Friday, December 27, 2013

the most wonderful time of the year....

 We had a great Christmas and there is still more celebrating to come. One of our favorite parts of Christmas besides all the presents and partying is having Daddy home! 

 And of course food...lots and lots of food. The kids and I had fun making these little elves out of grapes, strawberries, bananas and marshmallows!

Mark totally me surprised me with a computer which I am now writing on. Our computer was on its last leg and we had issues with pictures. So excited to be able to blog and write again. Something that has been on my heart to do more of in 2014.
Mark also got me a canvas of the family picture on our header. I love it. Totally one of my favorite presents!
My sister Liz also surprised me with a present that went right to the heart.
The two days before Christmas I was struggling with feeling like a failure as a mom. The excitement levels in our house were high and the kids were literally running in circles. "It's Christmas time" i snapped at them as they were fighting. Okay now who has the issues?
Ugh. I felt like I kept doing what I didn't want to do...
Liz had a jump drive included in her present to me. On it was a video her and the kids made for me. It was the kids saying all the things they loved about me. From the first sentence I was in tears. I sat on the couch at my parent's house and cried. It was a reminder that my kids don't always see me the way I see myself.
I mess up but I am not defined by mistakes.
It is a present I will watch again and again when I need some perspective and encouragement! (thanks again Liz!) 

 "Let the weary world rejoice for yonder breaks a new and glorious dawn..." 
~O Holy Night

don't give up...

The night I came home from my D and E surgery I could not sleep. My body was exhausted and half loopy from the anesthesia but my mind was racing and my spirit was wide awake. I tossed and turned, laying my hand across my empty abdomen. Empty. I thought of how I felt this before. Four times to be exact. I now have five kids in heaven. As many waiting for me there as I have here on earth. Whenever I thought of the babies I lost it was always a blurry picture of some far away children I didn't really know. Even though we had named each baby we lost they still felt far away.
As I laid in bed that night I saw a picture in my mind of my five children in heaven. I saw them clearly and I recognized that they were my children because they looked like MY kids. There was five of them lined up in various ages. They resembled their brothers and sister here on earth and had their same features.They were laughing and happy. I cried and rejoiced at the gift that this picture was to my heart. They were my children. They were healthy and whole. In that moment eternity seemed a bit closer.

We named this baby Benjamin. The verse that I had written and posted above the kitchen sink during the pregnancy was the blessing of Benjamin from Deuteronomy.

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest SECURE, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rest between His shoulders."

These were words I felt to claim over me and the baby. Beloved, Secure, Rest. These were what I longed for myself and this little one inside of me.

Since the miscarriage two different friends have given me the same word at two different times that Benjamin's life was not in vain. That he is impacting the world even in the short time he lived. 

I have yet to know what all that means. Maybe I will see the completeness of the word or only see bits and pieces. But it brings rest to my heart.

The second week of December Mark and I went away with the house church we are a part of. This is our fourth year going and it is always a highlight of our year. This year was no different. It was a time of great worship, ministry times, laughter and fellowship. During the one worship session Mark also saw a vision of our children in heaven. They were various ages and sizes and were gathered around Jesus. They were cheering him on shouting "Go, Daddy, Go!"
a close friend made this banner for me after the miscarriage. his banner over me is love...
These pictures and words are pieces of hope. Pictures of God's heart even in the midst of loss. Promises of His presence and restoration. So when weariness and discouragement set in, I picture my children from heaven calling out, "Go, Mommy, Go! Go Daddy Go! You can do it. Don't give up!"

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Well it is here. It is finally Christmas!
We finally pulled the last link off of the homemade paper chain that counted down the days. 
No more asking "How many more days" because Christmas is here!

Merry Christmas from our homestead to yours!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hopey's Song.

"For unto us a child is born..."

I saw the cutest Mary yesterday at Hope's preschool play. The teacher said she picked Hope to play the part of Mary because she is calm. That made me smile. She took her role of holding baby Jesus very seriously.
Later in the afternoon as I washing the dishes Hope sat at the kitchen table coloring and singing made up songs as she worked. This is part of what she sang,

"Do not be afraid for God is with you.
I believe in God.
Santa Claus is not coming to town because he's not real....yeah."

I love her heart.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

out of the depths.

The house is completely quiet. I am laying on the couch literally breathing in the silence. This is what my heart needed today.
 Rest. Quiet. Perspective.
I just spent the last hour reading over old blog entries. Laughing. Crying. Remembering the goodness of the Lord. His faithfulness in all seasons of my life. Writing and blogging has been a great outlet for me over the last number of years but over the last three months I have had no desire to write. I have started a couple entries and deleted them. Written several more in my head. But I felt like the words always felt flat and empty. And sometimes I simply didn't have the desire or emotional energy to even sit down at the computer. 
But today I sit at the keys knowing that pushing on them touches something in my heart. As the words flow, the perspective comes. And it is good.
The journey started last winter. After I was pregnant with Eden I felt like I was done having kids. D-O-N-E. But over the winter through a number of different situations the Lord grabbed hold of my heart and attention and called me to surrender. I did what I often do, fought for several weeks. During this time I had pulled something in my back and was in a lot of pain spending a lot of time on the couch. It reminded me of the last several weeks of my pregnancy with Eden and I felt like this was just confirmation that I was indeed done. But the pain did not go away. So one Sunday at church I cried out in surrender, giving this area of pregnancy over to Him. The next day the pain was gone.
Several dreams and random prophetic words later God continued to get our attention. In early October I found out I was pregnant. I was excited but also freaked out. Six kids. That's half a dozen. Oh my...

I then spent the next 8 weeks in a hole. I started to not feel good battling nauseousness. At the same time I had these weird headaches and pressure behind my eyes. I was stressed out and not sleeping. I would wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks. I felt depressed like the life was being sucked out of me.
  Yet there was still the pressing needs of a bustling household of seven. I was trying to keep perspective. Trying to trust the Lord. Trying. Trying. But feeling like I was failing miserably inside.

Two weeks ago I went for my first ultrasound. I was 11 weeks along in my pregnancy and feeling very pregnant. I was starting to feel a little better and had high hopes for the ultrasound joking with people that maybe there would even be twins. But as soon as technician started the ultrasound I knew. Something was wrong. There was no kicking moving baby. Just a big sac with something small in the corner. I was 11 weeks but the baby was only measuring 5 weeks and there was no heartbeat. They did not tell me for sure that day we were losing the baby but my heart knew. We waited another week before the final confirmation but by then we had already started the letting go process. 
This time was hard. My heart felt hard and numb. And I hated it. It was hard to grieve and let go when I still felt pregnant and clearly had a growing abdomen. It was hard not to be frustrated that this happened again. It was hard to make sense of all the confirmations God had brought along the way only for it to end like this. It was hard not to feel completely overwhelmed by what was to come either miscarrying naturally or having another surgery.  And all the while feeling nauseous and crampy and having five other children demanding my attention. I went into survival mode just doing what I needed to do to get through the day. Some days better than others. And the Lord was faithful to bring encouraging words and prayers when I needed them. But I still felt like my heart was far away. 

Yesterday I went into the hospital for a D&E surgery. I was now close to 13 weeks and my body still had not naturally released the baby. It was time. I had done this surgery twice before when I was pregnant with the twins but it still did not make it easy. Going under anesthesia freaks me out every time.
I woke up crying. Sobbing really. In my grogginess of the anesthesia I thought I heard the sound of a newborn baby crying. I woke up a little more and listened again. It was a baby and I heard a nurse say it was a boy. I began to weep. I knew this was the Lord helping me to get in touch with my heart and I welcomed the tears. We felt like the baby was a boy and hearing those newborn cries helped put me in touch with the reality of our loss. My womb was empty. I am always amazed by that after a miscarriage, how empty it feels inside. But where I was unable to grieve before while I was still carrying the baby, with this new emptiness came the space to began to grieve. 

And that is what I am continuing to do today. In the quietness the tears are flowing, healing, touching places in my heart. Reviving the life in my heart that has felt so cold and dead these last few months. 
And with every loss of life God has breathed something new into us and I am believing for that. For new things to be birthed into my heart. I can feel it already.

God doesn’t allow pain unless He’s allowing something new to be born. And there are a thousand ways births can happen unseen to the naked eye but it’s the eyes of the heart that see the delivering mercies of God." 
~ann voskamp

"I waited patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 
He put a new song in my mouth a hymn of praise to our God."
~Psalm 40:1-3

Friday, September 13, 2013

proof that love does get better with time.

 Tomorrow Mark and I celebrate eleven years of marriage. While looking through some pictures I came across our engagement photos. I  hesitated to even post any of them. They are awkward and embarrassing and seriously lacking. But it is part of our journey and proof that love really does get better (and more attractive and stylish and passionate and sweeter) with time... So go ahead and have a good laugh. I did.

Happy Anniversary Mark. It really has been a sweet journey. I look at that guy in those pictures and don't even know him anymore really. I love who we have become together. It really does keep getting better and I know there is more ahead.... i love you!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

tired. and refreshed.

I came off the summer feeling tired. I cried like a baby when the kids climbed aboard the school bus but a week into the school year and  I am realizing just how tired I really was. I was exhausted and I am finally now catching my breath. I felt guilty at first for enjoying the break from the mayhem. Like I was somehow a bad mom for sending them away for a whole day. And I still feel a tad bit guilty for being very excited for quiet afternoons like this one where two girls are sleeping and it is just me and absolute utterly blissful silence except for the birds chirping outside and the hum of the dishwasher. But I am realizing that it is okay to enjoy this part of motherhood too. I have this martyrdom mentality sometimes that is so far from God's heart.
 And today I feel His pleasure in this... the quiet.
And He is saying "Heather take a deep breath. This is my gift to you." 

Drink deep girl because 3:45 is coming and then the craziness will return and this will not be your reality.

Thank you God for quiet and time to think. 

"What will I do? I will think my thoughts, which I haven’t heard since June 5th. I miss my thoughts and I look forward to seeing what they’ve been doing. For all I know they could’ve been curing cancer, but they’ve been stamped out by missives like He won’t quit touching my game/remote control/Afro and Could you make me a sandwich/pizza/taco and I am bored/hot/hungry and When are we going to leave/eat/bathe again? "
-Jen Hatmaker on sending kids back to schoool ,

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Yesterday my oldest turned ten. A decade ago when he was born I became a mother. With his birth a desire of my heart was fulfilled. I never imagined how much joy being a mother would bring me....and how hard it would be. We always joke that with Moses it was "baptism with fire" into parenting. He cried a lot. Didn't sleep much. I tore really bad during labor and the recovery was long. We had thrush, mastitis, and other breastfeeding issues. Sometimes Mark would not know who to comfort first as he would find us both in tears. But after six months something shifted and we found a delightful baby boy on our hands. 
He has been continuing to bring us joy and delight ever since. As the oldest he is always forging the way. This summer I really enjoyed having him home. He is full of conversation and opinions. He loves to read, play legos, build and create. He is also adventurous always trying something new whether it is skateboarding, surfing on his boogey board or trying a new bike trick. He is also a really great big brother to Eden. It was awesome this summer to watch him play with her. And she adores her big brother "Mo Mo".
Happy Birthday Moses! I love you buddy! Thanks for making me a Mom!

Monday, August 26, 2013

in the quiet.

The house is quiet, strangely quiet. I put three kids on the school bus this morning. Suddenly the scale has tipped and I now have more kids at school than at home. Last night I spent time grieving and letting go. Like sobbing in bed letting go. It was good. In the midst of the craziness of summer days it can be easy to lose perspective sometimes. But in the quietness I realize that I really do love a house full of life. 
I was telling the kids this morning how much I was going to miss them. "But Mom you always say you would like some peace and quiet. Now you will get it!" piped up Sarah. True. And I must admit the different pace of mothering will be nice. I look forward to watching my two little girls play together and become better friends. This is my season to pour into them. 
In the midst of the tears I feel thankful for a great summer with some great kids who I really love. It's a new season and there are good things in store. My goal as a mama is to prepare them for the world. Today was another step in that journey. A letting go. Trusting God. Watching them soar into new things.

Today's timely devotional verse in Jesus Calling for Kids was this,

"Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27

Thanks God that I can trust you and thanks for a great summer!
Here's to an awesome school year!

these two.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

no fun mama.

Somewhere along the line I bought into the lie that in order to be a good mama you had to be serious. After all this is serious business this raising up of children. 
But lately I have not liked this "serious" me. When I birthed my fist child a decade ago it was as if a fearful gene was awakened in me. Mark calls me "The no fun mama" at times when I am uptight. And it is sadly true. I have been on a journey to let go...let go of control, fear and taking myself way too seriously.
This summer something happened. Part of me wonders if it is breakthrough or five kids has just worn off on me. But I am getting more goofy. Laughing a bit more. It happens in momnets when I feel like I am going to lose it and I turn the radio up and fake an air guitar. Everyone is laughing and rolling their eyes but it feels better than yelling for the umpteenth time. It is silly little things but it feels like something is being chipped away in side of me.
It is slow progress for this no fun recovering perfectionist mama. But I rejoice in the baby steps. And if you pass me on the road belting out a song to go with my air guitar...just smile and wave back! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

licking up summer.

If summer is like a big ice cream cone we have been licking it up. We have had our share of fun....and of ice cream. That's what summers all about. And looking at our summer bucket list we have accomplished almost everything on the the list and more. But yet still that nagging sense of dread lingers as we enter into the last full week of summer. Did I enjoy my kids enough? How is it over already?  Some days I felt like my kids were driving me crazy but now I am a mess as I think about them going back to school. 
Today as I was driving in the car the song "How He loves" came on the CD we were listening to and the words seemed to be screaming out of the speakers. "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves. Oh how He loves us." 
I don't have time to maintain these regrets. Time is moving on...School is starting next week. And when I look back on the summer it was really good. Sure there was plenty of fighting and yelling and real life that happens when seven people share a home and life together but there was a lot of good memories. And that is what I want to remember today. Not the regrets or less than perfect moments but the good times shared, the summer memories, the sweetness. Like an ice cream cone savored.

When I look back I will smile and remember...

lots and lots of ice cream and popsicles  consumed. 
sisters being sisters. 
the kids loving on Eden.
a great day trip to ocean city.
picnics in the yard and on the porch.
 lots of visits to parks....daniel's den. buckwalter park. safe harbor.
swim lessons. 
afternoons at the pool.
playdates with friends from school.
trips to goodwill with five kids always an adventure and always treasures to be found.
hike at silvermine with the groff girls collecting crayfish.
bike rides at silver mine and the bike trail.
our week at the beach. 
making forts in the backyard.
visiting that fish place.
helping grandma on the farm.
birthday parties.
sleepovers with cousins.
hope and silas flying down the hill in dump trucks.
picking corn at joe & yvonnne's
bible school
visit to the library.
visiting all the great grandparents. grandma sarah sneaking them candy much to their delight. grandfather rowe collecting acorns for hope.
a visit to reuizt to visit grandma.
prophetic word from the waitress at JoJo's
new vehicles. 
matt & naomi coming home
lawn mower drama.
boys being buddies.
date with Mark to the Belvedere Inn in the rain.
Moses making a mini golf course in our backyard.
Sarah getting her ears pierced.
visiting the petting zoo.
picking berries out the lane. again and again.
moses reading to silas in the afternoon.
sarah making and selling crafts.
sarah and silas giving their lives to the Lord.
meeting a new friend through instagram. "seriously mom, instagram"
campout in the backyard with noah.

Thank you Lord for a great summer!