Making It Through

“You have already survived 100% of your hardest days so far.”

I have no idea where this quote originated, but there is power in this thought.  This is not me pretending to have all of the answers, but I do have thirty-three years of hard life experience, thus a little insight.

I am a strong woman.

This isn’t hubris speaking, this is someone who faces hard and triumphs…..eventually.

This is me saying, I have been broken by many things, and I picked myself up and kept moving forward. I have smashed my face into the seemingly endless hole of failure, and I have clawed my way back out.

We have two choices in life.  We can stop.  We can stand still and wallow, reliving our sorrows over and over.  We can look behind us constantly and never look forward.  The world and those around us will move on and grow, but we will be there with tears of the past raining on every part of our life. OR we can look back and learn, then turn around, and explode into the future.

Odds are that if you are broken, you have been broken before.  You survived before and you have the power to survive now.  Maybe you are lonely.  I bet you have been devastatingly lonely before, and you survived.  Maybe you are grieved.  Those tears spill as your pain resonates throughout your environment.  You are fallen.  You are laying on the ground in a pit of sorrow…….

And you have likely been here before.  Maybe a different hard, but a hard that tested your will as a human none the less.

And you survived.

That does not make the weight of your pain any lighter.  However, it does offer you something to look forward to.  There will be a day when the clouds are lifted, the shadow that drives your sorrow, will fade into sunshine.  Keep moving forward.  Keep trying.

Find help.

There are people out there who have faced your hard.  The circumstances may not be exact, but they are likely similar and just as devastating.  Those people are survivors and they can help you.  Find a counselor to help work through the hard.  You do not have to carry the burden of pain bottled up inside forever.  It will create a vortex inside that all happy things will be sucked into and it will eventually take over your entire life.  You will have a mere thin veil of happiness through which everything is shaded by the bad things you have stored.  Find medicine, there is no shame in using medicine to help during the healing journey.  A lot of Christians see using medicine as failure.  If it is non-habit forming medicine that can help heal your mind, the devil is not part of that.  The devil doesn’t want you to be happy.  The devil wants you to live in that dark place, be tormented by it, and eventually let it destroy you.

Find an outlet.

There is something out there that will give your hands/mind/feet/body a way to let out the grief.  Maybe you like to read, write your feelings, create art of some sort, walk around the block, fish, sit outside in the grass and just soak in nature’s sweet song.  As long as the outlet is something positive that will not further degrade your person/health, do that.  Sometimes these outlets provide a way to escape for a bit.  Then a bit more, and then we work through our hard, and all of a sudden we are okay.

You can be okay.

Just don’t stop trying.

Keep moving forward and looking back less.

 

 

To Alisha, For Your Peanut

My sister’s good friend is having a baby soon.  She has really been a great support to my sister through all of our family’s losses this year, and I wanted to make her a little something for her peanut.

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The blanket is just a series of alternating double crochet and single crochet with a border of single crochet in the back loops only.

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This is a very simple stitch pattern that makes for a beautifully textured blanket.  The yarn that I used for this was a Caron Cake in Boston Creme. The Caron Cakes are self striping, and for this type of blanket, I’m not sure how I feel about the long lengths of color.  I like chunking, just not how it abruptly changes.

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The hat was a free pattern I found on ravelry.  I added a puff ball at the top to add a little cuteness…..and because I bought these puff ball makers a long time ago, and never got around to using them.  Now I need to make ALL THE PUFF HATS.

These items are off to my sister this weekend, so she can deliver them to the expectant momma!

To Granny, With Love

I finished this blanket last week for my Granny.  This was my first large corner to corner (c2c) blanket.  It is still about lap sized for my Granny, which is kind of perfect for summer air conditioning.

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This is the Spring into Summer blanket from the Felted Button.

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I used the Red Heart Unforgettable in Candied just like she did, not because she did, but because I bought a bunch of this yarn years ago intending to make a cute blanket.  I made the shawl for my Mawmaw with the same yarn in a different colorway.  I must admit, I hated working with it the first time.  It is different thicknesses throughout, and it kind of threw me for a loop at first.  However, it is squishy soft and beautiful, and after you work with it, it’s not so bad.

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This colorway really is beautiful in person.  I didn’t have time to capture pics outside like I had hoped (6 kids and all).  Grace is absolutely clamoring to have a blanket like this, she calls it the mermaid blanket 🙂 It’s on it’s way to my Granny as we speak, hopefully she likes it.

Onto the next project…..

To Mamaw With Love

This shawl has been quite the work in progress for a sometime now.  I started it last year as a present to my Mamaw, knowing that she would appreciate a prayer shawl.

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When my Papaw got sick, I began to work on this in earnest.  I really wanted to have this ready for my Mamaw asap.

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Many prayers were put into this shawl along with the many hours it took to make it.

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My Papaw passed away last month, and I gave this to my Mamaw on Mother’s Day.  I hope that she feels wrapped in prayer when she wraps up in it. The colors are amazing, this is Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in Tidal, and while I wasn’t a super fan of working with it at first, it is definitely growing on me.

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A Time to Sow

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The Bible says to everything there is a season.  A time to die and a time to be born, a time to plant and a time to uproot.  This is our time to plant.  Spring has sprung, and hopefully we have said goodbye to Mr. Frost for a good long while.

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Gardening around here is a family affair.  We planned it that way.  Digging in the dirt is good for the soul….as is a little hard work.

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For one of my kids, that life seems to be a constant challenge, gardening is life.  This particular person can have a few moments of peace when they have dirt and a shovel.

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Some of our children haven’t found the love yet.  That is okay.  They do not have to love it, they just have to pitch in a bit.  We are not intense farmers or anything.  We bought this land in order to offer our children a place to learn life skills, be free to explore, and develop a sense of work ethic.

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The garden itself has had a facelift this year.

Can I just admit something to y’all?

Pinterest is deceptive.  The work involved in the projects that look easy, isn’t so easy.

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Over the last six years, we have tried wood chip gardening (Eden gardens), regular tilled gardening, and wooden box raised beds.  We have not been super successful, nor has any of them yielding a long-term plan.

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This year we I came up with the big idea (from pinterest) to use cinder blocks for raised beds.  This would provide a non-toxic perimeter for our beds that would ultimately (hopefully next year) be weed proof.

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I underestimated the amount of work this new system would entail.

I underestimated how heavy those blocks would be.

Whew!

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We have three complete though, and for this summer….three is enough.  We are also going to use three wooden raised boxes from last year and till a bit for a watermelon patch.

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The plan is to add three beds each year.  The ground has to be leveled and the block has to be paid for, so three each year is good for me.  I am just happy that we actually planted on time this year.

We might actually be successful gardeners for once.

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Miss Grace has worked hard to break up the old compost pile and create her own little garden this year.  I must say, I am very impressed with her wanting to do the extra work and grow her own things.

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Of course, right after planting these seeds she exclaimed, “I planted a spring garden….we will come back tomorrow and pick it so we can eat!”

Not quite how that works peanut.

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Anna has really blossomed this year with gardening as well.  It is hard to believe that this is the same little girl who cried just having to walk across the parking lot seven years ago.  I love the fact that our children have an idea about how to grow food for themselves.  They enjoy working out there with John and myself, they are soaking in the fresh air, and they are learning big life lessons.

Got Jokes!

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My Grandpa is being laid to rest tomorrow.  This man who walked me down the aisle and laughed his behind off at (to his face) the preacher who started the wedding ceremony without me, is resting in Heaven.  My heart broke to say goodbye, but I know he is saved, and I know that we will get through this pain….probably with inappropriate humor.

This is life.

My grandparents lived hard, my mom lived hard, for the first half of my life….I lived hard.  And in a way I still do.  Parenting six children (four having special needs) is hard.  So how do we get through this life without being swallowed up whole by the sting?

We laugh in my family y’all.

We laugh A LOT.

I’m so thankful that I married a man with a good sense of humor.  Life would be too hard without laughter. God gave us the gift of humor for a reason.  I know that not everything in life is humorous.  However, we can find the lighthearted silver lining in most situations. If my husband had been a boring potato, I might not have survived this long.

At the end, in the hospice bed, my grandpa had jokes!

I love that man.  He could poke fun at just about anyone or anything including himself.  He was never too serious, and boy am I glad to have inherited that trait.  It isn’t easy to get up a million times at night, have a migraine, have two kids literally screaming all day, one kid puking, and one kid smear feces everywhere to punish you.  Those days are tough.  And sometimes they require potty humor.  Like literal potty humor, some prayer, some grace, and a lot of cleaning supplies.

Jesus and laughter my friends.

Through the tears my family was able to sit around and find a way to roll with laughter.  We sat there and grew closer, relied on the strength of one another, and celebrated life.

Celebrate life people. It is a gift and it is fragile and it will pass by quickly.

Life is hard.  In the end we can only hold on to two definites.

Jesus is the way to eternal life.

What doesn’t kill us makes us funnier.

33 And No Hard Feelings

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So here I am, writing another marriage post this week.

It’s my blog, I can write what I want.  Also, it’s my birthday so…..

I LOVE birthdays! I love celebrating people, and really try to make those around me feel special on their birthdays.  My kids all get a special date with just me, that I really try to make memorable.  I bake a fancy cake and make a decadent meal.  For the hubs, I take the children to get him gifts and have them make cards, as well as try to find something I know he will like.  I just love birthdays so much.  We live a good life worth celebrating. Any life that is rooted in Jesus has good reason to celebrate.

Now, as much as I love doing the birthday thing….I married a man who fails basically every year at this.

Let me tell you how.

Today, he had to work so I knew there would be no celebration to speak of.  However, he did manage to stop this morning and get me a card.  BUT this afternoon he spent the last 20 minutes before work having the children call his dad and sing happy birthday to him (his birthday was yesterday), and there I was…..

I plan for his birthday months in advance, like literally planning now.

I stopped last week and bought steaks for him to grill me at some point in the future (he did marinade them).  I picked out a gift a few months ago that is basically something we needed for the house.  He just doesn’t have it in him to succeed on this day.

This used to hurt my feelings.

When we were first married and well, for about 8 years, this was something that really bothered me.  I felt like he didn’t care enough to try for me like I did for him.  It hurt.  And then time went on, and I began to put aside the hurt and understand my husband.

He would NEVER intentionally hurt my feelings.  In fact, he spends his life trying to please me.

He is just wired differently.

There are random times throughout the year that he will come home with a dozen roses (my favorite) just to brighten my day.  He rallied last week with the care of the home and kids as well as trying to keep everything clean the way I like it, so that I didn’t carry more burden with the hurt I had from losing my grandpa.  If he sees me struggling emotionally, he will do whatever he can to help me.  If he sees me struggling physically, he will do whatever he can to help….sometimes  he doesn’t see (he is wired differently), and those moments are also times when I try not to get hurt.  Again, this has taken years to mature to this level.  I really had to learn to look past my hurt to see him  for who he is.

He really and truly cares.

He really and truly stinks at birthday and Mother’s day.

Today when I spent the day alone dealing with whining kids and wiping butts (and a nauseating migraine), I had to laugh when instead of having the children sing to me, he had them call his dad.  It was just classic John.  He said the same, “I’m sorry I didn’t get you anything, life has just been crazy this week.”

I could choose to feel hurt.  I could say he doesn’t value me enough to make my special day something special since I do spend so much time doing it for others.  I could be mad.

But then what would I gain?  A brief moment of self indignation and time to wallow in self pity?

I choose instead to see his true heart and understand his failures are not intentional hurt.  I choose to know that he does value me in the way that he cares for me, and to know that he has a disconnect with holidays (oh yeah, he’s pretty bad with Christmas to lol).  I choose to love him and forgive him instead of holding a grudge.  I choose to put my marriage above my own briefly damaged pride, and I choose to understand beyond just the presenting circumstances.

It took a long time to develop this understanding and appreciation for one another.  I am so glad that we were able to not give up on each other for all of the hurt we caused; as we muddled through that first year decade, of learning how to be married to another human being with all of their own flaws/thoughts/opinions.

I am 33 today…. I think I may have finally grown up 😉

 

Hard Broke Inspiring Marriage

This man didn’t always make her light shine brighter.  In fact, for many many years, he was an alcoholic.  He fell into the Christmas tree, she picked it up and redecorated.  They were poor and still he drank. He stepped out to the brothel….she stayed. She forgave.  She found herself in one of those marriages that everyone dreams about…..after decades of hard.

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They were poor.

They lost a child.

They lived hard.

But they lived.

My Mawmaw prayed for my Poppy to come to Jesus for nearly five decades.  He was a recovered alcoholic for the last 40+ years, he worked his whole life, and he was an example of true redemption.  Alcoholism can eat a person to death with it’s relentless pull to the bottle.  Just one more drink, always just one more.

He triumphed.

Her capacity for forgiveness is beyond my comprehension.  Why would she forgive him?  If we listened to today’s marriage wisdom (when the divorce rate is over 52%), if he wasn’t fulfilling ALL of her needs, well then, they should have just called it quits.

Marriage is hard.  They took vows, for better or for worse.  Sometimes worse happens.  Sometimes people get lost.  They do not make you  your best self, they do not cheer you on, they do not fulfill you.  My Mawmaw had Jesus for that.  Sometimes people get depressed and it presents as anger and selfishness, yet they are being swallowed up inside.  If we listened to today’s wisdom, we would drop that marriage because it isn’t “healthy” and it doesn’t benefit us.  We should always do what makes us happy at all times….right?

I always wondered why she stayed.

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As I watched him and her say goodbye this week, I finally realized why she stayed.  They took vows.  They took them to heart, and if she hadn’t stayed, she would have robbed herself of the miracle.

You see, my Poppy stopped drinking four decades ago.  He became a family man.  Somewhere around a decade ago, he became the happiest saved man you’ve ever seen.  He rejoiced, he told everyone, he prayed and he went to church with her….something she spent 40+ years hoping for.  She stayed and she got the husband she always hoped for.  She stayed and she got to witness God at work.  She stayed and she built a testimony to the power or prayer and devotion. She stayed and built memories as Mawmaw and Poppy, and loved us grandkids with everything they had.

I’m not sure I would have stayed.  He wasn’t violent, but still….

She stayed and this week she said goodbye after 60 years together.

In 60 years he was not good for her, I’m sure at times she was not good for him.  They saw deep financial hardships, loss of their sweet baby, and so much more that would tear a marriage right in two.

They had hard…..real hard.

But they triumphed.

This week they said goodbye to each other as my grandpa slipped away this morning to go be with Jesus, to wait for her.  They said goodbye and thank you for the 60 years, the love, and everyone could feel it permeate the air of that little hospital room.

She loved him.

And he loved her.

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So maybe marriage isn’t about how one makes the other feel and if they both feel good all of the time.

Maybe it’s about the love.

Maybe it’s about the vows and keeping your word.

But after watching they way they looked at each other and the way they loved each other….I’m pretty sure it’s about the love.  It may not always be shown, said, or felt…but it’s there….and it’s pretty powerful.  He was the best Grandpa a person could ever ask for.  He walked me down the aisle, he loved me, and I feel blessed to have been able to be a part of their journey because it truly was(is) powerful. This world may have lost one of the very best people to ever have walked it’s surface, but Heaven gained a new joyful resident….and she would tell you that she can’t wait to see him there again.

Spring

Six years ago, almost to this week, we found this place by chance.  This home that I was very apprehensive about, that was put on the market the day before we saw it.  The place that we were sent photos of, well photos of the garage.  John took one look at the garage, the 11 acres, and he was sold….

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I had to see it for myself.

As we drove ALLLLLLLL of the way out here, my hope for the place waned quite a bit.  It is far. Very very far.

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However, we pulled into the driveway, stepped out of the car, and instantly took in a deep breath of peace.  It literally was a huge breath of tranquility.  I didn’t even need to see the inside of the house.  I was sold.  Adorable decorative trees that I assume are growing right since I do not have a green thumb or outdoor caretaker gene, a creek running through, and amazing foliage all around.  The quiet of nature everywhere is all encompassing.  Ample opportunity provided for our children to run around free, explore, and learn good work ethic in the splendor of God’s creation.

We offered asking price right then and there.

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What followed was that brief month of no-where-to-live since our old house sold to the first buyers as well, and this house took some time to close on…but we made it….and then we multiplied 😉 We started working the ground, learning lessons, and this became home….refuge.

I adore Spring around here.  We can open the doors, allow the sun and air to pour through the house, get our feet damp in the grass, and just bask in the blooming of new life all around.  It is a true blessing.

 

One Month Home

I cannot believe that one month ago, we were basically surviving the most horrific, ear splitting, exhausting trip home.  Yet, here we are, one months later…..alive and…well?

I kid.

We are doing well.

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There have been approximately 1, 456, 743, 222 screaming, raging, kicking, full on tantrums around here over the last month. This child has good lungs. She definitely has a “force to be reckoned with” personality.  Her stubborn streak beats many, but I have experience and determination, so we are a match.

Let’s see, what can I say…..

Medically, Glory has checked out well.  We still have a sedated MRI and appointments with neurology as well as ophthalmology and ENT, but so far, it has been all good news.  She does not have a brain bleed anymore, she does not (as far as they could see with a singular scan) have fluid on her brain, although they still say hydrocephalus due to her head size and ventricles. Developmentally, she was as behind as you would expect any orphan from a third world country to be.  Everything is rolling along medically, and so far, looking very good.

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She LOVES taking a BATH now!

I know, we took all of those fully clothed baths, and thought that perhaps she would never get fully cleaned.  Now, you can’t keep her out of the tub though.  We have to constantly tell her to back up when we are bathing Grace and Zeke.

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She LOVES to EAT now!

Well, she loves to eat seconds, therefore is motivated to eat the vegetables that I put on her plate. It’s crazy to think that just one month ago, we were in the hospital because she was so stubborn and mad, that she refused to eat.  Now, she easily clears a second plate. Once she realized that mom was not going to give in to her tantrums, that screaming actually gets you nothing especially a second plate when you haven’t eaten the food on the first,  that she landed in a house where the mom is a great cook, and that all of these different kinds of food are really tasty and fun to eat…..she decided to just eat.  I have a few tips and tricks for how we have progressed, that I will share later.  Let’s just say that we didn’t just jump into it right away, there was a week that she only ate spaghetti and bananas.

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The other children have begun to warm up to her.  At first, she spent a lot of time pulling their hair, throwing stuff at them, hitting them, and filling the air with loud screams.  She has stopped hitting them (except Andy and I think she’s playing with them), and we had to teach her that she could rub their hair, not pull.  As she adjusted, they began to see her personality outside of the screaming.

When she gets to laughing, it is an infectious full of feeling laugh.  She fills the room with joy.  The kids will find ways to make her laugh, because in turn, they start to laugh as well.  It is contagious.  They love to make her smile.  They also have no problem walking away when she throws a tantrum and ignoring it until she decides to chill.

I think kids understand that other kids have bigger emotions than their vocabulary.

Sometimes, I have bigger emotions than my vocabulary.

Zeke is also three, and let’s say, he has big emotions as well.  When he throws a fit, Glory walks over and points at him as if to say, “look y’all he’s doing it to.”

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Do ya’ll know how hard it is to get 6 children to sit still, look at the camera, and smile at the same time…

This last month has been a very long month, but a very good one over all.  I would say that we are learning and growing.  Glory is VERY attached to me, almost maybe overly attached.  She follows me, stares at me, sits next to me, and has a giant cow if I am out of sight.  We have begun to make more of those moments now where I am not her main caretaker, as we were were advised by our post-adoption clinic social worker.  It is normal what she is doing, Anna went through the very same thing.  It is smothering, I am not going to LIE, but it is also flattering and rewarding.  I get to actually mother this child who never had a mom.  She is digging having a mom.  I mean someone who you can’t steam roll to get what you want, who still hugs and loves on you, who kisses your boo boo’s, and is silly enough to pick you up and dance around the living room with….but also wipes your butt.

That’s a win in life for sure.

I have to say that we feel complete as a family and so thrilled with our final little member.  She keeps us on our toes and crying for ear plugs, but also forces us to grow and stretch as humans.  Watching her overcome her fear of baths, embrace this new life as well as she has, and still have smiles….that’s powerful stuff.  It actually is a true blessing.