Thursday, December 19, 2013

Raising Princesses and Princes

This gorgeous image is courtesy of Joyce Ormeo (photography) and Danielle Waterman (design)

Our 4-yr-old is a product of Disney. She earnestly will tell you she plans to be a princess when she grows up, and she can tell you minute details about each and every Disney princess. The balancing act for us is to help her understand that she is created to be more than a Disney princess; she is a princess of God. And while Disney princesses may get served, God's princesses are here to serve others. 

So how do we raise princesses and princes who live in obedience to God and selflessness to those around them? My first thought is we need to cure "affluenza."

Recently, a teenaged boy stole beer from a convenience store and decided to drive while drunk. He eventually caused an accident that left 4 people dead. He admitted his guilt but his defense argued he shouldn't be sent to jail because his behavior was the result of affluenza - an indulgent family life devoid of discipline or expectations. Or, in our common vernacular, he was a spoiled brat.

So how do we prevent our children from being like the boy who thinks he is above rules and shows little regard for others? I think it comes down to having clear expectations with bountiful praise for obedience and clear punishment for defiance.

We recently implemented a behavior chart that lists 3 simple rules for Addie:
1. Love mommy and daddy by helping
2. Honor mommy and daddy by obeying
3. Love sisters and brother by being gentle

We created the rules with Addie's input, explained what each rule meant and brainstormed with her ways that she would live out the rules. We then put into place a system of rewards involving stickers that she could trade in for various prizes. We love this chart for several reasons: 
* Addie gets to see instant satisfaction when she helps us or shows love
* Addie has the option of exchanging her stickers for a simple reward or saving her stickers for a more elaborate prize, which teaches her delayed gratification and the benefits of saving vs. spending.
* The chart keeps us accountable for praising Addie when she is obedient

Some days are better than others. One day she earned 4 stickers before lunch. Another day she lost 2 stickers due to a string of tantrums. But in the past week I've seen her show more contrition when she disobeys, and have noticed her making obvious efforts to play nicer with her siblings and to volunteer her help.

I believe we are seeing a princess in the making.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

He is faithful

Back when we were a family of two, I already knew I wanted to stay home with our kids once we started a family. At the time, though, Mike and I were working at a non-profit and there was no way we'd financially be able to live on Mike's salary alone. One day, a dear friend spoke a beautiful promise over us.

She said, "God knows your needs and He loves the babies He will give you. Don't you think He'll also provide for these children?"

Six months after we became a family of three, I was able to quit my job and stay home with her.

    Then we became a family of six. 

And those fears of how we were going to provide for 4 children resurfaced. Now, not only did we have more mouths to feed, bottoms to diaper and bodies to clothe, but we also had medical bills.

We thank God that the babies were born healthy and had to be in the hospital for just a few weeks, but even so we accumulated bills in the thousands.

So all year we've been praying for God to help us pay off these bills and provide for the babies. And He is answering in ways we never imagined!

  • My ob-gyn called a few months ago and said insurance had paid more for my delivery than they had anticipated and the dr was refunding us about $500 of what we had paid in advance
  • One of the physicians' office who employs the drs at the hospital called and offered to cut 1 of our bills in half if we could pay it in full now. That saved us about $300
  • This week a debt of $2000 was repaid to us from 5 years ago. And we were gifted $1000 from another source
This is in addition to people sending us checks throughout the year, helping pay for the babies' diapers, and many many other ways God has sent us money when we needed it. 

Please hear my heart in this: this doesn't have anything to do with us. This is all about God being faithful to His promises. We just want to give praise to God and encouragement to others who may be facing insurmountable odds. God is faithful.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Friends are friends forever

It's been a hard 18 months of transitions and major changes. One of the hardest things Mike and I have struggled with is feeling lonely in a new city far from friends and familiar faces. And obviously only a crazy person would think of driving to Richmond with 4 kids in tow :)

This week we were overwhelmed with joy and love to have the Bretas bring their beautiful family to stay with us for a few days. They are some of our closest friends in Richmond, and they will remain that type of friend we can go months (or years) without seeing each other but can pick up where we left off when we do get together.

They are precious treasures to us and seeing them was the emotional pick-me-up we needed.

Joshua, Josiah, Raigan, Ryleigh, McKenna, Addie and Raella

Addie and Raigain

The Conner-Breta clans

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Caledonia's been everything I've ever had

Yesterday I posted a comment on fb about our desire to move eventually to Ireland and I was surprised by the number of people who commented with encouragement or thoughts. For years Mike and I have felt like our hearts (and bodies) belong in Europe. We thought for a while about possibly finding a way to Spain but time and again Ireland called to us. So while yesterday's post was partly in jest, I think it also was a public declaration of our long-standing dream to move to Ireland. Like Joshua who publicly told the sun to stand still, we publicly declare that our heart's dream is to live in the land of leprechauns and fertile fields.

Mike laughs about my drive to create lists but here are two lists currently rotating in my brain:

Top 4 Job Options for us in Ireland
1. I finish the books I've started and get published, become independently wealthy and move wherever we want.
2. Mike becomes an independent IT consultant who can work remotely from wherever he wants
3. We start a company based in Ireland doing .....?
4. Mike perfects his banjo playing and dancing, auditions for a Galway-based band, and we strike gold

And Top 5 Reasons we Belong in Ireland
1. I like tea better than coffee
2. We can speak Irish (ie: top of the morning, they're always after me lucky charms, aye)
3. Mike already likes Irish sports better than American sports
4. I could listen to Celtic Woman and Celtic Crossroads all day long, and I know the lyrics to "Galway Girl"
5. We have seen Ireland in calendars

Ok, so these are in jest but the real reasons aren't nearly as entertaining. Honestly, there's just something about the culture and people that pulls at my heart. And even though I've never been, Ireland already feels like home.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The evil that lurks in fur ball packaging

During college I went on a date with a guy who thought the appropriate sign of adoration was a furby. A white, evil, possessed, refused-to-die furby. And trust me, we tried to off him. I sat him on my car roof and drove off hoping the thing would hit the ground and disintegrate. Unfortunately, I found him hiding under my bags when I moved back home from school. I also tried kicking him but he only growled and became more belligerent. I think I finally abandoned him on a park bench with my best wishes for finding another family to love and to drown him.

It's been years since I've thought of Mr. Stuff-of-Nightmares Furby.

Until my birthday a few weeks ago.

When I received this haunting drawing/card from my college roommate.

And this, folks, is why I hope my mansion in heaven is next door to Bethaney's. :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Here's to celebrating small victories

Today I let Addie go to school wearing a horribly mis-matched outfit because she felt beautiful and because what she wears doesn't matter in the long run

Today I didn't lose my temper and say to Addie, "Go away," or "Addie, please, just stop," or any other words that would convey to my precious daughter that she is a nuisance (because she's not)

Today I loved and snuggled with 2 fussy babies who are sick and just want to be held, rather than get frustrated at their increased neediness

Today I remembered to move the laundry to the dryer. Even better, I didn't worry about when to fold it.

Today I waited until the evening to run the dishwasher because it's much easier to unload when Mike is here to help. Y'all don't know how hard it was to force myself to wait when 95% of me said, "just do it now and get it over with."

Today I took some time for me, even if it was just a 20 min. break to walk the neighborhood.

Today I started the morning gazing at the sunrise and telling God, "I can't do this by myself. Please, please help me."

Today I accepted that my failures are in the past and today is a new day.

Today I accepted that I'm still going to fail, and that's ok, too.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Song of Thanks (minus the music)

It is not an exaggeration to say it takes a village to raise triplets. So as much as today is a celebration of their birth, it also is a celebration of the people who have helped us get here. This song's for you:

  • from the beginning, my parents have been amazing in stepping up to be a 2nd set of hands. They helped find us a house in Jacksonville that was close enough to them that they could drop everything and come help with midnight feedings or fussy babies. They have babysat for us just about every week just so Mike and I can attend a Bible study or have a date night. We couldn't have survived this year without you.

  • Mike's mom, Bunny, has been more than gracious in helping and visiting us! She even drove the 11 hrs from Richmond by herself to be with us this past spring. Even from a distance, she makes her presence known through gifts of formula, diapers and clothes. We thank you so much for supporting us in more ways than one.

  • A group of 3 ladies surprised us with a thorough house cleaning while I was in the hospital following the babies' delivery. I don't see these Journey ladies much any more, but I'm still touched by the kindness and service of Annelyse, Stephanie and Nicole.

  • I have had a steady stream of helpers who have visited me weekly to help give me an extra set of hands. Mary Gilbert was a constant source of information in the early days about development milestones and how to help the babies progress. Allison has just 1 day a week when she's not working and she often dedicated that day to helping me. I am so humbled by her sacrifice. Lyn has never failed to bring us a delicious meal, a servant heart that doesn't mind folding laundry, and an over-abundness of love for our babies. To each of these ladies I say "THANK YOU!!"

  • My college roommate, Bethaney, surprised me more than once with cards and gift packages just to encourage me and let me know she's thinking of me. This lady is so precious to me and I have stood on her shoulders more than once just to make it another day.

  • There's not many teenage girls who would willingly give up a weekend to watch our kids, but on more than 1 occasion the Davis family baby sat for us. We relied on those date nights to keep our sanity, and it was even more touching that we would return to find all babies bathed and ready for bed. Thank you Sheri, Kamryn, and Amber.
There are so many people who have carried us with their prayers and words of encouragement. For each and every one of you, know that today we remember you, give thanks for you and acknowledge that we wouldn't be celebrating today without your support.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Joy of Breaking

Trust falls aren't really about closing your eyes and falling backward hoping someone will stop your fall. A true trust fall involves falling apart and hoping that when you open your eyes, someone will be there still loving and believing in you.

It's falling apart during a Bible study and weeping to a friend that you think you are failing as a parent. It's confessing that just this week you've screamed at your infant to shut up, and have felt such anger that you're tempted to shake a helpless baby (although there's just enough sanity left to keep you sitting firmly on your hands). And hoping that when you're done confessing, the other person doesn't look at you as though you are the worst mom ever.

It's talking to a friend whom you haven't seen in years and somehow admitting that earlier in the day you cried because you found a load of laundry in the washing machine from 3 days ago, and this clearly represents your failure to keep it together. It's hoping your long-distance friend doesn't hastily get off the phone to whisper about you to her other friends.

It's calling your husband to admit you just had a panic attack because the babies aren't eating lunch after they also refused to eat their breakfast, and obviously this is another reflection of your failure as a mom. It's hoping he doesn't dismiss you and your fears like you feel you deserve.

And it's finding that in each situation the other person responds with more grace and mercy than you expect. The first friend admits that she knows just how you feel, and she went through a similarly dark time as a mom. The second friends weeps with you and vows to pray for you. Then texts you throughout the week to check on you. And the husband hangs up the phone and rushes home to hold you, to help relieve the pressure of watching 4 kids and urges you to go get some alone-breather time in an effort to also get perspective.

I have found this week there is a joy in breaking and (finally) trusting others to help put you back together - or at the very least, sit with you during the breaking and encourage you with their presence.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Letting the plates fall

Most days I feel like the circus performer who miraculously manages to keep 4 plates spinning atop tall poles. The plates may wobble and tilt, but he notices the imminent danger and rushes over with seconds to spare and rights the issue. Then at the end, he bows and waits for applause from the crowd knowing they are amazed at his speed, agility, time management and multi-tasking.

Wait, did I just admit to being a self-absorbed, praise-seeking freak? Yeah, I guess I did.

Since the babies were born I have felt more and more like this circus act. Things are fine as long as nothing else happens to interrupt my concentration. But if one of my children becomes a fuss pot for the day and demands to be held more than normal, or if my 4 year old decides at the last minute she doesn't like the outfit she put on for school, or if I'm trying to cook dinner while cleaning dishes and feed 3 babies and I spill something, I lose my cool and tantrum. Seriously tantrum, complete with occasional foot stomps and door slams. And more than once I've gone to the garage to beat a mattress with a plastic bat to keep from yelling at my daughter.

My doctor thinks it's all because my hormones are still out of whack from my pregnancy. Personally, and spiritually, I think it's more due to issues of pride and stubbornness.

A few weeks ago I meditated on 1 Cor. 13:4-7. My translation says, "Love does not insist on its own is not irritable." For me, this means I shouldn't be stomping my foot and snapping at Addie because she wants to do something her way. Just this past weekend, she and I had a kerfuffle because she wanted to wear an ugly shirt that she thought was pretty. But because I wanted things perfect in my world (in order to reflect well on me) I fought with her and eventually ordered her to change. She then cried and I fumed. Did I mention this was on her birthday? Yeah, score 2 bad mommy points.

I shouldn't have insisted on my own way. And when I feel overwhelmed by trying to keep the house clean, my children happy, my daughter dressed well and behaving, my pantry stocked and whatever other chore I think I need to tackle, I need to force myself to step away from the plates even if it means they fall.

This morning's Bible read spoke straight to this issue. It's the story of Martha and Mary attending to Jesus. One sister (Martha) thought the best way to show love was to provide a neat home and full buffet for Jesus - both of which required lots of time and effort. The other sister (Mary) thought the best way to show love was to sit at Jesus' feet and learn to know Him. Martha complains about her sister's laziness and Jesus says, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but 1 thing is necessary (my note: bet you anything it isn't to have a Martha Stewart home and meal). Mary has chosen the good portion ..." Lk.10:41, 42

So if you see my daughter come to school in pjs or my kids with food on their faces or clutter in my home it could be that I'm learning to rest in God and let the plates fall.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Parting words for my granny

I was born with straight hair. It was a little wiry but it definitely wasn't curly. And then puberty hit and suddenly I found myself with a fuzzy fro atop my head. I would become so frustrated trying to comb my now tangly rats' nest that I would grip the comb with both hands and force it through my hair, ripping out wads of hair with it.

And then my granny would gently take over. I remember she would ever so carefully work out the kinks in my hair. It got to the point I would intentionally tangle my hair so that my granny would have to spend even more time carefully combing my coif.

Tonight my granny is in a hospice bed possibly struggling to take her last breaths. We've known for a while that death was coming. Even as far back as 2006, my brothers and I would receive a frantic call from my mom to rush home, granny was dying. Back then she was suffering from heart troubles, but she rebounded. The years were not easy, though. She has battled through diabetes - even when it required a leg amputation - cancer and more heart problems. This week she also has endured massive strokes that left her muddled and eventually asleep. It seems she really is on her last leg (pun lovingly intended. We didn't call her Peg Leg Polly for nuthin').

So I remember my granny and her kind hands. I remember how she subtly let me know I was the favored grandchild. I remember how she taught me to cook my first meal, scrambled eggs. I even remember her parting words on my wedding day, "I just hope you're happy." (you had to have known Pauline to understand that this was about as optimistic as she could be). And I remember her hugging me with her flappy arms full of love and pride. I miss you, granny, and will miss you even more in the days to come.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Fun

While Addie has been away at summer day camp, the babies and I have been trying all sorts of new experiences. Today we had a water day. Splish splash.

And of course, a visit from the daycare pet #2, Heidi the Nasty Mutt

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Messy Monsters

So this is a spoon?

Oh, I get it!

Ryleigh and McKenna must have learned spoon etiquette from the same person


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Walker Wannabes Prt 2

Hmmm, wonder what the babies will think of Mr. Handy Hand

Ryleigh goes right for the fingers

Yes, I think we definitely have a future walker on our hands. Buwahaha!

As a side note, how mean is it that I plan to bury Mr. Handy Hand in our backyard when we leave this rental house? I just wish I could see the tenants' faces when they unearth it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Walker Wannabes

Mike says our kids look like they are preparing to be walkers on The Walking Dead.

I recently read that babies should start transitioning to table food around 9 mos, which leads to tonight's escapades with pasta.

Surprisingly, McKenna has taken to table food much easier than the other 2. She wolfs down boiled eggs, pasta, and just about anything else I put in front of her.

Josiah wears most of his food, as does Ryleigh. 

I would include a pic of Addie but she still is on an eating strike until PBS promises to stop killing off Downton Abbey characters.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Happy, happy Daycare

Some days I feel like I run a daycare for 1 very active (and loving toddler) and 3 very curious infants.

We have a ball pit for our sensory exploration and playtime. We also have 4 bouncy seats, 3 activity mats and a bagillion toys.

Ryleigh and McKenna

I love this photo, mainly because of the toppled baby in the background. I assure you, no babies were injured in the making of this post. All babies are carefully monitored at all times :)

Here is our class pet, Dora II, which was to replace Dora I that died 3 days ago. I think we should stop while we're ahead.

"I" is for ice and ice cream. I don't always get to go a letter craft with Addie but we try to do at least 3 a week. We also use to practice letter sounds, and make a game out of finding as many letters in our neighborhood as possible. So are we've covered D, G, O, P, T, I, A and S.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Re-Writing Our Words Part 2

In full disclosure, I thought I'd offer 2 personal examples of how words can easily erroneously re-label truths:

Example 1:

When someone tells you, "don't try to load that bike by yourself" and you insist on doing it solo, that is not called individuality or independent. It's called being stubborn.

Refusing to apply sunscreen during a 3-hr trip to the beach is not called getting a base tan. It's a guarantee to a sunburn.

Re-Writing our Words

Words oftentimes can bring more confusion than clarity. A single word can offer different meanings, or have different spellings, or different cultural baggage. And then there are times when we choose the wrong words, which leads to embarrassing faux pas (such as the time I announced I was my professor's progeny rather than prodigy).

It's this latest conundrum within the church that causes me to wish we could re-write our vocabulary in order to clarify and correct what we really mean.

1. Follow vs. Believe
Unless you are Davy Jones, you should not be seeking believers. Rather, you (and God and the church) needs followers. It may seem to be a minor difference in word choice but the implications are greater than we realize. A believer is someone who knows all about God and the Bible, believes all the things the Bible says and can even regurgitate spiritual truths. But they may still live according to their own rules and plans because they've never become a follower. It doesn't matter what you believe but who you follow. One involves knowledge, the other requires a humbling submission.

2. Cultural Exchange vs. Mission Trip
The day after I graduated from high school I hopped a plane for Russia. There, I spent a month with a teen mission organization performing dramas throughout St. Petersburg as we shared the gospel with people in the city. I honestly can't say a single person became a follower of Jesus through the performances, nor did I have a chance to converse with anyone on a deep spiritual level. We weren't there to build relationships. We were there to entertain and experience Russia. We called it a mission trip but in reality it was a cultural experience.

I think such trips are great for opening our eyes to other cultures and beliefs, whether we travel overseas or downtown to the inner-city. It remind us of how God's plan extends beyond our neighborhood/city/state/nation. But I don't think these trips are truly about doing missions that bring lasting change to another culture. Those types of trips and relationships are built through long-term involvement with people, as in a church sending a team to the same city year after year to build a deep partnership. Or when a church installs a team (or even a branch of the church) inside the inner-city to have a day-to-day influence rather than sending a group of kids to an inner-city for a week and think any change has been achieved. These popcorn type trips are not about missions or relationships or changing the location, but are cultural experiences that oftentimes change the participants most. Cultural exchanges are great and have their importance, but let's call them what they are.

3. Public Relations vs. Outreach
A sea of purple infiltrates a crowd as goods are handed out and smiles offered. Purple-clad volunteers distribute brochures, bracelets, postcards, etc touting their business. Everything is stamped with the church's name and address. At the end of the day, high-fives are exchanged and backs patted for another great outreach.

Um....what was shared? Who or what was promoted? Did anyone actually talk about Jesus, tell anyone about God's love, or at the very least have an actual conversation beyond niceties?

Such events are great and perhaps needed for the church to let neighbors know they are there in the community, but let's call them what they are. They are not outreach events; they are PR events. Outreach events, at least as most people in the church understand them, involve promoting Jesus and reaching out to offer hope, acceptance and God's love. The moment you replace Jesus' name with the church's, or when you begin bragging about your church and the change it has made in your life vs. talking about Jesus and the change He has made, when you can recite every program your church offers but can't talk about the latest thing God has impressed on your heart, you have moved from promoting God to promoting your church.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

$40 Today

$40 today paid for one of our medical bills connected to the babies.

$40 today was handed to me by a mother in a grocery store.

$40 today was given to bless us in memory of her son who was killed in an accident last year.

$40 today reminded me of God's faithfulness and love.

$40 today will remind me to pray for and give thanks for Ms. Pauline.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Surviving Summer and a Hundred "why?"s

Last week was our first full week of having Addie home Every. Single. Day. No more preschool until August. No more respites from 50 questions a minute. No more action-filled mornings that don't require my planning or involvement.

I vaguely remember telling Addie a few weeks ago, "We're not going to survive this summer." The comment came on the heels of a common battle of wills and Addie's persistent determination to keep my focus 100 percent on her and not on the babies.

But I was wrong. The week went fine and all 4 children are still alive. Granted, I fall into bed at 9 pm on the cusp of incoherent exhaustion - but I guess that's to be expected when running a daycare and part-time pre school (oh yes, I decided to fill my mornings with doing alphabetic exercises and crafts with Addie).

And just about every morning begins with a quiet recitation of, "When I am weak, You are strong."

And there are still moments when I want to cry because things were going well until Addie or the babies threw a wrench in my momentum with a tantrum or unplanned speed bump that caused me to screech to a halt and stop whatever project I was in the midst of tackling.

The amazing thing, though, is that I no longer feel incapable or inadequate. I don't wake up dreading the day or feeling worn before the coffee has brewed. I don't feel homebound because I have 4 children under the age of 4. We go to the grocery store, library, park - wherever I need to go for the day. And we play at home. And we learn to be content in any and all situations.

I'm reminded of things friends and family told me when we found out we were having triplets. Comments like, "God has chosen you for this journey because He knows you are able" and "This is not a curse, this is a blessing. And your children will rise up and call you blessed" seemed incongruous with the mountain we were facing at the time.

I guess I'm starting to see the truth in those comments, though, and am beginning to see that Mike and I have been called to a lifetime journey of shepherding these kids and relying on God's strength each step of the way. There will be days when my strength and energy fail before noon - especially during school breaks. But God is faithful and able, and really when I am weak, He is strong.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Paul's letter to the culture

Dear Romans

Blessings to you in the name of my God whom you do not recognize but who recognizes you. I come as a humble servant of God with a meek request regarding your behavior. Perhaps you have heard of or read my previous letter to the church in your midst. Whether yes or no, in summation I encouraged them to walk by faith and to live righteously before their God. It has come to my attention, however, that your cultural practices perhaps may tempt members of the church to forsake their convictions. Thus, I ask that you change certain practices so that the church may have a chance to thrive.

My list of requests is not long or burdensome. I would ask that you forsake - perhaps even outlaw - polygamy, pedophilia, corruption, homosexuality, blood sports, gluttony, backbiting and drunkenness. I have made the same demands of the church but I now recognize they will have a hard time obeying God if they see you living according to a different set of rules.

Now, I want to say up front that I believe you'll have a hard time maintaining these changes. The church obviously is struggling and we have God helping us. Without His assistance, I fear you are doomed to fail. But I'd still like you to try. Who knows, maybe you'll surprise me.

I look forward to meeting with your government representatives when I visit next month. Perhaps we can discuss my letter in further detail. Until then


PS - you really should give Jesus a try. He'd make this whole effort so much easier.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Warring Against the Dark

Sleep is a funny thing. It allows our brains to shut off and rest. It also allows our defenses to rest, too, so that we are more prone to attacks and dreams. Recently, I started having dreams about overdosing on pills. I recall the exact number and type of pills, and even recall the sensation I felt in the dream as I drifted off to sleep knowing I would never wake again.

Before anyone calls the police, please rest assured - I have no plans to off myself. I think the dream is an indication that the depression I'm fighting is more than just a chemical imbalance; it also is a spiritual fight.

My husband had the best motivation, though. He told me if I kill myself then he's putting the babies up for adoption.

God, I love that man.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Dark Side

Babies are doing great. They are sleeping through the night and have found a way to stick to a fairly consistent schedule during the day. Addie loves her siblings and plays with them constantly; she recently has been trying to teach them to roll over.

So why am I just now fighting post-partum depression? You would think I'd be over the moon with how great things are going. Instead, I find myself crying for no known reason, snapping at Addie and cringing when my babies cry, struggling to find energy to play with my kids vs just nap, and finding more reasons to hate my life rather than rejoice in the blessings.

And for someone who is a perpetual optimist, I find this to be unfamiliar territory.

I've done some self-analyzation to figure out the source of my issues:

1. In the beginning, I had to hold it all together and keep moving because I had no other option. But now that the babies require less care I have time to think about how overwhelming everything is, and well, it's overwhelming.

2. hormones. I mean honestly, my body had 3x's the normal level of hormones during pregnancy and those all just suddenly disappeared

3. I'm simply exhausted. While it's true the babies don't require constant care now, they also require more attention when they are awake. They don't want to just stare off into space for hours on end so I spend many hours of the day switching up their toys, their setting and their activities. Plus, I have a 3.5 year old who would freely take all of my attention and time if she could. There are some days I think Addie consumes 70% of my energy and focus leaving a paltry 30% for the babies, Mike, and tasks.

4. I feel trapped because there are times that I am. We recently had to send our triple decker stroller back to the manufacturer for repairs so for 2 weeks I was homebound during the day since I can't carry 3 carseats. It also wasn't feasible to go out at night because either I was too exhausted or the babies were too cranky and I didn't want to burden Mike with 4 whiney children. Being confined to the home with 1 antsy toddler and 3 needy children is a recipe for feeling hopeless, tired and isolated.

I thought I could "fix" this and pull myself out of the Pit of Despair, but I am willing to admit I need help (as weak as that might sound). I have started to ask for help from friends and family when I need an hour to escape and breathe. I also am finding moments to sit in the sun even if it means I prop open the door so I can keep an eye on the kids inside. I'll also be seeing my dr later this week to ask if there's some "happy pill" that can help curb my anxiety and depression. It'd be nice to enjoy my family again rather than sigh each time I hear someone call my name.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When saying goodbye feels more like a bad breakup than a release

This is a hard post to write. There's a certain amount of vulnerability when we admit we've been wounded - especially since the wound still aches and there doesn't seem to be a resolution coming any time soon. But still, I feel like opening my wound for inspection might be part of the healing process.

Mike and I once had the opportunity to partner with another family to plant a church in Richmond. Everything about the partnership appealed to us; we had been praying about starting a church but knew we didn't have the experience needed to do so. This other family had tons of experience, and were really awesome people.

So we started to dream. We talked about having a church so influential in Richmond that if the mayor had a problem, he might call us to discuss ways to solve the issue. We dreamed of having a world-wide influence with video feeds in Richmond to show us what our international partners were up to. We launched the church in a hotel that eventually moved to our house. And it was great. It was casual and cool. It was friendly and had such great potential.

But things started changing. Phone calls stopped being returned. Emails were overlooked. Meetings were forgotten or canceled. Eventually we stopped dreaming. We stopped communicating. A conference that was meant to inspire us served only to make us feel more isolated.

And then I got pregnant. With triplets. We wrestled with whether to stay in Richmond or to move. I desperately wanted to be near my family and to have a strong support system, but I didn't want to leave my city. I also didn't want to leave my church. The other families said they supported us regardless of what we decided, and we would always be considered members of the church even if we were a few hundred miles away.

After much prayer, we decided to relocate to Jacksonville and our church sent us on our way with a launch party/baby shower. But after we moved, it was as though we ceased to exist. There were no emails, no calls, no notes from the family with whom we started the church. Even though they frequently called or Skyped with church members who lived in Sweden, we didn't get a single indication we were thought of. We made a few half-hearted attempts to communicate with them through emails and facebook comments, but our efforts were ignored.

Seven months later, we still are hurt and confused as to what happened. Was it us? Did we mess up? Was it a spiritual issue, personality issue, leadership issue? Could it have been avoided?

I don't regret the church plant. We learned valuable lessons about how to lead a Bible study and to start a church from scratch. We met some incredible families in the process and truly saw lives touched/changed. But I regret the ending. I wish there had been a more amicable split rather than this aching hurt like I am recovering from a bad breakup. And I wish I knew how to let go rather than dwell on the disappointment of it all.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


I love this image of my daughter. Granted, you can't see her, but i certainly can hear her. She is talking to her princess dolls about an upcoming tea party. Some of the dolls are moms, others are babies. And I love to hear the conversations Addie creates with her imagination.

We recently underwent two events that have caused us to examine our lives and realize how cluttered they have become. Firstly, we fasted from tv for 21 days. In that time, I realized how little I actually enjoy tv and how much time I waste in front of the boob-tube.

Secondly, we scrutinized our finances and decided to make some drastic cuts in our expenses. One of the things we hope to minimize is our satellite package. We also have sold or gotten rid of objects that we don't need that were cluttering our lives. Gone are the big baby swings, and in their place are 3 compact swings. Gone, too, are clothes, toys and other objects we held on to for no good reason.

I am looking forward to these changes in our family. I feel as though we are dropping baggage each time we release something that consumed our time or money unnecessarily. We feel this is a time of learning and preparation for us as a family. we are learning to lean on God as our Provider, to enjoy true family time and to use our resources wisely. We also feel God is preparing us for a time when we may have to rely on Him daily for our provisions. For years we have felt God calling us to some kind of ministry, and perhaps this is His way of prying our fingers away from the things that prevented us from grasping His hands.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Have a Dream ... of Tornadoes

Last week, Mike had a dream about three tornadoes wreaking havoc around him. He remembers being afraid of the damage the tornadoes would bring, and that one of our children was clinging to his leg as the last tornado barreled toward them. The last tornado actually touched down and was heading for him when he commanded it to stop and leave; at which point, the tornado completely dissipated and left.

Since then, we have been praying against any attempt of Satan to bring destruction upon us, our friends or our family. A wise friend advised us to use the dreams as a warning from God that we need to go on the attack through prayer and Scripture to pre-empt Satan's plans. We had no idea what form the "tornadoes" would take, but we knew they would attempt to bring destruction.

The day after Mike's dream, I had an incident with the triplets in their stroller. The result was that Ryleigh's car seat toppled off the stroller and she landed face-first in the parking lot. I was horrified and frozen with fear, but thanks to some great moms and my cousin's wife, Jennifer, Ryleigh was quickly cleaned up and calmed. She ended up with bruising on her cheek and a scratch on her nose - and a very shaken mom.

The God-moment in this was that just moments before the accident, I had been holding Ryleigh and trying to calm her down. When I returned her to her car seat, I initially left her unhooked with the thought that I'd hook her in once we got to the car. I was prompted, though, by a thought (which I truly came from God) that I should buckle her in just to be safe. I'm so glad I did because her injuries could have been much worse.

A few days later, we were attending a children's birthday party when a mom walked over to me holding a bleeding Addie in her arms. Addie had run into the corner of a pick-up truck's tailgate and cut her head. The wound bled fiercely and soaked her dress with crimson stains. Thankfully, a few women at the party were nurses. They were able to assess the wound, stop the bleeding and help us decide what to do.

A few God-moments from this experience were the kind nurses who were able to quickly assess and aid Addie (and me, as once again I froze at the sight of my child injured and screaming). Also, Addie's wound was mostly superficial but could have been so much worse if she had run into the truck with her face - or even her eye.

We don't know if these two incidents are tied to Mike's dream but I do know the injuries were minimized by God's protection over us through prayer and spiritual warfare.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Not as hard as I thought

When I first found out we were expecting triplets, I took to the internet to find blogs or websites from other moms of triplets in order to get an idea of what to expect. That turned out to be quite a mistake as it seems the only moms who blogged were those who had difficult (sometimes tragic) experiences. Either their triplets were born with disabilities, or in at least 1 case one of the babies died soon after birth. For a mom-to-be who already was worried about carrying triplets, this was quite the downer moment.

I determined when my babies were born healthy and strong, I would post something that would encourage other moms who are expecting multiples so they could see it's not all doom and gloom. If you've read my blog, you know the first doctor we saw told us to expect the worst when it came to carrying and delivering multiples. He was adamant that I needed to consider aborting one or two of the babies to minimize the risk. To him I say "Phhhhhhew" (I'm not sure how to spell out a zerbert but you get the idea). So here's a short list of how our babies (and me) are defying the odds:

1. When the babies first came home, they ate every 3 hrs. Since it took about 90 min. to feed them in successive order, this didn't leave a lot of free time between feedings for things like eating and sleeping. Thankfully three things changed to give us time to breathe: my dad took the 11 pm feeding so we could get some sleep, we figured out how to feed the babies simultaneously using bouncy chairs and blankets, and the babies eventually ate every 4 hrs. Since these changes I now how time to clean the house, sleep, blog, write freelance stories, etc. It hasn't been nearly as bad as I had imagined.

2. I am able to take the babies out without much problem. We have a triple-decker stroller that my mother-in-law bought for us. With this handy device I'm able to take the babies and my 3-year-old daughter to the park and stores so that none of us begin to feel too confined to the house.

3. At  9-weeks old my preemie babies are wearing 0-3 mon clothing and eating like horses. Seriously, they don't know they are supposed to be small. My son, in fact, is now wearing size 2 diapers and 3 mos clothing. Geesh!

4. The babies have no health issues. None. They were in the NICU for 2-3 wks simply because they had occasional dips in their heart rate. Since coming home they haven't had so much as a sniffle. Healthy, healthy babies.

5. I gained about 60 lbs during the pregnancy and have lost all but 10 lbs of that. Having triplets is the best weight-loss plan I can recommend :)

By no means do I take credit for even a smidge of our success. We have had friends and family help us with feedings to give us a reprieve, folks bring us meals and babies who seem to defy all the odds. The biggest source of our success, though, truly has been God. He enabled the babies to be born at great weights with strong immune systems, and has continued to grow them beautifully. He also is teaching Mike and I patience with each other, ourselves and the babies. And I've been amazed at our wonderful daughter and how she has become so affectionate and helpful regarding her new siblings.

So there you have it. Triplets are not a death sentence regarding sleep or even fun. We still have hard days when all 3 babies are crying at once and Addie is cowering in a corner covering her ears and screaming for the babies to stop crying. But those days and moments are few and are far outnumbered by the good days.