Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thanking God that His mercies are new every morning: 30 days of a Thankful Heart


So I was all ready to write my post dedicated to my one and only little boy who I lovingly refer to as my boyfriend.

But y'all...this sweet boy has temporarily been taken over by some demonic force. He has just been all out of sorts the past couple days. Now, all my kids have their moments. But, this boy has been extra all sorts of crazy foolish behavior. I thought yesterday was bad when he refused to get up off the library floor (meanwhile the girls are already halfway out the door). I bend up to pull him up and drag him out the door and he pulls that whole "go limp" thing toddlers just love to do when you are in public, causing me to drop all 15 books in my hands causing a really nice production for the onlookers. I temporarily leave my screaming son and 15 scattered books to chase the girls down before they start walking in the parking lot. I sit the girls by the door while I deal with this ridiculous scene we have now started. Finally some old man took pity on my pathetic self and carried my 15 books for me out to the car while I carried a kicking and screaming boy out to the van.

It was not pretty. Did I mention he pooped in his underwear FOUR times yesterday? Yeah, that was fun too.

I had high hopes for today. I prayed extra hard for a semi-normal day. I prayed for God to show me what it was I was missing and how to help my son through whatever is going on with him.

But, it was pretty much Groundhog's Day over here...wash, rinse, repeat if you will. This time refusing to go with his speech therapist to her classroom. He has NEVER done that! He caused such a scene. I had to go back with him and Audrey and sit in the back in a corner for the entire hour. He was fine at therapy, but he would occassionaly turn his head around and make sure I was still there. They really frown upon that by the way...parents aren't so supposed to be in the room. Ask me if I care though.

And then the whining that I won't let him listen to "It's a Holly Jolly Christmas" more than 3 times in a row. I just can't...after the third time, I'm not feeling jolly anymore...it's time to move onto some Jingle Bells or Santa Clause is Coming to Town...I mean anything.

Today he pooped in his underwear Three times and in the toilet once. So, I guess from that perspective you could say today was a little better. Not really though...

Bless Him! ...actually, bless ME!!

Tomorrow is a new day. I have hope that we will wake up with a new perspective. I know underneath this nonsense is my sweetheart boy.

Thank you Lord that your mercies are new every morning!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thank Heaven for little girls: 30 days of a Thankful Heart

I love my children all the same. They each have their own special and unique qualities that totally captivate me. While I feel responsible for each of their upbringings, I do feel an extra responsibility towards my girls. Not to sound so anti-feminist, but I do feel it is my job as a female to lead them in their identity/social roles as females...how to act like a lady, modesty, how to run a home, etc. They are at an age (especially Ella), where they imitate all that I do. It is flattering and TERRIFYING in the same breath. They are already, at this young age, identifying with me more. Yes, Andrew's role is HUGE in the their lives as well, but it's just different than mine.

So today during my 30 days of a Thankful Heart series, I am thankful for God giving me these two precious girls to be a role model for. (Don't worry Jacob, your post will come tomorrow!!)

Andrew and I refer to them as our Jane and Elizabeth Bennett characters from Pride and Prejudice. Both equal in physical beauty, yet their spirits are so different. Ella is our Jane: She is ridiculously beautiful, kind and shy, compassionate, and more reserved. Audrey is our Elizabeth: equally as beautiful, yet much more spirited. She stands up for herself and is quick to vocalize her opinions. It has been challenging for me to know how to mother these two different personalities. Ella is more like Andrew and Audrey is more like myself. I have already had to learn to embrace the fact that Ella's shyness is not a negative thing...it is a wonderful thing, yet it is challenging to help her feel confident in herself. Her meek spirit keeps her out of trouble. She is the one who I doubt I will ever have to worry about behavior in school. I do sort of dislike the label of being "shy". She's not antisocial...just more of an observer. However, her sensitivity has challenged me. Her sensitivity makes her so compassionate towards others, but it also means we deal with a lot of tears. People hurt her feelings very easily. I hate that for her...but, I also know that this is who God created her to be. And the world could certainly use those who feel deeply and love deeply.

And then there is Audrey. Oh dear! She is so sweet, yet has a mind of her own. She is definitely the same as I was as a young girl and still am in many ways today. I don't want to tame Audrey's zest for life and her free spirit. Her free spirit has enabled her to be the most self entertained of the 3 of my children. She could play with princess figurines for hours happily on her own. She is self driven...the clash, however, is when her drive goes against what I need her to do. I know her desire to be completely independent will be a wonderful quality later in life. That girl will stand up to a bully...I see her daily stand up for any injustice her siblings have imposed upon her (ie-taking a toy she is playing with). My parents will often remind me that I was their only child that "talked back". I was a very good arguer when I felt like I was not being treated fairly. I want Audrey to be a strong woman and embrace that amazing will and drive she has in a positive way. She'll probably be President of the Student Body one day. And just like the world needs compassionate females like Ella, the world will also need people who stand firm and strong on their beliefs in the Lord. My prayer for her (and both girls really) is to stand strong for the Lord and lead others to Him with her spunky personality!

I am thankful that these two girls challenge me to be a better woman myself. Yes they challenge me as a mother in my role of leading them, but they also have taught me a lot about myself along the way. Children are amazing in how they can reveal your own sin in your life. My prayers lately have been for God to show me the Godly woman He desires for me to be...because I know I have little eyes that are watching and imitating and ears that are listening and repeating.

Thank you Lord for using those two girls to help shape me and mold me into the woman I know you desire me to be. I am in awe of how children of such a young age can be used for God's glory. We spend so much time thinking of how to teach them...and upon reflection, perhaps it's really them who lead us to the Lord and help us become more like Him. It is an honor to be the mother of these two little ladies. Thank you Lord for using these girls to lead me to be more like you! Thank Heaven for little girls!







Saturday, November 2, 2013

What mother's want : 30 days of a Thankful Heart

It is a common thing, a cliché if you will, to do these "30 days of Thanksgiving" during the month of November on your Blog, your Facebook status, or whatever your social media outlet is. Always going against the grain, I'm usually slow to join in on these things, but I've changed my attitude on this one. For one, it is not a bad thing to focus daily on the many blessings our Lord has bestowed on me and my family. It's not about "bragging", but us having a heart of gratitude. If anything, my heart could use some practice on reflecting on such things. And secondly, I always genuinely enjoy reading others proclamations of gratitude, so why not share mine with the world as well.

However, rather than a simple status update, I am going to elaborate on my thankfulness. It would be so easy, for example, to say "I am thankful for my husband"...but, wouldn't it be better if I explained just how amazing he is? I believe so! So here goes...my 30 day series of a Thankful Heart...OK, make that 29 days because I missed the first day of November (see...I told you I always "go against the grain"! hehehe)

Today (and always), I am so thankful for other mommies who encourage me and continue to lift me up.

We live in a world with many strong opinions. Although that isn't always a negative thing, it can most certainly cause a divisiveness amongst people. We've always been taught about being careful when talking about religion and politics (of course, that warning has never and will never stop me from proclaiming my love for Christ and my desire to follow Him). But what about motherhood? With a quick Google search, we are inundated with an exhausted list of blogs and news writings on the opinions of how best to raise our children. Even amongst a group of followers of Jesus, there are even beliefs on child rearing that completely divide people. Even books that claim the "Godly way" can contradict each other. It's so frustrating and confusing as a mother. It is so hard not to get lost amongst the muck of books and people who advice us and forget to remind us to fall on our knees and simply pray for the Lord to help us discern how best we are to raise our child.

In 2008, as a new mom to Ella, I can recall a particularly difficult day where I threw a book across the room because its methodology was not working for my baby. I was exhausted and weary from caring for a very colicky baby. I tried the crying it out, the not-crying it out, the 5 steps to a happy baby on the block or whatever the heck it was called. I tried changing my diet in fear that something I was eating was affecting my milk and perhaps bothering her sensitive tummy...all to no avail. And although well meaning people tried so hard to give me advice, all I really wanted was a hug. I wanted someone to tell me that I was a good mom. I needed someone to comfort me and tell me that "this will pass" instead of hearing "savor this moment" or even worse "just wait until they are teenagers". I wanted so desperately to have this Babywise baby that everyone talked about...but, no one told me that colicky babies are different. They may need a different approach for a few months until the "colic" starts to fade.

One especially weary day, at the end of my rope, I truly believe God appointed a very special group of mommies into my life. A group of women who all already had several small children took me under their wing and they poured love and encouragement into my heart. 

I'll never forget that late August day in 2008. A friend I had known since college invited me to her small group...a group of women whom all went to different churches, yet were brought together because of motherhood. I only knew two of the women in that group of 7 or 8 that night. But, we sat around a round table and they said things I'll never forget.

"Sarah, you are a good mom. He gave you that little girl because He knew YOU were the best mommy for her"

"Sarah, forget those books for now. Just pray. Pray for God to show you how to mother. Everyone at this table?We all do the baby thing differently."

"Oh, your first baby? That's the HARDEST! It's so, so hard becoming a mother. Your body has never had that kind of lack of sleep. Everyone tells you to savor these days, but it's hard to savor it when you are exhausted and your boobs hurt!!" (one of my favorite quotes)

And the best advice ever...
"Sarah, rest in the peace that God will give you the sleep you need. Don't focus on how much sleep you are getting. Just know that God is taking care of you. When you are tired? Just make that your prayer...ask the Lord to provide the sleep you need for that day. Don't look at the clock...that will just make you more anxious. Just trust that God will give you the rest you need."

Those women were my lifeline during that season on new motherhood where I desperately just needed love and encouragement. That group of women? Well, they encompassed everything: they had bottle fed babies, breastfed babies, Babywise babies, co sleeping families, easy going babies, more high maintenance babies...all of it. They didn't judge me when I "only made it" to 10 months of breastfeeding. They didn't judge me when I said "Y'all...I just had to bring Ella to bed with me last night" or "Y'all Ella slept in her bouncy seat all night...it was the only way I could get her to go back to sleep." They would just laugh and promised me that eventually my little girl would indeed sleep all night. (By the way, by 6 months, that little girl was wonderful and still is AMAZING!)

In a world where there are so many opinions on raising children, it is a blessing to have moms who encourage, listen, and don't judge you when you feel like you are falling short. Moms who pray for you and always point you to Christ are my lifeline in this adventure of raising three small children. I call these women my "Titus 2" women:

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
Titus 2:3-5

What do mother's want?  We want to feel encouraged and loved. We want someone to listen and love us when we are weary and tired, yet always pointing us back to the Lord. We want older and wiser moms to know that us younger moms are still learning and growing. We don't want to feel judged on those grey areas of life. It's so important to remember God is still working on us all. Whether it is how we choose to school our children or how we celebrate different holidays, God is doing the same work in us all, yet our journey's will all look different.  He is slowly chiseling away at all of us to make us more into His image. 

And now I am in a different season of life. I no longer have "babies" anymore. Now my stresses are how to school my children and whether it is OK for us to celebrate Halloween or pretend the whole Santa Clause thing with our little ones...OK, I'm mostly laughing at that last part. I really like Santa. Jesus is the reason for the season, but Santa is a lot of fun...just being honest! I digress...

Once again, the Lord has placed women in my life with similar life challenges. All of us have different paths and roads that the Lord is leading us on. Some public school, some home school, others private school...but, all of us are united in raising warriors for Christ. We respect and know that God has a different journey for each of our families. We don't judge...we just love and encourage each other along our own paths. 

(Editors Note: And likewise, let us not be so sensitive to those who advice us even if we don't agree. Although some moms are very dogmatic about things, most of us know that we are all just doing the best we can with the tools we've been given. It's good to remember that most people only give advice because they want to help...they aren't trying to make you feel worse. I frequently have to get my "sensitivity meter" back in check...looking at the persons heart and not their words.)

So today, and every day, I am thankful for the friends and Titus 2 women that the Lord puts in my life. The ones who love and encourage me in motherhood. The ones who know when I just need a listening ear...the ones who point me back to Christ...and the ones who make me laugh at the small stuff. I am thankful for the mothers who know and understand that we all fall short in everything in life. How desperately we need fellowship with other Believers. Thank you Lord for sending these women into my life, even if only for a season. 


Reality


Thursday, October 3, 2013

September 1st: a Peter Pan and Tinkerbell Party

Ever since I signed up on Instagram, I've become the worst blogger ever. Not that I was that great before, but the iPhone pics have replaced the blog. Actually, in all of reality, it probably shows more of our "real" side than the blog world.

Anyway, despite that, I keep wavering back and forth as to even continuing the blog...you know, for the two or three people who even read it any more. But, then I had to remind myself it's really more for me and not about anyone else. Unfortunately, I'm not one to really "air all my business" to the world, so sometimes I feel like this little space on the Internet feels a little too vulnerable for me. I'm still trying to figure out the balance in all that.

It was a really, really busy September..just like it was for everyone else in the world.

On the first, we celebrated the twins 3rd birthday. And while I could reminisce on how far they have come, I'll just simply say that we are thankful for how well these two have done...how much they have overcome...despite being born so early. From birth until age 2, I feel like all we did was see specialists and have appointments. And remember, I don't have help. Andrew is gone 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, and I truck my whole crew with me...EVERYWHERE. We are quite the scene, yet I'll say I am to a point in motherhood where I am oblivious, nor do I care, what the general public thinks of my crazies when we are out and about. (If you have help, I hope you thank the Lord every single day for that.) Anyway, although the craziness continues to abound between ages 2 and 3, I'm happy to say that life is more settled. There are less worries about their future and they seem to be mostly caught up developmentally. Our only small issue at this point is that Jacob is still receiving speech therapy (he has made huge strides this past month though!)...and I really have very few concerns regarding that. I am confident he will catch up. And honestly, when you have watched your children on the brink of death, this really is nothing.

We had a Peter Pan and Tinkerbell party, complete with costumes. Jacob really loved his costume as you can see below:







Good grief. What am I going to do with that boy? Of course, Audrey was happy to flutter around in her Tinkerbell costume.






And of course, no Peter Pan party is complete without a pirate ship carved out of a watermelon. Andrew is to thank for those amazing skills. I showed him a picture of what I wanted and he exceeded my expectations.


And pirate popcorn with a visit from Peter and Captain Hook


All 3 of our kids have loved watching Peter Pan, as well as the Tinkerbell movies all summer. It seemed only fitting to have this as the theme for the twins birthday. I must say, it was the cutest party.

And lastly, I must share a funny story about the twins when I took them for their 3 year old check up at the Pediatricians office. He asked them the following:

Doctor: "Audrey, are you a girl or a boy?"
Audrey: "A Girl."
Doctor: "Jacob, are you a girl or a boy?"
Jacob: "I Peter Pan!!!" (Insert big grin)

These two are such a handful right now, yet the things they say make me laugh. They both know how to charm a crowd.



The days are still pretty long and hard. I'm just being honest. I miss Ella while she is at school in the mornings (she only goes 1/2 days), but it does make it a little easier. She is not a burden by any means, but she is at an age where she wants to go, go, go...always wanting a friend over or to go somewhere...and it is hard for me to do that every single day. I'm still finding it hard to find friends who stay home and actually want to get together to play...seems like the world is way over scheduled...or maybe we still haven't found our "groupies" yet. Ha! I am so thankful that I am able to stay home with them right now. It truly is a blessing. Despite the sometimes lonely days, I am so thankful for the abundant blessings these children have given us. God has truly shown us His love and mercy with all we went through with the twins. We are so undeserving, yet so grateful for these three amazing miracles.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

'twas the night before Kindergarten

You don't really think you'll be "that mom"...the one who cries when she drops her kids off at school. You don't think you will be her because until that reality comes to the forefront and you have no choice but to take it, suddenly you have this feeling that someone has kicked you really hard in the stomach.

It's time...time for a new season of life...it's time for Ella to start Kindergarten.

Suddenly, the sleepless nights, temper tantrums, and countless drives to the doctor for croup seem like a distance memory and all you remember is snuggling that little baby in your arms. Your firstborn. The one who got your undivided attention. The one who always wore matching clothes from head to toe...the pink sweater pants and pink and white striped cardigan and pink beanie hat...sigh, that one stands out the most. Suddenly, all you see is the absolute treasure. And although I'd like to take credit for this kind, gentle, and loving little lady she is becoming...I'm realizing the more accurate statement is that she is so lovely despite our many, many failures as parents.

We got her a new book, "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn. Let me tell you...if you need to release some big mommy tears, this book will do it to you. It was a special moment...just she and I. At the end, she kissed my hand so that I, too, would have a kissing hand. A kiss that I can hold up to my cheek at any time whenever I need a kiss from Ella.

And then for her bedtime song, she requested "Baby Mine"...of course, because she could not have picked out a worse tear jerker. I couldn't even make it through the end before I was in full on sobbing. Completely ridiculous. I can't help it. I'm a sentimental lady...but, I'd rather feel too much than nothing at all. Oh, and "Baby Mine" is the song I sang to her over and over again as a baby. Seriously, she couldn't have picked a more appropriate, gut-wrenching song. But, that's ok. I can't imagine a more perfect book followed by the most perfect song to share with my oldest daughter on the eve of Kindergarten.



One of the main goals of parenting is to guide them towards independence. Raising them to be kind to all people, raising them to help others, and raising them to know the Lord in such a powerful way that they do not fear this world. Yes, as they become more and more independent, we get sad...sometimes scared. In reality, we should be patting ourselves on the back saying well done! Well done! No go and show the world the love of Jesus!

I know that God has a great purpose for Ella's life. She is, after all, His child on loan to me for such a short time. What an honor that He is allowing me to raise her. Most of the time I feel like I am majorly screwing up...but, deep down, I hear the gentle whisper of the Lord remind me that "I'm not really that powerful." He is God and I am not. My role as her mother is to continue to point her to Him and hopefully lead a life that reflects His great love in such a way that she will be drawn to the beauty of a relationship with her Savior.

That girl. She is going to move mountains.  So the heart sandwich has been made, the locket already  wrapped and ready to give to her in the morning, camera battery is charged...we're ready. Just be kind to this anxious mother's heart...because even though you may think "it's just kindergarten", I can only think that if I take a moment to blink she will be graduating from college. And I don't want to miss a second.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Summer Came and Summer Went...and now I'm sad.

Lightening speed does not even come close to describing how quickly this summer has passed us by. I mean, it's been over two months now since I last blogged. How do I even summarize all our comings and goings?


We swam, and we swam, and we swam some more. We swam in pools, lakes, oceans, fountains. Ella took off swimming by mid-summer, so she wanted to swim every chance she could get. Proud Mommy. 

We went to South Florida and visited family in mid June. And not too much longer after that, we spent our time at the lake over fourth of July.


And because going to the beach once isn't enough, we had to go to our favorite little island off South Georgia called Saint Simon's Island. It is so charming and we eat seafood until we can't stuff one more crab leg down our throats. 




We have worked hard and played hard and now it is starting to come to an end. Ella starts kindergarten in less than 2 weeks...that's plenty of time for me to lose all my marbles. I had all these things planned to do with the kids once public school started, but knowing we still had two weeks to ourselves...but then we had this unseasonably cool weather come through and lots of rain...so, I'm thinking all those hopes of having the pool to ourselves are slowly dying.

Speaking of dying, Ugh! Why does this growing up thing have to be so painful? God has been so good to us. We have such a great teacher and school for Ella to attend for Kindergarten. She's only going 1/2 days, which is all this mommy can handle. My kids are obsessed with Peter Pan right now and I think that Peter guy was on to something...let's all fly away to Neverland and never grow up!

First star to the right and straight on till morning...


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ella, Jacob, & Audrey's dance recital

I'm sure I've mentioned it a million times before, but I have a little girl who loves to dance. She has even recently taken her dancing to the next level and decided to become a choreographer. Here is a little piece she came up with and tried to teach to her brother and sister. This was take number 5. It fell apart a little in the middle, but they totally pulled it together at the end. Get ready to laugh. Cutest thing you've ever seen! Drum roll please...introducing, Ella, Jacob, and Audrey's first production:



What did you think?

Monday, June 10, 2013

End of the school year catch up

No one told me how absolutely insane the end of the school year gets once you have a school aged child who is also involved in activities. Not to mention, we have 3 birthdays in May (Ella, Andrew, and myself...myself being the most important, naturally...just kidding) and our anniversary is just a mere 2 days after my birthday.

You get it. It's busy. I don't know how we will manage once all 3 children are in school. I'm guessing we'll run on caffeine the entire month of May and sleep all of June.

Yeah right. Who am I kidding. The minute the pool opens, that's all I hear about all day.

Anyway, I fell out of the blogging world because frankly, I something had to give and I figured the 5 people who actually read this wouldn't really care anyway.

So here is last month summed up in pictures and bullet points. Because it's either that or nothing. Ooooh....and by the way, I'm on Instagram now and LOVING it! I'd love it if you followed me there. It's easier to keep up with our comings and goings...not that we are really that important to most of the world.

First, we celebrated Ella's 5th birthday! It was a "Little Mermaid theme". Not my choice obviously, but it's not really about me. Those fancy parties I used to plan down to every detail have now been replaced by "Disney party in a box." And you know what? I'm OK with that. Mostly...





We had pre-K graduation (insert sobbing, major ugly mommy cry for weeks over this. How can I now have a Kindergartner. Say it isn't so!!). This was the same night as Andrew's birthday. Needless to say, his party was more of a "here's your cake, now we got to jet out the door!"


This was followed by the end of the year dance recital. This year, she took a ballet/tap combo class, so her routine was tap. They danced to the song "Jump in the Line"...yes, the song from Beetle Juice. Super, super cute.



We spent Memorial Day weekend at the lake with some friends. Going to the lake is not exactly my favorite activity. It was something my parents made me do constantly growing up, so I've learned to tolerate it. However, it's definitely fun when you have grown up friends to chill with. Now beach...I LOVE.

A few days later was my birthday. My husband showered me with a few of my favorite things: peonies, a glass of Pinot Noir, crème brûlée, and 3 macarons. 


Two days later, was our ELEVENTH anniversary! I can't believe we've been together for 11 years, but in the same way, it feels like we have been together our entire lives. I wish I had a picture of us all jazzed up in nice clothes and ready to hit the town (we, for once, actually had a babysitter)...but, alas, I forgot. When we go to the beach soon, I'll make that happen. We need some updated pictures of us that are not wedding photos or me pregnant with child. HA!

Whew! And Mother's Day? That was pretty much a wash...just too much going on.

But, it's OK, because Andrew saved all those special days (Mother's Day, Birthday, Anniversary) to get me something I've been wanting for a long time...





I know. Welcome to the new millennium.  It's kind of changed my life. Yes...I've officially had a taste of the koolaide.

You can follow me on Instagram under sarahantweiler. Original, I know.

Hope you all have recovered from the end of the school year! Happy Summer!




Saturday, May 11, 2013

The childless Mother's Day

I have a confession.

Sometimes on Mother's Day, I have this really overwhelming sense of guilt. It's really bizarre and hard to explain, but I would say it is similar to someone who has survivors guilt.  You know...when there is a disaster and one person survives and the other does not, the survivor often feels this overwhelming sense of guilt for being spared their own life.

Having a child after infertility is sort of a similar phenomenon. There are so many men and women out there who are grieving that there are empty rooms in their home. They would give anything to have a child.

I used to be one of those women. Mother's Day was like salt in my wound. I know it is not the desire of every woman's heart, but it was the desperate plea of mine. All the moms would stand up on Sunday morning at church and get their round of applause...it felt like a dagger to my heart. I purposely avoided church on Mother's Day 2007...it was just too much for broken heart, empty womb, and vulnerable soul.

I know I'm on the other side now. God has given me way more than I deserve and way more than I could have ever dreamed of. We will never stop thanking Him for His goodness. But, I still feel that pain on Mother's day...not for myself, but for that young lady crying in the church pew because she would give anything to just have one child. That woman who has to hear people constantly tell her "just adopt"...as if it is that easy. Even those waiting to adopt will tell you the pain of waiting is agonizing.

Side note: Can I tell you something? Even if you want to adopt, it's really painful to tell a woman to "just adopt". It's a normal woman emotion to desire to feel a child growing in her womb...and even when she is 100% excited about adopting, it doesn't change the fact there is a certain amount of grieving that transpires knowing you will never know the feeling of a baby growing in your belly. Let them grieve that. The barren woman should always be handled with tenderness. Their hearts are fragile. Please extend mercy and grace to them.

You may love your pets, nieces and nephews, and even your best friends children...but, that doesn't replace the desire in your own heart to have a child, yet your body continues to fail you. It is a pain that no one can understand unless they have walked that road as well.

So, this is for you...the woman who is waiting. The woman who feels like God doesn't hear her cries...

If you are waiting and wondering, do not believe the lie that God is withholding His blessings from you because of some wrongdoing. God has not forsaken you. You see, it's not about you. It's ALL about Him. If it was about us, no human would ever receive such a blessing. It's all about His kingdom. And God knows your pain. Look at how much Hannah poured out her heart. There is no denying she was in deep anguish. Yet, she still believed in His goodness. You don't have to hide your pain either. 

God adores you. He cherishes you. He can use anything for His glory, sure, but He does not like to see us suffer. You are His beloved.

So many women in the Bible and God did not leave them barren: Sarah, Hannah, Rebekah, Elizabeth. Elizabeth became my dear friend from the Bible. His timing certainly caused Elizabeth heartache, but she still believed He would fulfill His promise. Had Elizabeth had her own way, there would be no John the Baptist. You see, God was not punishing Elizabeth. NO! GREAT WAS HER REWARD! He had a great treasure in store for her and he must of thought highly of her to make her John's mother! Isn't that such a beautiful thought? That perhaps your wait is because God has such a special child that needs to born at a certain time in this world because of the influence he/she will have on it.


So, tomorrow, know that you are not alone. And know that it is ok to grieve this day. Whether you have no child and desperately are waiting on one...or have five and desperately want just one more...or if you are waiting to adopt and God still hasn't opened that door...or if God has given, but then taken away...

I am praying for you. Whatever your situation. I pray that those around you will extend compassion to you on this day and that you will feel a sense of peace that can only come from the Lord.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:28-29










Sunday, May 5, 2013

Happy 5th Birthday Ella!

Today, the one who finally made me a mother turned 5 years old! I know this does not seem like some big milestone to most, but I have been very emotional the past few days about this birthday. This past year with Ella has been so full of joy. She truly is such a joy to be around.

Despite the unseasonably chilly weather we had yesterday as well as the torrential down pour all day long, we had a wonderful birthday party with our little girl, family, and friends. We traded in the slip and slide and sprinklers for some arts and crafts. I'll have to post pictures of our Little Mermaid party another day, but for now, here is a little video montage of Ella's past year.



Ella's 5th Birthday Party Video from Sarah Antweiler on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5-5-5

In 5 days, on 5/5, my baby girl is going to be 5. I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around that. I was going to write a blog post all about the twins latest and greatest shenanigans, but this quickly approaching birthday has left me in quite a state. I am not a prolific linguist, but even if I was, I'm not sure there are words that describe the joy and sadness you feel as your child grows. I am slowly watching the dynamics of our household change as Ella is about to finish her preschool years and the school age years are quickly approaching.

For almost 5 years, I've secretly longed for the day that my children were a little more independent. Don't get me wrong,  I love caring for them. They are not a burden by any means. But, I'd be lying if I didn't say that Andrew and I haven't looked at each other and wondered how much longer before our kids can at least brush their own teeth.

So, when Ella started brushing her own hair the other day before school, without me even asking, you would think I would have done a little happy dance...a leap for joy if you will.

But, I didn't. I felt sad. And I still do. Yet, I felt proud and happy too. So, you'll have to forgive me as I figure out how those two things in motherhood coexist...how you can feel so proud, happy, and sad all at the same time.

She is the loveliest of lovely little ladies. She is emotional...and while other parents may feel annoyed by a girl's emotions, I just love that she is so passionate about life and compassionate towards those who are hurting. She is polite and kind. Beautiful inside and out. And although I'd like to take credit for how wonderful she is, it's actually amazing how wonderful she is in spite of my less than stellar parenting moments.

She is creative and artistic. Her drawing abilities already exceed my own (not that that is hard to do). I love listening to the stories she comes up with when playing with her dolls. She is definitely a little mommy in the making. The way she cares for her brother and sister has been by far one of the most enjoyable things as a parent to watch. (And just to keep this realistic, I will confess that there is also some fighting...sigh)

She loves the water and she loves to dance. Every non-moving object in our house is a ballet barre. When she isn't drawing pictures, she is creating a new ballet dance. I am often made to be the ballet student while she plays the part of the teacher.

I am so thankful that she still is happy and willing to come snuggle in my arms with a book or a movie and a bowl of popcorn. She still loves princesses and Barbies, but I've suddenly seen her mind mature as she will occasionally request to watch/read "Little Women", "Meet me in St. Louis", and "Heidi".

I love her so much, my heart could burst. And yet, I know she is only mine for such a short time. She is on loan from God and ultimately it is Him that she will listen to and obey, not her mother...and it should be that way, but that doesn't make it any less bittersweet.

The Lord has been good to us. She is proof of that. He did not have to give us a child despite our desperate prayers. But, He did. And we are so grateful. I can't imagine my life without her sweet smile. I'll never forget the day she made me a mother. Before we know it, she will go out into the world and spread God's truth with that passion and joy that He has given her.

5 more days of being 4...excuse me while I just soak in these final preschool age days.













Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hope



I feel like I've fallen a little silent lately. It certainly is not because of lack of writing material...as we speak I'm listening to the sweetest, most gentled spirited child pray in her room alone. No one asks her to, but even at the brink of her 5th birthday (yes, 5 years...can that be true? It's so cliche to say, but where has the time gone?) she knows the Lord and I can see His Spirit pursue her little heart.

On the Eve of Easter Sunday, she asked me to read the story about Jesus on the cross "one more time". And although we had already read it twice since her bath that evening, there was no way I was going to deny her little ears from hearing the Truth one more time before slumber.

And she asked me lots of questions that night. Hard questions. Questions about life and death. Heaven and Hell. Why do we sin? Why did Adam sin? Why did Jesus have to die? Why were they so mean to Him before He died? Why did they beat Him? Why didn't they believe Him? One and a half hours worth of questions.

It was hard for my 32 year old mind and tongue to articulate. How do you explain grace to a 4 year old? How do you explain the love of Christ when it's only something I've only in recent years even begun to semi-understand? How do I explain that we are no longer under the law, but we live in grace...yet, God still tells us to sin no more? I didn't start asking these hard questions till I was an adult.

However, as I reflect on the last few years, Ella has watched Andrew and me in our deepest despairs and cries to the Lord. She has seen people pray over us and with us. She has watched them pray over my health and the health of her brother and sister. She heard us pray night after night after night for a miracle.

And she saw that miracle. I just didn't realize the impact all that would have on her. At a very tender age, she saw a community of believers fervently pray for months over her mother and those babies. And she saw us rejoice and give thanks for all that He gave us and continues to give. She saw as blessing upon blessing was bestowed upon us in our weakest hour.

And that girl...she left me speechless that night of Easter. I wasn't prepared for her maturity. She put her hope in Christ that night. Now, we could sit and intellectualize that she is way too young to understand such a thing, but I felt a gentle nudge from the Lord to trust that He was doing something great in her heart.

"Mommy I want to pray...I want to pray to the Lord tonight." 

 Ok, love. What do you want to say? 

"I don't know how to pray. I only know the thank you for our food song. But I want Jesus to know I said thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. And I want Him to know I don't want to sin anymore. Can you help me pray to Him? I don't know the right words."
 
Ok. I can do that. But, I just want you to know that God knows your heart. It's ok if you don't know what to say. God knows. What you just told me is exactly what you can say to Him.

"He listens to my brain think?"

Basically. 

And she thanked Him. And she prayed He would help her not to sin. She said other things that my mommy brain does not quite remember. But her heart of gratitude...well, let's say this girl understood the magnitude of what the Lord did better than most adult believers do. Her heart just burst with thanksgiving for what He did for her.

I left trembling that evening. Only God knows our hearts, but I believe God is dwelling in hers. I am not so naive as to think that she will have harder questions as she grows and even times of possible doubts, but I know what I saw and heard that night. And I have no doubt that He who began a great work in her will continue to work until the day she meets Him face to face.

And the world...it's fierce. I have been bullied and ridiculed for my faith. I have begun to understand what it means to give up everything for Christ. And this world that these young children are coming into...they are going to have to have the heart of a warrior.  I am fearful for what they will endure for being believers and followers of Christ. 

I have felt burned out by the bullying via the media...news, facebook, twitter, the blog world, etc. So burned out, that I have found myself withdrawing from those platforms. It's sad the harsh words that can come simply from quoting the Bible.  I am beat-up and tired...yet, I totally understand now why God wants us to commune with other believers...we desperately need each other for encouragement. Yet sadly, even the divisiveness amongst Christians has left me exhausted. It seems, these days, even Christians can't live in harmony with each other. 

But that prayer the other night...

that was hope.

That although darkness abounds on this Earth, that God is still pursuing our undeserving hearts. 

And although my hope is in Christ and not a 4 year old, I know that the Lord has not given up hope on us. 


"Mommy, will God let me take my baby doll to Heaven?"

 I think God will give you what you need to be happy in Heaven.

"Will I fly?"

I have no idea. 
"I think Heaven is going to be awesome."

Wouldn't you love to have seen the Lord's smile that night?

Hope. She's going to go out and fill this world with joy and hope...and hopefully she'll teach me some things along the way. Someday I'm going to have to let her go, but in the meantime, I am raising a warrior for Christ.

Selah












Sunday, March 31, 2013

When the Iris blooms

 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."
1 John 4:7 (NIV)

I write about her every year on Easter. As a young girl, she filled my heart with love. As a teenager, she loved me unconditionally. As a young adult, she never forgot me on my birthday. She was quiet and humble and meek. She loved Jesus with all her heart and you could see it daily in her walk with Him.  She was more than just a grandmother. She was an example of Christ in my life. It is no wonder that instead of going to church on Easter Sunday, she went to be with Lord. Dressed in her Sunday best, no doubt God orchestrated their first face to face meeting on the day that we celebrate our hope in our Savior.

She was the first to see me ride my bike without training wheels on my blue Care Bear bike. And she was the one who taught me the word "peacemaker"...a phrase she would so gently and kindly use when I was fighting with my siblings. "Be a peacemaker," she would whisper. She would come every Sunday night with her little blue suitcase (I loved that suitcase!) and would stay until Tuesday. She would sleep with me in my room and I cherished those days. She would bring me a little brown bag with some candies she picked up from the gas station. My favorite was always the "bit-o-honey." (Does anyone else remember those?) She played the piano unlike any other. She was too humble to brag, but she even studied at the Boston Conservatory when she was younger...yet, anytime you'd ask her to play, she would sheepishly say "I'm not that good anymore." It is because of her that Clair de Lune is my favorite masterpiece...a piece she played with beauty and ease.

In my memory box, I have two letters penned by her. I wish I had saved them all through the years, but I am thankful for the written words I have from her. One was a letter that is not dated, but I am guessing I was somewhere between the ages of 16 and 17.  She wrote to me to say thank you for sending her a card. That just shows you what a thankful heart she had...that she would write a note of thanks just for me writing to her. She mentioned something about how "I must be enjoying learning to drive...and how she couldn't imagine learning to drive in the city." She then talked about all the iris' growing in her yard...that they were "all different shapes and colors and she loved them so much."

When at the market this week, I stumbled upon the most beautiful bouquet of iris'. My heart immediately was filled with many emotions, but mostly I was just thankful that I would see these beautiful flowers mere days before Easter. That visual gave me hope of not only that I would see my grandmother again, but that I would also one day be with my Savior. It made me look forward to Heaven in a way I had never experienced before.

The second is the last birthday card I ever received from her for my 23rd birthday. On the front it read "For love is of God. and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7"  How appropriate that those were her final written words to me...they are so relevant with all the division in our world. God's words are so clear: LOVE one another. And we can only love one another if HE dwells in us. Real love shows that we have His  Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and that we belong to Him. We are called His beloved for this reason. I would think if there was one legacy she would have wanted to leave behind is a reminder to love one another...it was why she would whisper "be a peacemaker" in my ear. And friends, she radiated Christ's love.

It's been almost 9 years since she went to her eternal home. I imagine Christ greeted her and showed her her home with a yard full of iris'. It is because of her, that I learned that it is not necessarily with my words that others will come to know Christ...that others will hopefully know Him because they will see Him living in me.

I cannot wait to hear her fingers playing Clair de Lune as I enter the gates of Heaven one day. Today, she celebrates Easter walking side by side with her Savior. And I am sure she brought Him a bouquet of her finest iris' to thank Him this morning.






Monday, March 18, 2013

How to catch a leprechaun: the tale of a catch gone wrong

I bet you didn't know you could to catch a leprechaun. Yep, it's true. All you need to know is how to build a trap. You see, leprechauns are attracted to rainbows because they think there are pots of gold at the end. So first you will need to make a rainbow...or you can trick him by putting out fruit loops all over the ground that look like a rainbow. Put it all around your colorful box that's propped up on a stick. (By the way, my engineer husband instructed me that this whole thing didn't even make sense. He insisted it needed a string attached so we could pull it once the leprechaun got under the box. I gave him the evil eye and told him that leprechauns will ONLY come if little children are taking their afternoon naps. Ahem.)



Once you've caught the leprechaun, he will offer you some gold to let him go....

unless you have a really, really wise and honest almost 5 year old who gets very upset and exclaims "but taking gold that doesn't belong to you is STEALING!! I'm going to call the police man and have him taken to jail. We do NOT steal."

Leave it to Ella to have to be all moral in my creative mommy moment. Geez!

We did, indeed, catch something. But, it wasn't a leprechaun. We caught a duck off the lake who apparently really loves fruit loops.






This, my friends, is why I rarely bother with these creative mommy things...they always backfire on me.

I did close the box later and let the children lift it up to reveal a few gold coins and some chocolate wrapped in gold paper. 

They totally didn't buy it. 

Stupid ducks. 

Hope you all had a festive St. Patty's Day. I couldn't even get a decent photo of the kids all decked out in their green outfits. Mommy fail!



Friday, March 15, 2013

Tales from the Medicine Cabinet







I am so thankful that this winter has mostly been a season of health for our little family. We had some illness back before the holidays, but have mostly been healthy since then. God has given us so much mercy this season.

However, the past couple weeks have been really rough around this house. I don't have a photo of Ella doing all her breathing treatments, but just imagine all 3 at once with some sort of respiratory virus...croup, fever, etc. The worst was the week when Ella was sick (thank you Lord for keeping the other two well at least until we were able to get Ella over the hump). You see, she is my asthmatic child. You'd think the two preemies would be my asthma children...but no...it's the child who was actually breastfed for 10 months and was full term. Ironic, huh?

We are so blessed that she sees the best Pulmonologist for her asthma. He takes very good care of our family. Awhile back, he even prescribed a type of inhalant for her that is usually something you can ONLY get in a hospital setting. I've never had to use this extra inhaler before, but boy were we glad we had it the other night. She was struggling so much to breath I briefly wondered if I needed to get an ambulance to take us to the hospital. If you know someone who has a child with asthma, you know that when they get some sort of respiratory virus, it is so much harder to deal with than your normal, healthy child.

Anyway, we are all slowly on the mend and praying that the pollen season that is headed our way will be kind to all of us...especially our little asthmatic girl.

So, if it seems like I've disappeared, it is only because I've been playing nurse for the past two weeks. I wonder when pay day is? Surely I earned some overtime money for the middle of the night "throw up" session, no?

Even in the midst of lots of breathing treatments and loss sleep, I must say that snuggling in bed watching movies with them all day was fabulous...and the napping!






Sunday, March 3, 2013

February Snow

We usually get one or two decent snow days here in Atlanta during the winter season (along with the random flurries that don't really do anything except melt upon hitting the ground), but the past two winters have been much warmer than normal. Perhaps since we have an over abundance of snow in the 2010/2011 winter season, mother nature decided our Southern blood needed a break. We get a little crazy excited over a couple inches of snow here.

Anyway, we totally lucked up when we decided to take a little over night trip to visit some friends in Charlotte, North Carolina a couple weekends ago. We got the absolute perfect little dusting of snow to play in. It was just enough for the kids to run and play in. It makes me excited about one day teaching them to snow ski (who am I kidding...I'll be in ski school with them...I'm not the most graceful on the slopes, but I do love it!)

Here are a few pictures of our little snow angels!

Audrey-future child model
Ella-can you see the tiara on the front of her snow hat?

Jacob-right before he slipped down the hill and face planted in the snow

Audrey...so completely enamored!

sweet
I know people up North probably hate the snow, but we are so thankful for it because it's such a rare treat for us. And no, none of the kids had gloves on. All we had were the cloth kind that got wet immediately, so they took them off. Obviously we are not well prepared for this type of weather.

Do you all love the snow as much as we do? I hope there are snow days in Heaven!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Humor Me

These kids of mine are beyond cute, no doubt. They are funny, charming, beautiful, and full of life. While I generally choose to only showcase the pretty photos, it is important for everyone to know that our life really looks more like this 99% of the time:


Someone hung their Barbies in the drain of my bathtub

This is what she usually does when I pull out my camera and ask her to smile pretty

How she fixes her hair most mornings...and then I have to battle her for 20 minutes to tone it down. She needs reminding that she is not Fancy Nancy.

T-shirts are my staple and someone has always taken their shoes off...and I'm always made to get on the playground with them. There is no sitting on the sides reading a book. I usually take a magazine with me to the park and always wonder why I bother. And it's not because I'm a "good mom"...it's because they make me feel bad so I oblige to their requests.

This is real life. We only pretend we live in a fairytale:






Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Frugal Living: Make your own Laundry Detergent (Powder version)

*Disclaimer: I am NOT the original creator of this detergent "recipe". There are tons of these floating around in the blog world and on pinterest. They are mostly all the same, give or take an ingredient. I am merely passing this on to all my readers because it is truly the BEST detergent and cheapest thing out there. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't share?

Why make your own laundry detergent? If I told you you could make the absolute best detergent out there for only $16 and it would last you close to a year, would you be willing to read on? And that yes, you can use this in a fancy front loading HE machine and/or a regular old top loader? Are you convinced yet? Seriously...it's so easy, my 4 year old could make it.

Here is what you need. I bought all my things at Walmart and all but one ingredient was located on the same aisle literally right next to each other.

1. 1 (4 lb 12 oz) box of Borax $3.38
2. 1 (3 lb 7 oz) box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda $3.24 (Please note: this is not the same thing as baking soda. It is in a yellow box and located in the laundry detergent aisle)
3. 3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap (this is located in laundry aisle as well...not in the body soap aisle) $0.97 each
4. 1 (4lb) box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (this is in the food/baking aisle) $2.24
5. This is optional: 2 small containers of oxyclean. I only used one and my kids are super messy...and their clothes still come out spotless. $3.86

OK, let's total this up: $15.63

I repeat...for LESS THAN $16 you can have close to a years supply of laundry detergent. There is one small catch. You will need to buy a jar to put it all in (which you can use from now until eternity). I bought the largest glass lidded jar I could find at Walmart for $10 (my receipt says it is a 2 gallon jar). So, even still...$25 for this entire year's worth!!! 

Next I will address how to make it and answer some of the questions I've gotten so far:

To make:
Mix all ingredients except the Fels-Naptha together in your containers really well. Next, you'll need to pull out your cheese grater and grate the 3 bars of soap on the finest side of your cheese grater. Now, mix all that in really well with your jar of other ingredients. It's so, so easy to grate. 

To use:
I used the scoop that came with my oxyclean which is about 1.5 tablespoons. Yes, that's all you'll need. It seems crazy that that small amount of detergent will clean all the spaghetti stains out of your kids clothes, but IT WILL!! You do not need to pretreat your clothes, but if you have an especially soaked in stain, take a small amount of this on a small toothbrush and rub it on the stain before washing. But, really, you probably won't need to.

Common Questions:
1. What about front loaders? You put the tablespoon of detergent directly in the washer, not the pull out drawer. 
2. Is this HE compatible? YES!!! 
3. Is it safe for sensitive skin? As far as I can tell yes. I have read on a few sites that people have used bars of ivory soap instead of fels-naptha. My kids and I have extremely sensitive skin. I've always only been able to use fragrance free and this does not bother anyone's skin in my family. Several of my friends use it on baby's clothes and have had NO problems. I was extremely nervous because the Fels-Naptha seemed to have such a strong scent. But, I have had no problems nor do I feel like my clothes have some over powering smell of detergent (it will smell really strong when you are making it though). I have one child with asthma and bad allergies and this does not bother her at all.
4. Can I use this on cloth diapers? I'm going to say no because someone said you can't use baking soda on cloth diapers.
5. Can I use this if I'm on a septic tank? I've heard both yes and no from people on this. Some have used it and had no problems. However, if you want to be more cautious, wait until tomorrow and I will post the LIQUID version of this that you can definitely use on a septic tank.
6. But what about all these little shavings of soap? Do they really dissolve? Will it leave a residue?
Yes, it really will dissolve and no, it will not leave any trace of any residue. It's unbelievable.
7. But, what about those soap shavings in cold water? I'm telling you. I use a front loader, HE which means there is very little water in the washer...and the soap still dissolves without any problem. I don't know how...it just does. I even did a very delicate cycle on cold and it still dissolved.
8. Is it safe for colors? Your colors will be brighter and it will not fade them! 
9. You really only need 1 or 2 tablespoons? Really. That's all. That "other stuff" you buy at the store is just full of fillers which is why you use so much more of "it".  In fact, most people would be fine with only 1 tablespoon. I use 1.5 because I've got toddlers with spaghetti covering their clothes.

Even if I become a millionaire, I will still make my own detergent. It's just so much better and now I'm way too cheap to ever waste so much money on "the other stuff". It takes less than 15 minutes of your time to make and less than $16...why wouldn't you want to try this??

Leave any questions you have and I'll try and address them. I hope this helps many of you who are trying to be better stewards of your money. Tomorrow, I'll post the liquid recipe for you all! 






Monday, February 4, 2013

More precious than jewels

"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Acts 20:24


I happened upon that verse the other day when I was having some quiet time with the Lord. I love how scripture that you have read a million times before can have such new life and meaning to you at different stages in your life. Some of my sweet friends and I have been doing the Beth Moore Bible Study "Daniel". It's not a study for the faint at heart. My point in mentioning it is that at first glance, the entire book of Daniel may not seem relevant to our day at all. In fact, most of it may sound really bizarre. But, there are two things that I have really taken away from this study (besides the obvious eschatology, theology, and history lesson) are that 1: The Bible was written in a way that it is and always will be relevant. Every.single.word. It has made me want to dig deeper into books of the Old Testament that I may have once not felt very interested in and 2. That my sole purpose here on this Earth is to be a light for Christ so that others may know Him. Period. It's all about Him. It has nothing to do with me.

Now in that purpose falls so much detail, but that is truly our only purpose. I think Paul states it so eloquently in the verse above in Acts.  As a mother, I have often found myself a little lost as to what exactly my mission entails. As a nurse, it was easy be a light for Christ as you are constantly amongst people in anguish and seeking comfort. The sick are all desperate for Christ whether they realize it or not.

However, in current days, it is hard for the world to believe that motherhood in and of itself is truly a job as well. However, when you realize that these precious little ones are your mission field and that you are raising warriors for Christ...well, that just totally puts a different perspective on my day with them. They are not my job...they are my mission, my purpose. They are who God has called me to be His light for at this moment.

People say being a mother is a very underpaid gig. I disagree. These children are more precious than any jewel on Earth. My payment will be the day that I see my children accept Christ as their Savior. And although I cannot save them...only God can do that...it makes me realize how great a mother's purpose is in the life of her child. Our only purpose is to lead them to Christ by allowing Christ's love to flow through us.











Blessed. So, so blessed I am.