good when it starts with a line like that, stay with me.) Now understand that we live in a mostly white community, but not entirely. It's not uncommon for us to see people who have skin different than ours on any given shopping event, but there were lots of them today, and the girls noticed.


Now another point to understand is that their grandparents spent several years as missionaries in Liberia, West Africa. The girls have seen many pictures and developed relationships with some Liberian friends that are currently in the states. Well, Grandma and Grandad have been in Liberia on a mission trip for the past month. So the girls are a little obsessed with Africa.


Back to Wal-Mart. (Seriously, stay with me here.) What do preschoolers do when they notice things, well talk about it of course, and loudly. Miss A. says, "Mommy, look, they are from Africa."

Now, I'm thinking, have I not taught my children anything? When will they get the whole rude vs. not rude thing? You know, like pointing at someone and yelling about their skin color is not in the polite category? Like not all people with dark skin color live in Africa.

Thankfully we were on the way out of the store when she decided to strike up a conversation about it, and I had an exit strategy. While walking as fast as possible, I was pondering exactly what to say back.


Then I looked up, and there I saw it. The tour bus for the Watoto Children's Choir. A group from Uganda who were going to be performing at our church that evening. So, I realize, yes, Miss A, they are indeed from Africa and we are going to go see them sing tonight. She was ecstatic, and honestly I felt a little relieved that the boy she had yelled at really was from Africa and probably was not offended by it. (We still had a little talk in the van about how it is not polite to talk about the way people look and how God made us all beautiful and wouldn't it be boring if we all looked the same, etc.)


Oh the girls were smitten at the concert. Those were the cutest kids (the kids in the choir, not mine, though they are cute too). They were dancing and singing and praising Jesus just the way my husband remembers from his childhood. I could just picture him as a little boy 20 years ago dancing and singing with his African friends in much the same way. If you don't know anything about Watoto, check out their website here, it is an amazing project where God is doing amazing things in the lives of young Ugandan children. Also, I'll be posting more about Liberia and my in-laws experience and the clinic they are working on building in the near future.


So, this morning at breakfast, Miss C says, "Mommy, when I grow up I don't want to become African." I'm not sure where she got the idea that she could turn into an African, but in my mind that wasn't where the teachable moment was. It was all about the fact that God may ask us to go to Africa some day, and we need to be willing to go. So, I say, "Why do you not want to be African." She replied, "Because I don't want to live in Africa."


Puzzled, I ask "Why not?" She says, "Because it is hot." Obviously we were not getting anywhere, so I had a great idea. "Daddy used to live in Africa and he loved it." With new spark in her eyes, "He did? Why did he like it?" Then, knowing that he was still sleeping, I say, "Well, why don't you go ask him?" Ah, yes, what a way to wake up the man of the house, by sending three small girls to pounce on him with all sorts of Africa questions.


I continued fixing breakfast and had no idea what kinds of things he told them, but I could hear him telling them stories from Africa. The kinds of stories that I have heard time after time and still enjoy hearing them, because our God, He is amazing.


I thought that would put the I don't want to go to Africa thoughts at ease for awhile. I thought they might actually even start asking if they could save their money to go to Africa instead of Disney World. Well, until I hear this about an hour later...


"Run, don't let the cornflakes bite you!" I chuckle because that really is not such an odd imaginary thing in our house, but cornflakes? So, I ask, "The cornflakes are biting?" After uproarious roll-around-on-the-floor laughter, the girls tell me, "The corn snakes. Daddy told us all about the corn snakes in Africa. Run, don't let them bite you!"


Now I'm thinking maybe sending them to talk to Daddy about why God made Africa to be a great place too maybe wasn't such a good idea after all. However, Daddy claims he never said anything about corn snakes, it was Black Mambas. Which clearly, will make any girl want to go to Africa.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meet My Girls

Have I told you that I have the best sister in the world? That seems to be a recurring theme around here. I wish I had some kind of talent to repay her for all she has done for me lately (i.e. blog banners, babysitting for an ENTIRE WEEK, and now photography). Go here and look at some of the gorgeous pics she took of my girls. While you're there, look at her other stuff, and leave some comments.

She pretty much got the looks, brains, and talents of the bunch; so there's not really any talent I have that she doesn't. So, what I'm pretty much saying is go leave her a ton of comments about how great her pictures are because that's what I'm offering today; a little pat on the back in the form of comments on her blog. Because, well, for being the best sister ever, she deserves it! Thanks Heather!

Monday, June 23, 2008

When Was The Last Time I Did This?

That's the question I was asking myself all afternoon as I cleaned my mini-van. I can't remember where I read or heard this, but I heard someone say before that you can tell a lot about a woman and her priorities by the condition of her car. Meaning that if their car is a mess, then their house probably is too. Let me just say, I totally disagree. If my house ever looked the way my van did today, it would probably be because I was incapacitated or well, dead.

Now, if you have in your mind that I am the best housekeeper and organizer ever, then please look away now. Because I am about to rock your world and blow that philosophy right out of the water! Okay, you have been warned.
Last chance, look away now!
Don't say I didn't warn you. Here's what the van looked like after removing all the kid's seats and the actual van seats.





That my friends is what happens when children bring stuff to the car with them and DON'T TAKE THEM BACK INSIDE! Can you tell that it bothers me?

And that? That, is what happens when children go to Sunday School for 2 services and make an entire museum worth of artwork that they bring into the van every Sunday for 3 months. Minus the sippy cups and jumper cables, because that would just be a little odd for them to bring home from Sunday School.

I forgot to take an after picture, but let's just say I had a 3 hour date with the Shop-Vac, and then I got out the Armor All and shined that perty thing up! I estimate it to be a thing of beauty for at least one day. Though, I am considering making a life-size blow-up of that first picture and hanging it on the door going to the garage. You know, just to have a little picture to point at the next time anyone asks if they can take this book and this doll and this cup to the van and "promise to bring it back inside when we get home."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Book Swap

Have you noticed that I love reading? Well, I do. I find myself always reading something. You know, cereal boxes, ketchup bottles, shampoo bottles (Those are fascinating by the way. Check out the titles in the shampoo aisle sometime. Try explaining some of those to your children. Whew! Apparently sex sells shampoo too. It's shampoo for crying out loud!) Off my soap box now (pun intended, heeehee).

I'm way off topic, back to reading. Unless you're going to wash my hair while I type this because I love having my hair washed. Anywho, reading. Back to reading. I love reading. That's why I considered this when I saw that everyone was posting about it on their blogs. Okay, maybe not everyone, but a lot of the self-proclaimed avid readers were.

It's a book exchange where you list the books you want to read and when one comes available they mail it to you. You keep it. You list the books you have that you are willing to part with and then when someone requests one of your books, you mail it to them. They keep it. Understand the process here?

It sounds great, because you get to read new books without paying a lot of money for them. Here's the problem for me, well two problems. Number one, apparently I am a book snob. See, I like to keep my books and well, hoard them. Not to just have lots of books, but I like to recommend and loan them to people. I like to underline and make notes in them. Notes that you wouldn't necessarily want strangers reading. I like to go back and read them again (sometimes). I like to KEEP my books. So, I'm not really ready to part with ANY. Second problem. I read mostly Christian non-fiction. That's not really the kind of books people tend to put on a book swap. Mostly fiction there (and very little Christian).

So, here's the thing. I was talking to my sister a while back about reading. She reads mostly Christian fiction. I read Christian non-fiction. She's shallow. I'm deep. TOTALLY KIDDING! We like reading for two different reasons. I like to feel like I am accomplishing something (you know I like to check things off of lists!), like I'm learning something, like my time was well-spent. (I'm totally the opposite when it comes to TV, so don't get me started.) She likes to read for entertainment. To not learn anything. To take a break.

I realized talking to her that sometimes I take myself way too seriously. Okay, most of the time, and that maybe I need to lighten up some. I can't even remember the last time that I read some fiction just for fun. So, I decided that I would start on some fiction reading. I got my Amazon list ready by adding some fiction and was waiting.

Then, my sister called. She's watching my children in a week, which means that there will be an opportunity for a little exchange. She suggested that I send down some Christian non-fiction books for her to read because maybe she should actually read something other than fiction, you know, to learn something. In exchange, she is sending me some fiction to read, you know to not learn something. I think it is fabulous. Free books, and I get mine back when she's done.

Not that she will read them all, but I thought I would tell you what I'm sending her way. The recommendations off my shelf. I'll let you know what she sends my way once I get them, unless she posts that in a comment here, since she is one of my most committed readers. :) And by committed, I mean loyal, not imprisoned. She's rather well-adjusted, or at least she is until she has my kids next week!

Here's what I'm sending her way...
1. 8 Choices That Will Change a Woman's Life by Jill Briscoe
2. Pathway to Purpose for Women by Katie Brazelton
3. Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow
4. Prayerwalk by Janet Holm McHenry
5. Taking Care of the Me in Mommy by Lisa Whelchel

What about you? If you were recommending a book for an exchange, what would you send? Are you a fiction or a non-fiction reader?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Used To Enjoy Shopping

That is before I had to take a stroller with three children to the store with me. Have you ever tried to fit a double stroller with three children, a mom, and a thousand pairs of jeans in one dressing room? It is a sight to behold my friends!

See I was down to ONE pair of jeans and they were getting holes in them. (Somehow I wear out jeans ridiculously fast with as much time as I spend crawling around on the floor and chasing children, go figure?) This may not sound like an emergency to some of you because clearly it is summer and most people wear shorts. After 4 pregnancies in 5 years, it would have to be 130 degrees in the shade for these legs to ever grace a pair of shorts again. You may understand the urgency a little better to know that the dress code for the conference we are working at in a few weeks is jeans for like 6 days straight. I didn't really think the one pair would hold up, nor did I really think it socially acceptable to wear the same pair six days in a row.

Now, at this phase in life, shopping for jeans is up there with getting dental work done. It is bad enough to search for the perfect pair of jeans when you are the only one in the dressing room. Add three people under the age of 5, and it is a NIGHTMARE!

I ignored the signs that say "limit of 6 items" because there really should be a disclaimer on the bottom that says "unless you have three children with you that make it virtually impossible to go back and forth from the dressing room, then by all means take as many pairs in as you desire because you deserve it lady!" I had the jeans piled so high on top of the stroller that we had a bit of an avalanche that buried poor Miss O as we were TRYING TO CRAM A DOUBLE STROLLER IN A 4 X 4 CUBICLE.

Once I uncovered her and saw that she was still breathing, the real fun began. The girls got an up close and personal view, which always brings the greatest questions. The kind that have you grasping for appropriate answers that will not bring serious bouts of belly-laughs from any ears listening in the adjoining rooms. I considered putting tape over their mouths before going in so as to avert any of those questions, but decided that there were probably people there who already thought that making those poor children walk through a mall inside on a beautiful summer day was some form of child abuse with a seriously selfish mother who is addicted to shopping. I thought the taped mouths would maybe send those people over the edge.

We successfully make it through ONE pair of jeans in the pile before Miss C says "Mommy, I have to pee, really bad!" My mind is thinking, are you stinkin' serious? But out of my mouth comes, "Honey, you are going to have to wait because I still need to try on all these jeans." Did she realize the amount of work it took to get here in the first place?

"Mommy, I think I might go in my underwear. I really have to go." Do you remember the commercial with the mom running out of the dressing room with the tag on the dress to take the little girl to the bathroom and then the security guard watching them? Yeah, I didn't think they would overlook the entire mountain of jeans on the stroller like they did the one dress she had on.

So, we ditch the jeans on the return rack (because I have to follow the rules, you can't leave them in the dressing room, even if you are a mother with three small children). Off to the bathroom. At this point, I pondered just packing it in for the day and heading back, but then I remember my ONE pair of jeans with the ever-increasing holes.

We head back to the store. Back to the racks. Build up ANOTHER mountain of jeans. CRAM back into the fitting room. Consider taping the mouths shut, decide again not to. This time we get two pairs of jeans tried on while answering many more of the want to crawl in my purse and hide types of questions and comments from children seeing you in your underwear.

"Mommy, I need to go potty again." Um, are you even kidding me? I need to start praying for your future husband now, because if your bladder remains in its current state and you become pregnant, heaven help the poor man! As you can tell, I was so very sympathetic. My response of "I am NOT taking you to the bathroom again, you can just hold it", was pure genius. Until I remembered a little event with the same child during our house shopping days a few months back in which she nearly peed all over the carpet in a house that we had no intentions of buying and had to go without underwear for the rest of the tours that day. I kid you not.

Before you go thinking she has some bladder-control issues and we need to have her medically inspected, I just want you to know that this only happens in public because she has a very unusual need to see other people's bathrooms, even if she doesn't really have to go. Therefore, we never believe her when she says that she needs to go (she cries pee, not wolf).

So, off to the bathroom again, because cleaning pee off the floor sounded even less appealing than shopping for jeans at that moment.

This time, I decided to go to a different store to continue the jeans expedition because pretty soon the security cameras were going to be following us around the store trying to figure out if it was some weird new way of shoplifting. If they only knew that shoplifting would have been so much easier.

We make it to a handicap accessible dressing room at the next store to which I breathe a sigh of relief because we can all fit and the girls don't have to be so close to me, but the drama, oh the drama! We had reached the 4 people in small cubicles limit for the day. I think God snuck three suckers into the diaper bag, because I had no clue they were there and when I reached into the diaper bag there they were like pieces of gold shimmering in the lights and singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Now my children have an uncanny way of sucking through a sucker at supersonic speed (which just amazes me seeing how none of them took to breastfeeding). I knew I had precisely two minutes to try on all those jeans and make decisions.

I found four. They were expensive. I deserved them. We bought them. I won't even tell you the drama at the checkout. I'll just say that it took 32 minutes, involved a prepaid credit card (from a rebate) that wouldn't work, a driver's license that didn't match the address on my check, and three I-have-reached-my-limit-and-you-need-to-get-me-home-before-I-turn-into-Chuckie children. Oh, and one lady who says, "Your kids are so cute. They were so good in the fitting room. I was in there too and I could hear them talking to you."

Lord, have mercy. That poor soul probably has a blog to go home and post about me on. I'm sure someone is in stitches about the questions they overheard in the fitting room today.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Odds and Ends

Totally random post. Told you I was working on the new blog, but had to post this really quick-like.

1. My Little Evangelist- Miss C: "Mommy, last night I was singing songs about Jesus to Strawberry Shortcake. I think she loves Him too now." I guess you gotta start somewhere?

2. I LOVE Google Reader. See all those daily fixes down there? I used to go to every single page several times a day to see if they were updated, because I don't like to miss out on anything. Lots of people kept talking about their blog reader thingies. So, I finally signed up for one. Loving it! It tells me when someone puts up a post. Fantabulous, now I only visit when there is a new post.

3. Virtue Alert. If you have girls and you haven't read Vicki Courtney's blog (Virtue Alert), start! She has such a great ministry for helping us sort out raising girls in this culture. My oldest is only 5, but you cannot start too early people!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Working on the New Blog

I have been working on getting the new blog going. Praying through content and title (the other one isn't available) and all the details. I will probably focus on it until I get it ready, so that means Pink-a-doodle-doo will be on the backburner for a little bit. I'm going to go ahead and open the new blog up so that anyone coming here looking for Jael's Story will have a better place to view it. It is not even close to ready, but there are some journal entries up and I'm working on format and layout and all that jazz. Fair warning that you will definitely need some Kleenex over there and you may just get more of an inside look into my mind through the grief process than you really care to know. Please continue to pray for this ministry and for the Carlson Family. Thanks for being loyal readers!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back in Business

WoooHoooo! The new laptop power cord is here and I've got my computer back! I've been trying to blog on the husband's editor. It hasn't been working too well.

For one thing, me going to the basement during nap time tends to result in 2 unidentified children playing instead of napping. Then there is always the irrational fear that I will spill my mommy juice on the thing and end up ruining the most expensive single item of anything (including furniture and appliances) in our entire house, because clearly I have to drink something while blogging.

For another thing, the husband still has a wedding video to edit and get to the client in the VERY NEAR FUTURE, which means that his need for the computer wins out over my need for the computer. Really need is a subjective term isn't it? I guess since he is making money, he actually needs the computer. Me blogging, not really a need, just an addiction. Though if someone wanted to pay me to blog, I would totally LOVE it!

Speaking of blogging, I'm reading some blogging books. I know I totally could get all this information free on the Internet, but there is something about just taking a book outside and reading it by the pool while the girls play. The husband wasn't too keen on taking the laptop out there for the same purpose.

Which, after one day of reading outside, I realize is a pretty good call. Because apparently 10 feet away from the pool is not far enough to keep from getting wet and any further away and I would be freakishly running toward the pool to check on Miss O every time she goes under water. And really that sounds like I wouldn't get much reading done anyhow.

So, now that I am reading blogging books and have my computer up and running, expect to be shocked, awed, amazed, and dumbfounded by the ridiculous amount of information that will be shared here in the near future! And all while the husband gets to finish the wedding video and the children get to stay in nap time! Fantastic!

Triathlon Anyone?

I always wanted to do a triathlon. At one point in my college years I actually thought I wanted to start training and complete the IronMan Triathlon before I turned 30. The husband and I trained for a little while (like a few months) in college.

When I realized how much I sucked at swimming it seemed a little less like something I would like. Then we got bikes and started biking. While I enjoy biking and would like to do more of it soon, I wiped out enough to know that I wasn't born with any great talent for biking either and it would take me much too much time to train and learn how to do this well.

Anyhow, I still like the running part which is a post in and of itself. Okay, so aside from the running, I ruled out the triathlon as something I planned to train for.

Why am I talking about this then you ask. Well, Miss A was playing outside the other day and it brought back memories of my IronMan dreams. I totally pictured myself looking like this. Well, minus the training wheels and the Dora the Explorer on my simmin' soup' (Miss C-ese for swimming suit). Oh, and I guess there would be a little badminton involved, which I love by the way.



Monday, June 9, 2008

There Is A River

I've listened to this song too many times to mention. The Jars of Clay version has had a special place in my playlist for quite some time now. This morning something was different about it. I didn't write the lyrics, but this morning, the lyrics were mine.

I've always thought of Jael's death as something far beyond my understanding. I've even come to a place where I don't need to know the why. Don't get me wrong, in the beginning all I wanted was the why. Not anymore.

You see, I don't want to know the why, because I don't want control of my life. To know the why might be too much of a glimpse into what lies ahead. I know that as long as I am here on this Earth, there will be valleys to walk through, and I know now that God will bring me through them. He will not leave me there. I don't want to know that there is a valley ahead of me before I reach it. I choose to walk by faith, not sight. When I step off the mountain into the valley, it will be a blind leap, and I will land in His arms, and He will carry me out.

All of those whys, they were useful for a time, but the truth is, I am not in control of the things of His Kingdom and I don't want to be. Those are things that I was never meant to shoulder.

Lord, break the shadows I have designed. You will atone for those tears, and I am forever grateful for that.


THERE IS A RIVER

There is a river that washes you clean
There is a tree that marks the places you've been
Blood that was spilled, although not your own,
For all of your tears, are the wages for things you have done

And all of those nights
Spent alone in the darkness of your mind
Give it up, Let go
These are things you were never meant to shoulder

There is a river that washes you clean
There is a tree that marks the places you've been
Blood that was spilled, although not your own
For all of those tears, love will atone

So, give up the right
To control the waves that empty out your life
Above wild skies
Are the rays that break the shadows we design

Give it up, let go
These are things you were never meant to shoulder
Give it up, let go

There is a river that washes you clean
There is a tree that marks the places you've been
Blood that was spilled, although not your own
For all of those things, love will atone

I know the world can turn in different ways
Most of the time, we're simply hanging on
And under the signs of how we all behave
We might find the place that we belong

There is a river that washes you clean
There is a tree that marks the places you've been
Blood that was spilled, although not your own
For all of these things, love will atone

For all of those nights, that you cried all alone
All of your tears, love will atone

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A New Look

You may have noticed the new look by now! My lovely and talented sister made me a new banner and put it up for me this weekend. She is quite possibly the best sister ever! Thank you Heather!

By the way, she's the most talented photographer I know too, have a little looksie at her stuff over at heatherjenkinsphotography.com or check out her blog in my daily fixes. Leave her a little comment while you're there. She loves comments.

Did I mention that she is the best sister ever?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Other Half-Literally

Today marks our 11th anniversary. I just had my 31st birthday Tuesday. We started "dating" when I was 15. My limited math skills went to work and told me that it is official.

I have officially been Mr. N's other half for longer than I have not been. That's right, half of my life has been with Mr. N by my side, and I'm a better person for it.

Happy Anniversary Mr. N!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Out of the Overflow


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (New International Version)


God has been leading me to this verse over and over and over again over the past 6 years. He does that for a reason. I'm finally understanding why. This will be the new blog title. I'm working on getting it ready. I really do pray that it will be a place where the comfort that overflows in us will be poured out into those who desperately need it. Since the new blog isn't up and running yet, I want to ask a favor here today.

Many of you received God's Comfort while living out Jael's Story with us. Could I ask you today to pour out that comfort on another family who is experiencing almost the exact same story. I have never met Lindsey or her husband Brandon, but we have emailed over the past few days. You can read Caden's Story as it unfolds over at their blog. They have experienced many difficult days and have many more ahead of them. Our God is able to do abundantly more than we can ever even imagine. Let's call upon Him for the Carlsons.

http://thecarlsoncrew.blogspot.com/

A Testimony

I've known that I needed to write this out for awhile now. I'm finally doing it. It is a work in progress, but it is a start. Here is Jael's story...

We found out that we were pregnant in September of 2001. This was our first pregnancy after 9 months of trying to get pregnant. I didn't want to tell any family until I was further along as my mother had experienced miscarriages and I was fearful that I would too.

I started spotting and feared the worst. I went to the OB (by myself) hoping to hear that everything was fine. He did an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy was intrauterine, but he could not see a heartbeat. He told me to come back in one week for another ultrasound to verify that it was a "blighted ovum" and we would have to schedule a D&C. I decided I would never again go to an OB appointment by myself! It was excruciating having to tell my husband the words that the doctor had just told me. Nothing is real until I tell him.

At that point, we told immediate family. We prayed like nobody's business! When we went in that next week, there was a heartbeat! What they thought was a blighted ovum was truly a baby! We couldn't have been any more elated.

The first trimester went along normally, except that I was throwing up all day long every day. I literally just laid on the bathroom floor much of that time. The nausea let up at exactly 13 weeks. We officially told everyone that we were expecting.

We went in at 16 weeks (this was in early December) to have the normal ultrasound to check for all organs, etc. The technician looked at everything normally, but acted a little strange. She said she needed to go get the doctor to see if there was anything else he wanted to see. He came in and did his own scan. He told us that the fluid levels were low. They assured me that I probably was just dehydrated from all the throwing up and that I needed to make sure I was drinking lots of water. They told me to go home and enjoy Christmas and come back in January for another ultrasound. (Enjoy Christmas? With that on your mind? I can't even tell you how many gallons of water I probably drank daily!)

We went back on January 7th for the ultrasound. The appointment was at 2:00. The technician did the scan, my doctor did a scan. By this time it was almost 4:00. They told us they were having difficulty seeing things and wanted us to go see the perinatologist across the hall to do a level II scan. They walked us across the hall immediately. That was the point where I knew something was really wrong because they don't just send you across the hall immediately like that.

The technician at the perinatologist's office did a scan and told us that she didn't see ANY fluid at all. So, the perinatologist came in and took us to yet another ultrasound machine where she proceeded to make me roll around from side to side and poked and prodded and tried desperately to see what she was looking for.

That was when she told us that they did not see any kidneys, but they couldn't be for certain because with no fluid it was incredibly difficult to get good images. She handed us a box of kleenex, told us to take as long as we needed, and then that my OB across the hall wanted us to go back to his office. My husband and I looked at each other in complete numbness, like what on earth did she just say? Why did she give us kleenex? We were not about to sit there and cry in that dark room knowing that we had to walk back out through the waiting room of other pregnant women and across the hall to another waiting room full of pregnant women.

We went back to the OB's office and he sat down to talk with us about what everything meant. He was extremely sensitive, yet not overly helpful. He had never seen a case like ours before and would have to consult with his colleagues. He told us that since it was a Catholic hospital they did not do any termination procedures and he could not recommend that personally because he was a Catholic as well. I was appalled that there was any need to mention such a thing. If there was anything we knew, it was that it did not matter what they told us, we would carry this baby.

They still told us that there was always a chance that they were wrong because it was so difficult to get an accurate diagnosis with no fluid. We took that to mean that in the end she could be born healthy after all. (I have to add that we had no intentions of finding out the sex of the baby until we knew something was wrong and then we wanted to know so that we could pray specifically for him or her. The ultrasound couldn't even tell us that because the imaging was so horrible. They gave us a guess that it was a girl, but still didn't know. I'm just saying she because I know now!)

After about 4 1/2 hours of ultrasounds and consultations with the doctor, we finally left. We had driven separately to the hospital, but we couldn't even think of driving home alone. We both got into my car and LET LOOSE! I had never sobbed like that in my life! Why would God give our baby a heartbeat in the beginning if He was going to have something like this happen? She had to be okay.

From that time on we had everyone we possibly knew and many we didn't know praying from all around the world. I have never seen an out pour of Christian community so great. I still felt alone. I wanted someone who had experienced exactly the same thing to walk me through it. I didn't know anyone who had experienced this. We did what we could to trust God and pray.

I 100% believed that if I just had enough faith she was going to be okay. I desperately wanted God to make her okay, because I knew He could. I thought that a miracle like that would be just what some people in our lives needed to believe in Him. I didn't even stop to consider that there would possibly be any other outcome. I was determined that enough faith and He would make sure she was healthy.

We didn't prepare a nursery. We didn't prepare a funeral. We waited on God. I had moments where I just wanted her out. I didn't want to bond with her because I didn't want to have to let her go. Her kicks actually physically hurt me (I'm assuming because there was no fluid.) Those were bittersweet movements. Then there were moments where I just wanted to keep her in there forever because that meant that she was alive and I could feel her.

We continued having ultrasounds every few weeks to make sure nothing had changed. I just knew with every appointment that they were going to change their mind and say that it was a miracle, there was fluid and she was going to be okay. Every appointment was like getting the diagnosis all over again.

People would see me in the store or at church and say how little I looked for being so far along. I just wanted to scream at them because it felt like they were telling me she was not okay. I just wanted to be HUGE pregnant and healthy. I was scared to do anything because I was afraid of it hurting her since she didn't have any fluid as a protective barrier.

Then on March 27, I started having some minor pains. This was my first pregnancy so I had no idea what labor pains felt like. I couldn't sleep at all that night because the pains wouldn't go away. Finally at 4 a.m. on the 28th, I called my doctor. He thought I was having back labor and told me to go to the hospital. By the time we got there I was having quite a lot of contractions, but it was all back labor. I felt so awkward explaining to the nurse that we were almost 36 weeks pregnant but the baby wasn't expected to live. She looked at me like she had no clue how to handle me.

They were not allowed to check and see if I was dilated because I was not 37 weeks yet. My doctor came in around 6 a.m and checked me and determined that I was definitely in labor. It was Thursday of Easter Weekend. He said we could try to stop the labor, but that it would probably only last a few days and then I would be delivering on Easter, so he thought it best to just go ahead and let labor progress. I had intended to deliver without medications, but at this point decided I wanted to enjoy the possible only time I would have with my baby and so I opted for the epidural. I am so glad I did. I think the doc actually over-medicated me because I didn't feel her come out at all! One push and she was out.

The room was filled with more nurses, perinatologists, neonatal specialists, and techs than I can even recall. I didn't care how many medical personnel needed to be there if they could just do something to save her. She looked SO NORMAL! I thought for a moment that we had our miracle. She let out a few small cries, she cooed a little, she made noise!

They put her in the warmer and tried to give her oxygen, but she did not respond to it. The doctors knew that she was not going to make it. They wrapped her in a blanket, gave her a hat, and handed her to us to spend as much time as we wanted. We named her Jael Elise. Jael means "to ascend" and Elise means "pledged to God." To be honest we had chosen names based on meaning for both outcomes.

I wanted to unwrap her and inspect her body. I wanted to give her a bath. But I couldn't bring myself to do it because I wanted her to be warm. I just wanted to cuddle her as long as I knew she was there with us. We did dress her in an outfit that a friend ran out and picked up for us.

My husband's parents came in and were able to hold her before she passed. My parents were 4 hours away and didn't make it in time, but they did arrive after she passed and were able to see her and hold her anyway. We took pictures.

The nurse took more pictures of her once she took her out of the room. Those are the pictures that we have to cherish and remember what she looks like and show to anyone who asks (and some who don't too.)

The neonatalogist kept coming into the room to declare her time of death, but every time he would listen she still had a heartbeat. Finally after about two hours he determined that she no longer had a heartbeat. We kept her in the room with us as long as we possibly could. I didn't allow any one else in the room. I wish I had now. I didn't realize how much everyone else loved her and wanted to see her too. I wasn't the only one bonded with her.

We were released from the hospital on Good Friday that year. It was the worst Friday of my life! It didn't seem real to me that she had died until we pulled away from the hospital. Up until then it felt like she was just in the nursery and they could bring her to me any time that I asked.

The drive home I bawled my eyes out because she was supposed to be in the back seat coming home with us. The days following were miserable. My milk came in. In full force. I kept thinking how cruel that was. Couldn't God at least have prevented that? What a small detail that people don't even think about.

There was a funeral home in my home town about an hour away that wanted to volunteer their services to us. My grandfather bought a plot at a cemetery that had a special place where babies were buried. It was as if God provided the details so we didn't have to.

Her service was held on April 1, the day after Easter Sunday. I wanted to have a funeral because she was my daughter, but I was afraid to invite people because I didn't want them thinking I was making a big deal out of a baby that they didn't even know. Turns out now I would have invited the entire world if it would have meant that people would have come to Christ through her life.

We had our pastor and friend do the service. We didn't want to plan anything big, no sad songs, or anything like that. We just asked him to say something simple and then open it up for people to say anything they felt they needed to. We had chosen to do an autopsy, so they were unable to do an open casket. We had a picture displayed at the service so everyone could see how beautiful she was. I am still touched to this day that so many people at that service stood up and said something. I couldn't believe how much our relatives needed to grieve their niece, granddaughter, etc. I so wish I had taped the service to help me through later times. Many people told us that it was the most touching memorial they had ever been to.

I felt like I held it together really well for the entire pregnancy and shortly after the memorial. Then there was one day that I just realized how mad I was at God. I started throwing papers and things (nonbreakable) and yelling at Him. It made no sense to me. We had been faithful. Where was He? I have to be honest those are the darkest days.

She was our firstborn so I had nothing to distract me from my thoughts. I was so fearful that we would never have children because we hadn't heard yet if it was genetic or not. We had blood drawn from her at birth to do genetic testing with. My doctor told me at my followup appointment that the blood had been put in the wrong viles and that we would not be able to get any genetic test results. Since then I have seen that there is no genetic link, but then nobody could tell us that.

Through all of this, I can see the hand of God in so many ways. She was born alive. We got to hold her. We got to see her. We got to take pictures with her. She was not physically deformed at all, which was one of my big fears. I think it was Easter weekend for a reason. I think the genetic tests came back the way they did because God needed us to trust Him and not science to have healthy children. He has blessed us with three more healthy daughters since then.

There are so many things I have learned through her. I am not the same person today that I was before her. I pray that I never have to experience this again, but I know now that He will get me through anything.

The hardest part in all of this was choosing to trust God again. He did not have to prove his faithfulness to us, but He has in so many ways since then. I am closer to God today because of her.

I miss her all the time. No family photo seems complete. We sing Happy Birthday to her and blow out candles for her. We hang a Christmas stocking for her every year. We go to visit her grave around her birthday and take balloons with us just so our other children can know that they have another sister and that they will get to meet her too someday, if they choose to follow Christ as well. They talk about her like they know her. I pray someday they will.

Spoiled

1. A little definition courtesy of dictionary.com. Thank you very much.
spoil : to impair, damage, or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment, excessive indulgence, etc.: to spoil a child by pampering him.



2. And now for a little example.
My sister and her husband are watching my three children (the oldest being 5) along with her two (oldest being 4) for an entire week at the end of the month. So that equals 5 children ages 5 and under for an entire week. Did I mention that she is the greatest sister ever?

Well, she agreed to watch them and then we had this little conversation about how much she was allowed to spoil them. I said she could spoil them as much as she wanted if she was really willing to watch them for the week. Now, I can say this because I know that she won't be letting my children do anything that her children won't be doing. We parent very much the same. (Except that she has boys and I have girls, so we are a little, well, cleaner. And by that I mean her boys actually get dirty and then she cleans them. Mine just don't typically get dirty in the first place, thus no need to clean them as often.)

Back to the real issue at hand. By spoiling, I thought maybe a little ice cream here, a trip to the video store there, a visit to the park here, going to the store there. Apparently we have a different definition of spoil, thus the need to set the record straight. By the above definition I don't believe she is out to impair, damage, or harm my children's character, however, excessive indulgence just might fit. Here's the email I received from her yesterday, and I quote. (Just so you know, we have a non-spoken agreement that anything we learned in English growing up does not apply, thus no capitalization and random punctuation and many a run-on sentence will be involved. You've been warned!)




Sister to me: "oh, by the way, would you like to see what we just purchased? for the girls to play with while they are here? not the boys, just the girls? nothing like spoiling the children??.. okay, we lost our heads for a moment in the excitement of ebay shopping. you ready for this?....

http://www.littletikes.com/toys/crashing-waves-water-park.aspx

oh. my. word... we're nuts."


Here's my response: "Oh. my. stinkin. heck. You. did. not? Miss A saw that exact thing advertised earlier in the year (you know the commercial girls, Lelly Kellys ringing a bell?). Anyway, she was ecstatic about the thing just seeing it on TV. And then there was Miss C, all "Oh Mom you won't believe what we just saw, it's this big slide thing, and you can climb on it, and there is a tunnel, and it's wet, and you get wet, and it looks like so much fun! Can we get one?" And I'm all like, "Oh, I bet it was really cool and I bet it IS EVEN BIGGER THAN OUR ENTIRE BACKYARD!"

Good thing you were a lifeguard for like 6 years and your children have recently learned to swim because you will be killing yourself trying to keep my three children alive on that thing!

Oh, I kid. I am just jealous that I won't be there to play with them. If there is any appropriate time to spoil them it is when they will be away from their parents for more than 2 days for the first time ever and will need some distraction.

So, spoil away. By the way, I am totally not telling them about this. It will be one ginormous surprise! And then, after a week of that, I will have a hard time convincing them that the little blowup pool and sprinkler in our backyard are still fun.

At least they will be known as the coolest Aunt and Uncle EVER. Though, they may want to return it so that my kids don't ask to spend a week at their house EVERY SUMMER for the rest of their childhood. Come to think of it, keep the darn thing. I don't mind my children going to your house for a week every summer!


DISCLAIMER: That is not the price they paid for the thing, they didn't like spend their entire gov'ment rebate or anything. Just a little bargain ebay shopping to provide such a prime tool for spoiling.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Perspective

Today marks an important day in my life. Come to think of it, every day marks an important day in my life. And I have wasted too many of them.

Today is my birthday. While I am grateful for another year of health and happiness, and more than happy to celebrate with things like eating out and presents and happy birthday songs and phone calls from relatives; something feels like it is missing this year. To be quite honest, it's been missing for several years, but this year seems more obvious.

The missing piece is actually a she, not an it. She is Jael. She is my firstborn. She is the catalyst in my life for growing closer to God.

She is missing because she was only with us for a short time. Her life was spent as 8 months in my womb and then two hours in our arms. Her short life was more impactful and far-reaching than I would have ever thought possible, and I don't think God is done with the impact of her life just yet.

I pray that He never will be. Not because I want her to be remembered, but because I want Him to be glorified. In every thing. In every one. In every minute. In every hour. Much change can happen in two hours. I know. I have been changed in two hours. Forever.

I have been given many opportunities to tell her story. I will never tire of it. His story through her story is the most important story I have to tell. I cannot and will not tire of that.

So, today I am not filled with regret of use of my past time, but filled with perspective on how to spend the rest of my time. I don't know how many hours, days, or years I will have here. I do know how I want to spend those hours, days, or years. Telling her story. Telling His story. Allowing Him to use my life. However. Whenever. Wherever.

I am starting that process now. He has been nudging me to do this, and I am finally going to do it. Over the next week I am working on writing out my testimony. Every detail I can remember. Every detail I feel God poking and prodding me to tell. Every detail that gives Him glory.

I hope to post them here and then eventually to start a new blog. A new place where anyone with a testimony similar to mine can feel hope, healing, and comfort. A place where together we can live out 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."

Join me HERE to laugh, cry, and most of all glorify Him. Join me THERE to laugh, cry, and most of all glorify Him. Join me in prayer for His desire in her story and invite those to join us in this journey who need to hear His story today. May He be glorified!