Thursday, September 29, 2016

Announcing ...

... the newest member of our family ...

....Coconut !

Friday, September 9, 2016

enjoying the little things

As I voice text this post into my phone, I am sitting upstairs in my children's playroom, watching Hayden set up his train tracks on the floor beside me... Lily is playing on the iPad downstairs, Madison is lying on her play mat, contentedly batting at the toys hanging above her, and Abigail is outside helping our neighbors set up a yard sale. We have just a few days left before we start homeschooling again; I can hardly believe the summer is almost over. 

And oh what a summer it's been…

Words fail to describe how relieved I am that our Bunny's surgery is behind us. When we left the hospital she had lost weight and was just under ten pounds - a month later she is eleven and half pounds and still gaining daily! Whereas before we had to work at getting all of her feedings in, now she is constantly eating. And I do mean constantly. It is so incredible to see the change.

Here's something I learned - or rather relearned - this summer: going through difficult times makes me infinitely more appreciative of the little things in life. 

I know I'm not unique in this, because I've talked to so many friends who have felt the same way. 

And this isn't the first time I've had this revelation. We've been through other tough seasons of life, and I've had that same sense of relief when we've come out the other side. I've experienced the same profound sense of gratitude for the otherwise ordinary, and dare I say it - mundane - things that previously went unnoticed ... like waking up in my own bed. Or sharing a meal with my family. 

I'm not new to this sensation of being overly conscious of the blessings that surround me after we've weathered through a particular trial. 

It just feels like it goes deeper this time. 

Maybe it's because we felt like we were genuinely walking through the valley of the shadow of death ... or maybe God in His grace has opened my eyes to the goodness and loving kindness that is truly following us, as the scripture goes "all of the days of our lives." 

Whatever the reason, the contrast is so vivid right now, between that dark valley and this present view of things ... that I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to my previous way of processing life. 

I feel ruined - in a wonderful way.

It sounds sappy, but just watching the morning light seeping in through our bedroom windows and listening to the soft sound of my babies breathing beside me can put a lump in my throat. Watching Madison sleeping peacefully in her own crib, feeling the warmth of Hayden, pressed up against me in our bed ... I can't take these moments for granted anymore, because I realize what a gift they are. 

I don't know about you, but I have found that life is a constant classroom. 

I'm always learning, and sometimes lessons have to be repeated for them to sink in. 

And I know we'll go through more difficult seasons in the future, because that's just the nature of life. 

There are mountaintop experiences and valley lows to go through no matter who we are... there's just no getting away from the fact that life is unpredictable and there are no guarantees. We can make our plans, the Bible says, but the Lord determines our steps. And sometimes, even in spite of our very best efforts to avoid pitfalls, they still come. Stuff happens. Bad things happen - to seemingly good people sometimes. I can pray and plan and do my very best to protect my family and shield all my children from sickness and accidents and tragedy, but the truth is that pain is a part of life. As my husband always reminds me: we aren't in Heaven yet. If I expect things to always work out perfectly, I'm going to be disappointed when they don't. 

So as much as I wish I could stay on this "mountaintop", I know there will be more valleys to walk through. 

I just want... I just NEED... to hold on to this lesson I've learned again this summer. I need it to sink in, deep into my core ... life is a gift. 

Or, in the words of a dear friend, it's a thousand gifts.

Our son Tyler's twentieth birthday

My children are gifts. 

I'm thankful that I have friends who feel the same way about their children that I do - that they are blessings in our lives, not burdens. Most of the moms I talk to or hang out with on a regular basis share my love and passion for the career I've chosen for twenty-eight plus years called Motherhood.

So it really does boggle my mind to hear or read about others who view parenting in a different light, who see their roles as moms as a drudgery ... as if the job of raising kids was something to be endured, not enjoyed. It's a backwards mentality, in my opinion - the idea that the magical day when our children leave home is the real reward, the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I'm sad for those moms who can't - or won't - see that the real reward is happening right here, right now, before us. 

The fruit of our labors can be enjoyed every moment if we have eyes to see. 

Abigail, our beautiful almost-fourteen year old, and her sweet friend Avriel

Hayden, taking his job of watering the plants out back very seriously

Jonathan Samuel, age 18 - about to take Gold in a pickle ball tournament

Caleb, age 16, fishing with friends

I want to remember every day, that my children are gifts.

I want to be present for them... not so wrapped up in all the pressing needs of running a household that I can't enjoy the preciousness of their youth.

I want my children to hear and feel and know that they are my treasures - more valuable than any "thing" that money can buy, more deserving of my time and energy than any other task I endeavor to do.

I want to be mindful of the fact that some moms would give anything to have what I have right now - their child safe and healthy and home.

Madison and her pediatric cardiologist - no more appointments for a year !

a teddy bear Madison received from the cardiology team on her last visit :)

I might forget a lot of the lessons I've learned in life, and I know I still have more room to grow. But I want this lesson of gratitude to be etched in my soul. 

I want to grow in gratefulness each day, and keep growing. 

I want to live each day with intention, purposefully aware of the thousand generous gifts my Father is showering on me.

I want to take JOY in the little things, and not let them escape me because of the cares and concerns of life that are always going to be there.

beautiful blanket and gown made by Madison's Aunt Katy

I want to learn this lesson, once and for all ....

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

Happy happy HAPPY September .... xoxo Patti