The truth is…most of the time, things are really great…

That’s a line from one of my favorite Kenny Chesney songs and I think it aptly describes our life right now.  Sure, I can list off a handful of things that are extremely hard about life at the moment (our financial situation, the lack of sleep from having a newborn, always feeling hungry because I’ve had to cut out so many foods that hurt Madden’s tummy, my three-year old who has suddenly become so hardened to her sin) BUT, most of the time, things are really great.  People ask me “So, how are you doing?” and I sometimes don’t know where to start.  I’m happy and tired and frustrated and sad and joyful and overwhelmed and relaxed and disappointed…it just depends on which moment that you ask me.  Nevertheless, when I look at the big picture, I realize again, that most of the time things are really great.  Let me fill you in a bit…

Mikias is such a neat kid.  He’s a wonderful mixture of tough and tender and should the Lord call him to Himself, he will be an incredible member of God’s kingdom.  He’s such a servant and always looking for ways to help Mommy.  I constantly remind him how grateful I am for his help, but that his help is not why Mommy loves him.   He gets it, and still just really enjoys being helpful.  He’s also super compassionate.  I’ve had to cut out dairy from my diet in order to nurse Madden, so the kids were upset that I didn’t get to eat any of Molly Kate’s birthday cake.  This week Mikias told me when I make his cake, I could leave out the milk so that I would get to eat some!  Of course, I had to explain that would be a yucky cake, but how precious that he wanted me to be able to enjoy something that he enjoys so much!  In the last few weeks, he’s become a great hugger.  We had to really teach him how to hug and it was so awkward for a while there.  But now I get these amazing super-tight squeezes and the words “I love you Mommy.” And I know that he really does.    As his English improves, I find myself enjoying our conversations greatly.  I’m also learning so much about his past, which can be enlightening and heart-breaking.  But it makes me love him all the more and thank God for already saving him from so much.

Molly Kate is having the hardest time of all right now, which isn’t surprising given the rapid changes in our family life.  Nevertheless, it pains me to watch her struggle, even when I know it is for her good.  I guess its much how the Lord feels when He walks with us through the trials that sanctify. Thankfully, there are still moments in the day where my sweet, loving, playful little girl appears and I treasure those.  In the craziness of three boys, I love that God blessed me with a little girl who happens to be so much like me.  But I welcome your prayers for her as she adjusts to so many changes and for me to have wisdom as I train and shepherd her little heart.

Miles will steal your heart in a second with those big brown eyes and winsome smile.  He seems to be adjusting well, but its so hard to know with a two-year old.  He’s super cuddly, so I love when there is time in the day to just sit and hold him…and he loves it too!  But there are lots of moments when I wrestle with God and question why the Lord allowed him to remain in the orphanage for so long.  He’ll fall down the stairs or hit his head on the table, stop for a moment and then get up and keep going.  While I’m glad he’s a tough little boy, I can’t help but wonder if he’s learned not to cry when he hurts because no one cares.  He’s also extremely possessive of food and doesn’t seem to know when he’s full.  Again, I have to wonder how many days and nights he was still hungry because there just wasn’t enough food to go around.  These things are hard to grapple with and a main reason I feel sad a lot right now.  Between talking to Mikias about the hardships he and his birthmom faced to watching Miles not act like a normal two-year old in so many ways to Molly Kate not caring one bit that she hurts God’s heart when she disobeys, I guess I have good reason to just need to cry many a night.  So I do.

And Madden…well, he hasn’t been the easiest baby, but I’m so grateful that he doesn’t have CF and with that burden lifted, I can face the rest of it.  The food issues stink…I love dairy and its a challenge to cut it out because we are so accustomed to eating it in everything!  Unfortunately, its not just dairy…beans, onions, peppers, and most fruits and veggies also seem to bother him, so I really have to be so careful about what goes into my mouth.  I now eat peanut butter (or almond butter) and jelly sandwiches about five times a week!  He’s much better than Molly Kate was about falling to sleep on his own, but his nighttime feedings are much more frequent than hers were at this point.  For the last six weeks, I’ve averaged six hours of sleep a night and I feel pretty worn down.  I know we’ll get there, but oh how I dream of 10 straight hours of zzz’s!  At the same time, I’m wanting to store up as much time with my little man as possible as I know he’s our last infant.  I told him the other day I want him to get older and stay a baby all at the same time!  Sometimes I grieve the fact that I don’t get to love on him as much as I would like because of my other three little people and the needs that have to be met.  Then I pray that God would fill in the gaps where there is just not enough of me to go around.  He is starting to give us some great little smiles, which always help brighten the day.

The truth is…most of the time, things are really great.  I love having a big family and the fact that there is never a dull moment.  Doing it together with Kevin is just icing on the top…he’s an amazing husband and a great father.  Life is busy and I know this time when my children are young will go by so quickly.  In fact, I had two parents say that very thing to me today with tears in their eyes…one a dear friend and the other a stranger in the mall.  But both had this yearning to return to the years when their child was young enough to crawl up in their lap or snuggle after a nap.  And the Lord reminded me not to wish this time away but treasure it up and make the most of every opportunity.

Yellow Day - The kids thought it was so much fun to all wear the same color!
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Would you consider helping?

I write this post with all humility and a bit of confusion as to why the Lord has allowed this circumstance in our life right now.  Let me explain…when Mikias arrived home, we took him to our pediatrician who walked us through the standard care for all internationally adopted children.  Part of this care is a battery of blood tests to make sure he isn’t carrying any diseases or illnesses that wouldn’t necessarily show up in immediate symptoms.  We completed the blood work on May 18th.  Poor Mikias…he tried so hard to be tough, but it was a lot of blood!  Since that time, we’ve had to go around and around with our insurance company, who is denying coverage for the blood tests.  They claim the tests are preventative instead of diagnostic and fall under “non-covered procedures.”  Normally, we wouldn’t worry with it and just pay the bill, but because of how many tests were run, the total bill is $3100.00.  Obviously, given we have just spent every last penny to bring the boys home, we don’t have an extra $3100 to foot this bill.  We even went to the extreme of having our doctor write a letter to the insurance company, but it appears they aren’t going to change their final decision.  So, I’m humbled by our deep need for the Lord to provide for this expense and a bit confused as to why He has brought this circumstance into our lives when we are struggling to make it as a family of six right now.  The Lord so graciously met most all of our needs for our adoption expenses, but now as we complete these last steps of bringing home two adopted children, we feel as though we are often times coming up empty-handed.  As I have prayed for the Lord to provide, I felt the Lord nudging me to see if any of you might be interested in helping meet this need.  I know many of you have already supported us financially and we praise the Lord for your faithfulness and your care for the orphans in this world.  But maybe there are others of you who have wanted to play some part in these boys coming into our family.  If so, would you pray about possibly giving to us to meet this unexpected expense in our adoption journey?  We’ve applied for financial aid through the hospital where the blood work was completed, but expect that even if received, our bill will still be roughly $1500.  If you feel you might want to give to this need in our lives, please e-mail me at laurt6@aol.com and I’ll give you the information to make a check payable directly to the hospital where the bill is owed.

Even as I write this, I’m partly embarrassed and partly discouraged and completely humbled at how long the Lord has kept our family in a place of need.  But I know that one way the Lord is glorified is when the body of Christ meets each other’s needs and perhaps He will gain glory that I can’t understand through placing us in a very needy and dependent state once again.

Mikias and Madden

Our Princess is Three!

Yesterday we celebrated Molly Kate’s 3rd birthday!  I often look at Madden and can’t believe Molly Kate started out so little.  She’s so grown now and seems more and more like a little girl.  I have been so unbelievably blessed by her precious life.  When I was young, my sister and I always played “house” and “baby dolls”.  I often imagined I would one day have a little girl of my own…in almost every way, Molly Kate has exceeded my expectations of what such a daughter of my own would be like.  She’s loaded with personality, she loves people, she’s very compassionate (you should have seen her when her brothers received their shots this week!), she adores animals of all kinds, she tells hilarious stories and (most of the time) I just truly enjoy being in her company.  Thank you Lord for knitting this little one together so fearfully and wonderfully!

Here’s a re-cap of her big day in pictures…what a day of celebrating!

Krispy Kreme Birthday Breakfast
Headed to a special lunch at McDonald's with Mommy!
Ready to Party!!
The Birthday Girl and her (extra-large!) Princess Cake
Tearing (literally) into her presents!
Silly Boys!
Molly Kate's First Big Girl Bike (she was so ready to ride it, we couldn't get her to stop long enough to smile!)!
Sweet Friends and Pretty Princesses!
Twelve blows later and a bit of spit and finally the candles went out!
Her first ride...such a big girl now! Yes, she's wearing her Princess night gown 🙂
Happy Ending to a fun-filled 3rd Birthday!

A Great Read for Young Mothers

I found this post (For the Young Mother: Ministry, Guilt and Seasons of Life) through a friend’s blog and found great encouragement this morning as I sat reading while nursing Madden.  I especially loved this:

It is not godly guilt that would call you away from a wholehearted investment in your little ones for his sake. Don’t feel guilty over making your children your primary ministry investment when they are young. You are teaching the younger generation to form intimate emotional bonds with others. Your sensitivity, availability, devotion, affection, and unhurried attention are irreplaceable.

I’m finding myself at this new place where I really don’t have a choice to pursue ministry outside of the home.  With a newborn who feeds every 2 and 1/2 hours like clockwork and a toddler who has no clue what it means to be in a family and certainly doesn’t have a clue what we are saying and a three year old who has suddenly decided to challenge authority at every turn and a six-year old boy who needs the constant reassurance that we love him for him and nothing else, there really just aren’t enough hours in the day to serve them, serve my husband, take care of our home and then also try to involve myself in ministry outside the home.  I can often feel guilty for this…like I’m failing if I’m not some kind of super-woman who somehow manages to do it all and do it all well (incidentally, one of my best friends is this kind of woman and too often I wrongly compare myself which leads to this ungodly guilt and I forget she gained each of her four children with more than a year in between instead three in four months!).  But as one wise mom in our church recently told me, “There are seasons where you have to hunker down at home and loving and caring for your family is what you should spend your time doing.”  The linked post above is saying exactly that and apparently the Lord knows that this guilty heart needed to hear His command and be reminded of her calling this morning. I think I’ll re-read it again this afternoon.

This season in your life is just that—a season. And each season is a divine calling from our Creator and King. Organizing a new church event is important. Teaching your little boy to be kind to his sister is also important. But which one can best be done by you during this season? Serve God well by ministering to your children first. Very soon they will be grown and gone and all those uniquely teachable moments will be gone. And you will have ample opportunity to serve Christ outside your home in the seasons ahead.

Where does my help come from?

In the midst of waiting to hear about Madden, a friend from church e-mailed me some verses for encouragement and included this one:

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Pslam 121:1-2

A very timely word from the Lord and one that continues to play in my mind like a refrain from a song.  The truth is, I need a lot of help these days and I feel it acutely.  When I consider the daily needs of four little people (who all happen to be going through major transitions all at one time) on top of serving and loving my husband on top of planning my first year of homeschooling on top of two birthdays in the next month on top of being a faithful member of our local church on top of being a good friend on top of surviving on 5-6 hours of sleep right now…okay you get the picture! It is so easy to get overwhelmed and think “this is impossible…why did God choose it to be like this?”  And, yes, I’ve asked that question a lot the last couple of weeks.  Mikias could have passed court earlier, Miles could have passed much later, we could have had one more baby a couple of years from now…why in the world did God choose to bring three children into our family in a matter of four months?  Well, I don’t have the answer.  But I do think, once again, God is doing a beautiful work of bringing the all-too-self-sufficient Laura to the end of herself so that I might learn even more to depend on the Lord…that I might learn, trust and believe that my help comes from the Lord.  I certainly cannot do any of this in my own strength (really, I don’t even have any strength right now…I’m so sleepy and tired from middle of the night feedings). But even if I try, I will fail.  The Lord desires that I lean into Him…that I look to the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth and trust He will come to my aid.  And one way He helps me is through the body of Christ.  I was so blessed to have the help and service of my mom for the last four weeks…I really could not have done any of it without her help.  There was one day (when we realized the Miles’ scabies might still be active) that she did seven loads of laundry as well as clean up after the kids, hold Madden when he was screaming, etc.  She encapsulates what it means to serve sacrificially and I’m so grateful the love she has shown our family and especially our children.  And now that she’s gone, I have no choice but to rely heavily on the precious members of our local church.  Next week they will begin providing meals, and several friends have offered to take Molly Kate and Mikias for a day so I can rest, which I definitely need!  One sweet friend brought dinner and took my laundry.  The self-sufficient me usually has a difficult time humbling myself and accepting such gracious offers, but the Lord has brought me to a place of such great need that I am able to welcome their help as it comes in the Lord’s name and praise the Lord for dear brothers and sisters who care greatly for us.  Yes, there are many moments in the whirlwind of our life right now that I wonder how I will be able to do it all, much less do it well.  But then I hear Psalm 121 and pray for grace to keep looking to my Maker to supply the help I need.