Friday, July 27, 2007

Our Time Away

I figured I should get something new on the blog since we're well past the asthma episode.
Judah responded well to the nebulizer treatments and has since had no more asthma episodes. The boys are both back on their daily steroid through the nebulizer and probably will remain on it through the fall and winter now. I hate having them on a daily medication, but it is much better than having an asthma attack land us in the ER.

After MUCH deliberation and prayer, Lawrence decided that Bella and I would go with him to Florida earlier this week. It was not an easy decision for either of us, but God was gracious to reveal some lessons He was seeking to teach us through it all, mainly about Lawrence's leadership and my submission. More on that in another post someday (maybe).

Bella was an absolute joy to have along with us. She did amazingly well on the flights. Late night flights, though putting you at your destination late at night, are much preferable for traveling with babies as 1. they tend to sleep through the flight and 2. there are typically less people on those flights. Bella was my companion during the day while Lawrence was in class. We ate breakfast and lunch at Panera, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. We had our first "cream tea" at a local place called The Chai House. (well, I had the tea and scone; Bella just watched me eat and got a 'taste' of it later when she nursed). :)

She and I took our first girls only shopping trip where I stumbled upon a great little boutique that had a coat I really wanted to buy. See it here. It also had a line of embroidered items that I fell in love with, one item being a onesie that had "Sweet Pea" embroidered on it selling for a measly $18.

In between many phone calls home to check in on my sick boys, I read parenting books, Christ Our Mediator, watched an entire episode of Hells Kitchen, got to see Martha make brownie cookies for icecream sandwiches which I may try to duplicate for the boys' upcoming 3rd birthday party, took a long, uninterrupted nap, played around with styling my new haircut and adored the rare opportunity to have one on one time with my baby girl.

Lawrence and I were able to catch up in the evenings for dinner. One night we walked all over the place trying to figure out where we'd eat only to end up back at the hotel for some undercooked chicken and french fries. Mine was the undercooked chicken and thankfully, I didn't get sick from it. But, we did get my meal for free! The 2nd night, we ate at an American Cafe where I had better luck with a Hawaiian salad that was one of the best salads I've ever eaten. It had glazed chicken, grilled shrimp, pineapple, toasted cococut, mandarin oranges, pecans, and mixed greens. It was so flavorful, I didn't even need to use the sesame dressing that came on the side. We topped our dinner off with one of our favorite summertime desserts: icecream!

Writing it all out, I see that God provided some great memories for me with my daughter and husband, time for rest and re-envisioning as a mom and protection for my boys while they stayed at home with our sitters (who were amazing to willingly and lovingly care for our little sickos while we were gone...thanks, Kristin and Melissa). Unfortunately, I had a hard time while away really separating myself from what was happening here at home with the boys. I find it seems to get harder and harder to leave my kids for any amount of time even if it's time I know I need and will be well appreciated after the fact. I guess this is common to motherhood. Nevertheless, I am back in my "nest", re-envisioned for the hard but wonderful task of mothering my three little gifts.

Thank you, Lord, for time away to hear from you without the distraction of a dishwasher needing unloaded and three diapers needing changed all at the same time. Thank you for wonderful resources like Shepherding a Child's Heart and Teach Them Diligently that help to guide Lawrence and me in parenting our children for your glory. Thank You for Your Word that reveals the depths of my heart and need for You as I try each day to be a godly wife and mom. Thank you for Judah, Tucker and Bella, truly good gifts from You!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Asthma Returns

Judah and Tucker both have a history with asthma. We've been in the ER on several occasions, but last fall and throughout the winter, it seemed we had gotten it under control. The boys were put on a daily steroid via nebulizer which seemed to help them significantly get through colds without struggling with asthma. They recently started with colds or allergies (can't tell which it is), and had been handling it fine even though I've had them off the steroid for a couple months now....until this afternoon.

Judah woke up with a fit of asthma and on went the nebulizer mask. In the past, it's been difficult to control once an asthma attack occurs. The preventative measures seem to work best for our guys which means having that daily steroid in their system. Well, they've been off of that and so I'm a little anxious as to whether or not we'll be able to get this attack under control.

In addition (and we are finding this to be so par for the course in our home), Lawrence and I are planning to fly to Florida with Bella on Sunday evening for a CPE class he has down there. Every summer Lawrence usually has to fly somewhere to take continuing education classes, and I try to go with him if at all possible as we only end up paying for my flight since his flight and hotel costs are covered by his firm.

Please pray that we can get Judah's asthma under control and that Tucker and Judah's colds will clear up with enough time for me to confidently join my husband next week.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Tucker Funny

One day recently, Lawrence's parents, for whom Spanish is their first language, were hanging out at our house. I often ask Mrs. Almengor to speak Spanish to the boys when she is here because Heaven knows, they're going to learn much more from her speaking it than they ever will from me.

As Mrs. Almengor was changing Tucker's diaper, my husband overheard him say to her the following:

Tucker: "Is you gonna change my diaper?"

Mrs. A: "Si, hijito" (spanish for little son)

Tucker: "Is you gonna say 'oofa'?" (the spanish way of saying "p.u. or stinky")

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

To Love God More

I'm not sure what I want to write; I just know that I want to write something.
Writing is a way of processing for me, and so this post is mostly for myself. If any reader wants to read on, great. Hopefully, there'll be something encouraging for you, too.

I just spent the last several days caring for a dear friend and her family who have experienced great loss...Sweet, baby Livi went to be with the Lord after battling a rare form of Leukemia for more than a year. She was only 2 years old. Those 2 years went quickly, but they are filled with many wonderful memories of precious, fun times spent with her family and friends.

Only hours after Livi passed, I was hugging and crying with her mom in the kitchen of their home. Over the course of the weekend, I listened to many stories about Livi that brought both laughter and tears. I helped Emily go through her clothing, watched her bravely enter Livi's brand new room for the first time which her dad sacrificially prepared for her while she was in the hospital. I read Emily's drafted obituary for her daughter and corrected a misspelled word (What are friends for? Ironically, it was the word "friend" that was misspelled.)

I did some laundry, organized some shoes, brought some food and tissues. I drank some wine and cleaned some dishes. I met some of Emily's friends for the first time and re-acquainted myself with some of her extended family whom I have met in the past. I sat in silence. I also wept. I laughed and listened. I gave permission to be yelled at, kicked out, have things thrown at me or whatever. I just wanted to be there.

Some might find it difficult or uncomfortable to be around those who are grieving the death of a loved one, but I found it more difficult to not be there. I was reminded while there all weekend of the verse in Ecclesiastes 7:2, It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. I wanted to be near my dear friend and her family who are also so dear to my heart. I have to consider how much more God is desiring to be near to all of them right now; He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I spent time in Emily and James' home. I was also at the funeral home and the church where Livi was memorialized. In all those places, at various moments everything in me wanted to stand up and scream, "THIS ISN'T RIGHT! THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING." I can only imagine how much more Emily and James are feeling that right now. I know that death was not in God's original design. I know He created us to live forever. And while we still do live forever either in Heaven or Hell, we have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. It feels permanent even though the separation is only temporary. And while we give thanks that one day we will see Livi again and we will be reunited, that temporary separation is so very painful. It leaves us with an ache in our bones almost and an empty feeling in Emily's arms. She wants to hold her baby. She wants to see her laugh again. She wants to care for her, plan for her days, love and cherish all the milestones. I want this for her, too.

At the same time I wanted to scream, I was praying all the while one prayer for myself, for Emily, James and their families. I was and am praying that somehow we will all love God MORE for this and even because of this. It is a prayer of faith because I cannot see how that can happen. I only know of God's power to redeem, to cause us to draw near to Him, to cause us to persevere in Him and to love Him more fully. Somehow, through the most tragic of life's circumstances, we come to know God and love God more deeply. Sometimes, the path that takes us to this place is quite circuitous, winding through bitterness, anger and despair before we come to the love, faith and hope. But, we get there. Why? Only because of God's faithfulness to His own, because of His relentless committment to our good, ultimately because of His unswerving, never faltering love for us.

What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Even in the death of a very loved little girl, God is being mindful of us and not just mindful, but good. I know this even though I can't see how.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The New Look

I thought I would write about the reason behind the new look/new title. First, I'm still working on the new look. I'd like to get my husband's input and help with it because he's a lot better at that kind of thing than I am. But, this is what I did on my own, which for someone technologically disinclined, is pretty good I think! :)

The new title is first a practical move. The blog has morphed into an online journal about my whole life, not just updates on Judah's health as it once was. I now have three children, and I want to brag about all of them to the world. For those as technologically disinclined as myself (Gretchen), the address remains the same:, so don't worry about changing that on your favorites list or RSS feed (is that right?...I mean bloglines and things like that). Only the title and look has changed.

The new title, "Pleasant Places" also comes from a verse that has become my life verse of sorts. I have found too often I'm tempted to look at my circumstances and doubt God's goodness. Anything as tragic as losing my father to brain cancer at age 12 to the less tragic but nevertheless heartbreaking incidents of unrequited loves (yes, there was sadly more than one).

I am constantly having to confront my sinful heart that seeks to compare my life and lot to others' lives and situations and accuse God of witholding good from me, or at least the best. I think, "my life is good, but it could be better." I play the "if only" game far too often. This verse has informed my thoughts and moved my heart on more than one occasion, bringing me to a place again and again of both surrender AND joy in all that my life is and all that it is not.

This one verse consistently says, "SHHH" to my disquieted heart that grumbles and complains. It reminds me of what is true, that truly God has placed the boundary lines of my life in pleasant places and that I do indeed have a delightful inheritance in Him.