Thursday, May 28, 2015

Be Killing Sin

I love dandelions. Or at least I should love dandelions. Their beautiful, eager yellow heads are the first flowers to appear in my yard each spring, even before the grass has a chance to turn green, and I didn't even have to work to get them to grow! Excited little fingers pluck them and come running to bless their momma with flower bouquets. For a time, this is precious. I thank the bearer, give hugs and kisses, and find a cup of water to place the gift for display.

But I know what is coming.

The reality is they aren't just beautiful flowers. They are aggressive breeders.

We mow the flowers down and within hours (it seems) their ugly heads are full inches above the grass line.


Busy insects have done their job of pollinating, and the flower heads give way to seeds.


Knowing that the plants spread rapidly, I at first encourage my little children to pick as many yellow flowers as they can. But it doesn't even stem the tide. Once the plants have taken root they multiply quickly, starving and choking out other plants. Their roots are thick and stubborn. They are firmly planted. The problem here is I like my green grass, and the dandelion is an enemy of grass.

There is an allusion to sin here that you probably saw coming. At first sin may even seem beautiful like the yellow heads bobbing in the breeze, promising the return of something good. But the roots grow deep and the sin spreads. What I thought was good (because it felt good or seemed to present good results on the outside), proves to be mortal. My sin makes me an enemy of God. Romans 8:12-13 instructs us to "put to death the deeds of the body." John Owen explained the verses, "Be killing sin, or it will be killing you."

What do we do?

We treat the whole lawn. We kill all the weeds. Plucking off the yellow flowers do not kill the root. It may prevent the spread of the weed (assuming we successfully prevent *all* the seeds from being formed), but the root remains to keep sucking nutrients from the soil. And our methods will fail. At some point it will take deliberate intervention to get rid of the plants. Further, if you want a decent lawn, you will not kill some of the dandelion plants in your yard while leaving others and say, "That is good enough. I got most of them." No!


Similarly, our sin has deep roots. It is beyond our ability to eradicate sin, but sin that remains keeps us at enmity with God. John Piper says to make war on our sin. The power comes from faith in Christ. The eradication of sin is evidence of our justification.

 "If we died to sin by being united with Jesus in his death, we can't stay married to sin. The faith that unites us to Christ disunites from his competitors. The faith that makes peace with God makes war on our sin. If you are not at odds with sin, you are not at home with Jesus, not because being at odds with sin makes you at home with Jesus, but because being at home with Jesus makes you at odds with sin...
"Therefore, I call you and urge you, for the sake of being God-centered, Christ-exalting, soul-winning, justice-pursuing, passion-planting, coronary Christians, don't live according to the flesh but 'by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body.' Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you." ~John Piper

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Way Things Were

I somehow keep thinking that one day I will open up blogger and resume blogging just as I used to. That I will get back to the way things were. Normal. That I will finally feel brave enough to share my thoughts and feelings with the world again.



Life just doesn't naturally flow that way. Each season sees new growth and the landscape changes. I read some archives from nine years ago to find out exactly when we planted the three oak trees that now grow in our yard. They are so big now (well, still babies, but so much bigger--the wind no longer bends them in half, and the kids can't run over them with the Cozy Coupe.). In these years of waiting patiently for them to grow I have often lamented our choice to plant oaks, which grow so so slowly. Why not a fast-growing maple? (A friend of mine had a funny expression to describe maple trees that I no longer remember accurately-but it was something like "toothpicks in a storm"-and encouraged me that oaks were a better choice.) At the time when we planted them, I had no idea we would even live here to see them grow to the height they are now--actually providing a little bit of shade. And what next? Will we see the growth that another nine years will bring? Maybe, maybe not.

It was odd to read my words from nine years ago. Blogger as a platform has changed. This strange word--"blogging"--has become normal. My purpose for blogging has resisted change, but it too has ebbed and flowed and changed with seasons. My writing voice has changed, at least a little. I have written more in some years, and in other years my growth has been more inward and quiet. Maybe it's a little like my trees. Some years are better than others.

 {Obi learning to ride a balance bike}

Not just with writing, but in plenty other areas of life I wistfully recall the past and sometimes long for my life to just be normal. Some things seem to never change, until I look around and realize they have. I joke that having all the small kids in my home is normal--I've been doing this for years and years--it's these big kids that keep showing up and calling me "Mom." Who dropped off these teenagers and what do I do with them? :) But our whole family dynamic is different. How things have changed with so many little girls! With so many children all together! With all three teenagers having jobs and friends and no longer being available to babysit! I look in the mirror and feel exasperated--I look like my mom...old!

Ok that's quite enough exclamation marks, don't you think? Moving on now.



Why couldn't I age more gracefully? Pretty soon I'm going to have to say "39 forever" because no one believes me anymore if I tell them I'm 29.  I'm not alone, either. Mitch has more gray hairs every time I cut his.

 {Gee, thanks, how-old.net}

If you haven't seen it yet, this video on youtube was pretty sweet. 1:17--her reaction is mine. ;)

Ok, where was I going with this? I can't remember now. I only had to jump up five times, nurse the baby, answer questions every 2 minutes...I don't know why it's so hard to remember. Getting back to the way things were...well, things around here are "normal." They are changing all the time. The kids are growing like weeds. They are learning so much. I'm not ready for them to move on, and at the same time I am so excited to watch each new skill develop. But sometimes the growth comes slowly. Looking at life in each day-to-day moment, I easily miss the richness and beauty of the family God has given me.

{Tirzah loves roller blading!}

Another school year is nearly done. I sure hope to write about how our year went and share what we plan to do next year. Some of us have big summer plans. In just a couple weeks I'll be writing about how Genna is another month old and all the crazy things she has learned this month. Plus Malachi will be another year older! And Mitch too! But I don't want my blog to become just the chronicling of one big event to the next. We are living so much of our lives in between big events. Each person here is so special. I want to remember and herald each ordinary day and the joy of each person in our family. I hope that as the warm spring brings new growth and green things outside, that my soul will also bloom with new growth and once again I will find my writing voice.




Monday, May 11, 2015

Sewing!

I love to sew. I guess you probably knew that if you've been reading my blog for any length of time.

I learned to sew when I was in 8th grade. I took high school home economics with one of the best teachers ever known. When it came to sewing, I feel that mostly my mom (Janet) taught me. I was permitted to work on my project at home. I was so proud!






I haven't really made much of an attempt to teach my children to sew. I have sewing friends on facebook who have put me to shame with the projects that their *small* children are able to complete. ;). Hey--just challenging and encouraging each other, right? I did help Eden sew a pillow a couple years ago. But a pillow is, well, a pillow. It's just not that hard. Recently Eden expressed a desire to learn to sew clothing. Finally I decided we should get on that. Over the past few (three?) weeks, we squeezed out time in the afternoons and evenings to work on this project. We are both pleased with the results!

 Eden did most of the work. I was there to explain and demonstrate each step as necessary. A lot of the time I helped her pin the fabric together and I used scrap fabric to show her what she should do, but usually I just carefully explained the next step and she got on it. I spent a lot of my time just holding the baby while looking over her shoulder.

I ended up learning a few things, too. For example, I've never needed to sew boning into a dress before. I've never basted a dress together, fit it, then taken it apart to sew to fit (that part didn't go so well for us, LOL. Now that the dress is done, I think we could do this step better.). When we got to the zipper we ran into a little more trouble. I realized I had bought an invisible zipper. That's not a bad thing with this dress, but I personally had never installed an invisible zipper before. What in the world is all this business about a special foot? The feet for my machine are not universal and they are very expensive. I suppose there is a cheaper attachment that will work, but I wasn't going to put the project on hold while we tried to find a foot. In the end, I did the zipper and made it work. It's not as "invisible" as it should be. I'm sure we can find a different project where Eden can get some practice installing a zipper. Hemming the lace around the neck and arm openings was a huge pain. Ever tried to iron a hem into lace? I'm not so good at ironing hems in the first place...and this was a tiny rolled hem. It turns out that I do have a special foot that will roll the hem for us. I didn't find that one until I went looking for an invisible zipper foot in my stash. It sure made hemming up the bottom of the dress easy (Eden did all of that by herself).


I think our little home economics class has been a success. Not only can Eden sew on a button or sew a pillow, she can sew a whole dress. :) Yeah, she had help, but she can take credit since she did most of the work. I already have ideas for future projects. I'm sure she will quickly gain independence with her projects. Sewing is not all she can do. She can plan and cook meals, budget, write checks, babysit, change diapers and so on. She gets an A+ for this class.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Genna at 3 months

Genna is 3 months old now!

At 3 months, Genna...
~weighs about 14 lbs
~wears size 3-6 mo clothing
~wears size 2 disposable diapers (I just can't keep up with cloth right now)

~looks a bit more like Mercy with her cheeks all squished up here :)
~sleeps 5-6 hours in the first stretch of the night in her own bed, and will sleep another good stretch if I stay awake and put her back in there after feeding
~takes a few naps each day, usually at least one really long one, and usually in a crib (but Caleb does enjoy holding her every now and then)

Genna also
~loves to coo and "talk" to us
~giggles
~is holding her head up and has much better control over movements
~follows me with her eyes and turns her head to see me when she hears my voice
~seems to be able to see us from a good distance away
~is very social and gives out plenty of social smiles, even to strangers
(barely squeezes into this dress, because it's a 0-3 months, but the weather hasn't been warm enough and I had to put it on her at least once for pictures)
~loves to suck on her fingers and soothe herself, but hasn't really figured out where her thumb is yet
~started drooling, right on time developmentally
~occasionally spits up
{Smiling at Eden}

~has reddish-brown hair that is starting to fall out/thin a little in the back

The past month has had some definite ups, but we've also suffered some downs. Genna has been having occasional random difficulties with nursing. I wrote about it a little last month, when it was just beginning. Like I said then, it is hard to describe even after weeks of brainstorming and researching. At times when I think she is either hungry or would be soothed by nursing, she sometimes refuses the breast. Sometimes it is simply a matter of location--she will refuse if I'm sitting on a chair or on the couch, but will eat if we go lay down in the bed. Other days she has refused to eat for hours, regardless of what I've tried. I haven't made any solid connections, but I think rather it is a combination of factors. Reflux is possibly one of the causes, but I also suspect tummy issues caused by viruses. Poor Mercy has had five or six fevers in the past 3 months since Genna was born, so I know that those are certainly in the air. I also think Genna just has her own little personality. She is trying it out. :) She doesn't necessarily want to soothe by comfort nursing. I'm confident she's gaining weight well, so I am trying not to fret. When I look at the clock and see that it's been 4+ hours since her last meal, she's crying, and she's also refusing to eat, that's when I start to get stressed. I'm taking it one day at a time. Today has been stellar--we laid down once to nurse when she was upset (not hungry). All the other times she has nursed like it was her favorite thing in the world to do. Yay!

The latest virus to sweep through our house left Eden, Caleb, Malachi, Tirzah, Obadiah, and Mercy all with hoarse voices. All but Caleb had nasty barking coughs and high fevers. Ugh...croup. Saturday afternoon Genna came down with a cough. At first it wasn't much but I did notice that she was blowing spit bubbles while she was sleeping (therefore she wasn't swallowing well). When she woke up Sunday morning I was scared she was drowning--the dried saliva, the mucous collecting in the back of her throat, and the sharp cough was all too much. Croup is scary stuff! We stood inside the shower for about 20 min and she finally got a handle on breathing. Later in the afternoon she took a long nap and woke up again even worse than before. This time she took longer to calm down and she was breathing with stridor even when calm. I took her to the ER and she got a breathing treatment and a shot of Decadron (I call this the miracle drug for croup). That did the trick! She still has a cough but no more scary drowning episodes and the sharp barking sound is gone. She also has not gotten a fever--whew! Oh, and at the ER she weighed 14 lbs 4 oz with her clothes on. So that's why I say she weighs "about" 14 lbs.

What a sweet little honey she is! I simply love this age of social smiling and being interested in the world around her.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tirzah is 6 years old!

Wow!!! The years have flown by all too quickly. I can't believe the little baby girl who brought tears of joy to my eyes is already 6 years old.

 {Tirzah and Cam}

 {Mrs. E with a special birthday treat...Sixlets seem just perfect for a 6-year old, don't they?}

 Tirzah requested a strawberry birthday cake with strawberry frosting for her dessert. When I asked her what she wanted for supper, she said, "Watermelon." Struggling to find words to explain, I pressed her to see what she wanted for a "main dish." She held firm to watermelon, but added strawberries. :) Eventually we settled on watermelon, strawberries, and pizza. 




At 6 years old, Tirzah
~is getting tall and skinny. Thank goodness summer is almost here and she can wear shorts! She will be in size 6 pants next winter. She also loves dresses and mostly wears size 6, but in general she just loves clothes.
~wears a size 12-13 shoe
~loves the color pink
~favorite job to do at home: "sleep."
~is very affectionate
~is learning to read and add, and has good handwriting
~likes to draw and color
~loves to have her nails painted
~can amuse herself for hours, either alone or with a playmate
~likes flowers
~favorite foods (besides watermelon and strawberries) include corn on the cob, waffles, and peanut butter and honey sandwiches
~sleeps in a loft bed over Eden and Mercy's bed
~can put away her own laundry, make her bed, make her own sandwiches, and get her own breakfast

We love you Tirzah Joy! Happy, happy birthday!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Genna at 2 months

Genna was 2 months old last Saturday. I had her in to the doctor for a checkup on Tuesday. She is growing well. She's up to 12 lbs 8 oz. Even though she started out as the largest of my 10, she is now the 3rd smallest at 2 months (larger than Eden and Tirzah only). I was surprised by that little fact. She is approximately 23" long, which makes her the 2nd shortest (Eden was shorter). Crazy!

I'm officially losing my mind. I get Genna and Mercy's names mixed up ALL the time. I just wanted to get that out there because you can't see how many times I have to erase "Mercy" to write "Genna" instead. And if I happen to mess up, you can let me know.

Genna is sleeping pretty well. She usually sleeps 4-5 hours in the first stretch of the night, but she has slept up to 6 hours. Last night she slept from 11 pm until 3:30 am in her bassinet, then from 3:30 to 6:30 in bed with me. The bassinet is the key word in that last sentence. Wow, that felt so nice I might try it again tonight!

Genna has had some nursing issues that I find rather strange. She is exclusively breastfed, and she has never had a bottle. I keep trying to train her to use a pacifier, but she hasn't really taken to it at all. She likes to suck on her hands when they aren't flying wildly out of control.  Most of the time I just offer to nurse her--if she's giving hunger cues or if she is fussy--rather than trying a pacifier. So this nursing "issue" that we are having is hard to describe. At times she arches her back and cries instead of latching and eating. It's not so bad if she does it at one feeding and all I need to do is just wait a little while and try again. But on a couple days she has done it for several feedings in a row, and that gets exhausting fast. I don't want to call it a nursing strike, and I would have a hard time believing it is nipple confusion simply because the timing doesn't match up. I just don't get it. Maybe it will be a distant memory soon.

Anyway, Genna eats about every 2-3 hours. She usually takes at least 2 long naps during the day and other short ones. She spits up only occasionally.

Here are a few pics!


For a picture of Mercy doing the same thing: here


Mercy also wore the same outfit at 2 months. You can see her here: http://stephsoundoff.blogspot.com/2013/05/mercy-at-2-months.html.
Genna definitely looks more like Tirzah than Mercy!





Ok, so in summary, at 2 months Genna:
~sleeps 4-5 hours for the first stretch of the night
~wakes up 2-3 times per night
~eats every 2-3 hours
~still has a pretty floppy head, but is getting stronger every day
~lifts her head when she's on her tummy
~social smiles with everyone
~chuckles, coos, and "tells stories"
~wears some 0-3 month clothing still and can fit into some 3-6 mo clothing (it just depends on the brand)
~loves bath time
~loves going for walks in the stroller
~likes to sleep in the baby swing, or in her crib

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Obi is 4 years old!

Obi's birthday fell on Easter this year. That will happen again in 2026, 2037, and 2048, then not again until 2105. If he lives that long, he will be 94 years old! That's kind of hard to imagine, but he did sort of look like an old man when he was born:

It's so funny to look at that picture of Obi. He looks so much different than Genna. And the past 4 years seem to have completely vanished. Slow down!

We had such a crazy busy weekend, Obi's birthday party on Sunday seemed anti-climatic. But it was fun for him, and it was good to pause and remember his birthday. I think in the future I'll be ok with birthdays not falling on Easter. ;) It's also odd to have so many birthdays crammed into 6 weeks. We are eating a lot of cake! But again, what did I expect?

At 4 years old, Obi
~weighs 30-something pounds and is average height
~wears size 4T clothing
~wears size 11 shoes (monster feet)

 ~like so many of his brothers and sisters is strong-willed
~seems to have an extra dose of that
~likes to say things like "I work alone." In other words, he is asserting his independence at 4 years old and insists that he can do everything himself.
~except sleep alone. He still sleeps in our bedroom, on a mattress on the floor. Every. single. night. Ugh. I asked him when he would *feel* ready to sleep in the boys' room, and he pointed to a bookcase that is about 46" tall and said, "when I get this big." By my calculations that will be when he's 6 years old. 24 more loooooong months to go. When we get some remodeling/rearranging done this summer, I think there might be some convincing on my part that he *feels* ready much sooner.
~I'll let you know how that goes. Don't hold your breath.

Ok, moving on and keeping it positive...Obi

 ~loves all the superheroes. Spider Man, Superman, Batman (is he a 'hero'?), etc.
~thinks he's a ninja
~wears his superhero pajamas all day long
 ~loves his brothers and sisters, and plays well with Tirzah and my daycare kids
~enjoys playing with legos, cars, and superhero figurines
~knows how to navigate all sorts of electronic devices
~was crazy scary when he drove Cam's motorized wheelchair. Maybe he won't be getting his driver's license until he can pay for his own car insurance. When he has moved out of the house. And has his own car.
~is hoping that he will be old enough/big enough to go to RAD at church next year (I'm so disappointed to tell him that he's not)
~doesn't seem interested in starting school (why would he be, he gets screen time in the mornings while everyone else is doing school!)
 ~favorite color is red

 {Hmmm...somebody stole a bite of cupcake before we sang!}
~wants to be 5 when he grows up (me too)

 ~no, he wants to be the blue ninja when he grows up (Ninjago)
 ~actually, he wants to be the red ninja now
 ~got a new pair of shoes for his birthday--and just in time. His other shoes started breaking earlier in the day while he was playing outside. ;) He also got a new spider man memory game and
 Spider Man clothes that are not pajamas...lol...
He is currently on day 3 of wearing them this week. I did manage to wash them once. Hehe.

Happy Birthday, Obi!