Meatloaf Day

Yesterday was the annual meatloaf day at our house.  My kids love meatloaf, so there are lots of days during the year we have meatloaf, however, August 10 is one day meatloaf is guaranteed to be in the menu.

2014-08-10 08.48.05

It was the idea of a friend almost four years ago.  On August 10 four years ago I fixed meatloaf for dinner (please don’t ask me any other meals I’ve made on a specific date in history.  However, it is possible I could tell you what I made for breakfast this morning.)  I planned ahead that day because we wanted to get to the library and get library cards.  So I stuck that meatloaf in a slow cooker knowing it would be ready for us when we got back.  Only we didn’t make it back as scheduled.  My body decided it’d be better to get to a hospital rather than go home and eat meatloaf.  Which is really messed up, because I make good meatloaf.  (Every one in my family likes it, which is a feat in and of itself.  Each child has requested it for their special birthday meal at least once.)  So I went to the hospital and had a preemie baby two days later.  My husband and older two kids made it back home that night, but the meatloaf was more than done, apparently.  It had moved well past the edible stage to the science-project-gone-bad stage.  (After that event I was a bit scared something traumatic would happen every time I made meatloaf.)

So in honor of a poor meatloaf gone bad we have meatloaf day every year.  Actually, it’s more to honor the very stressful beginning of my son’s life just a couple of days later.  Born too early too far from home.  But despite his rough beginning he is doing fabulously and meatloaf day helps me remember how far he has come and what God has already done in his and our lives.

This week we celebrate my youngest son’s birthday.  He is a sweet, smart, energetic boy.  He is a classic little brother who both loves to be with and loves to torment his siblings.  He is full of life and love and stubbornness.  It’s amazing to think how fast four years has gone, but I look forward to many more watching him grow.

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Flashback

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This past weekend I took K to a birthday party for a girl in her class.  Her mom is the room mom for the class and I’ve run into her several times at school, but never really had the chance to talk with her.  A friend of mine was also at the party and she mentioned she thought the mom, Kristi, has been her OB nurse…at which point I totally interrupted and started freaking out.  (Which was probably not the reaction my friend was expecting from her brief comment.)  It was one of those moments where something major clicks in your brain; I felt tingles all over my body.

Many of you are very aware of the trauma surrounding my youngest son’s birth.  We moved across the country when I was in my third trimester and my water broke 10 days after arriving in Alabama, when I was only 35 weeks along.  We knew no one in Alabama: no doctors, no friends, no acquaintances.  No one.  I was a mess, terrified and alone (Matt was at home with our other two children.)  If you knew me then you know what a stressful time that was, especially with J’s stay in NICU and his medical issues for the first six months or so of his life.  It hard to think about that period without remembering the pain of those first weeks.

Anyways, back to the birthday party.  The mom of the birthday girl is an OB nurse.  At the hospital where J was born.   The first night I was at the hospital she was my OB nurse, when I was the most scared and alone.  If you read this blog back then you might have read this post about her.  Finally I know why she has looked familiar to me when I’ve seen her at school!  It was awesome to be able to tell her how much she helped me back then.

Sometimes the world seems huge and other times I’m reminded it is a beautifully small place.

Jace 8/17/10

Poo and beauty

This summer was rough.  Really rough.  It was supposed to be good, at least by my standard of measurement.  Last summer we moved across country and had a baby born too early in a part of the country where we knew no one.  It was pretty icky.  The summer before that my husband was living out of state and our family barely survived some of the hurdles related to that.  It was pretty icky.

So this summer was ‘supposed’ to be better.  It started out well.  We finally met people we connected with in Bama.  We found a great church.   We were healthy.  The weather wasn’t as extreme as the year before.  The kids and I were able to visit friends and family in Michigan.  This was a good summer….until things suddenly went downhill FAST.  Our lives were turned upside down by a person’s poor choices.  We didn’t know where we’d be living.  My husband no longer had a job and we didn’t know how we’d pay the bills. We didn’t know if our family would be able to be live in the same state together.  While we didn’t have insurance our son broke his arm and our daughter had an infection.  We suddenly were overflowing with hurdles and ugliness.

But there is One who specializes in ugly crap.  I mean, really specializes in crap.  Sling a whole bunch of nasty poo and He’ll make something beautiful out of it.  I’m not saying you should start creating some crap in your life…it’s still stinky and messy and overwhelming.  But if you’re breathing, chances are really good you’ll have crap in your life.  Thankfully God specializes in making beauty out of it.  I’ve heard stories through the years that have amazed me, where God has made beauty out of situations such as abortion, affairs, drug use, abuse (physical and sexual), and divorce, just to name a few.  Don’t get me wrong, there are scars that will always be there.  Some things can never be forgotten.  However, there is beauty around and through those scars.  He’s a master gardener.  Give Him poo and He’ll grow beautiful plants and flowers.

My life has been filled with various amounts of crap through the years, and this summer felt like a…load.  But now we’re in the period of rebuilding.  It’s hard and stressful and exhausting.  Then we see something starting to come together and it’s suddenly exhilarating.  And then we look at another pile of poo and rubble and we’re overwhelmed.  And then we get a vision for the masterpiece when it’s rebuilt and we’re overcome with gratefulness and hope.  This is where we are.  Some days the process is awful and I want to be as far from the rebuilding as humanly possible.  And other days I’m incredibly excited to be part of it.

I’ve been afraid to tell others God is doing a big work in our lives.  I didn’t want to say something and have things go awry again.  How’s that for living in fear!  Well, I’m going to tell you anyhow and give God a drop of the credit He deserves.  Some amazing things have been happening in our part of the world.  Not all of them look big on the surface, but they are indicators of something we can’t see yet.   He is doing a huge work in our lives and sometime I’d love to tell you all about it.  It’s amazing.  Even if something does go awry again, it doesn’t change the reality of God’s redemption.  He is still making beauty out of crap.  Sometimes I like to dream we won’t provide any more poo for Him to work with, but I know we will.  My hope and encouragement is when we do, He can handle it.  No pile of crap, no matter how ugly or stinky, is too much for Him.  I’d prefer to not smell or wade through the crap…it’s a bit unpleasant, to say the least.  Sometimes I feel so bogged down and discouraged.  Yet I have to envision the future, even in the darkest times.  What kind of beautiful garden will He make out of this pile of manure?  Will there be a rose or lilac bush over there?  Maybe some morning glories around a fruit tree here?  This vision is my hope:  beauty is in the making.  Even when the work and stink are intense, I’m living this rebuilding process.  Someday the stink of poo will be a distant memory and I’ll only smell the fragrance of the beautiful plants.  Someday the crap will be covered by gorgeous flowers, plants, and bushes.  For now I’ll take care of this little batch of flower buds and keep watching for other glimpses of beauty.  There is more coming.

(PS.  I’d really appreciate your prayers.  There is an Enemy who is not happy about the rebuilding work in our family and fights against it constantly.  When you think of us, please continue to pray.  Thank you!!)

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Monday and gratefulness

Today is a blah day.  The weather is gray and I am tired.  S had a rough morning full of bad choices. J fought his nap like crazy and I lost a chunk of time because of it.


But I’ve been thinking a lot recently.  (Okay, my whole life I’ve been thinking a lot.  I’m part melancholy…it’s what I do.)  I want to infuse more gratefulness in my life.  I have so much to be grateful for! And when I choose to remember those things, the bad things seem so much smaller, if not trivial even.  On Pinterest there’s been a saying circulating, “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?”  Well, that’s a sobering thought! I can suddenly think of a few thousand things for which to be grateful!  I posted that saying on my fridge this past weekend where I could see that reminder frequently.


So I decided I’ll do a list today of ten things I’m grateful for.  That will definitely help with the blahs.  Why 10?  No particular reason.  4000 seemed too long, 3 seems too short.


So here goes:


1.  Health.  We are all quite healthy.  We don’t even have anyone in a cast anymore!
2.  Freedom.  There are endless examples here, but some on my mind today are the freedoms to drive, vote, and travel. By myself.  Without my husband, brother, or father.  In Saudi Arabia the king just granted women the right to vote (though not for a few more years.  Grr.)  However, they still cannot drive or travel out of the country by themselves. (I’m sure that is only the tip of the iceberg on how women are treated there.)  We take quite a bit we take for granted, don’t we?
3.  My kids.  Even when they drive me crazy (which is often.)  I can’t imagine life without them and I am enormously blessed to have them.
4.  My husband.  Even when he drives me crazy (which is often.)  I can’t imagine life without him and I am enormously blessed to have him.  Even with the silly redundancy, I am really grateful for my family.  We’ve been through the lot the last few years, and I’m thankful we’re surviving together.
5.  J.  Every time I hear about a baby in NICU or with health issues I remember what a gift our healthy boy is.  BTW, there is a little baby named Levi fighting for his life.  He needs his lungs to open up soon so he can breathe and stay alive.  I’ve never met this family, but I know some of their agony.  And I know they’d be so grateful if you said a prayer for their baby.  
As I write this I’m watching my three kids play.  Someone is about to fight/cry/scream/etc. And it’s a gift.  They’re together.  They’re healthy.  They drive me crazy.  And I love them.
6.  Clean Water.  I don’t spend all day hiking to get water.  I turn on the tap and clean, safe water comes out.
7.  A house.  Two to be exact.  We’re renting out our house in Michigan; Sheri and her family are doing a fabulous job with it.  We’re renting a house here and it has issues. Seriously, our ancient house in Michigan is more sound than this one.  But it’s a good space for us.  And it has space.  (Though usually the kids want to be right by me rather than in some of the other spaces of the house…which is a mixed blessing!)  Outside it just started raining and lightning.  I’m very grateful for this house.
8.  Music. Do I really need to say more?
9.  Plenty of food to eat.  I won’t even mention the millions starving right now.  Oh, I guess I just did.
10.  A hot shower.  It can soothe, revive, restore, and even get the stink off.


Speaking of food…I’ll bet my family would be grateful if I started on dinner soon!


What are you thankful for today?  Would you like to share?

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Phew!

We made it.  That’s what matters.  The last two days have been quite a ride.  But for us, the ride is over. The lights are on, we’re one in piece. Our ride was pretty mellow.  We went without power for almost two days.  We spent a little time hanging out in the closet.  We threw some spoiled food away.  We ate too much fast food.  I’m way behind on laundry.  And if that’s worst we come through a storm, we’re doing great.  I just read the death toll in Alabama is over 200 after the storms yesterday.  I don’t know many people in Bama, but everyone I do know is affected by the storms.  The stories keep trickling in….


My husband’s boss lives in Tuscaloosa, one of the hardest hit places. (Tuscaloosa is an hour from our home.)  A tornado a mile wide went through there.  A mile wide tornado.  Here’s a video of it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ohIVzIZLuQ&feature=youtu.be


As you can see, it was a BIG tornado.  There were other little ones, as if the big one wasn’t enough.  


Anyways, hubby’s boss is okay.  His brother was trapped for a while in rubble that used to be part of his house, but even he is okay.  The families will be staying in hotels for a while.  Hubby’s boss’ house is fine, but there is no power or water.  Probably won’t be for a while either.  His brother’s house is half flattened, so his family won’t be staying there for quite a while.


People I know here have coworkers, friends, etc. who have lost loved ones in the storms.  Others are finding items in their yards from houses many many miles away: cookbooks, homework, and other personal items.


One man, who works with someone I know from church, lost his wife, who died from injuries from the storm.  Their infant was missing for a while but ended up with the neighbors and I believe she is okay.  I’m sure they would appreciate your prayers.


Many have lost their homes.  Many who haven’t lost their homes have significant damage to their homes.  


In one town the main power plant was hit.  Power will take a lot longer to be restored there.  


http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2011/04/alabama_tornadoes_death_toll_p.html


I have more to say about our experience the last two days, but it’s trivial in comparison.  So I’ll bore/entertain you with that another day.  Today I’m just going to remember how incredibly grateful I am and pray for those less fortunate than me.


If that isn’t sobering enough, these storms had me thinking again of the devastation in Japan.  The damage here is just a fraction in comparison to the damage from the tsunami there.  Shortly after I was thinking about this, I met a new neighbor who is from Japan.  She moved here from Japan about a month ago.  Just before the tsunami struck.  I’m getting the message, God.  I’ll be very very very thankful!!!!!


Many of you prayed for our safety, I appreciate it so very much!  My family is doing great.  We even have electricity again, so now I can blog and do laundry!

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