Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fishing hook: 1, Kates leg: 0

Someday we'll look back and laugh at that time I almost had a heart attack. Wait, there are a lot of those. 

I mean the time Kate found Jakes fishing lure.

Yesterday I heard screaming from my bedroom. The "I'm about to die" kind of screaming that throws every mom's adrenaline into overdrive. I came in to find Kate {literally} hooked to my bed. One end of a huge lure was in my bed and the other in Kate's leg. And upon surveying the situation through panick-struck-vision and seeing that the hook was fully through her leg but that the hook wasn't "set" (that term was for you Dad) I knew that it was up to me to pull it out. And quickly because she was still screaming and flailing and I knew there was a high possibility of it going in deeper- and then I wouldn't be able to get it out. Not to mention how painful that would be for poor Kate.

It also flashed through my mind that you aren't supposed to remove shrapnel from a car accident or explosion because once it pierces your body, it's holding in your organs, so it has to be removed by a medical professional. "Pull it together Amy, this isn't shrapnel, it's a fish hook. You can do this, just do it quickly. And don't let Kate see you panic." 

After that is sort of a blur that involved a phone call to my husband, the doctor, some info about her latest tetnis shot, some hydrogen peroxide and melaleuca. 

Look at that cute leg. This is why her nickname is Squishy.

Entry wound and exit wound. It went in at the top and was coming out the other side. So freaky.

Oh and a I had to have Ashley run to grab scissors so I could cut Kate's shirt off. It was in the hook good and I didn't want to risk stabbing her again or pulling it up over her head to get it off. And Kate wanted that thing as far away from her as possible- and fast.

Thankfully the lure had never been used (it was still in the box) and her shots were up to date and she's a super resilient kid. Within 30 minutes she was running around and fighting over which color Popsicle. Although I'm sure that leg is going to be sore for a little while and we're watching for signs of infection.

Someday it'll all be funny. Right now, I think I see another gray hair.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Heart and Home

I've been working on a blog post for a month now and trashed it 3 times.

Summer is *ahem* busy. Not like going places and doing things busy. Just juggling daily life busy. And in the busyness, my heart is stirring. Attacks on Israel. Revival in the church. Prayer for our nation. Burdens for our community. My heart is stirred. I've got an adventure itch and a heaven craving.

But meanwhile in mommyland....................

I wake up every day to kids banging on doors, yelling, crying, laughing or needing to pee. I jump up looking like I've got the virus from World War Z and try to focus my eyes while I pour 4 cereal bowls with one hand, drink coffee with the other and listen to Ashley and Emily simultaneously talking to me. And I must comprehend what they're saying because there will in fact be a quiz at the end. Or at least a, "so can I?" to which I'll need to have an answer.

Then I start the laundry, unload the dishwasher, clean up breakfast, wash 4 faces, break up any fights, and tell Micah for the 3rd time, "no more buddy, breakfast is over."

And like every other day except Sunday, I sweep 15 times, clean the counters 46 times, remind the kids to close the back door 87 times, pick up a toy and toss it into the playroom 329 times and tell some one to "get down" 751 times.

At naptime it just means more of the same thing except its a little quieter and fewer kids are walking behind me spreading around cracker crumbs, grass, and Legos.

Around 4 or 5 I get the "on my way" text from Jake. This is when I realize I haven't changed clothes or looked in a mirror all day, so I run upstairs to clean myself up with a praying-the-kids-don't-burn-the-house-down speed.

Once Jake gets home and we talk about his day (because mine are all the same) while I cook dinner.

Then we eat dinner... well, everyone else does. I hold Kate down in her chair with my right leg while cutting up someone else's food. If I stop to eat dinner myself, I might fall asleep.

After that I clean up dinner and do the dishes. 

By then it's the little kids' assembly-line-bath-time and then bedtime. Bedtime is sort of like the new Planet of the Apes movie when they're still in the big cage together and run in circles around that tree swinging their arms and making whooping noises. Only picture me and Jake in the midst of it, trying to catch/tackle one and wrestle them into pajamas.

Once the apes little ones, fall asleep the big girls want to negotiate bedtime, argue over my iPad, ask if they can have dessert, tell me why they need new clothes or want to switch bedrooms. Eventually they fall asleep. Still talking. And probably dream of more talking.

And then with what little energy I have left, I might take a shower. Or eat ice cream. Whichever seams more important.

And yet.

My heart is stirring.

Better yet, my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. Its not easy to keep up with whats happening in global news from deep in the trenches of motherhood.

As moms, we have to bounce back and forth from: crying out to the Fathers heart for eternal matters... to solving why one of the kids has reverted to pooping in her bathing suit at the pool. Just keeping it real, people.

Sometimes that back and forth is so intense it makes my head spin.

But I must. I don't have a choice. I have to hold perspective in both worlds. The middle east and mommyland. The White House and the Spencer House. World news and the school newsletter.

If you're reading this and your heart is heavy for a touch from God on our nation... or desperate for a move from Him in your life, house, community and church...

but your house is sprinkled with naked Barbies, plastic food and lego pieces, and your laundry is full of Buzz Lightyear underwear and disney princess nightgowns... If your car looks like this:

You're not alone. I know the juggle well.

But lets rise to the occasion. Lets never forsake pressing in to the Father for our burdens. Lets make sure that the exhaustion of motherhood doesn't cause us to fall into a spiritual slumber. 

Lets run the race, train our children, love our husbands and be strong women who are ready for anything.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Author

This summer Ashley and Emily are keeping themselves busy reading (and now writing) mystery books. Ashley's current novel is Mystery of the missing bird eggs which is "based on a true story" that is still unfolding in our very own front yard. ;)

We have a bird nest in our yard that is home to a new set of tiny blue eggs each summer. But the ones that were there this year have gone missing. No baby birds, no egg shells, no sign of mother bird, they're just gone. So Ashley's writing a book about it.

This morning after Ashley read me an excerpt, Emily said, "Don't you think you should like, have an ending first, before you write the book?"

But no, Ashley is content to write although there isn't a clear end in sight.


Yesterday I got home from my trip to Italy with my family. It was amazing. The beauty, the history, the art, the people and lets face it--the food were all incredible. I won't speak for the others there but it was definitely a much needed trip for me. Of course I missed my husband and kiddos like crazy but to have two full weeks of not being responsible for anyone or anything... it was just what the doctor ordered. A breath of fresh air and perspective. I truly feel rejuvenated and energized. Well, sort of. I can tell that I will when the jet lag is fully gone. *sips coffee*

As a mom of 6, Italy gave just enough distance to make my heart grow fonder, know what I mean? :) Some respite did this momma good.

We walked the busy streets of Rome, beheld Michelangelo's David in Florence, hiked alongside the vineyards of Cinque Terre and rode through the waters of Venice. We ate our weight in pasta and worked it off touring these beautiful cities. 

On this trip, my sister and I got to know one another for the first time (as adults) and I'm forever grateful for the opportunity. We met as practically strangers and left as friends. Sisters. We got a little taste of what we missed out on for the last 22 years. We shared a room, stayed up late talking and laughing, and I teased her about the waiter who asked her out. ;) She is beautiful inside and out, and I'm looking forward to the relationship that we'll have from now on.

But ya know, in the last two weeks... getting to know someone for the first time... and sharing my life story... I realized something.

I always thought I had a boring testimony. I asked Jesus into my heart at the age of five. And I've followed Him ever since. I don't have a lengthy prodigal son type story. I was just a kid who got saved young. And now I'm just a mom who loves Jesus. I'm not perfect and I've had my struggles. But... my testimony is pretty simple one.

But it occurred to me. None of us have a boring testimony because weren't saved by a boring God

I've always been loved. I've always been safe. And out of respect for people that I love and who love me, I won't share any details of my story but suffice to say-- the storms of the relationships surrounding me left battle scars on my life. Circumstances out of my control had a profound affect on my life, rather for good or for bad, and in some ways, still do.

But the more I give my life over to the Lord, the more He makes a beautiful thing out of it.

My salvation is a testimony of the love of God. But so is my marriage. So are every one of my children. So was our adoption. So is my husbands job. So is our home. So are our finances. So is my health. So are my relationships with my family now.

These blessings are not of my own doing. I could have given in to bitterness. I could be mad. I could be depressed that my parents were divorced or that one of my babies had special needs. Or upset that my milk spilled or someone stole my toy. Bump in the road or impassable mountain, life happens. But He changed my heart. He changed the eyes I view life through. He changed me. He changed me.

I may not be the prodigal son but woven through the pages of my story are traces of a loving God. Written in bold beautiful colors through the chapters where I'd opened my hands and given Him full authority. And a little more dark where I'd clenched my hands and dug in my heals. But He's there. They're my footsteps but its His choreography. His song.

And that's my testimony.

Just because I've accepted Christ and I live for Him... doesn't mean my testimony is over, either. It isn't complete until He returns. He's continuing a good work in me. (Phil 1:6) And even for those who haven't given their lives over to Him... there are traces in their stories too. Places He's gently calling them. Inviting them to let go. To let Him be the Author.

I have a story to tell. Testimonies of the love and redemption of Christ. And its not done being written. I just hope there are more pages in bold, beautiful colors. I want each chapter to have more and more beauty and excitement as I surrender each and every page to the Author.

Ya know, I don't know where those little blue eggs went. But the story isn't over. There's more than what we know now or even what we see. Its ok to tell the story even if it seems simple or we don't know the end. The Author is a master at creative writing and He isn't finished yet.

"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." Hebrews 12:1,2

Friday, June 6, 2014

Support Your Local Youth Pastor

In 36 hours I'll be at the Nashville Airport.

I'm not sure which is the bigger shocker here: that I'm going to Italy or that I'm going to be away from my family for fourteen days. My dad and stepmom are taking me and my sister on vacation!!!!

Its a long story, but I haven't seen my half sister in about 15 years. We were 6 and 16. And now, we're going on vacation to all catch up. For two weeks. Gallivanting through Italy. I mean is that the coolest family trip/reunion ever or what?? Its enough to make me want to use the word gallivanting again.

But lets get back to the mom-with-six-kids-under-eleven-and-two-have-special-needs-is-leaving-them-all-with-dad-for-two-weeks thing.

I feel like I should preface this by saying: I married super man. Or super dad. While some of our friends boast that they've never changed a poopy diaper- this guy has changed literally hundreds of diapers. And cleaned poop out of the carpet at 3am more than a few times. He's the guy that could write a small essay on the babywise nap/feeding schedule philosophy. He can give the babysitter full instructions while I'm still putting on make-up for a date night, and usually remembers to give more (and better) information than I do. He never calls to bug me when I go for a moms-night-out with my friends. And hey, he can settle tween girl sister drama.... I mean that alone should win some sort of peace prize.

But all that being said. I've never left all 7 of them together alone for two weeks.

So I've been prepping. Except this whole week before I'm gone, Jake's been gone at summer camp. And he's doing a two part sermon series for our church while our Senior pastor is out of town. (You can check out part 1 by clicking here.) Most of my "prepping" for the single-dad weeks had to be done before the single-mom week.

This. Is my master notebook that I've prepared for them.

Don't laugh. I've been working on this notebook for a few weeks and I finished it today.

~A calendar for the kids so they know what to expect on what days (I think my kids all kids do better when they know what to expect

~The weekly dinner plan

~Phone numbers: Emergency #'s, Ash and Em's friends' moms for scheduling play dates, neighbors, and the handful of people that can handle--and are willing to help with--Micah and Abby.

~List of who's babysitting and when (so that Jake can go into work some, though he's mostly working from home)

~Ashley and Emily's daily responsibility charts (because they know they're going to have to step it up a notch to help out while I'm gone)

Also, I stocked up the freezer with dinners for 2 weeks. Yesterday I cooked from 9am to 3pm without stopping. Which was only possible because of my rock star 8 and 10 year olds who entertained the four littles, helped me feed them lunch, and put them down for naps for me. Mini moms in training. 

That last picture is twice baked potatoes. I'm clarifying because it sort of looks like a body in our freezer.

Oh and I also had to pack for myself. Which I finished a couple days ago.

Not that I'm anxious or anything.

So no, I'm not in the hospital, or even off on some missions trip. I'm on vacation with my dad, sister, and stepmom. But if you think of it, pray for my husband and kids back home. 

Or if you're local, maybe call to see if you could pick up a kid. Or. 4. Or maybe you could drop off a pizza on the porch. Because these guys might need a hand without mom around the next two weeks. Anything you can think of to support your local youth pastor. ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Always] New Territory

People ask me, "How do you make time to blog?" Well I don't. If I'm blogging, something else is usually not getting done. Like right now: sleeping. Or cleaning up the daily debris from the Spencer family tornado. But sometimes, I just need to write things out. And when I go back later to read them, I'm always glad I did. And if an occasional reader gets something out of it too, it's a bonus.

We had a long, full day. But I had a cup of coffee too late in the evening and I'm not tired. Everyone else is asleep. It's just me and the sound of spinning hamster wheels down the hall, buffered by the hum of the A/C.

The matter on my heart: parenting. Is parenting ever not on a moms heart? Always some new territory to cover.

For years now, it's been the world of toddler and preschoolerhood (is that a word?) and of course the varying array of developmental milestones 
in kids with DS (which is tricky but moves slowly enough to stay ahead of it, for the most part). But with my oldest girls, it's "mission: preadolescence". And all that it entails. It feels like I'm walking a balance beam. Trying to travel cautiously and carefully but also feeling thrusted forward like someone is pulling a rope around my waist. It's all coming so fast. Sweet girls that have always been my babies... are getting big. Like, "Hi Mrs Spencer is Ashley there I don't have my spelling list" big. And they're getting bigger every day. They've got personalities and friends and passions and wills and fears and questions. I'm dealing with emotional children and I'm an emotional person. 

Am I prepared for this journey? I should probably be reading books on talking with your kids about... stuff. Or taking a class or something. None of this was covered in Babywise. ;) But thank The Lord that I've got friends to walk this out with. I literally have no idea what I'd do without my circle of Mommas. They make me feel normal. We can compare notes and share stories. Or give tips on where to find beginner bras or decide which shorts are too short. And we can ban cell phones for our 4th graders together in solidarity. (Thank You Lord.) And I've got an amazing husband who's years in youth ministry come in crazy handy.

As much as I want to do the very best that I can to help my kids navigate this time; when it all comes down to it, my only goal is to point them to Jesus. Because I know that if they have Him, the rest will fall into place.

How to do that- how to point them to Jesus- isn't as easy as I thought it would be. 

I'm not a great example. I can only pray that they see Christ's mercy and forgiveness transforming me daily because I'm sure not the best example of daily Godliness. I blew it today. I'm gonna blow it somehow tomorrow and next week. And I know that if I'm not transparent enough-- if they don't see the process of me acknowledging my imperfections and how He forgives me and draws me back to Him... My faith will look phony. And they won't want anything to do with it. Or maybe even with me.

One side of the balance beam is friend, the other is mother. I have to find my footing somewhere in the middle. Knowing the relationship we are building on now is the one we will carry into the teen years. My own mom danced across that beam beautifully. She was my very best friend whom I'd tell everything. But I wouldn't dare break her rules because I knew there were consequences.

Friend. And. Mother. Confidant. Mentor. Disciplinarian. ....hmm. Lord You're going to have to carry me across this beam. Because the truth is, You are the very best of all of that. 

I don't have some beautiful literary bow to tie up this post. No sweet story or even scripture. Just a prayer. Lord carry me. Cover me. Cover my kids. Cover the parents out there that are navigating new territories. Mold each of us, parent and child alike, into Your image as we give ourselves to You. Do it all in the name of Your Son, we pray. Amen.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

End of School Year Festivities... aka. Chaos Week

We're in the home stretch. Moms everywhere are silently holding up fingers like some secret gang sign to one another: the number of days left until school is out. No more carpool, packed lunches, late night school projects, or guilt because we forgot to sign the folders again.

Most moms gave up on ironing back in February and are considering just buying the library books that are lost in the abyss of our playrooms. At this point, we've given up on creative lunches. I think a bag of popcorn, a fruit and grain bar and a yogurt cup makes a decent lunch box. After-school chores have given way to after-school Popsicles and sprinklers.

All of that is just us? Oh ok.

Two of my school kids have 3 1/3 more days of school. The other two have 2 1/2 days left. 

We've got a Special Olympics event and 2 Talent shows under our belt, with 1 ballet recital left tomorrow night. (Gotta clear room for pictures on my phone and buy flowers). 1 school field day down, 1 to go (Kids need water bottles, towels, and dry change of clothes). 4 end of year parties this week (2 boxes of Gogurt tubes for 4th grade, Pizza money for 1st grade). Kids-with-summer-birthdays celebration (fruit tray for 3rd grade). Monday 3rd grade can wear anything to school, but 3rd and 4th can wear spirit wear to the passport club party. 3rd grade can wear a swimsuit, shorts and spirit tshirt Tuesday and Wednesday but 4th grade just on Wednesday.

I just wrote all of that from memory so I'm probably forgetting something. Praise the Lord for Google Calendars and iPhone reminders.

I don't share all of this because I think anyone will find it interesting. Because I'm sure some of you are stress paralyzed just reading that and some of you are rolling your eyes because you've got twice as many school kids and this is nothing. (Though some are nodding heads in solidarity or wondering what email they missed about the bathing suit on Wednesday.)

I share it because I hope that someday I'll look back and laugh. Because I think someday I'll forget what its like to have a 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st grader. Because by Friday my babies will be rising 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd graders with a rising Preschooler and Mothers Day Out-er.

Another school year gone. It's  bittersweet. Lessons learned and friendships deepened. Goals met. Everyone a little more mature. Everyone a little taller.

And someday no one will need me to pitch in with 24 tubes of gogurt or pack them some dry socks and underwear. 

So as I inevitably drop the ball somehow this week, I'm gonna roll with it. This chaos week of End of School Year Festivities won't last long. And then I'll be diving into the beautiful chaos.. of summer. :) 
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