Tuesday, 16 October 2012

More Than A Conqueror

Do you ever have those days when you feel like you're just getting by?  Not financially, but in the physical/emotion/spiritual sense?  The laundry is piled up, the floors are all messy, the kids are running around like human tornadoes, and school work has fallen by the wayside. You stop and think, "Why do I feel like I'm just barely keep my head above water when I'm supposed to be more than a conqueror?" 

I've been having a few of those days.

Teaching the basics to a four year old is something I've done twice already, but had conveniently blocked from my memory. I know why that was necessary. It's a lot like having a baby...you know it was painful but if you remembered the full extent of the pain you'd never have another.  Same goes with teaching a child the alphabet.  So it's not really that bad but boy, it's difficult sometimes.  It's also rewarding and that's why I'm hanging on.  Eventually he'll be enjoying a book and I'll smile and know that I had a small part in that.

Moving is another thing I've done a few times, and yet that hasn't been any easier either (no we're not planning a move, it's just something that's affected my life).  It's hard to fit in, to try and find the place where you fit.  I'm really not good at that.  I usually feel like the square peg.  You have to get used to a new place, a new set of people, figure out who has your back and who wants to stab you in the back...You sometimes feel that you're a doormat, your feelings don't matter, your giftings don't count.

And then there's living with a life threatening illness.  Even though it's not mine, it's altered our family's lifestyle significantly.  There are times when the simple things, like going to the grocery store can seem terrifying.  I've been isolated at certain times because the risk of Elizabeth getting sick is too great...Missing out on social activities because I don't want to come in contact with the flu or something worse that could land us in the hospital or even worse, cause death.

I'm not writing this to command a pity party, I'm writing this to because I know I'm not alone.  We all have our personal desert experiences, our Goliath's, our walls of Jericho.  We all go through times when we'd rather stay in bed, build up walls to protect ourselves, and completely stop trusting because we've been hurt so many times.

That's not the way we're meant to live.

Romans 8:37 tells us that we are to be "more than conquerors through him who loved us."  We have all we need to live above our circumstances when we rely on God for our provision, whatever that may be.

The Word is full of situations that looked hopeless, and if you put yourself in the shoes of the one who faced it, they were probably pretty discouraged at times.  We spend so much time dwelling on our shortcomings, our problems that we stop dwelling on God's promises to us and His greatness.  We should be encouraged to know that even if the whole world seems to be against us, He is for us.  If we are hard pressed on every side, we'll not be crushed. We have the victory we need, we just need to trust Him for it!

So while I walk through these days, being a little discouraged, I know that it will all end well! I am more than a conqueror!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Just a Camping Tale

I hate camping.  No one was more surprised than me by the words that came out of my mouth a few weeks back.  "Let's go camping!!"  I looked around to see who said it and realized it was me.  We planned the whole thing forgetting we had two dogs.  Good thing for us, the lady who looks after them when we go away likes them and took them for us last minute.  With that detail taken care of, we packed up the van, used our roof bag for the first time ever and set off for three nights of sleeping on the ground!

The tent went up easier that we first thought, and that was great considering we had never taken it out of the box before arriving at the campground.  The kids had a great time, roasting hotdogs (which Aedan ate raw because they took to long to cook on a stick),  marshmallows, and Logan's shoes...He was really careful after we told him that the rim of the firebowl gets hot.

I took Elizabeth to the bathroom to get her ready for bed and that's when the real fun began.  She was laying on the counter while I changed her diaper and got her jammies on, a lady walked in and said, "Hi honey".  So Elizabeth said, "Hi honey" back to her.  'Honey' went into one of the stalls, pretty soon Elizabeth was yelling, "Mommy, honey peein' ".  I tried to be quiet and said, "yes dear" but that wasn't a satisfactory answer to our very intelligent two year old.  She continued to yell "Honey peein'" until the lady in the stall acknowledged that she too heard her.  So thankful that the woman found it funny.  I trekked red-faced back to the tent site and told the story to my husband who laughed hysterically (which I'm sure had something to do with the fact that it wasn't him trying to quiet her down in there). 

We packed the kids in the tent because one wouldn't go to sleep without the other, and by the time an hour passed the older boys were getting really frustrated with their younger brother.  They thought the best way to get him to settle down was to scare him (makes sense to me).  They told him if he didn't stop talking that a monster would get him.  Well, Elizabeth heard this and pulled her blanket up over her head.  She peeked out from behind it and said, "Cookie Monster get me!!" He's the only monster she knows.  She's now terrified of Sesame Street.  Thanks guys! 

It's the first time we've done anything as a family since Elizabeth was born that really was worry free.  Last year I was too nervous to take her more than a couple hours from her doctors.  What a blessing that time was!  I can now say I love camping....we're going again in a couple of weeks with some good friends.  I will be buying an air mattress this time :-)

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Summer Days

I have wanted to have my own blog for about a year now.  I really enjoy writing and there's always something happening in our house that would make you chuckle - it may not make me chuckle until a few days after the fact though!  What happened then?  It seems that as soon as I just went with it and created my space, everything funny and inspirational ceased.

We did find out that our princess is not allergic to milk, and incidentally, she's not allergic to wood either.  We didn't have to take her to the allergist to find out the latter, just left her alone in the living room with the coffee table.  She also went for her first swim and drank a little pool water.  Too bad she didn't have the pool water last night when she was trying to swallow the wood.  She and Aedan have a sibling rivalry going on like none I've seen before, especially for a little girl who's so young.  She really can handle herself, we'll have to work on lady likeness later...

Aedan is our clown.  He has an active imagination and a very grown up way of talking to us.  The other day he was playing make believe and assigned us all to be animals - Daddy was a puppy, Nanny was a kitty and Mommy was a cow...

The older boys and I spent an afternoon at the public pool last week. It was a beautiful day, the sun was warm, there were no clouds in the sky, and there was no shade for me to sit under....did I mention that I forgot my sunscreen?  The boys were having such a great time, the hour I promised turned into two.  The showed me how they could jump in off the side and swim across the pool.  I missed so much last summer that I wanted to watch them splash around without a care in the world. The problem began about eight o'clock that evening, when I realized that I had the worst burn I'd gotten in years...it's been ten days and I'm just starting to heal.

We've also decided to adopt two adult golden retrievers named Jake and Rex...which has started the battle over which dog belongs to which boy.  I've told them that it doesn't matter to me who gets which one as long as whoever does brushes, feeds and walks him.  I think they'll make a wonderful addition to our family.

One thing is for sure, our summer's been full. We spent all but three weeks of last summer in the hospital, leaving our boys to enjoy the summer without us.  This year we enjoyed it together, with our special little addition home with us and in the middle of everything :-)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Lessons I've Learned at 2a.m.

I love night.  I love to hear the crickets and the breeze blowing the trees.  Night here is especially nice, sitting on the back deck and watching the sky change colors, just enjoying the stillness of a summer evening.  As the time wears on I like to go to bed, I'm no night owl.  I need my eight plus hours, and I seldom get them.  I've been up at two a.m. every night for a year and two and a half weeks...and counting.  You might wonder what in the world I'm saying this for - well, it occured to me that even though I've been up in the night, the reasons have changed a lot in a year.  In fact I want to go back to the first summer we were here...

August 2009 - It was a beautiful summer night - crickets, a breeze, just right for sleeping.  We had only been here a little over a month and were still getting used to all of the sounds (and smells) of life in the country.  We were sleeping soundly, as Aedan has finally learned to sleep through at the tender age of one. What more could we ask for!  I awoke around two to the awful smell of a skunk.  It was so strong, and it got worse and worse until finally I was convinced the thing was in our house somewhere.  I got up to  look our the window and when I did, something caught the corner of my eye.  There, on the floor at the end of the bed was a black shadow...with a white stripe!  I screamed and hollered until Steve shot out of bed.  I told him the skunk was in our bedroom and it would probably attack us and someone must've left the basement door open and I knew I shoulda checked it myself...in the meantime, he turned on the light without saying a word, to reveal a pair of dark jeans with a white sock on it....

Fast forward to August 2010- I couldn't tell you what the night was like outside, we didn't see many of them.  Our home had become the IWK and we spent most nights keeping vigil beside Elizabeth's bed, not knowing what the next moment would bring.  There were no crickets - there were monitors, breathing machines, life support systems, doctors, nurses, grieving parents, sick children.  Those were the sounds.  Handsanitizer and alcohol were the smells.   Two a.m. brought the words no parent wants to hear "if we can't get her heart rate down she'll die" We sat and watched as our baby's heart rate raced to 240 beats per minute. We watched as they brought her body temperature down to 32 degrees to try and stabalize her.  My cry in the night wasn't about the smell of the 'skunk' someone had let in the house, it was a cry to God to either heal her or take her because I was sure that she could never withstand the sickness that was placed on her...and to be very honest I wasn't sure we could either.  We sat with parents who lost their nine month old daughter, and wondered how they would ever go on, wondered how we would go on if we were to face that same outcome.  What a difference a year can make in our lives...

Now, August 2011, last night to be exact - I was again up at two a.m.  Brought from my sleep by the sound of my sweet (and very loud) daughter.  I actually got out of bed (sometimes I pretend not to hear her and roll over and 'accidentally' elbow Steve who gets up and goes to see what she needs) and walked up the hall with my eyes mostly closed.  I opened the fridge and got out the almond milk, took the top off of the bottle, poured the milk, put it back into the refridgerator and scuffed off down the hall.  I saw her sweet little face (yes, she's beautiful even when she's screaming) and she reached up for me to take her.  I held her in my arms, tipped the bottle up for her, and heard her sputtering and coughing.  That usually doesn't happen, what could be wrong?  Then I felt it, the milk running down my arm and onto the floor, a real river.  I should probably have opened my eyes and then I would have noticed that I didn't replace the nipple on the bottle.  Anyway, after a change of clothes for her and me, we got a new bottle of milk and then she was happy to go back to sleep.  I watched her as she snuggled down in her bed with her elephant and listened to her sigh as she made herself comfortable and I thought, what a difference a year makes!  My cry last night was Thank you Lord that you've kept her.  Jeremiah 29:11 has always been one of my favorite verses, it has been the one I've prayed over Elizabeth, and all of our children.  "For I know the plans I have for you' says the Lord 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future."

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Saturdays - Organized Chaos

Saturdays...the craziest days of the week in our home.  In a house with four kids, what day isn't crazy?  I believe the theory that things happen the way they do on Saturdays to make us want to stay in bed on Sundays.  I used to believe that Sundays were the hardest day of the week to get moving - when for two consecutive weeks we went out to discover flat tires and then our dummy tire went flat while we were in church.  Those things didn't keep us home so the chaos started on Saturday nights, just to try and wear us down!

So yesterday afternoon, around three p.m. I decided to make my family a homemade vegetarian pizza and garlic fingers with whole wheat crust, it was also around that time that my husband decided to go down into the rec room and immerse himself in Turbo Jam (he's lost nearly 20lbs already, very proud of him!).  So that leaves the dilemma, who will watch the princess?  Being the eldest, Logan always gets nominated for these types of jobs.  He's an amazing older brother and really loves spending quality time with his siblings. 

While they were bonding, I left the kitchen to tend to some other 'to do's' on my list.  I listened to them laughing and smiled to myself...although it was a short lived smile.  You see, I overheard "Elizabeth, you're such a pot head!" Well, it's one of those moments when, in your mind you've already decided the reasoning behind such a statement - he'd obviously been watching shows on television that we didn't approve of.  I was uspet and made my way to the kitchen to let him know that in our house we don't call people names at all, let alone names with reference to drugs.  Yes, I had it all planned in less than ten seconds.

When I rounded the corner into the kitchen, there sat my sweet miracle baby with the smallest pot on her head - laughing hysterically at her brother who was wearing the largest one on his head to make her smile.  It wasn't what I thought at all, he wasn't making reference to drugs, just cooking pots.

In life we're quick to do that.  We hear something about someone or about some situation and we figure it all out in our heads, with little or no facts. Then we allow our misguided opinions to dictate how we treat the person or behave in the situation.   This is why we should be slow to speak and quick to listen.  Not quickly angered but longsuffering.  How many realationships have been ruined because a small bit of a conversation is heard, and with no investigation, one of the involved persons decideds to walk away, bitter.  There are probably many more scenarios you can think of.

I'm just glad that I got to see that Logan was really doing something wonderful for his sister, before I scolded him - for something he didn't intend.  I find that watching my children, I can get some really good application of scripture in my life.  They're always bringing things to life for me!  After that, the four of them emptied every pot, pan and metal bowl from the cupboard and played drums on them using wooden spoons for sticks...that was Saturday night entertainment at the Williams house!

On an end note - my husband hit the wall last night, literally.  He was coming down the hall in the dark and missed the door opening and hit the molding around the door, cut his eye brow and everything.  That was a little too much excitement for two a.m.  He hit the wall, I hit the floor...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Blessed In The Mess: When Our Ideals Become Our Idols

I always wanted a big family...six kids was my dream.  My husband wanted two, so I guess we've met in the middle.  I would look at large families out and about and think that it must be very exciting to always have people around you, you'd never be lonely!  In my mind, it was a serene place where everyone worked together, their houses were always clean, their children never misbehaved, they got everything on their 'to do' list accomplished everyday, and still managed to solve all of the problems of life by a ten p.m. bedtime.  Now, either I've failed somewhere or my ideals were slightly (or majorly) skewed.  Life as we know it has thrown us major curves that can't be cleared up by ten p.m. and we have days, most days in fact, when the children don't work at all let alone together to get things done.  Some days the only things we accomplish are actually getting out of bed and standing up.  The point I make is basically this, our ideals can often times lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction with our lives.  We believe that even though we're doing our best, we're somehow failing.  It's the 'grass is greener on the other side' mind set, someone else's life is better than ours.

Last night I was going over the events of the last year - for those who don't know, our daughter has undergone two open heart surgeries and still has one other in her future.  I was rehearsing the ideals I'd had for our family - CHD did not fit in, we didn't have time for it - life as we knew it changed forever.  Things no longer fit in my original ideals of everything being perfect.  We had to determine to enjoy life in the midst of the PICU, in the midst of Elizabeth's sickness, in the less than ideal circumstances we were forced to face.  When the ideal of a clean house keeps us from enjoying the family God has given us to enjoy, then it actually becomes an idol, not an ideal.  When the children are held to such a high standard that they can't be kids, then our ideals for them have become idols...when our children themselves become the focus of our lives, or the sickness becomes the focus, or the finances become the focus, then we have to realize that our ideals have become idols....

The perfect life doesn't come from these things, the perfect life comes when we're submitted to God and all the other things He calls into place - even if it doesn't fit our plans - because we know that He knows what's best for us.

So this morning when the Little People were all over the floor, and water was all over the bathroom vanity, I thanked God for the family He's given me and asked Him to give me joy even when I'm cleaning up after them.  After all, I may not have been as richly blessed as I am.