Thee Angel Project

A year of writing a little bit of everything. Writers Write, Right?


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On November 4th…

FOR LIFETo see a list of local candidates who vote for life, and who thereby deserve your vote, visit the National Right to Life Political Action Committee’s site.

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the 12 seconds i can’t get back

A car fire rages in the background. Her body slumps over the engine of her own broken down pick-up. She turns around revealing her shredded jeans and bloodied legs. The camera scans upward to show her matted hair, her blood stained shirt, and her gray and broken skin. Without warning, there is a yellow explosion on her head and the camera sets its sights on the junior army rangers who have just scored their first kill in this year’s zombie hunt.

the 12 seconds i can't get back

This is the scene my eight year old daughter plays over and over in her head. (I’ll warn you, before you click on the link, my description doesn’t do it justice. It’s quite disturbing.) It renders her frozen in fear and strapped to my neck as she recounts the previous day’s nightmare.

12 seconds. That’s all it took to leave an impression. It is this same 12 seconds that will no doubt be shown dozens of times between today and October 31st, a mere 36 days from today. Ugh. I didn’t take her to any theater and she’s never been on a zombie hunt. She didn’t read about it in a book or see it on Netflix. All she did was sit with me while I watched the morning news. Morning. News. You know, the program shown from 7 to 9 am…in the morning.

First I was averting my eyes and grappling with the discomfort (no pun intended) of sitting in a room with my teenage son as the Osphena women spoke of vaginal dryness while seducing the camera. Now this.

I can’t imagine that the Osphena commercial plays to the same demographic as the zombie killing one. (Perhaps it does.) Morning show advertising must be on sale this month.

Here’s the irony, at the close of every morning news program, our local CBS affiliate, the very same one that has sold airtime for this nightmare inducing graphic display, airs a segment called Moms Everyday. This is a national organization geared toward providing moms with the tools to take better care of themselves and their families. Can anyone say, Oxymoron?

Although the commercial on my local network puts knots in my stomach, I don’t much care that it exists. Ok, I care a little bit, but I don’t plan on doing any zombie hunting of my own any time soon, so normally I could just ignore it. I do care though that it is shown at 8:00 am. I do care that I have to be vigilant about remaining in the livingroom, even though my other children are rising and needing help with breakfast, just so I can be sure to distract my eight year old, should the zombies surface again.

Yes, I could turn off the television. Yes, I could watch a different morning news program (although I doubt I would find the advertising to be much different.) But, here’s the thing, why should I have to?

Is there no time in my day that I can let down my guard, even a little? Is there no point at which I can turn on the television and not worry that a random 12 seconds is going to keep my children up countless nights? Is there no criteria by which we, as society, check ourselves on the idiot scale? Is there no time at which we look at what we’ve done and realize we’ve sold our souls and the souls of our children and are taken aback? Is there no limit to what we will allow our children to see?

I’ll be writing my local station. I’ll be making contact with Moms Everyday. And, while I might just be fighting a losing battle, I’ll be fighting. Care to join me? Watch carefully. I would imagine you’ll see a similar scene on your television sometime in the next 36 days.


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a cut and paste…and a public service announcement

So, this was my Facebook status on Saturday evening:
“A week ago today Child #2 had a fever and a sore throat. We took her to the Dr. on Monday…strep. Child #4 woke up Tuesday with a fever and a sore throat…strep. Just last night Child #5 presented with a fever and after a visit to the Dr. this morning…you guessed it…strep. We got home tonight and Child #1 has a fever and a sore throat. I am seriously considering having Child #1 lick Child #3 right on the face so that Child #3 will be on meds before Child #2 is off of them. Lord, have mercy.”

Sunday morning I woke up with a fever and…not a sore throat, but…did you know…(this is the public service announcement part) that nursing moms get strep in other places? Yep. It’s not called strep though, it’s called mastitis. Everything I found via Google said that nursing an infant with strep was not a big deal. I even asked about it at the doctor’s office when we took Youngest Daughter in and they told me I had nothing to worry about. Oi Vey.

God bless my husband who took one look at me when he got home from church and said something like, “We’re going to the ER.” God bless ER doctors that ask things like, “Do you think you have enough pain meds?”

I’m feeling so much better today! Ready to tackle the germs that have been bullying my family and looking forward to future days when we no longer line up for medicine in an army roll call like fashion. Remember the picture of Youngest Daughter eating cereal? That’s pretty much the face we get as soon as she sees us coming with that lovely amoxicillin syringe. Poor thing.

Moms of young children (of children who were once young) give me your best strep, flu, cold…story.


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to the girl who sits the bench

You don’t go unnoticed. I know it feels like that at times, perhaps all the time, but it’s just not true.

I see you sitting there waiting…for the coach’s eyes to meet yours, for the nod that means you’re getting in the game. I see the disappointment on your face when you’re taken out. I see the frustration and anxiety that comes with feeling like you don’t measure up. I once was you, wishing for the chance to play, critiquing every point that was scored while I sat. I know.

I know that in that place and at that time, what goes on between those lines feels like the whole world to you. Let me remind you, it’s just a fraction, a tiny part.

I know that where I sit from where you are seems so very far away, a lifetime, but let me assure you I can’t remember the last time I even thought about my time sitting with the least bit of sorrow. It just doesn’t happen. The time when they were playing and I was not only mattered for moments, not weeks, not months, certainly not years. Moments. Remember, this is only a fraction of your life, a fraction of who you are. You are so much more.

I do see you sitting there, but here’s what else I see…and this is the truly important part.
I see your perseverance, your desire, your love of the game. More so I see your care for the people who play it along side you. I see you congratulate your teammates and attend to their needs. I see you as a part of the team in ways that are too often overlooked. They’re not overlooked by me. I see you.

Take a look down the bench. No, not yours. The one on the other side of the court. Look at the other team. Do you see her? The one sitting? The one just like you? You are not alone. You’re part of a sisterhood, one that spans the decades. I’ll say it again. You are not alone, not even close.

to the girl who sits the bench...

While the crowd watches every movement of the ball, I watch you. While the crowd lives and dies with every point, I couldn’t care less about the score. While they cheer victories and agonize over defeats, I only cheer, for victory is found in you simply being there.

I know those hours can seem like wasted time. Perhaps you could spend them differently, but take heart, they are not wasted. Here’s what will come of your time. Those moments waiting will help you to be a patient mother, an empathetic physician, a thoughtful teacher, a compelling businesswoman, an eloquent speaker, a devoted wife, a faithful friend. You will be one who is described with words like integrity and grace and virtue and charitable and marvelous and strong.

Girl Who Sits the Bench, you don’t go unnoticed, not at all. You stand out in the most glorious way.

For those of you who also sat the bench (and maybe even those of you who didn’t) 🙂 …please share below any additional stories or words of wisdom and encouragement.


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how we’re doing

I had a lovely friend ask me yesterday how we’re doing. If you were with me throughout our last weeks in Kansas, through all of the madness, through the baby having and baptizing, and holy week surviving, and house hunting, and box packing, and goodbye saying, you would know, it’s a good question.

Our women’s Bible study at church began a couple weeks ago. It’s a bit like an oasis in a desert. Just a taste of the things to come. I forgot how long it takes to get to know people in a new environment, and how crucial all of those “in addition to Sunday morning” activities can be when getting to know a new church family. I am looking forward to that day when instead of being in an oasis, I’m on an island surrounded by all of the knowledge and love and joy in this journey I can possibly take in. I know it’s coming. I can feel it.

Walking into the sanctuary of our new home is beginning to actually feel like home. I know where the silverware is kept and the paper cutter too. I have yet to take on the dishwasher or the sound system in the fellowship hall, but those both feel like second half of the first year kind of things.

Seth has been crazy busy getting to know our new families and I am keeping up…eh, no I’m not. I’ll get there eventually. It hasn’t been until this week, yesterday in fact, that I can see a light at the end of this tunnel of our unscheduled madness. Usually I am a roll with the punches kind of girl, but with my family being in three, sometimes four, sometimes five separate places on any given day, I find myself often fumbling around for a sense of familiarity. This has been the case though for the past…well, since February. We’re all just trying not to drop any proverbial balls. So far…so good…I think.

School for the bigs is going well. A funny thing happened on the way back into the classroom setting though. I learned that I really no longer care about grades. Really, at all. I used to think of them as a good measure of how my children were doing in school, but have since learned, through the learning of my children themselves, that they are really only a fraction of the story of their days. I’m not upset about F’s and I’m not enamored by A’s. If they’re learning the material and are enjoying their days, I could care less about the rest. The boy left his homework folder at home today, so all of today’s work will be late. Neither Seth, nor I, am running it back to him. He’ll learn. We’ll see if that new found, “meh,” attitude sticks. I hope it does.

Built on the Rock is back in session too and this week we added some preschool-ish type activities to our days. Trying to get Youngest Daughter to cooperate with some sort of schedule is impossible with the rest of us fumbling about. It’s like the chicken and the egg thing. I can’t keep my students on schedule without the baby’s day being consistent…and the opposite is also true. We’re trying to also fit in times for Seth and I to work out a few times a week, a much needed aspect of our days for health and sanity as well. Once we get that figured out, I can hopefully squeeze in some reading and daily personal devotion time as well. You would think finding an extra thirty minutes in the day and the energy to do something that requires attentive brain cells, would be easy. I’m working on it. We’re almost there.

Thank you for asking, dear friend. Thank you.

 


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the first week

“Mom, I want to do one thing for school tomorrow…snack.”
And so it went for Youngest Middle. That and a little ABC Mouse were pretty much the extent of her week.

Oldest Middle slid comfortably into last year’s routine. It is markedly different only having one grade school student at home…at least it is for me. She still has the same type and amount of work, but I have no planner other than the one hidden inside my brain. I can juggle one schedule. It’s oddly peaceful.

I’ve missed the two biggest like crazy. Especially on Thursday when they didn’t get home until 6:00. That part of the schedule I am not enjoying at all. It does make dinner time a little more lively though, or maybe just lively in a different way. Everyone has been so talkative, getting caught up on everything that has happened throughout the day that Seth has had little time to create any crazy songs. I miss that a little too. I’m thankful it’s the weekend!

We all were able to attend chapel this week. It was lovely and peace-filled. It reminded me of all the reasons we gave our children a choice this year, of why I changed my major halfway through college to include a Lutheran Teacher’s Diploma. It was balm for the soul.

Oldest Daughter is in charge of the phones this week at school. It’s a smaller school, so the students do actually answer the phones, so that the teachers working in multi-grade classrooms don’t have to interrupt their lessons. Here’s what I love about her job though, at the beginning of each day, she makes a phone call to one of the elderly members of the congregation. The students are given a script and are to ask questions about how the members are feeling and if they are in need of a personal visit. Each member gets a phone call every school day. I could not love this more!

She came home on the second day after a full course load and volleyball practice (thus the getting home at 6:00) and was in tears because she had made a couple rookie mistakes. I pray that she will heed our words from that day, reminding her that our expectations for her are that she does her best, whatever that is on any given day.

Friday was better and we even got a little bit of homework done Friday evening, which for her is huge.

As far as the boy is concerned…Victory is mine, saith this mom! I have been nudging him towards cross country for years…truly, years! He has proclaimed this year that he is interested in running, I think mainly because some of the other boys in his class are, but hey, I’ll take it. I am thrilled! I never even came close to getting a concussion running hills. Not that it couldn’t happen, just sayin’.

Work in the classroom is going well for him…I think. It drives me a little nutty not being able to know exactly what is going on with his curriculum. I do know that he forgot to reduce a fraction on one of his math problems today, which made me laugh because we had this conversation a million times last year. I’m glad I was with him to have those conversations, to know that.

I will always be thankful for the three years they were in my class. I pray their teachers know what awesome children they have on loan to them this year, and I am continuing to pray for a smooth transition as we move into week two. Feel free to join me. 🙂


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my bigs start school this week

In just one day. That’s twenty-four hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds. That’s what’s left of the three years I had with my two oldest in my classroom here at Built on the Rock.

I’m gonna just throw this out there and say that I’m not handling it all that well. Three years. Some days it seemed to stretch on forever. Some days I hated it and wanted to quit. Some. Few. Most days it was good and right. Many days it was magnificent, a well-timed and perfectly choreographed dance.

Any and all posts where moms are jumping up and down shouting for joy that school has begun, make me want to throw things. I get the sentiment behind it. I know at one time I used to think that way too. Now though, having seen and experienced the joy of home education, I no longer remember what it was like to wish for summer’s end.

There is something that feels very wrong about asking someone else to educate my child.

There is something very wrong about saying good-bye to them at 8:00 in the morning and then not seeing them again until…on some days, almost 6:00.

This is what we wanted, but now that it’s a mere twenty-four hours away, I have doubts.

I’m putting my children into a classroom setting where I don’t know their classmates or their classmates’ families. While I am confident that their teachers and curriculum will be rooted in Christ and his saving love and grace, it’s not me at the wheel. I learned so much about my children having them at home with me full time. I’m a little afraid that one day soon, I’ll turn around and I will have forgotten the details of their make-up that is still forming them into the unique creations they are. How am I possibly going to remember them in just three hours a day?

Don’t tell them. They are beyond thrilled. They are confident and ready. Oldest Daughter cannot wait for the next 1,440 minutes to pass.

And I will survive, and teach everything I know to the third grader still on my roll.

My bigs are going to be wonderful additions to their classrooms and their school community. I’m just going to miss them.

But not for another 86,400 seconds.


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library love

My children, all of them, from the moment we arrived in this place, have taken full advantage of the fact that we no longer live miles from everything. They are at the pool, the grocery store, the park, any number of places, sometimes all on the same day.

Our new library has held special intrigue for them in the fact that the programs offered are ones in which they have never before participated. Almost once a week they will come home from the library brimming with excitement about something other than books. Truthfully, Oldest Middle really only reads when it is forced upon her. If she had carte blanche to create her own recipes, she would never even open a cookbook. But, still, she is thrilled just setting foot in the doors of our library. (The cake pans that she can borrow from there may have something to do with that.)

Earlier this summer the librarians hosted a teddy bear sleep over, and while Youngest Middle couldn’t bear (no pun intended) to have her most beloved puppy out of her sight for the evening, we found a suitable replacement. She went to the library, listened to stories and then tucked her animal in for the night. In the morning, she picked up her buddy and a letter, personally written, telling all about what fun the stuffed friends had while the children were gone.

A couple weeks ago the big girls came home with a fitness incentive program brochure. It had a map of the town marking all of the local parks. They were to visit and take pictures of themselves at 5 local parks and for doing so they would receive a fabulous prize. They were gone ALL AFTERNOON in ninety plus degree weather. (I’ll make certain I leave that information off of my application for mother of the year.) They followed an accompanying map around town and only came home when their water bottles were empty, the towels on their heads were dry, and their faces looked like mine used to at the end of a cross country race.

At the end of the day they came home with four out of five parks found, but not for a lack of trying. So I hopped in the car with them and found their last park. (It turns out that they were in the right area, but this particular park is camouflaged as someone’s front yard.) At which point we headed to the library for their prize. They were thrilled.

Gotta love eight and ten year olds.

Gotta love librarians who can challenge eight and ten year olds to do any manner of crazy things all in the name of granola bars and Gatorage.

Kudos, Ladies, kudos.


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our story, made possible by his story

For those of you who know our family in person, you will have heard this story…a few times, but I felt it necessary to bring it to the forefront again today.

I have another place where I have been writing on and off for a couple years. While I won’t be bringing over very much from that site, this one is important.

I saw news again of another baby, full term, taken before she could be delivered. Each time this happens it makes me ache and makes me wonder with immeasurable thanksgiving, why me. Not all of these babies can be saved, I know that. But I truly believe mine was, in part, because I read Samuel’s story months before my youngest was born. The rest only God can know.

This is our story, written a week after our youngest was born. It was made possible by his story.

She had been a mover and a shaker, especially at night. As soon as I would lie down for the evening, my belly would begin to do the wave, almost always for a good thirty to forty minutes. Last Wednesday night was different. She was suspiciously quiet and when I woke at three o’clock and she wouldn’t respond with her regular predictability to my push and squish reindeer games, I knew something was wrong.

I woke Seth up with the words, “I can’t get the baby to move,” and within minutes he had called our night-time-on-call-in-case-the-baby-comes-early friend and had our almost packed bags in the car.

On our way to the hospital I felt her kick. It was small, but it happened twice and it was enough to question whether or not we should be making this trek to the hospital in the middle of the night. I burst into tears, for what would be the first of many many times that day as Seth continued driving. “Let’s just go and get things checked out.”

We arrived at the hospital and were taken into an exam room on the labor and delivery unit. Crackers and juice, I.V. fluids. We found a strong and steady heartbeat that accompanied some mild braxton-hicks contractions, but still things didn’t look quite right. Baby was not responding to the contractions as anticipated. “I’m not comfortable sending you home without seeing some accelerations.” Our first nurse’s name was Stephanie. She was a cautious yet calm gift those first few hours. A biometric sonogram was ordered and my Dr. was contacted and Seth prayed.

4 out of 8 was her score. The 30 minute sonogram measured no large movements and no lung function. “You’re gonna have this baby today.”

I had my heart set on beginning labor on my own. This was not what I had planned. Plans change.

Parents and friends were contacted and our other prayer warriors were on it, casting all our anxieties on Him.

Minutes later the pitocin was dripping and the contractions had begun, my doctor by our side. “Do you have any questions?” I had been through an induction before and could think of only one that was of any significance, “If something happens, can Seth get in to baptize the baby?”

His words were reassuring. “If I thought we were at that point, baby would be here already.”

Ok. Breathe. Cry, but breathe.

One of the nurses from the doctor’s office came by. She’s a part of the one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith too. Her presence was one of many other gifts that day.

I had had an epidural with three of my other children and thought, since I was being induced, I would probably want one this time too. The very real prospect of a c-section meant though that sooner rather than later would be the way to go. My contractions were not strong, but the desire to be ready for anything was. The epidural was in.

Seven more hours. Seven more hours of watching the monitors. Seven more hours of snail’s pace progression. Seven more hours, and then Addi, our new nurse, came running into the room. Baby’s heart rate had dropped during the last contraction. Really dropped.

More intense watching. More waiting. More dropping.

Pitocin off. Oxygen on. Still occasionally dropping. Too often.

Words of calm urgency from my doctor. “I think there’s probably something going on with the cord.”

Seth was given a gown.

Monitors were unplugged.

The Lord’s Prayer was all I could think of to say, and I’m pretty sure I only made it about halfway through before my mind wandered through pieces and parts of other prayers and words from His word, and then back again.

I was moved just across the hall.

The curtain was up and the c-section had begun.

I was surprised at how many people were in the delivery room. This time it was going to take a village just to get this baby out. I was comforted by the kindness of each of the doctors, specifically the anesthesiologist. From her play by play of what was going on behind the curtain to her calming voice telling me I really was breathing when my almost entirely numb body couldn’t feel it, she was my lifeline for our time in that place.

Once the knotted cord that was wrapped twice around her neck was removed, our newest baby girl worked those previously quiet lungs to sing the song that every mother longs to hear.

I didn’t get to hold her right away. That part stunk, probably more than any of the other unexpecteds of the day. The initial bonding was different this time and when they first placed her in my arms back in my room, she felt a bit like an alien baby. I wasn’t sure I knew her. I wasn’t certain she was mine. Rest assured, this lasted a fairly short period of time, but it was in fact different, and it is part of her birth story, so it is noteworthy.

At home, the big kids and grandparents raised their sparkling cider filled glasses in a toast to their new sibling and topped off the celebration with a sprinkle drowned bowl of ice cream.

From the hospital Seth texted and called family and friends to share the news that prayers had been answered in the form of a perfectly healthy little girl.

In the days since her birth, thoughts of “What if” run rampant. What if we had turned around and gone home? What if she had been my first and not my fifth?

Blessedly those are quieted by the words of my doctor. “Baby’s gonna make her baptism. You’re the hero here, Mom.” I feel like the new poster child for trusting your instincts.

She’s one week old today.

She took her first bath at home this morning. She has cried her way through every diaper change with the exception of one. She doesn’t sleep on her own…yet. She has been starving since the moment she was born. She has been rejoiced over by our church family. She has been held and is adored by her siblings more than any child could possibly hope to be, but just as I would imagine God intends all of His children to be.

She is after all His unique creation, and she is without question, Wonderfully Made.