Monday, December 22, 2008

Laugh at the days to come!

Proverbs 31: 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Today was my first experience taking care of all 5 children at the same time. It was perfectly planned, should have been a smooth hour.

Anthony and his mom, Sherry, were taking a trip to the grocery store. We had to start defrosting a turkey for Christmas dinner, so tonight was the night. Rourke, Lydia & Francesca were in bed for about an hour and should have fallen asleep by the time they left.

Zinnia & Esther were due to fact, right before Anthony & Sherry left, Anthony informed me that if I didn't hurry up, "Esther is going to eat Zinnia's face off." Twins are so used to being really close to each other, it is comforting for them to sleep right next to each other. If you've never seen it, you should really come by and take a look, it is incredibly precious! However, there are some hazards like getting your face eaten off by a hungry, rooting sister!

So, I averted the crises, Zinnia indeed still has her face, and began to feed the babies. Shortly after I sat down, I saw a shadow outside the door. Someone was not in their bed fast asleep. It was not Anthony & Sherry, the garage door had closed and not reopened, Lydia & Frannie's door never opened, it had to be big brother, Rourke. Apparently his blanket had gotten twisted up and the little guy needed some help to get covered up.

Zinnia & Esther had just begun to eat, so getting up was not an option. I asked Rourke to stay with me. Also, just moments before I had called my mom and was chatting with her. Phone went to speaker so Rourke could say "hi" to Manga (Frannie's version of Grandma when she was first learning to talk and it stuck with my mom) while my mom & I finished our conversation.

Ladies & Gentleman, I was feeling good, what a great multi-tasker I am!

Rourke, Lydia & Francesca are over all doing great with Zinnia & Esther's arrival home. However, they are young children and some reaction is to be expected. Lydia's reaction has been delaying sleep for water, a Kleenex, unsnapping her zipper cover on her footie pjs, asking for her baby that is right next to her head, etc. We have been trying to give her grace and meet her needs tenderly, but firmly explaining that she needs to just get to sleep, her water is right there and she already has 30 Kleenexes in her bed.

Well, tonight she began to cry again, just after I was feeling so great about multi-tasking, I decided I could not multi-task this one, so I thought, "She's fine, she'll just have to cry until I can get up."

Well, she cried for about 15 minutes, I began to suspect that something may really be wrong and I was at a good stopping point with Zinnia & Esther. Rourke was happily talking to my dad at this point.

I went into Lydia & Frannie's room to discover one very distraught little girl. Whose face was covered in blood! Well, my puffed up pride was soon shrunk down a bit, this little girl had the worst bloody nose I have seen. Her hands, face, pjs and pillow were covered.

I did not know if the culprit was a finger or a bonk from her headboard shelf, so I quickly turned on the light to discover indeed a finger up the nose was to blame.

Rourke had run in at this point and was quite concerned for Lydia. Frannie was woken up by my light flicking and I was feeling quite bad for ignoring Lydia's cries for so long.

Okay, now I had 5 awake children in my sole care! I knew Zinnia & Esther wouldn't last long, so I had to be quick. Lydia was melting down and the babies were beginning to make the case that they were still hungry.

I calmed Lydia as much as I could and began to wash her hands...a full scale bath would have been most appropriate, but there was no time for that. Certainly not at 8:30 at night with 4 other children! So, a sponge bath would have to do. As I began to make progress at Lydia's hands, Zinnia & Esther began to make progress at convincing me that they were hungry. Rourke & Frannie were practically crawling into the crib they were so concerned about this unmet need.

A wise mom who too has a large sum of little ones told me once that when I get overwhelmed, to first meet the needs of the youngest and work your way up. Praise God for this advice!!

So, a half cleaned up, mostly still bloody Lydia, Rourke & Francesca got to watch a movie at nearly 9pm! I sat down to finish feeding Zinnia & Esther while the other three enjoyed their Steve Green. The babies ate like champs and I got them settled and laid down for bed (or for a few hours anyway). I also had a chance to call my mom back to tell her it was just a bloody nose that I quickly hung up Rourke's conversation with my dad. Nothing to worry about.

Now, I cleaned up Lydia and just as I was finishing, Anthony & Sherry arrived. Sherry took Rourke to bed and Frannie & Lydia camped out on Frannie's bed while Lydia's stained sheets were removed from the bed and clean ones put back on. Anthony finished tucking in the girls and all was well...even my soul!

This situation to a sleepy new mommy would send most of us into an emotional disaster. However, it was different tonight. I was calm, even giggling about the circumstances. Here I am, my first hour "on my own" and Murphy's law was really clear! God gave me an incredible amount of grace and peace.

At other times, this moment would have been a catalyst for anger or fear of "how am I going to do this?" But tonight, it just wasn't so. I was really peaceful. God met me right where I was at, He gave me the reminder of wise counsel, and He filled my heart and mind with peace to cope. I was smiling and laughing completely at a place of peace!

So many people have flat out asked and many more alluded to the question of, "how are you going to do it?" I pray that I will do it just like tonight, reliant on God's grace to give me peace and wisdom for the day (hour or minute) ahead! Please join me in praying that God would meet me in this way again as I learn to be a mommy to 5 young children, pray this verse for my life...

Proverbs 31: 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Outstanding Among Ten Thousand

My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. Song of Solomon 5:10

Anthony is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand! He is an incredible man, a Godly, loving husband, and a father who loves his children fiercely.

I have been overwhelmed this morning as I have considered the faithfulness from the life of Anthony.

Firstly, my husband loves the Lord. He desires more than anything to be like the Jesus, to love like Jesus, and to honor and glorify God. Anthony seeks to understand the Word of God with diligence and passion. He desires wholehearted understanding of the Bible and is continually assured that the Bible is the truth through his faithful study and fearless pursuit of answers to questions that are hard. Anthony never gives up seeking to understand what the Bible really says about life, trials, and living as a redeemed man because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. I love that my husband has wrestled to understand what the Bible really says and has always come to a clear understanding and full peace that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. I love that he is eager to share this passion with anyone who wants to hear. I love that Anthony passes on the wisdom and truth that he so faithfully seeks to our family.

I love that my husband is strong for us and for others. That he protects us from my own do it all drive. There is no earthly place more secure than that in arms and faith of my husband. He covers our family in prayer, I love that he blankets us with leadership that is inspired by God. I love that Anthony is humble and tender to his sin. He admits fault and confesses shortcomings without blame or pride.

I love the way Anthony loves. The way he loves me, the way he loves our children, the way he loves our family & friends, his tender compassion for those who are hurting. Ephesians 5:25-30 says:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

This may seem strange and can be difficult to understand. But as I study this passage more and see my husband loving me as Christ loved the church, I see the beauty in Anthony's love for me. That like Jesus, he sacrifices much for me. He reminds me of the Word, gently washing me with truth when I am emotional or fearful or in sin. He delights in my splendor (even though I can be plagued with selfishness and irrational expectations). He overlooks all of my shortcomings, seeing no spot or wrinkle or any such thing (like a GIANT belly!), calling me perfect and without blemish...both in my appearance and character. I know I am not perfect and every woman has inward and outward blemishes they stive to cover up or heal, but my husband consistently overlooks all of that, loving me as his himself. He nurtures me, he protects me, he treasures me, and serves me in our home and with our children, he cherishes me because I am his wife.

Over the last couple of months as I have grown in size and fatigue, Anthony has tirelessly and never once complained while he has managed not only his full time job, but has taken care of our home, done piles of laundry, cooked dinners, given himself fully to our children...they delight in their daddy! He has mastered the fireplace, keeping our home delightfully warm. He has shown unwavering love and patience as his wife has grown weary from daily life and has turned into a sleepy pumpkin by 8pm most nights. He never complains, never grumbles, just kisses my cheek saying, "sweetie, let's go to bed."

Likewise,husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
1 Peter 3:7

Anthony has lived with me in such an understanding way. Showing me honor, protecting me with his strength and love as I have literally become the weaker vessel. If you are not familiar with this passage, the phrase "weaker vessel" is actually linguistically rooted in a description of the finest china, treasured and well cared for. Anthony has treated me with such treasure and care, as something priceless and worthy of special care and attention. I delight in falling under the arms of his honor as my husband. I am tremendously thankful that God has graced me with a husband who does this without bullying, demeaning, demanding from me. That I can be real with who I am and who God has made me to be in the protection of a husband who cares for me with such tenderness. I will confess, I like to think I can do it all on my own, but I can't. I need a strong man, and I treasure the gift of the man God has given me. He is truly Outstanding Among Ten Thousand.