Category Archives: Family

oh how He loves us :: #SheSharesTruth

What do you think of when you hear the word “marriage”? I think of Ben (of course), I think of my amazing parents, who modeled what a Godly marriage is. I think of our amazing friends who have shown us grace through our first nine years of this chapter. And probably more than anything, I think of Christ and the church.
Ben and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary last week. The beginning of the week was great. We celebrated a few days early and my parents kept the kids overnight for us. We reminisced memories that have happened to us thus far, both the good and the bad. A friend of ours even made us a “Happy Anniversary” cake for church Wednesday night. But then, life happened, and some events came to light, and there was pain and emotion and a roller coaster of thoughts. All of a sudden, the beginning of the week seemed like years away. There was forgiveness that needed to happen, grace needed to abound, and love needed to transpire everything.

The #SheReadsTruth community has been doing a study on the book of Hosea for the past couple of weeks. When I found out that Hosea was the next study, I was very excited and anxious to get started. Hosea starts off rough. The Lord is not pleased with Israel and how they are not listening to anything He is asking of them. But, what they don’t realize is that all He is asking them to do is to come back to Him. When we follow Christ with all that we are, and want grace to abound in every area of our life, things fall into place. The sad thing is, is that we are just like the Israelites. I fail every.single.day. All of my friends, my husband, my parents, everyone fails every single day. However, Jesus doesn’t fail. Even in my weakest moment, Christ always is waiting.
Hosea 14 says

I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. (‭Hosea‬ ‭14‬:‭4-7‬ ESV)

I am more than thankful that He still is waiting for me. That He is longing for me. I pray that we do this for each other as we become more like Him.

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two years ago

i still can’t believe it’s been two years. TWO years. our first angel baby has been gone for two years.

we never did name this baby, so we affectionately call him Baby, or our first Baby. i have learned so much since we lost him (even though i’m not certain he was a boy…i’m just assuming). i feel as though i’ve learned more since we lost christian about how i really felt about our first miscarriage than i did in the year between the two. i’ve read a few blogs, talked to a few women who have experienced the same thing, and through it all, all i can think is how much it hurts, but more importantly, that this is my story. this is the path that God has laid out for me. this is my discipleship. my boys that are living are getting bigger. they are enjoying sports, friends, and i’m enjoying having a little more freedom, honestly. however, i would trade all of that for having him here. it’s just what the Lord has given me. my faith is stronger than it was, and our loss of Baby gives me more compassion on anyone who is hurting. it’s amazing how much i use my grief daily. it impacts me to listen instead of solve, to just say “i’m so sorry it’s like this.” instead of trying to make them feel better. or just to hug someone who is hurting. and for that, i am extremely thankful.

but. i do miss my baby. i miss not being able to see him grow up and get a personality. i wonder who he looks like, or how much hair he would’ve had. i wonder if he would’ve slept through the night early like his oldest brother or if he wouldn’t have slept at all. i wonder how differently our life would look, and i wonder what our future holds.

however, today i’m choosing joy in the midst of sorrow. i’m choosing to love others even when it hurts so badly. i’m choosing to try and not dwell on him (as much as i want to sometimes) but also realize that one day, we’ll be reunited. one day, he will rise with Christ into the heavenlies, along with his brother, christian, and Lord willing his other brothers, and us. and i’m choosing to realize that i can do life in happiness and joy even in my sadness. i don’t have to live in the past, because i have a wonderful life as it is. could it have been better with him? probably. would it still be joyful? i can almost say a for sure 110% yes. but is my life wonderful? YES! it is so good. and i’m so thankful my baby is a part of my story.

19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 

-Philippians 1:19-20

 

 

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The Week I Thought Would Never Come

Well, I’ve dreaded writing this post. And it’s probably going to take me several days to write it.
The question of why keeps coming to my mind. I don’t understand God’s plans for my life…for our life. I don’t know why I have two angel babies instead of 5 living children. I don’t know why I get angry at my children when I’m really just sad. I don’t know a lot of things right now.
What I do know is that I miss our baby and our Christian. I do know that I don’t know how to talk to people about either of our babies (unless they’re good friends). I do know that I wish death was something we could talk about openly, even though it’s sad, instead of it feeling like it’s a no no. I do know that not a day has gone by that I haven’t longed to have more time with both of our babies.
I can’t imagine what my life would look like right now if I were still pregnant. I try and imagine it, but it’s so hard. I wouldn’t be able to help out in Dillion’s classroom like I have; I wouldn’t be helping out at preschool like I do; I wouldn’t be teaching Sunday school; I wouldn’t be getting rid of baby clothes and bath tubs and bumbo seats. And everything I’ve been able to do because I’m not pregnant has been a joy (except the baby clothes part), but it pales in comparison to even just more time with Christian and our other son.
I also know the truth. God is faithful to what He has called me to do and to be. He has called me to be a mother to all 5 of my children. He’s called me to be a wife to Ben, a good church member, a pastor’s wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend. And He’s called me to bear the burden of the death of my children. As I work through all of that, I know that He gives me everything I need. I know that He is so much more able than I am. And I know that this is now my story. I also continue to know the love of Christ like I’ve never known before through His body…whether they go to church with us or not. And I know that Christian’s death has already moved people to love Christ more and to want to be more like Him. I love that. But, I miss my baby. I miss my babies. I long to hold them, to rock them to sleep, and to make things for them. I long for other people to know them. I long to see what their personalities could have been.
BUT, the fact of the matter is that they are never going to encounter sin. They never have to know evil. They will only know heaven, and not earth. That’s such a joy to know that my children are protected from the woes of this world. Do I miss them? Of course. Do I wish they were here? More than ever. But, I will continue to rejoice in The Lord, because He has give me good things. He has given me gifts. He has made me who I am because I get the privilege of parenting Dillon, Isaac, and Sammy, and the privilege of having two other children. I praise God for the body of Christ. I praise Him because He loves me, because He cares for me, and because I trust in Him more than anything else in life. I’ll close with the verses that are on Christian’s headstone. I cling to these and truly believe them with all my heart.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)

Thank you, Lord for my five children. I praise you because they are all fearfully and wonderfully made.

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thoughts on :: school days

So, my oldest starts kindergarten, in like 10 days…but who’s counting?! This momma is for sure! I think I’ve been dreaming about this day from the day Ben and I started talking about having kids. And here we are, 8 years later, with our first going to kindergarten. Be still my heart.
Ok, so enough of the sappy 😉 I have had many conversations with people about where my kids will actually go to school. When all the common core stuff came out for the state of Tennessee, Ben and I kinda freaked out a little. We didn’t know what it was or if our boys would be so digitalized that they wouldn’t know how to carry on a conversation. However, we stopped. Prayed. Thought about what we really felt like God had laid on our hearts. And remembered…

Our heart is to reach out to our community
We want our kids to be multicultural
We want to be a part of other people’s lives that we wouldn’t normally associate with because of church, neighborhood, or life
We were raised in the public school system and we turned out great (seriously, this one is number 1)

Then, we calmed down a little and called my mom, who is a part of Union University’s teacher education program. She has recently told me that she thinks the common core is one of the best things our education program could do for the state. More confidence is building.
We also looked at homeschooling. My super awesome sister (read hero in every way) home schools not one, but 4 kids, and another one of my mentors/BFF has homeschooled about 6 kids at one time. So,I have it all around me. I talked to them about how and why they decided to homeschool. And they both said “we just knew it was what our family needed.” And I thought “well, why can’t you decide what’s best for my family?” Not really, but kinda. Anyway, we decided to start off by just checking into the public school that we are zoned for. It actually is the same elementary school I went to. We had also checked out one private school here in town, and liked it, so we had a little comparison. When we went, we didn’t see anything different in the public school from the private school we looked at. All of the kindergarten teachers had great classroom management. They had very hands on station type things. The kids were all well behaved. And we went right to the office and were welcomed.
So, we said, “let’s remember why we wanted to do public school in the first place and why we moved where we did (to be zoned for this school), and just go for it.” And so we are.
I have a special Ed degree and had the amazing opportunity to teach for several years prior to having kids. And I hope to teach again someday, but I hope more so to instill in my kids why I am called to be a teacher. To love on the unlovable, to teach the unteachable, and to share the love of Christ with everyone I know.
My prayer for Dillon is just that. That he would be teachable. That he would want to love and be loved. That he would remember everything we have taught him about Christ. And that he would share Christ’s love with everyone he comes in contact with. Not because I think he’s a rock star (even though he is) and I want to throw him to the wolves, but because I believe…we believe…this is the path God has for us at this moment. It may change, and it may not. But we continue to live just like we always have. We live for today because we’re not promised tomorrow.
Here’s to you, Dilly Bar!!!

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a wreath

so, my front door has been bare since Christmas. really, since i took my Christmas wreath down, which is really just a grapevine wreath with a big gold bow made from some ribbon i found at my granny’s house while we were cleaning it out. so it’s sentimental, but can last for a long time! so, it’s been bare since about march. don’t judge.

as you know, we lost our 5th baby, christian elias, a month ago today. there are several things i’ve wanted to do to remember him, and a wreath on the front door was one of them. a friend of mine who went through a similar experience 2 1/2 years ago has since had 2 babies, and for each baby, she puts a wreath on the door with their name, stats, and birthday. well, i love her wreaths, and since we lost our 4th baby, i had wanted to do a wreath for our 5th, which in turn happened to be christian. so, i made a wreath in honor of christian this weekend.

i didn’t really plan this, but after looking at my wreath, it really stands for our 5 kids. it’s very simple to make this wreath, as well. i took a pool noodle and taped the ends together. then wrapped it in some fabric that i had, hot glueing it as i needed. then i did the same with the wooden “w” (bought at hobby lobby). the cross just kinda came together unexpected, but it’s wrapped in the middle with wire. the “w” and cross are secured on the wreath with wire, then the pendant is just burlap and twine, tied on the wreath. simple. easy

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Imagethe cross for christian, and the “w” for our 4th babyImagethe pendant at the top for dillon, isaac and sammyImage

and the side view.

i really love it. new fave for sure.

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:: our boy ::

over the past 2 weeks, i have had a range of emotion come over me. emotion that I don’t understand, that i can’t put my finger on, and emotion that i can’t explain. see a trend? i’ll try and explain some of my thoughts here.

first of all, christian elias was delivered on june 7, friday, at 10:10 pm. he was so precious. he always will be precious. that’s the only way i know to explain him. from the second ben and i found out about christian, that we didn’t have much time left with him, and that this was going to be the hardest thing we’ve ever gone through, we have relied so heavily on our community, our families, and our friends, but more so we’ve relied on each other and on the Lord. i’ve shared this with many of you that read this blog, but our family has never felt the love of Christ the way that we have over the past 2 weeks. i understand now why Christ created His bride, His body, the Church…it’s to be a body when you need an actual person to minister to you. this happens all the time, and on a regular basis in our lives, but i never fully understood what that meant. from our pastor praying and crying with us in his office, to my mom, dad, mother in law, and sister being with us all through labor and delivery, to meals being brought to us, and a circle of women surrounding me at church the following sunday, crying with me, and the same said women bringing food for the meal after Christian’s service on monday. y’all, it’s overwhelming. and it’s so refreshing. and it hurts. and i don’t understand it. and even with all of the wonderful things, ben and i miss our little boy. we want to see him grow up with his brothers, and we’ll never have that opportunity for him. i want to see what color hair he has, and i won’t see that here on earth. i miss him.

i know this is not the most uplifting post ever, but i pray that it will lift someone up. that it will be encouraging to that first time mom that is going through the same thing we’ve been through twice now. all i can say is that the Lord is faithful. He hasn’t left us once, and ben and i both feel incredibly close to him. i’m so thankful for His body, for our marriage, and for the family that God has chosen to give us. i don’t know what the future holds for us, but i know the only thing i can do is trust in Him, the One who gives me every good and perfect thing, and the One who truly knows what i am bearing now, since He bore it on the cross. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

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Miscarriage and loss

I don’t always think a blog is the best way to tell people really upsetting news. However, I think a Facebook status is worse, so here goes. I’m actually just going to post the letter we wrote to our church family. It has the essential info in it. As I process, I hope to write more.

Brothers and sisters,
Ben and I went to the doctor this morning expecting to have great news to share with you…a boy or a girl. Well, about 2 minutes into the ultrasound, the tech went to get our doctor. He came in and my heart sank. That’s never good news. The tech scanned over my belly and I saw the trunk of our sweet baby and there was no heartbeat. Immediately, I said “there’s not a heartbeat. Why is there not a heartbeat?!” Ben and I wept together in the doctor’s office as we found out the baby actually died about 3 weeks ago. My body hasn’t responded to the baby’s death yet, and we don’t know if it will. I thought I was 17 1/2 weeks along, which is far enough along that I will have to deliver the baby. We aren’t sure yet when this will happen, but it will probably be this weekend or before. We covet your prayers. We covet your friendships. We covet your love and support. We covet compassion and grace to us. And we definitely won’t turn anyone away that drops by or calls. We love you all and are thankful you guys bear our burdens with us. Love to everyone.
Peace of Christ,
Ben, Janie, Dillon, Isaac, and Sammy

::thoughts:: duck dynasty

so, if you haven’t heard, duck dynasty is a pretty popular show right now. my husband and i have only watched a few minutes of it together, however, i watched a marathon with some friends one night while ben was out of town.

i’m still kind of trying to wrap my brain around what is duck dynasty. being raised in the south, and only leaving for one year of my adult life, hearing about guys huntin is second nature to me. my family wasn’t necessarily an “outdoorsy” family. we played sports, did girl scouts and boy scouts, my brother went huntin with friends or my uncle, and we did have one family vacation to fall creek falls. that was an adventure, actually. so, a bunch of guys sitting out in a field talking to their dogs and making fun of each other, just seems like status quo.

as i sat and watched duck dynasty, i thought, “man, this is really hitting close to home!” my mom makes the best rolls in the world, and my sisters and i try and learn from her. all of us have pretty modest houses. we hang out for big family dinners on sunday afternoons for a big lunch after church. we watch football, basketball, baseball, hockey, basically whatever sport is on. and i’m getting more and more southern the older i get.

i say all of this because i think duck dynasty has finally captured what southern life is. i don’t feel like it makes fun of southerners. i think that every man, woman, and child who has ever been huntin, had a sibling who goes huntin, or is the child of a hunter can relate to the duckmen and all the women in their life. there are always going to be things that any family can make fun of. every family has that crazy family member like si. and every family has one sibling who seems to be a little more successful or smart, and one that has a better personality that is a little more social.

although i don’t watch duck dynasty anymore, i can say that i thought it was funny simply because it made me thankful for my family and for the family i’m raising. what if my kids grow up and go huntin with their friends or uncles, and they start a family business, or take over their dad’s business? i would be the proudest mother in the world, as i’m sure miss kay is of her family. so, here’s to wholesome, sometimes funny tv, and one that i sure would be proud of if it were my family.

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a new onsie and some valentine’s teacher gifts

one of my best friends, leah, just had her second babe, a boy. her first is a girl, and her husband’s a huge football fan, so i had to give her some boy-ee, football garb!

also, for another friend who is having her first boy, i put an “A” (ROLL TIDE!) on the little butt of this onsie. sadly, i didn’t get a picture of that one. it was adorable.

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i made loaves of bread from this recipe, wrapped them in red seran wrap, some baker’s twine, then tagged them with a heart and a saying of “i ‘knead’ you to be my valentine.” cheesy? yes. did they love it? yes! Image

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how to fit 3 boys in one room, comfortably

our 3 boys are all within 3 years of each other. yes, we are the crazy ones who had 3 kids within 3 years. but we love it. when we first got married, we lived in this wonderful historic home that only had 2 bedrooms and a loft. so, when baby #3 was coming along, we knew we needed more room. even though we have more room now, we like our space and our kids like to be together. so, all three boys are in one room!

my husband’s step dad (dave, aka pawpaw) is an amazing carpenter. for Christmas this year, we asked him to build the boys’ beds. i was inspired by this room and sent the picture to dave.  he said “oh yeah. we can do this.” he had amazing walnut which is a beautiful wood, un-stained. he chose to stain to make them look a little more boy-y though, and i’m extremely happy with how they turned out. 

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the side view of the beds. there’s a ladder on both sides, but we have one pushed up against the wall, so we use them as shelves for the boys’ “friends”, aka stuffed animals.Image

the two platform beds. these bedspreads are from target, about 2 years ago. they have similar colors now, but not the same ones.Image

the top bedspread is from target as well, which of course i can’t find now online. but i did just buy it this year. Image

this is the top post of the loft bed. i love the detailing.Image

these are from ikea. better curtain rod to come hopefully next week.Image

my husband’s step mom (aka granny) made some pretty cool canvases for the boys. these are the first edition comic book covers of spiderman, batman, and superman. pretty great for a superhero room!

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my awesome friend made these for my boys after she read this post. they’re hanging above the boys costumes of more superheroes.Imageand the best picture i can get of all three beds. the best thing, all three of these are detachable and can be moved wherever we need. i’m in love.

 

 

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