March 30, 2010

I’ve been meaning to blog so many times in the last 2 weeks, but I just don’t seem to be able to get enough time to do it… or, I forget the password.

we just spent 5 days touring north-western Iowa.  we stayed in 3 different places, ate at 4 different restaurants, colored eggs, hunted eggs, saw old friends and all of our family.  it was a crazy little vacation!  it was fun, … and exhausting.

of course the kids hardly sleep.  neither do we.  everyone eats a bunch of different stuff.  we get all off schedule with bathroom routines and such.  if you’ve traveled at all with kids, you know what I am talking about.  the kids are all fired up and feeling a little crazy just because they get to go see all of their extended family.  they are a little louder, a little more rowdy, a little less likely to listen.  while it is fun, it takes the life out of you… out of me anyway.   it is very hard to try to keep everyone happy. 

sunday night we came home. … … … home.  it was so exciting, so relieving, so appreciated.  brian and I were so thankful for our very own king size bed and soft, comfy sheets, the smell of our own house.  the kids are glad to be home.  glad to lay on our own carpet, play our games, watch our movies, eat our food.  the kids crash and go to sleep in minutes instead of hours.  brian and I fall completely tired onto the couch and sigh a long sigh of relieve. 

all the time I’m wondering… if it feels this good to come home, this small physical dwelling that I temporarily possess,  I can’t imagine the rejoicing of my soul when it finally gets to go HOME.  home as in Heaven.  my one true home.  what will it be like to smell a sweet aroma that I have missed for so many years?  what will it be like to finally rest… a full, complete, peaceful rest?  what will it be like to eat the sweet fruits of heaven that I haven’t tasted in so long?  what will it be like to put on that robe that is so completely comfortable, perfectly tailored to fit me?

in my head I’m singing… “just a few more weary days and then… I’ll fly away.  to a land where joys will never end… I’ll fly away.”


just the other day, gabrielle had a little friend over for a playdate.  they were sitting at the table, giggling back and forth over macaroni and cheese when the friend spilled her milk… all over the table.  all over the floor.  into the paperwork.  she looked at me with some big, half sorry, half sad eyes.  she quickly said sorry and started moving stuff out of the way.  I said it was okay.  grabbed a dish towel and started heading for the table.  I didn’t holler at her or tell her ‘that’s what happens when you are goofing around’ in a less than kind voice.  we cleaned it up and got some new milk.  no harm done.

it was during the process of wiping up the milk, as I was on my hands and knees under the table that I realized I was guilty of something that I often tell my children not to do.  I wasn’t guilty in this particular instance, but in previous (and fearfully future) incidents.  I was nicer  to this little girl who I am just getting to know than I would have been to my very own sweet and much-loved daughter… flesh of my flesh, a girl after my own heart.  I probably would have snapped at her and made her feel guilty.  it was right there under the table that I heard my own words echoing in my mind… “you can’t be ‘so nice’ to the outside world and then come home and be mean and crabby to your family, the ones who love you most.”  often said to a child who has just been playing  nicely outside with friends and then comes in and is crabby with a sibling.  I felt bad.  I had a glaring example of my own words right in front of me and I  was the model of behavior that I didn’t want.

a great lesson…  in humility and love.  in ‘practice what you preach’.  in ‘you got a ways to go my beloved’.

just to clarify…

March 15, 2010

I just wanted to clarify about my last post.  I didn’t mean for it to sound like I was complaining… although I think it may have come across that way.  I am very appreciative of the friends and neighbors that help with picking up and dropping off my other 2, I smile when I get your emails and messages, I’m happy to have doctors and nurses who treat us soo well.  … … … I guess the part that hurts, the part that is upsetting, the part that does tend to make me crabby is that ‘this’  is what is normal for us.  I don’t want to be so familiar with the hospital, I don’t want to be on a first named basis with a good number of doctors, I don’t want my baby to have to go to the hospital every 3 months just to hopefully help his feet stay braceable.  … … …

just another surgery…

March 11, 2010

cole had “surgery” today,  a regular procedure that he has done every 3 months.  … every 3 months for the past 11+ years.  it makes going to the hospital no big deal, and something about that bugs me.  the no big deal part anyway.

I remember the first time cole had this done.  it was a big deal.  he got a new stuffed animal, I believe it was a lemur.  mama and daddy where there.  meme and poppie were there.  we were all nervous.  everyone in the family knew what was going on and when and where…  …  today, some 50 odd surgeries later, life doesn’t even blink.  I take him by myself.  brian meets me at the hospital so he can carry cole into the sedation room and just hold him for a little bit.  hardly anyone knows we are going.  hardly anyone asks how it went or if cole is okay.

it seems to be another one of those events in my life that comes with a wide range of emotion.  I see all the ‘first timers’ there.  you can tell because mom and dad are there and so are the grandparents. they look all nervous, the mom always comes out of the sedation room crying because she has just seen her little baby go limp and lifeless right in front of her eyes…  I don’t have that anymore.  the hospital is like cheers for us.  the staff knows cole.  they are happy to see him and he is thrilled to see them.  today in fact, the anesthesiologist was excited to meet ‘the legend’.  we laugh and talk with the doctors and catch up on how everyone’s family is doing.  I didn’t even go in with cole when he was put under today… (he won’t remember any of that anyway because of the versed (a sedative) he takes when we get there).  I sit in the lobby and flip through magazines and watch the other parents.  when it is time for cole to start waking up, the nurse will come and get me.  she tells me that we can leave whenever we want, we know the drill.  so those seem to be advantages to having a frequent flier card at the hospital…

on the other hand, I feel a little  jilted that it gets treated like we went in for a yearly physical. it is just as serious when it is the 50th time as it was the first time.  he might not wakeup.  he could be further debilitated.  the shots could make his legs feel like they are numb and only set us back instead of helping us to move forward.

how do I balance it out?  how do I treat it?  do I tell everyone?  do I tell no one?  am I thankful that cole is happy to go and that I don’t have to add crying to the equation?  am I ticked because no one called to see how it went?  how can they call if they don’t know? 

… just another situation spinning around in my head that I need to lay down.  give it to God.  He was with me today.  He watched the whole procedure.  He knew the outcome before it started.  He knows…  He knows…

Be still, and know that I am God…  Psalm 46:10

now that we are more aware of how much of an impact the everyday little things are on the forming of a boy into a man, we are trying to give dawson as many opportunities as we can. he has taken his new job of locking the door at night very seriously and hasn’t missed a night.  he doesn’t even need reminded.  in fact, he has been doing his little nighttime walk through right after supper some nights.

last night, brian was putting new brake pads on the van.  usually this is something that he would just go do on his own, but last night dawson john was out on the garage floor with his dad.  he learned about brake pads and routers.  he pulled the tire off himself and helped to fasten the nuts back on.  and when they came in, brian was very excited in telling me just how strong dawson is… which brought a delightful smile, with a hint of pride to dawson’s young face, as they stood side by side at the sink washing their hands with GOOP. …  my little tender heart… who now looks me in the eye, has broken into the 100+ pound range, grows an average of 1/4-1/2  inch a month and wears his cap backwards just like his daddy.  I can practically see him growing right in front of me!

we’re gonna make a man out of him.  not a guy. (as we heard at the parenting seminar over the weekend)  not that locking doors or changing brake pads make anyone a ‘man’, but the principles behind them do.  we want him to know how to protect and provide for his family someday… Lord willing. 

even though it is exciting to see him grow and change and become a fine young man, somehow it also makes my mama’s heart a little sad…  it is hard to see them grow.  and it happens so fast.  it really does seem like he was about knee-high, calling himself “see-son” not that long ago.   God give me the strength and the courage to keep training this boy in the way he should go.  help us to make him into a man.  I love him so…

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.  In everything set them a good example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned… Titus 2:6-8

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.  Proverbs 22:6

ella, goofy, paws…

March 7, 2010


here’s what cole does after school.  he has us load up his best friends in his little sled and pulls them around the neighborhood, up to the park and around the ice rink.  he is just ecstatic about it.  he doesn’t seem to mind the grating sound of dragging a plastic sled on asphalt for blocks, he could care less about whether this looks silly to anyone else, he’s just happy to be out and about with his little friends.  let me introduce them…

paws is his very favorite, most special friend.  he’s been here since the beginning.  he’s been to dr. appointments and hospital visits.  he’s been to the north shore and breckenridge.  he’s been chewed on and thrown up on and loved.  loved, loved, loved.  every night.  he sleeps by cole.

ella is a newer friend.  he picked her out last summer with his birthday money.  he named her.  he takes care of her, including going to the pretend doctor, field trips to school and therapy and lots and lots of naps.  she doesn’t get invited everywhere though.  sometimes cole is very clear about that.  ella must stay home.

goofy is his newest friend.  he just got him this fall as a reward for going on the potty.  cole really likes mickey mouse clubhouse and goofy is his favorite character.  goofy gets invited sometimes, but he stays in cole’s room most of the time.  he gets included in hospital checks too, the pretend ones anyway.  but he does have to stay home most times too.

on this day though, everyone was invited and cole happily pulled them around the block.  I really just can’t help but smile about it.  how cute is this?!?  it is one of those innocent, endearing moments that make me love him so, so much. 

one of one thousand…

March 5, 2010

our pastor often says that God is doing a thousand things in every one thing.  I’ve just recently found out one of the things He has been doing in and through the brief life and death of my sweet baby boy.  here’s the story…

Hey Jenifer,

I just wanted to let you know about the wide ripples that Luke has inspired in the world. 

I’d been a photographer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep for a year when I was called to meet your family on what had to be the most precious and painful night–New Years Eve when Luke came into the world for a tiny spell and went right back up to Heaven.

Your session was the first I had ever photographed with siblings and your three older children just broke my heart.  Punkin kept asking questions like, “Will he have a birthday cake in Heaven? Will he stay small or will be grow up? Will Jesus be at his birthday party?” Dawson was crying huge tears and Cole was doing great at posing according to all my instructions…

I saw all the people in the room and realized how much everyone was waiting to welcome this new little life, how much your kids were looking forward to a little brother… and I recognized the look in your eyes.

My heart was breaking because: as much as the families that I photograph are grateful for the images I make, I only get called when a child has passed or is going to pass away immediately…

I hated that I couldn’t save anyone from this pain.  One day I saw the website for charity:water.  The website stopped me with the statement:

Every day 4,500 children die from diseases related to dirty water.

This is a totally preventable death. The website went on to explain that $20 gives one person clean water for 20 years!  Is there anything that you can buy for $20 that would do more good? 

Also clean water just hit me… I’m in Minnesota where we have clean frozen water on the ground outside, in our taps, in my shower… I use clean water all day and don’t think a thing about it.  I imagined what life, health care, food would all look life if the water wasn’t safe to drink.  How could you keep a baby clean and healthy?

I decided to build a well. I couldn’t save Luke or the other aprox. 20 babies I’d met through nilmdts, but I could save potentially hundreds more by giving them clean water.

I asked my friends and family to help me- and in September 2009, three months ahead of schedule, I’d finished fund-raising. 

My parents live next door to Jon Acuff, a popular blogger of www.stuffchristianslike.net He’s a good friend of mine and what we like to call “Internet Famous” 🙂  He said, “If Wendy can build a well, I can build a school!”  He contacted Samaritan’s Purse and found a project in Vietnam.  A kindergarten.  His daughter L.E. had been working on his heart and he had begun to imagine what it’s like for L.E.- aged kids around the world who don’t have schools… (I think when something’s God-inspired, it comes at you from all directions…)

The well was $5,000 the school was $30,000.  It took me nine months.  Jon raised the money for the school in 18 HOURS.  It was so successful that he decided to do a second school.  Two weeks later $60,000 was raised for two kindergartens in Vietnam.

So now a village will have clean water, two hundred kindergartners will have a school with teachers, books and love….

My friends and Jon’s readers weren’t uncaring people, it’s just that normal folks need to be inspired to act. 

God touched me through your family to do something about children dying.

I know it’s cold comfort, and nothing is worth not having Luke in your arms now on Earth, but look what a tiny life did!  I hope when you think of all the smiles that two schools and a clean water well will bring…. In a few years these projects will literally touch a thousand lives, that’s a lot of change for good all because of one tiny little guy in Minnesota.

I think of you and your family so often, I was in despair over the deaths of infants, but meeting your family inspired me to act. Jenifer, I has an enormous amount of love for your family in my heart.  People have asked me why I chose to build a well… I tell them about Luke who couldn’t be saved and the numerous children who could all because we chose to care.

I think that caring for a person’s basic needs is exactly what God’s love is all about uncomplicated and immediate.

With gratitude and love,


this is healing balm to my broken heart.  maybe one day in Heaven, luke and I will meet a brother or sister in Christ from vietnam or china and be told the story of how hearing the gospel changed their lives and saved their soul… all because of a well or a school.  thanks so much for sharing this story wendy. 

please be encouraged that God is at work in every part of your life… doing a thousand things.  pass this along so that others may be encouraged as well.

much love to you~

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5

I wish I was nursing…

March 4, 2010

I watched the office tonight.  that was probably a mistake.  it was the whole ‘nursing ‘ thing that got me tonight.  I wish I was nursing.  I was a good nursing mama.  I could nurse here or there or anywhere.  not in a showy way, I just mean that I could nurse without all the blankets and fuss and embarrassment and on and on.  of course, I guess you could say that I also had good nursing babies.  oh how often I heard, ‘oh.  I didn’t know you were nursing.’ or ‘are you nursing?’. 

I miss that… 

I didn’t start out so great, back 13  years ago!  I remember not being able to nurse in front of anyone at first.  not even my dad.  and once, when we were out and about, I tried to nurse cole in a bathroom stall.  (which didn’t work well at all!)  by the time gabrielle came around I would nurse out in the front yard, without a blanket or anything while the kids were playing.

another sad thing is that you never know when it’s going to be the last one.  the last time you are going to nurse that baby.  …  well, maybe you would know.  I was never that planned, scheduled, organized… whatever you want to call it.  it is such an incredible bond.  such an indescribable experience.  I know that there are times when you just want to be done.  when you want your own body back.  I felt that too.  but then, it is still such a sweet and fleeting time…  how you can hear every little swallowing sound, how those little milk bubbles form in the corner of their mouths, how they hold on to the collar of mama’s shirt, how they are absolutely passed out after a full nursing with their little arm laying limp above their little head and they are still making that sucking motion with their  little mouths even though they aren’t latched on anymore…

I wish I was nursing.

change my bandages…

March 1, 2010

I have a new perspective on going to church.  I am going to start thinking of it as going in to change my bandages.  something that I don’t really want to do, but something that will be benefit me in the long run.  I start dragging my feet and looking for excuses not to go saturday evening.  I know it will hurt to have my wounds exposed once again.  there’s going to be that moment when the bandage has to be ripped off… when the wound must be cleaned…  like when the really pregnant lady sits in front of me or when the newborn behind me starts to make those brand new, tiny baby sounds.  I’m probably going to cry…  then there is the whole face to face, heart to heart with the Head Physician who was there from the begining.  He knew when I was pregnant, He knew when things started to not look so good, He was there when luke drew in those few breaths… and He was right there when they came back to tell me that luke hadn’t made it… he was just to little.  I wanted this Great Physician to heal luke.  I wanted Him to fix it all.

  He didn’t.

  and yet I still turn to Him to help me with the continued healing from this trauma.  I go to Him to apply the healing balm of his grace and put new bandages on my heart to help carry me through the next week or so.  somewhere in the worship and teaching, He covers my wounds anew.  it isn’t near as noticeable when the salve and new bandages are being put on as when they get taken off, but now, a day later, I feel okay again.  I’m happy to have fresh coverings for the deep wounds in my life.  I pray that one  of these days the bandages will need changed less often.

He knows all about wounds. He has suffered the greatest wounds of all.  and it is only because of His wounds that I am able to seek comfort from God Almighty.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.   Isaiah  53:5