Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful Story


Thanksgiving.
The most bittersweet of holidays for this mama. 
Thanksgiving is absolutely dripping with some of the hardest, and most precious, memories of my life.


The loss and burial of a very dear grandmother, then a celebration of thanks the following day, with a room bursting at the seams with all of her descendants.

Then five years later, the pain and loss of our third baby, an empty womb that should have been two months full, mingled with the joy of a table encompassed with family, among them a niece my baby’s same age, growing in her mother's womb, who I can now hold, and watch, and remember.

I am not kidding when I say they are sweet memories. They are some of the sweetest of my life, these moments of loss, tied permanently to this day of giving thanks. And I am thankful.

Are you suffering this Thanksgiving? Give thanks. Two of the hardest days of my life were realized on this holiday, and yet I can look back with a smile because they were drenched in thanksgiving. I am so thankful to have had these hard providences fall on a time when the practice of recognizing blessing is custom. Instead of dwelling on why, my mind was gently guided toward singing praises for what I know: God is faithful.

He is so faithful, I knew that one day I would look back and understand. The big picture is hard to see when you’re standing in the corner of the canvas where God is brushing on the shadow strokes. But when He is finished, the masterpiece is revealed, and we can see His glorious handwork. 


I said goodbye to my Grandma Lois, and buried her the day before Thanksgiving. 
I said goodbye to my third child and cried as my body ached on Thanksgiving. 
A couple months later, my body held new life within, my Grandmother’s namesake. 
Then today, this Thanksgiving morning, my little Lois learned to say a new word. 
“Bye bye.”

God’s story telling gives me chills sometimes. He is a master, an artist, an author, more talented than any of His created can comprehend. I can trust Him to tell a good story, and I know I will enjoy it more if I simply remember to give thanks in the shadows.

Eucharisteo. Soli Deo Gloria!





Monday, September 7, 2015

A Brother Back Scratch

"Can you scratch my back? A little harder. Like, use your fingernails. Ahhh..."


XO

Friday, August 14, 2015

Happy 8 Years!


The alarm was set to 6 AM, the promise of a quiet cup of coffee shared with my love of now eight years penciled in before the work day began. Then half an hour before, my bed shook with the presence of two delighted little boys clamoring to tell me they beat the sun awake. What, why? Eyes glued shut, I could hear Hubby in the shower and early morning coffee date plans shattering. It’s ok, these are the blessings of a wonderful marriage climbing on my stiff and sore body. Rejoice. Happy Anniversary, fruit of the womb. I tucked them in my bed, “rest,” and stumbled into the kitchen to brew a larger than normal pot of coffee when a sad little cry drifted through the baby monitor. Still rubbing sleep from my eyes, I climbed the stairs as coffee dripped through a paper filter to find a baby awake a full two hours earlier than expected. She needed a complete outfit change and the comfort of mother’s milk, which I gave her, accompanied by the suppressed giddy laughter of boys who were undoubtedly making a pile of pillows and blankets on my bed. More fruit, reminders to my weary soul so desperately in need of reminding at that hour. Hubby joined me on the couch with a cup of coffee and we sat in the darkness, silently laughing at how children can both mess things up and make them better, all at the same time. Baby’s belly was full and she wanted to play, so on the floor she went, and to the coffee I walked, the brightness of the kitchen light making me squint.
There, on the counter, this:




*sigh*
It is such a happy life I live.
Boys dared to emerge from the bedroom, sunlight starting to brighten the house, baby squawking on the floor for a book she is not allowed to chew on, and a warm smile from a man who loves me well.
A Happy Anniversary, indeed.


Date Night at Benjamin's

XO

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

First Day of School!!

Last week we started Kindergarten!!


I am schooling both of the boys at the same time.
Asher just turned six:


And Gray turned four in April:


We are having so much fun.
Hello, homeschool world! We are happy to be here!

*   *   *   *   *

If you're curious, here is our homeschool schedule:

Pray
Song
[Psalm 1 with hand motions]
Memory
[Apostles Creed]
Reading
Phonics Museum (Veritas Press)
Math 
(Right Start)

For history I will be reading historical fiction and non fiction picture books through the year. 

For Bible, we are reading The Child's Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos, as well as listening to the ESV audio Bible.

We will be continuing at Providence Friday School Co-op, which will cover topics like art, science, music, catechism, and sports. 




Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sweet Baby Shower

A friend and I threw an ice cream baby shower for a sweet baby girl this week.






Mama and Baby with the hostesses!

This is Mama's first baby girl after two boys, 
so we went over-the-top feminine with the decor!

[We played games and gave out jars of homemade hot fudge for prizes!]


It was a *sweet* time!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

If you must count...

Sometimes I muse in this little space. Occasionally I ramble with the intent to encourage other people in a similar situation to my own who may be struggling. I love to encourage. I love to build up and bolster the faith of friends near and far with my story and the things that God has been teaching me.
But most often, when my thoughts and feelings and learned life lessons find their way through my fingertips onto a previously blank page, it is because I need to hear them myself. I need encouragement, I need reminding, and today is one of those days. 

I want to both laugh and cry as I remember the chief resident telling me before residency began that I shouldn’t worry, because “July will be easy! We break them in slowly.” And he was serious. We are on day 13 of a 28-day stretch of Riley working without a day off. Until two days ago I thought this would be his day off. I didn’t read the schedule right, and was counting on a brief reprieve. Expectations are a funny thing, aren’t they?

I want choose laughter, but if I’m honest, the tears are waiting at the ready, waiting for a small breach in the dam to burst forth and flood my pillow.  

Today I find myself tempted to dwell on this fact. 
This is rough. 
We have such a long journey ahead. 
My mind wanders to the count. How many more days, how many more months? How many more late nights and early mornings? How many church services, parties, appointments, and dinners will I attend husbandless? And the more I count, the more I am tempted to despair.

Counting is dangerous, if you are counting disappointments. If you are highlighting the parts of your life where you foolishly believe, even if for just a fleeting moment, that God is being unkind. 

If you must count, count blessings.


I look back sometimes to the blog posts I wrote during the first two years of medical school. 
When the old adage, "when it rains, it pours" was realized in our little family.
 Wow, those were rough years.

But life was so sweet. It was sweet, because it had to be. I was forced to either notice and number my blessings, or sink under the weight of intense trial. 
So count I did. Everything. Every moment. Every blossom, every laugh, every success.
I must get back to that. Count that which is good, kind, lovely, true.

If I can do that, my perspective will shift. If I can focus on the small, everyday gifts from my kind and generous Heavenly Father, then this season, too, will be a sweet one.


One, two, three...
XO


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ruffles and Bows

Every once in awhile I get just too many cute pictures of something to reasonably post them all on Instagram.
Today it was ruffles... 
chubby thighs... 
and just enough hair to hold a bow.
 Baby girls are just such a delight!
 XO


Nine Months! (All of us!)

Lois is finishing up her ninth month out of the womb.
Time is flying, and she's getting so big!

I thought it'd be fun to do a photo comparison... with pictures of all of us at nine months!!

We'll start with Daddy:
Mommy:
Asher:
Gray:
And Lois:

Fun, fun!


Monday, July 20, 2015

The Good Portion: Feasting on the Word of God


Have you ever tried fasting?
I have not done it as much as I would like, but when I have, I get weak and shaky. I find myself sitting more than normal, and wanting to take a nap (which I rarely do).
It's almost impossible to function at maximum capacity when you're not eating well. And it is even worse when you continue that way for an extended period of time.

Now, this may seem like a change of topic, but stick with me.
I am a reader, and I especially gravitate toward topics of self improvement written by Christian authors I admire. Being a better mother, a godlier wife, making a home more peaceful, living a life more joyful.

I especially devour these pieces when I am going through seasons of struggle. 
But, while they encourage me and inspire me, they rarely lead to greater fruit production.
I can read an article about wasting time on the internet, and then see a link to another article about raising thankful children and click on it. What? I just read about how I should shut the computer and get off the couch! 
I can read about meal planning and budgeting for so long that I run out of time to make dinner and we have to eat out.
This is crazy!

And a greater problem is that I sometimes prefer to read books or blog posts over the Word of God. I am tempted to think that if I am struggling to be cheerful when my children are fussy, then I should read a book on loving children rather than reading the gospel. I believe the lie that the Bible is not quite as relevant to what I'm doing right here, right now.

But it's just that: a lie.
I am fasting, and wondering why I am not able to keep up. Why I keep struggling with the same sins and same temptations. Why I'm short with the children, sloppy with the laundry, and incapable of maintaining a cheerful spirit in the midst of a kitchen full of dirty dishes...again.

I need the word of God.
The bread of life.
I need to EAT, in order to live rightly.

"But He answered, 
'It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, 
but on the Word of God."
Matthew 4:4

We can be tempted to think that we are too busy to carve out time to spend in the Word.
But look to the story of Mary and Martha.

"Now, as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'"
Luke 10

Martha was frantically running around, doing good things, but Mary was doing what pleased the Lord. The one thing that was necessary. She was feasting on His words. 
She had chosen the good portion.
We may live busy lives, full of good, God-honoring work, but we have to find a way. 
Find a way to eat. Daily.

My technique? I have recently started listening to the Scriptures read to me on my cell phone. I can do this by myself, and with my children. I listen when I drink my coffee in the morning. I listen to it when I do dishes, or fold laundry. Any time I think of it, I turn it on and feast.
I don't need to catch everything. I don't need to worry if my mind drifts for a moment. If I am soaking in the word of God frequently, I will get to that part again soon enough, and catch something else I may have missed the last time! 

And do you know what? 
I feel fed.
Hearing it, soaking it in, does wonders for the soul.
It produces fruit in abundance.
I read about Abraham's journey to Canaan, and was able to respond calmly to the wild fussing in the boys' room. I read about Judas' money buying the Potter's Field, and managed to produce a clean kitchen, a clean bathroom, and a made bed.
How does this work?
It is food. And it nourishes you.

I have shared this because I am sure that I'm not alone. I hope you are encouraged by my words, and it is my prayer that you will find a way to go, and feast!
The Lord bless you!

*   *   *   *   *  *

I listen to the Bible on my phone using the Bible Gateway app. It is free, and you can choose from multiple versions to hear read to you. I've been enjoying Max McLean's reading of the English Standard Version.




Monday, July 6, 2015

History Next Door

We went for a walk this morning.


A walk through this delightful little spot of local history.


Beautiful buildings of brick and stone that could tell over a hundred years worth of stories if their mouths were opened.


The lovely campus was quiet and calm, thanks to the combination of Summer Break and overcast skies.


A peaceful silence accompanied by nothing but chirping birds, a splashing fountain, and laughter of little people discovering new places to climb and play.



We will be back. Many times. What a charming neighbor this place makes.


And what a blessing to live amongst so much beautiful history.



XO

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ready to Blink

First day of residency today!


We sent Dr. Latham off to work this morning, and I knew that as I waved goodbye, I was waving hello to a new season. 
The next three years will be so busy, they will fly by.
Long hours, full days, few breaks.
But I also know that I will blink, and it will be over.


These little ones will be big, so big. Hardly recognizable! 
It will take extra work to soak in these days, lest they pass by unnoticed and unappreciated.
Every day is a gift. Even the full ones.

We've enjoyed making lots of fun memories during Daddy's time off...





And we are looking forward to a new routine.
Finding a new normal.
We are so thankful!

I've much to catch up on here on the blog. I hope to do so soon.
XO

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Crazy!

So, sometimes when your life feels so full and hectic, more stuff manages to cram its way in. 
We said goodbye to company today, and now have less than two weeks to clean, paint, and prepare our entire house (an hour away from where we live now) for moving day. In that time we also have to clean, pack and do all that moving-out-of-a-rental-home nonsense at our current residence. 
It's a bit crazy.
(But maybe not as crazy as these three. Or maybe it is...)


Anyway, in the midst of all that, I ended up with blog problems. 
Because I have time for that. 
;)
If I'm trying to lose my readers, then I think I'm doing a pretty good job at it.
My registered domain was having problems, so I've switched back to a free domain for now.
Until I figure out a way to be cool with my very own dot com, you can find me here at thischarminglittlelife.blogspot.com.


And hopefully I'll get around to catching you all up on the VERY exciting and extremely full couple of weeks we've just wrapped up! New home, new title (DOCTOR!), family in town, parties thrown, and all levels of fun.

Thanks for being patient!