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Sweet Home {in} Alabama…

 

sweet-home-alabama-boys

I hope you won’t mind a picture heavy couple of posts. In case you missed us last week, we took a much needed trip away from home.  It was a time to regroup, have some fun again, be with friends, and let the boys be boys. ;)

boys-with-their-daddys-white-tshirts

Our first stop was in Northern Alabama to visit some dear friends of ours, Myra and Ernie.  We met years ago through this little thing called blogging and our friendship as families has grown into a beautiful thing. They have loved us so well from afar these past few months that I couldn’t wait to finally hug them all in person after several months apart. It was sooooo fun to be able to spend time together – whether it was in the fixing food in the kitchen, watching our boys get filthy, chats after we put our 6 boys to bed, spending time with their families, learning more about essential oils that are making such a difference for our family, or eating around their table, it was all time well spent.

full-table-of-kids-lunch

The boys of course had an absolute BLAST on their family’s property and playing with their 5 year old son Ridley. No toys needed when you have sunshine, dirt, water, and animals to entertain! =) Those beloved cowboy boots got plenty of love on this trip.

weiner-roast-fun-alabama

Fishing was a highlight for {all} the boys. Although fishing with 6 boys isn’t exactly a relaxing night at the pond.

fishing-lake-kids-alabama

Thankfully the boys and  the fish cooperated. ;)  

fishing-with-sons

The boys also LOVED their time at the barn with Myra’s parents feeding the animals. This calf, Pockets, quickly became their favorite.

bottle-feeding-calf-barn

Clark (our critter whisperer) was completely in his element.

 

goat-farm-kids-alabama

We are so grateful for our time in their home, and the way they opened their doors to our family. {We don’t exactly travel light – there’s six of us after all!}

sleepover-boys-living-room-fun

It was a great example to us on hospitality, kindness, and genuine love to be in their sweet home. So grateful for friends that God places in your life for a purpose that is beyond our understanding.

alabama-sunset-beautiful

After saying our goodbyes and reluctantly loading the van with four boys who weren’t ready to leave “Boyland” or their buddy, we let them in on a surprise we had been keeping a secret all week.

We weren’t heading home, just yet…

 

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Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine

A reprieve I had been longing for…
A happy dose of normal…
A break from the severity of the physical travail…
A promise of spring…
A hope that this cloud will one day lift…

the-promise-of-spring-flowers

And my heart rejoices in a couple of good days, even if they are followed by more difficult ones. It’s a promise that this winter won’t last forever.

Things are still “incomplete”, which means I’m on a heavy dose of meds for the next few weeks, and then a potential second surgery if things remain. This process has seemed a bit cruel at times, to be honest, but we continue to trust. We continue to wrestle the “whys” with the “who” – concentrating on who God is, over the unanswerable questions of our immediate situation that we have prayed desperately to be resolved.

It’s a tug of war of our hearts. What we feel vs. what we know to be truth.

winter-changing-to-spring-tug-of-war

People continue to focus on our emotional healing, and assume it is the reason we’ve been slow  to return to normal. However, the pain, the discomfort, and its continuation effects have been too intense for my mind to wrap around much of anything else. While I know that we have processed it to a degree, it’s been nearly impossible to not be consumed by the physical and how it effects our family.  Perhaps, it’s made the grief a little easier to bare by spreading it out, or maybe it will hit us even greater when this part of the trial concludes, but for now we have been focused on getting through the physical part of this hardship.

ice-thawing-in-pond-reflection-kids

The ground is thawing. Peace is coming. Peaks of sunshine will mix with the clouds. There will be an end to this harsh season, and I’m so thankful for God allowing me to see a glimpse of the other side.

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A few links that have ministered to my (and Brad’s) heart this past week:

Brad and I listened to this audio series from Mark and Sarah Vroegop over the weekend.  There’s much truth, honestly, and hope in this series that I would highly encourage someone experiencing the grief of a miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss of a child (or if you know someone who is going through this struggle) to listen to…   

I related to the words of this article, “And Then There Was None: The Miscarriage I Never Expected” , so much…

Moms are often emotional beings. We crave expression. But there is little time for us to do it. Moms must go on. There is so little time calculated into our days, weeks, months and years to grieve. It’s just not on the schedule…” 

And this..

“We are encouraged not to tell people we are pregnant until 12 weeks, but then 80% of miscarriages happen before 12 weeks. So we face this incredibly life-altering experience in solitude. We wander around our “everyday” lives with a broken heart that no one else is aware of. Some may wonder why I am putting something so private and intimate on the blog. And to them I say this: I share because I find great comfort in the love and support of those around me. And I share because I know with certainty that others after me will walk this journey and I want them to know they are not alone. I want them to know a sisterhood of strong and brave women has walked the path before them.”

And so much more…go read it. It’s so good.

And this one,  “Why You Should Never Stop Telling Your Story” , from my dear friend, Myra, is just so spot on with why I’m continuing to write even through the pain of this season, instead of just writing only the good. This too is part of our story.

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Thank you for continuing to allow us a space to share our story, even when it’s hard. You haven’t ran away from supporting us even during this darker time, and we are so grateful that you have remained. We know you are praying, grieving, and waiting along side of us, and it’s been so encouraging to our hearts.

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This Is What It Looks Like to Be Loved Well…

These past days that have now turned into weeks have been some of the hardest days Brad and I have had to walk through, yet we haven’t had to trudge through them alone.  We have been held by many.  Although only a core group of family and friends knows the details of what we are going through, it has not lessened the amount of love and support we have experienced.  Some have offered generously without even knowing the slightest bit of what’s happening.

We have been loved and we have been loved well.

So many times when we see friends hurting, we “give them their space” or we are so helpless on knowing what to do, we don’t do anything, but these friends have been an exception.

hospital surgery recovery

So what does being loved well look like? 

Being loved well is…

A warm bowl of my mom’s vegetable soup and sugar cream pie

A friend who takes your kids sledding while you recover

Text messages of Scripture verses when you’re feeling afraid

A friend who shows up at your door with a box of ice cream sandwiches (which she knew you liked from reading a past blog post)

A mix CD with encouraging songs that I’ve been playing on repeat

recovery stash

Friends that don’t shy away from the pain, but are there to walk with you through it, and even make you laugh when it hurts

A surprise pizza delivered to your doorstep when you aren’t sure how you’ll even fix a meal

Prayers from those closest to us and from those we’ve never met

COOKIE DOUGH

Being served breakfast in bed from 4 of the sweetest boys on the planet

breakfast in bed menu

An email from a friend who has walked through a much deeper valley than you can imagine to offer her prayers, comfort, and Scripture that continues to get them through

A husband who has been so incredibly solid, patient, understanding, and compassionate even when he’s hurting too

Phone calls, emails, Facebook comments, blog comments, and texts checking in on us

A box of sunshine from Texas

box of sunshine

Thank you to so many of you who have loved us well. You have taught us how to minister to others, and we long for the opportunity to give back. We are blessed by the many ways you have been a blessing to our family during this time. We appreciate your continued prayers as we wait for healing both physically and emotionally. 

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