I haven't known what to say or how to say it for awhile, but I'm going to go ahead and try anyway.
We are doing really well now. If you would've told me a couple months ago that I would be where I am now, I wouldn't believe it. Sometimes God leads us slow step by slow step through seasons of life. Then apparently sometimes God decides to take us on a few flying leaps to get to our next season.
Life was humming along as usual all summer. We found out we were expecting our fifth child. We felt super excited, along with a healthy amount of concern for our finances, homeschooling, room arrangement, etc. But we knew God had blessed us with a new life and He would take care of the details.
It's hard to know how to sum it all up. I could write pages about that last week of August and all the painful memories, but I wouldn't know where to start or how to end. At my 14 week checkup, we found out our baby's heart wasn't beating anymore. As we explained it to the kids - Jesus decided to take our baby to Heaven.
We didn't get to find out if it was a boy or a girl. We both had a hunch it was a girl so we named her Grace. We figured when we get to Heaven, if find out he was a boy, we'll change it to Grayson. I believe with all my heart that our child is sitting with Jesus, getting lots of attention from great-grandparents and eagerly waiting to meet us. It makes me think of Heaven even more as my home, knowing my precious child is already there.
A friend reminded me of this - our ultimate goal as parents is for our kids to spend eternity in Heaven. Although I would give anything to still be pregnant and get to have our baby here, we've attained the ultimate goal for this child and that is awesome.
As I struggled to try to get back to normal, I prayed Psalm 139:23-24 ... Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
I feel like God has been so merciful to gently open my eyes to things I have been blind to my whole life. He has changed my thinking and healed hurt I have held onto for decades. All in the past couple months. I don't think I would've been open to hear all He has had to say if I hadn't felt so needy. I can see that He used our miscarriage to humble me and prepare me to move ahead with Him.
These are some of the things God has used in my life the past couple months.
1. "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo
2. "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers
3. Steven Curtis Chapman's words & songs at a conference at our church - "When love takes you in"
4. Matthew West concert
5. Matthew West CD
6. "Choosing to SEE" by Mary Beth Chapman
7. "What's it Like to be Married to Me? by Linda Dillow
8. My friend Kelli
9. My mom & dad
10. My Bible
To anyone else's eyes it looks like a random assortment of topics - Heaven, prostitution, adoption, forgiveness, mercy, letting go, marriage issues , etc. But to God it wasn't random. He brought each of those truths into my heart to set my feet upon a rock. I probably don't need to go into details in how He opened my eyes in each of those areas, but I do think it's neat how He has answered my prayers about organization.
I read in James 3 one morning recently that "disorder" is listed among "every evil thing." (v. 16) For some reason, that stuck out to me. God is organized. He made the world function with consistency and everything He does is at the right time. So surely He would want to help me bring all the loose ends of my busy life together in a manageable, consistent, organized way.
I wrote these specific things down in my journal, asking for God to help me know how to bring order to these places.
1. Cleaning house/chores
3. Keeping in touch with family/friends
4. Menu planning
5. Grocery shopping
6. Our school schedule (getting Avery to practice piano, MATH!, activities for Laney & Bo, group time, etc.)
7. Practicing Awana verses with kids
8. Getting rid of things we don't need
9. Internet time/blogging
It's not that I don't do these things. It's just that these are the things that I do randomly or last minute when the need becomes desperate. I long for an organized way of doing these things, but I just didn't see where those things fit on my busy life's calendar. I needed divine inspiration.
Over the past two weeks, I have been stunned as God has pointed me to a specific slot of time in our routine that I can comfortably fit these in on a regular basis. Well 7 of the 9. I'll keep listening for those last two. God cares so much.
So we started 2nd grade and Kindergarten this year with Avery & Tatum. Homeschooling is truly a treasure I had never planned to find, but I am so thankful the Lord let me stumble upon it and open it up! Avery is studying US History & Geography, Math, Spelling, Reading, Handwriting, Grammar, Bible and Art. Tatum is working through Phonics & Reading, Handwriting, Math, Art and listening to History with Avery. All 3 of the girls are in Awana, so we use that as part of our Bible curriculum.We are just starting Astronomy as our science for the year.
Tatum is almost done with her Kindergarten requirements. I'm pretty sure I'll have to order 1st grade for Christmas! The girl LOVES math. When she finishes her assignment, she asks if she can do more math! She learned to write letters very early and she continues to enjoy writing tasks. Reading is a struggle right now. I can tell it wears her out more than any of her other subjects. But she is doing great and is half way through level one of All About Reading!
Avery's reading skills have taken off this year. She amazes me with her ability to decode words. She loves to draw and create. She can draw things at the age of 7 that I cannot draw at the age of 34. I love to watch her creative little mind work. Her main struggle is with writing. I've been researching nonverbal learning disabilities and am finding that many of the modifications suggested for kids with NLD are working tremendously well with Avery. It is such a blessing to be able to give my sweet girl the education she needs and to watch her thrive.
Avery & Tatum are playing softball on a little 8U team. Brian and I are having so much fun playing with them and watching their skills improve. We keep saying to each other, "This is really fun!" We are truly sad the season is almost over, but hopeful there will be more seasons to come.
Laney is going to preschool a couple days a week. Many of her little friends from church are also in her preschool class and her Awana Cubbies group, so it's been fun for her to see the same faces several days of the week. She is a great helper with Bodie in the mornings. She plays with him in the gameroom or outside while the big girls are doing school. Sometimes they watch Sesame Street together. Bodie calls her "sissy." She likes to come inside and "do school" with us sometimes. She still sticks to me like glue.
Bodie goes to preschool one day a week and spends one morning a week with Gigi. That way the big girls and I have a quiet house two mornings a week. He is sweaty and rough and so stinkin' sweet I could gobble him up. His favorite word is still "ball." His favorite toy is a ball. When we practice softball in the backyard, he will spend an hour hitting softballs off the tee with a real bat. No plastic bats here. He wants the real bat and the real bright yellow softballs. He is big and strong, which is proving to be difficult as he is entering the terrible 2's.
Here's some photos from our past few months...
All the cousins at a pumpkin patch - Avery, Tara, Laney, Bodie, Tatum, Matthew & Isabella
(Isabella is my sister-in-law's little sister)
Tatum lost her 3rd tooth! She pulled it all by herself!
We had a fall festival at church a couple days ago. Here's Superman and...
the three princesses... Cinderella, a Southern Belle, and Sleeping Beauty!
Here's our softball girls
Laney was invited to a birthday part at the Pink Pokka Dot, a boutique where they do your hair, nails and makeup as part of the party. They also have a closet full of princess dress-ups you can change in and out of as often as you like. Here's my little Cinderella after her makeover.
Then she changed into the Belle dress...
We went to the Oil Ranch with our home school group at church. It was a Monday and there was no one there! It was so nice to have the whole place to ourselves.
My friend Justina, took these great pics of the kids
I just found these pics from the 4th of July parade in our neighborhood.
And here's a picture I just found from March. My sister-in-law took this at my Paw Paw's 90th birthday party. As we get older, my brothers & I rarely have pictures taken together, so I treasure this one of the three of us together with Paw Paw. This is my oldest brother Matthew, PawPaw, my middle brother Martin and me!