Reflection

Time has such a unique way of changing your perspective.  You no longer have just the emotions and thoughts of the moment.  So when I look back four years to my twenty-five year old self sitting in a dimly lit hospice room watching my husband take his last breath, I remember it all so clearly.  But time has made it just that.  A memory.  This day every year has become like my New Year’s Day.  It’s a day I remember and reflect.

It was the day that Josiah’s life ended here and his perfect life began.

It was the day that, for the first time, I watched death…and somehow my fear of it was taken away.

It was the day that changed my life in so many ways.

It was an end and a beginning.

And God has been faithful!  He has carried me when I was in the desert of my grief.  He healed, restored, and made deeper my broken heart. He made Himself known to me in ways I never dreamed.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.  Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’  I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you…” Job 42:2-5

Much was taken away from me…but God has added beyond what I could imagine.

God has brought me a second Love of my Life!

“God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. 

He does everything by His power that is working in us.” Ephesians 3:20

God has added not one…not two…but three children to my heart!

And when I see this sweet face:

Imagehow can I not just be in awe of God’s plans?

“I know the plans I have for you,” announces the Lord.  “I want you to enjoy success.  I do not plan to harm you.  I will give you hope for the years to come.  Then you will call out to me.  You will come and pray to me.  And I will listen to you.  When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

There are no words to accurately describe what’s in my heart except for maybe this…

I vividly remember the first words that I murmured after Josiah died were “Thank You Jesus.”

And those are the words that so clearly ring in my mind and heart tonight.

“Thank You Jesus!”

Motherhood

Wow.  This blogging funk has gotten out of control! I have felt no real zeal for writing lately and have very little time for it anyway.  Plus with the sleep deprived fog I’m in I’m not sure I’ll make any sense anyway.  I had forgotten what torture it is to not sleep! Coffee works wonders for sure, but there are days when that doesn’t even work. Homeschooling the four older kids is going really well this year and for that I am thankful!  But it is still work.  Lots of work.  Also, we are building a house and we are all sooooo very excited about that! I can not wait until we can move in and get settled and am so thankful for God’s provision for it!  But I can’t say I’m excited to pack up the house we are living in…so I’m just procrastinating on that. 

So much going on.  So much living and life and fun and joy and frustrations and worries and weariness.  Motherhood continues to stretch me in ways I didn’t think were possible.  There are so many articles and Facebook statuses about how amazing and wonderful motherhood is.  And that is all very true!  I still totally believe I am blessed with the best job in the world.  But…it is SO hard too.  There are days when I really do not like my job.  There are days when I start questioning if I’m really meant for this.  There are days when I think anyone would do a better job than I am.  There are days when I cry in frustration.  There are days when I lose my temper.  There are days when the responsibility of what I’m doing feels like a heavy weight.  There are days when I let the pressure and stress get to me. 

But it is in those days and those moments when I am given more grace than I deserve.  It is in those days when I see more clearly the work that God still has to do in me. And it is also in those days when I can be most thankful that God doesn’t need a perfect performance from me to love me.

Oh, how He love me!

And it does seem that when I am at my lowest, God blesses me with something unexpected.  I have a moment of connection or laughter with a child that so fills my heart I can’t describe it.  Or, I actually get a decent night’s sleep (Hallelujah!!).  Or I read something in my devotions from God’s Word that gives strength.  Those are the moments that make this job so indescribable!

Because motherhood is not pretty.

But it can be beautiful!

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A gift

I would like to introduce my sonIMG_1670Weston James Rankin

Born May 3, 2013  3:18pm

7 pounds 6 ounces 20 inches

Yes.  He is the cutest baby on the planet.  And yes, he is a month old (crazy!) and I am finally getting around to writing about him.  But true to form, his birth was not without some drama.  I can’t seem to have a baby without a story.

(To preface this story, Weston and I are fine.  Just enough drama for a blog post, not to cause worry.)IMG_1680My due date (April 29th) came and went and little Mr. was perfectly content to stay where he was.  What can I say, I make a good oven.  Three days later I went in for an appointment and ultrasound.  Everything looked good.  Found out I was carrying some extra fluid.  Quite a bit of extra fluid.  And baby was measuring big.  Both were totally opposite issues than I have experienced before.  There were some potential complications due to the extra fluid and I was already past due, so we decided to induce the next day.IMG_4794I was pretty bummed about being induced again (I was with my other two labors as well), but I was at peace with it.  Dustin and I made plans for the kids, finished packing our bags, and had a nice evening together.

The next morning we got up nice and early and headed to the hospital.

Oh, and did I mention it was May 3rd and we were in the middle of a snow storm?IMG_1664Anyway…

We got to the hospital, checked in, got settled in our room, and started the dreaded pitocin drip.  After about five hours my doctor decided to break my water.  When they broke my water, the cord went below Weston’s head and with every contraction I had after that, his heart rate dropped.

I’ll spare you a bunch of details but trust me when I say they don’t mess around when something like that happens.  I was wheeled into an emergency c-section at 3:12 and a screaming Weston was born at 3:18.IMG_4739Going into surgery so many thoughts were swirling in my mind.  I was scared.  I don’t take for granted that everything is just going to be ok anymore.  I also didn’t hesitate to do whatever I needed for my baby.  But that’s just motherhood.IMG_1751I was also thinking that, because I was being put under general anesthesia, I wasn’t going to be awake when my baby was born.  And I still kinda hate that I missed that.  During this pregnancy I have had a short list of specific prayer requests.  One of them being that I would be able to bond with Weston right away.  Maybe that sounds like a strange request to some, but it was very important to me.  My whole pregnancy was difficult.  Plus, with four children already, it was also incredibly busy.  I felt like there was so much on my plate that I didn’t really have the time or the energy to put a lot of focus on my baby.  I loved him.  No question about that.  But I wanted that euphoric moment right after a baby is born and you get to see them for the first time, so very badly.  I know what it feels like to not bond with your baby right away, and I didn’t want to experience that again.

But God answered my prayer anyway!  After I woke up, my first question was if my baby was ok.  Dustin assured me that he was doing great and showed me a picture.  I was so emotional and I wanted to see my baby so badly, but I was also in a lot of pain and spent the rest of the day trying to get control of that.  Weston was being monitored closely and needed some oxygen for a while.  That night I just couldn’t hold it together any longer.  I needed to see my baby.  I had lived through not being able to see or hold my baby before and while my head knew this was a completely different experience, my heart just couldn’t take it.  I found out later that my wonderful husband had already stopped by the nursery and made it clear that his wife needed to see her baby.  I also had a very supportive nurse and between the two of them I got my moment that night.  Different than I had anticipated but every bit as magical.IMG_1678My heart was completely bonded with him before I even saw him.IMG_1769He is the surprise gift I didn’t know I wanted.IMG_1764I am forever thankful that God’s ways are perfect.

I am forever thankful that God knows exactly what I need.

And maybe it’s because he’s a fifth child and I know how fast these years go.  And maybe it’s because I know that life is not a guarantee.  And maybe it’s because I’m a few years older and a little wiser.  And maybe it’s just an answer to my prayer because God knew that I would need to be so in love with this little guy to help me deal with the extra craziness that is my life.IMG_1739Whatever the reason, I know that I am totally soaking up every moment with my sweet baby like I have never done before.  God orchestrated a lot for his little life to happen.IMG_1906And he is a precious gift.

You know you are nearing the end of your pregnancy when…

You know you are nearing the end of your pregnancy when…

  • Going up a flight of stairs leaves you so winded you think you might have just climbed Everest.
  • Rolling over in bed makes you feel like you need a nap.
  • The thought of wearing adult diapers is sounding more reasonable by the day.
  • Your nesting urges are getting out of control.
  • Those tiny little flutters and jabs are now so strong you feel like it’s bruising your insides.
  • You’re not even sure you still have a belly button.
  • You day-dream about laying on your back again.
  • You had a bunch more ideas of witty things to write…but you can’t remember a single one.
  • Oh yeah…you’re heart is so full of thankfulness that you have carried this baby full term and you can’t wait to HAVE HIM OUT!

This day…Grace

March 27th.

Just another date on the calendar to most, but to me it simply means:

Grace.

March 27, 2006…seven years ago…Ava was born. I became a Mom and my journey has been filled to the brim with unexplainable, undeniable…grace.

When I think of that day seven years ago, I don’t really think of birth pains or that right after birth euphoria when you finally stare into your newborns eyes for the first time.  Yes, those things were a part of that day.  But mostly my heart is just filled to the brim with thoughts of God’s great grace.

I can replay those first few days like a movie in my head.  Going from seeing my perfectly formed newborn…to a baby I didn’t even recognize within a few short hours.

Sitting in the waiting room as the doctors cut a line down her brand new chest and pulled her tiny ribs apart to work on her broken little heart.  I remember hearing someone else’s baby crying nearby and not being able to hold back the sobs that racked my sore and exhausted body.

I remember touching her for the first time after surgery and instead of feeling soft baby skin, I felt skin so swollen and pale that it felt like sand paper.

I remember the days following feeling little movements inside of me that were reminiscent of the life I once held and it was such a sharp reality that my baby was no longer safe and sheltered.  No.  She lay exposed down the hall on a sterile hospital bed with more tubes and wires coming out of her than I could count and enduring more pain than I could imagine.

I could go on and on and on telling story after story.  About the time when she almost died in my arms.  Or the time they came and told me that her heart stopped.  Or watching her go through drug withdrawals.  Or the days and weeks that turned into months sitting by her hospital bedside.  Or all the sleepless nights at home just watching her breathe.  Or all the doctors appointments and medications and delays and specialists and worries and tears.

But instead, all I can do is lift up a heart so full of thanksgiving that it aches all because of….grace.

God’s grace and mercy is personified in a tiny seven-year old in pink glasses racing through my house today.  Life is frail and fragile and not something that we can hope to hang on to.  But I am praising the One who holds her life, my life…your life…so tenderly in His hands.

Ava is still tiny. 38 pounds.  Still fits into her size 4T jeans.  Runs like the wind.  Is deep.  Is silly.  Learning is still a struggle for her.  She is sensitive and sassy.

And I will never be the same after watching God’s work in her life.  Because as God was healing her tiny life…God was doing surgery in mine too.  Showing me that I was NOT in control…but also showing me Who was.  Bringing me to the very end of myself…so that I could see Him in a deeper way.  Revealing His promises in a much more real way in my life.  Seeing a glimpse of the power of prayer…God’s power.  And so much more.

To the tiny blonde blur in my house…well, her mind is filled with what most seven-year old girl’s minds are filled with on their birthday.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

But this Momma’s heart is filled with one thought.

Grace.

Thank you God for your amazing grace.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Crazy!

I’m finally starting to feel more energetic these days.  And by energetic I mean I don’t feel like I could shut my eyes and fall immediately to sleep every second of every day!

So, I told the kids today that all mom’s like to have nice pictures of their kids…not sure why, we just do…so we were going to go out and attempt it and it would be a super amazing gift to me if they would cooperate.  They did surprisingly well with that pep-talk, and we had a good time and got some decent photos too!

I realize dressing up four kids and taking them out in public to take pictures…by myself…is a little crazy.  And by a little, I mean a LOT!  But, I never claimed I wasn’t crazy :)  And who knows…maybe I’ll be even more crazy and actually get out Christmas cards this year!  But I’m kinda exhausted…so I’ll think about that another day.

Here are some outtakes from our photo shoot…but I think they may actually be my favorites :)

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This one was my fault…I asked them if they were excited for Christmas. Apparently that’s code for jumping.

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Took this one and then told her it was time for one showing her teeth!

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She looks too old in this pic!

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Attempting his tough guy look…but he couldn’t stop smiling :)

She's all like "Look Mom, isn't this funny!" and I'm all like "Ummm, yea it is!  Let me take a picture and then for pete sake, fix your eyes cause I've paid good money to keep them straight!"

She’s all like “Look Mom, isn’t this funny!” and I’m all like “Ummm, yea it is! Let me take a picture and then for pete sake, fix your eyes cause I’ve paid good money to keep them straight!”

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For the next three months their ages are: 7, 6, 5, 4….whew! Crazy!

IMG_4267IMG_4268IMG_4269The end.

What God’s Up To

I have tried and failed to find words to describe the last eight months.  I’m still not sure if I can, but I’m going to try.  These past months of adjusting to being a family of six have been…hard.  How’s that for being eloquent?  There have been plenty of amazing joys along the way for sure!  But the life of jumping head first into being the mommy of four very needy and hurting and confused kids?  Yea…that part has been hard.  Most of the time I feel so overwhelmed by the tremendous needs that face my every moment.  I don’t feel qualified.  I don’t feel able.  I don’t feel like enough.  Sometimes those feelings can so overwhelm my soul.  My wise Mom is quick to remind me that I didn’t choose this, but that God chose it for me as part of His perfect plan and I just responded with “yes”.  And my dear husband is quick to reaffirm my doubting heart that I am meant to be all of these kid’s mom.  So…I keep going.  The days have gotten easier in a lot of ways as we have all adjusted.  My husband is less likely to find me in a corner dissolved in tears these days!  I take that as progress :)

At the beginning of the summer I thought in no way could I even consider homeschooling this year.  I was barely functioning as “mom”, much less adding on “teacher” on top of that!  God slowly changed my heart and showed me that being home this year was what we all needed.  I needed to keep building on what we had started…and I needed to keep growing and stretching too.  Two days into the school year, I found out I was pregnant.  Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.  Defeated.  Deflated.  And I felt so guilty for feeling those things on top of it.  But, what on earth was God asking of me?  To give up all?  Well…yes.  Because nothing screams sacrifice like motherhood.  So in the middle of preparing to welcome a small selfish incredible blessing…I’m attempting to teach four very self-centered blessings to deny self…and at the same time, God is teaching me the same lesson.

I can feel the refining fire that I am in.  Sometimes I just want to be out of it…but I also know there is still much that I have to learn in it.  God is taking my small view of love…true sacrificial, unconditional love…and He is expanding it to look more like what His really is.  And…it is hard.  I just pray that when I come out, that all of me will be gone…and all that remains is Christ!

“so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 1:7