Moving on

Forgive my absence. Life's been busy--to say the least. I have often thought how therapeutic it would be to sit down and write my thoughts at night, but I haven't had the energy to do so. A month or so I finally took a big gulp and asked my doctor for extra help with postpartum. Up to that point, I had been trying to navigate the constant storm of emotions by openly talking with Tim, friends, family and professionals. Talking seemed to help to a point. But then it stopped helping. Talking started feeling like a terrible task, and I started to avoid calls and visits, and I retreated inward and away from people who were trying to help. The farther I slipped into my own world, the more frustrated I became with the dominant spirit inside my body. I constantly felt anger and sadness. Happiness seemed but a distant memory, even when everything around me was okay and there was no proverbial or literal "spilled milk." So I talked to Tim and we decided that I would try medicine to calm my troubled heart, and as much I hate to admit it, it is really helping. I feel soooo much better. Of course, I'm not going to lie to you--I don't really feel like myself. I feel like there is this invisible IV constantly dripping some serum into my nervous system that calms me down when I would otherwise be a bit out of sorts. It's like a foreign person takes charge of me a lot during the day, and I still can't decide whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. My kids seem to appreciate a less grumpy mom, and I am loving them a lot more too. But the one HUGE drawback to my "happy pills" as Tim so lovingly calls them is that I am always tired. Like if I didn't know my tubes were tied, I'd believe I was pregnant every single day. My body is constantly wiped out and in zombie-mode.

It has been a real struggle to manage my normal life with the addition of medication. But life hasn't really been normal so I've had to muster all my courage and energy to get through the past 45 days or so. Tim accepted a new job a couple of months back, and in preparation for the move, we put our house on the market about a week before I started taking medication. It was a really hard week; we'll just leave it at that. We finally have our house under contract now, and we'll be leaving Texas for Indiana at the end of December. I am so grateful to be done with showings and open houses; you cannot imagine what it was like to keep the house immaculate with 5 young kids running around. And although we are extremely aware of the great opportunity that awaits Tim at his new job, we cannot express how much our hearts ache as we prepare to move.

Texas, especially Van Alstyne, Texas, has grown on us. My kids wear boots with pride. The two older girls say y'all from time to time, and it no longer makes me cringe. I used to laugh when I'd drive through our "downtown" because it isn't really what I'd consider a downtown, but now I find it endearing. There's a gazebo next to City Hall, and every season a few older women decorate it for the appropriate holiday. I drove by the other day and saw them carefully wrapping garland around the posts, and my heart sank because those women embody all that this town is. There is so much pride here for the town. Every where you look, you'll see panther paws on buildings, in windows, on cars and on signs outside homes. No matter how old you are, everyone attends the football games. It is a treat.

So that's where I am. I am in this weird place that I have oddly been more than I ever thought I'd be. I'm preparing for another big change that will no doubt complicate my life but will eventually bring so much happiness to it too. I believe that, even though I am scared at the moment. I am comfortable here. I have people to serve. People serve me. I have great friends. I have my sacred places. I love my neighborhood and my particular corner of neighbors. I have Cami; life has been bright since she moved here, and I fear it will feel dim for some time when we're not together. Texas, even if I have always admitted it, has been good for me.

To be loved so much

Timothy James-7 months

How is he 7 months old already?! I remember when I hit 7 months of pregnancy, and it felt like it had been a century of waiting to meet him. But now his first 7 months have just blown by in the blink of an eye, and my heart doesn't really know how to cope with my ever-growing baby.

I could not have imagined loving a baby boy so much. I had so much fear about raising a boy, but having Timmy is the most natural thing in the world. Tim and I tell each other all the time how complete he makes our lives feel. He is a huge ray of sunshine in our lives, especially my life. I am not sure if any of my babies have loved me the way he loves me. It's as if his eyes sparkle when he sees me, and it is so good for my soul. Tim will often get him at night when he cries and we're still awake, and he'll try to hide him from me so that I can continue working, but Timmy will not be fooled. He knows I am around and he stubbornly shifts around and around until he lays his eyes on me. And when he does, the pinkie falls from his mouth and a big, gummy smile flashes my way. If Tim doesn't instantly give him to me, his smile quickly turns to a panicked cry, and he reaches for me to hold him. This is our usually routine every single night. 

Timmy is a necessary piece of our family puzzle. Each girl in our home holds a special place for him next to them, and he fits perfectly with each piece. I can't imagine life without him now and am grateful that God knew I needed a boy because I sure didn't think I did. 

Play


This evening I am grateful my girls play so well together. The older girls ran off the bus at 3:15, and they have been playing together ever since. No one has asked to turn the television on or watch an iPad. No one has started any fights (which happens more often than not). They've been doctors, makeup artists, teachers, students, athletes and a variety of animals in the past 3 hours, and it has, as it always is, been a joy to listen to. I love listening to them giggle and whisper secrets to each other.

Every day isn't perfect. There are days they don't get along, but for the most part, they are each other's closest friend and confidant. They are mindful of each other and really try to do whatever is necessary that the other person might be happy. I love them and am glad I have been able to foster such strong bonds between them.

What I hope to teach her about faith someday






Mya was baptized on Saturday October 29th. She looked like an angel in her jumpsuit and dress. In the moment, I felt a million emotions, and only now after a few days have passed am I able to articulate my feelings of that day.

We had been preparing Mya for baptism for over a year. We'd teach her an aspect of Christ's gospel and ask, "Does that make sense? Do you have any questions? Would you like to follow....(honesty, tithing, chastity, etc.)?" Sometimes she'd say yes. Other times she'd say no. Oddly enough I was never discouraged by her occasional no. I felt each answer led to more teaching and more understanding, and I believe becoming a disciple of Christ is a lifelong mission so I was very accepting of every step she took that led her to her decision to be baptized.

Of course as the months ticked off the calendar and she watched more and more of her peers choose to be baptized, her desire to be baptized grew stronger, and she finally asked to be baptized. The days leading up to her baptism were filled with innocent and hopeful questions like "Mama, what if I mess up? What if I don't know everything? Will I feel Him?" Each query resonated in my pondering heart, and I reflected on how I felt all those years ago when I too chose to be baptized. I think the biggest memory I have of my experience was returning home from the church and sitting on my bed alone. I remember thinking how I wanted to do everything right so I didn't have to say I'm sorry to anyone, especially God. I think I made it to 6pm that day without making a single mistake, and I thought that was quite the accomplishment.

As I shared my story with Mya, I reminded her that baptism is just a step, albeit an important one, on our faith journey. And I told her that I was proud of her for wanting to be like Jesus and that no matter what He and I would always love her, even if she made a mistake. I could've told her a million other things that I've learned about faith and Christ, but I kept it simple. Time will gift me the opportunity to teach her what I know as she grows and matures.

What I hope to tell her someday is that faith in Jesus Christ is more than an institution or a religion. It's more than words or hymns in a book. It can't be proven with facts, but it certainly isn't fiction. Faith in Jesus Christ isn't (or at least it shouldn't be) passive or dormant. It isn't something someone can convince you of no matter how hard they try. It is something you have to want--want so badly that your body literally hungers and thirsts to know Him and then to be like Him. Faith will ebb and flow. There will be years she will feel so close to God, and then there will be years she'll wonder where He is at all. Faith will feel like a light in this somewhat confusing and dark tunnel we call life.

I will also tell her throughout her life that I believe in Jesus Christ. I know He is real. I felt His presence as she gracefully entered the waters of baptism at the hand of her father. I know of Christ's love. The very thought of his love makes my heart feel joy, even and perhaps especially when life doesn't feel very joyful. Becoming like Him is my ultimate goal. It's a bit of a challenge in my current life situation because I don't always have time to read His words, and I often fall asleep during my prayers at night, but I'm trying. And I absolutely believe He knows that.

Someday I will tell her all these things, but for now I will keep theses feelings of love and gratitude close to my heart because it truly is a remarkable thing to help God's children on their path back to Him.

A few thoughts











I'm sorry I've been absent. I alluded to it in the last post, but life is crazy right now. I can't really talk about it yet, but I will soon. As soon as I can breathe comfortably again (meaning not feel so stressed), I will try to write. I can't really write when my brain and heart aren't in the right place. Here are a few pictures of the kids from the past few weeks (and maybe months). I am super behind so I can't really remember when these pictures were taken.

curveballs

Why do I always feel the need to write at midnight? I should be sleeping. I always regret this the next day, but I know I'll toss and turn in bed if I don't get the thoughts out of my head.

I distinctly remember the last time I wrote about "curveballs." I had just arrived home from my best friend's wedding in Utah and had taken a 4th pregnancy test only to receive the same answer that I was pregnant. In disbelief, Tim and I looked at the positive sign in our tiny Peoria apartment, wondering how we were going to have another baby since we had just had a baby 3 months earlier.

I typed the words: Sometimes life throws you curveballs; just don't let them knock you down.

Life has thrown quite a few curveballs at us in recent months. Some good, some bad, some already forgotten. Somehow we are still standing, even though several curveballs have gotten close enough to knock us down. Tonight as I repeated some of my fears and concerns to Tim, I could feel my chest tighten with anxiety, but then almost as quickly as the anxiety filled my chest, peace filled my heart, and I remembered these thoughts from 5 years ago.

What I didn't know when I looked at those pregnancy tests was that I would miscarry several weeks later. I didn't know that my heart would shatter in a million pieces following that miscarriage. I didn't know that I could experience postpartum depression after a miscarriage. I didn't know I would doubt God, religion, and life. I didn't know I would stop believing in everything all together for a time and wallow in a very dark place. And I didn't know that I would somehow find the ability to push forward until I could breathe again.

I didn't know any of that when I wrote those words. I think I wrote them trying to will my brain into believing them. It didn't totally work. But I believe it now. I believe life has a way of working out, even if that means we feel pain for a bit. Things will be okay. I have faith in God. I believe He has faith in me. He will guide me through the spinning curveballs and lead me to where I need to be. He always has.

My Timmy









Timmy is 5 months old today. I'm not really sure how that happened, but it did, and I'm not really sure how I feel about it. Last night I started looking at old pictures of him on my phone, and I started to cry. I just loved him as a cuddly newborn. He is more than double his birth weight now and could literally eat that little baby from 5 months ago. I think he'd jump at the chance.

He is in a state of constant movement--his arms and leggings kicking out every which way. It's impossible to get a clear picture of him. When I lay him on the bed, he immediately tries to pull himself up but doesn't quite have the stomach muscles for that yet. He rolls over and moves all around his crib; I believe he'll be more active than Birdie ever was as a baby. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think Birdie will stay in a crib until she's married. She has no desire to move or change her current world. Timmy, on the other hand, will be different. He already babbles and coos more than she does. I love his raspy little voice; it's amazing how different it is than the girls. Everything about him different, actually, and I love it.

I think I love the most about Timmy is the way he looks at me with absolute adoration. He smiles biggest for me, and I need that. Because he's my last baby I really need that. (My heart still aches that there will be no more babies, even though I know it is the smartest thing for our family.) I am so grateful for him, and I wish everyone could have a baby like him.