Whew, a lot has happened since my last post! We were able to take a trip to Duck, NC thanks to a generous family from church who gave us there timeshare week. We had SUCH a great time together and found it extremely relaxing. (Thankful!!) When we got back we celebrated Lillian’s 4th Birthday. I just can’t believe my sweet girl is already 4! Ivy is changing and growing quickly. She continues to overwhelm us with her sweetness and joy.
I’m continuing to battle continuous migraines, but thankfully I’m on a preventative medication now that is helping them to be less severe (it’s especially helped the nausea). It’s still difficult though having one most days. I’m currently on a hypoallergenic diet (read more about it here) to see if any of my symptoms are food allergy related. Unfortunately, so far I haven’t noticed any changes, but it’s good to at least hopefully rule that out. The diet has been sanctifying as I am only eating Free range chicken, a shortened list of fruits and veggies, rice, lentils and quinoa. (Oh how I’d love a cup of coffee or a bite of chocolate!) This makes my breakfasts and late night snacks look pretty interesting at times. =) (I’ve been caught nibbling on roasted chicken, or a bowl of carrots late at night, ha!) I often eat sweet potatoes for breakfast now which I’m starting to get used to.
The Lord is continuing to pour out His grace, strength and perspective during this trial. Keith is serving me really well, especially with this diet as I’m constantly preparing foods since nothing can be “processed.” He’s been helping a lot in the kitchen and I’m very thankful for how He’s loving me in this.
The girls are doing really well…
Lillian will be 4 in April and is a bundle of energy and joy. She is simply hilarious and is developing quite the sense of humor. I often hear her say, “I’m just telling a joke on you!” after saying something funny. She keeps us laughing for sure. I prayed from the beginning of motherhood that my children would have merciful hearts towards those who are weak as they grow up with a mom with a chronic illness. By God’s grace, we are beginning to see fruits of these prayers as Lillian is a very merciful and caring child.
Ivy is just about 6 months old and I just can’t believe it. I keep trying to freeze her in this precious baby stage but it’s just not working! =) Ivy can be described quite well in one word and that’s “sweet.” She is a very easy going girl with an almost constant smile. She’s starting to belly laugh and it makes us all laugh. Oh what a joy she is!
Ok, finally, some pictures….. =)
This Christmas was different for me. Although Christmas is always a time of hope, and joy is found in that hope, it can also be a time when things that aren’t right about this world come to the surface and cause grief. For me, my battle with migraines was at the forefront as I have had one more often than not now for about 2 months. Because of this I’ve been, for the most part, laying low. I did our Christmas shopping online and somehow avoided most of the glitter, and often times confusing messages that come with this season. I had very little exposure to the world’s messages of Christmas and in many ways found my soul much more prepared to worship the king, born for us. The trial in which I find myself has granted me a clear message. I need a Savior! (Talk about a timely Christmas message!) This is obviously not a new message, but oh so clear and helpful. The physical suffering I’ve been experiencing has been doing 3 things in me.
1. The suffering is keeping me reliant. I need the Lord to help me to persevere. I need Him to strengthen and to grant perspective. The continuous migraines are helping me to walk minute by minute, hand in hand with Christ. I need a Savior!
2. The suffering is spotlighting my sin. It doesn’t take much time when you’re feeling terribly to realize that you are sinful. I’ve battled with anger, frustration, impatience, and the list goes on. By God’s grace and help by the Holy Spirit, I pray that this sin is being uprooted! I need a Savior!
3. The suffering is helping me to cry out for/long for my Savior. My body and soul are crying out to be saved from this broken world. I am longing for heaven and for my Savior to take me there. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly! I need a Savior!
1 Peter 1:3-9 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Ivy is just about 3 months old and we are feeling so blessed to be entrusted with her. I am extremely tired most of the time but I didn’t expect this to be any different. The Lord mercifully answered our prayers for a good little sleeper and I am incredibly grateful! I thought I’d write about how we are surviving these days. Motherhood is an incredible blessing and is incredibly exhausting. Being a mom with a chronic illness is extremely challenging and sanctifying. I am called to be a joyful mom despite how I feel physically. Thankfully, the Lord is using my weakness to continue to keep me relying on Him for the strength and grace to persevere in this joyful, but difficult calling.
Here are a few of the keys to our survival.
1. Morning Help – Keith, my faithful husband, has woken up early with Lillian since she was born (mornings are difficult for me). Now, 3 years later, he wakes up, gets her ready and he takes her to preschool 3 mornings a week. On the other mornings he is teaching her to read and to memorize Bible verses/catechize. This helps me to get extra rest and to have some special time with Ivy.
2. Naptime – We’ve trained Lillian to stay in her room for 2 hours of quiet time. Sometimes she falls to sleep and sometimes she plays “quietly.” At times it sounds like a party in there but we’re working on it =) It’s been tricky scheduling the girls naps together but I usually get about an hour to nap. If Ivy is awake I just put her play gym next to me and she plays while I rest lying flat. (Here’s a pic of Lil when I went to get her up from naptime recently…)
3. Grocery Shopping Service – We are utilizing Harris Teeter’s grocery shopping service these days. It’s a huge help to me as shopping for groceries takes a lot of energy. (During the summer we are a part of a produce co-op and pick up our share weekly)
3. Easy dinners – I’ve been using our crockpot almost nightly. I’ve found a bunch of really good recipes that require very little prep which equals very little energy on my part. If I were to make a typical dinner that requires prep at dinner time, I would end up crashing and not being able to enjoy my family in the evenings. I plan to post some of our recent favorite recipes soon.
4. Outside help -
Family: Our moms stayed with us for about the first 6 weeks. I have no idea how we would’ve made it without them (thank you Debbie and Mom!). My mom has been continuing to come once a week to help clean and keep up with laundry, etc. Such a blessing!
Friends: We have numerous wonderful friends who are constantly offering to help – especially with childcare. A huge help!
5. Giving up on perfection – I really crave order and tend to be a perfectionist. Messes drive me nuts! I have to daily let this go. It’s a battle for me, but the Lord is using it to sanctify me. Having a clean and orderly home, most of the time, just can’t happen during this season. I’m trying to see the messes as signs that I am blessed with 3 lives to pour into and to love.
These are a few of the things that help our family to keep up these days. We are truly blessed!
Just 2 days before delivering Ivy, Keith preached a sermon that was so challenging and helpful for me as I was about to take a big step of faith. The dialogue in this Exodus text between Moses and God is so real, so candid and so familiar. God so often calls us to things that we are fearful of or that seem impossible. We so often respond as Moses does, full of fear and sinfully focused on ourselves. Keith focused on a phrase/promise that has been ringing in my ears since that day. “He is for you.” God is “for” His children. As I laid on the operating table in the OR this phrase was going through my mind. As I feed Ivy in the middle of the night and don’t feel as though I have the strength to do so, I’ve thought of this. This promise has helped me keep perspective during these difficult early weeks with a newborn. I’d encourage you to listen to this sermon and enjoy basking in the Lord’s promises to His children. Here’s a link: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=729121311596
I often write meditations or notes to Keith on the mirror in our bathroom with a dry erase marker. Here’s what it looks like these days. =)