Sunday, December 28, 2008


I was awakened by the ringing of the phone the other morning. It was my father-in-law calling to talk to Jeff. I hate to admit that 2 weeks ago, if he had called early in the morning - on a day perfect for sleeping in - I would have been a little annoyed. I like my sleep. Sadly, I'm not a morning person.

However, on this cold, rainy morning - the day after Christmas - I found myself choking back tears as I listened to Jeff chatting on the phone with his dad. I could hear Jeff's words fumbling about as he fought to keep his emotions in check. I could only imagine the array of thoughts and feelings he was experiencing as he listened to the voice on the other end of the line.

Relief. Amazement. Joy. Thankfulness. And I imagine a part of him was having a hard time trying not to think about what could have been - or, what almost was.

Two weeks ago his father survived a life threatening aneurysm; an aneurysm that went misdiagnosed for two days. He then survived an emergency, 10-hour surgery to repair the extensive damage caused by the rip in his aorta; a rip that spanned from his heart all the way down to his legs. It was a surgery only complicated more by the need to perform a double bypass and replace a faulty valve.

Then, as his father laid in his hospital bed, recovering from the surgery, it was discovered that he had developed a life-threatening lung infection. Just his being awake, lying in a bed, having a ventilator doing all of the breathing for him, was too taxing for his body. So, as quickly as they had woken him up, the doctors sent him back to sleep. And we watched him sleep for 6 days. And we waited for his lungs to get better.

And we prayed.

It was then determined that he would need extensive therapy on his lungs, so the insertion of a trach was scheduled for Christmas Eve. However, on the morning of Christmas Eve, the doctor who was supposed to do the procedure fell ill with the flu; so, they rescheduled the trach placement for a few days later.

Then, on Christmas Day, he woke up.

The doctor re-examined him and it was determined that his lungs had made such improvement that he no longer needed to have a trach inserted. So, they took him off the ventilator and he began to talk, again.

And we all gave thanks for the beautiful Christmas gift that God had given us.

So, the day after Christmas, as I listened to Jeff talking on the phone, I gave thanks that he had been given another opportunity to have a conversation with his dad. I gave thanks for being awakened by the ringing of the phone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Here is the Christmas card that I came up with for this year. Although, I'm not sure that I'm going to get them sent out in time. I'm still waiting for the prints to come in the mail. Also, my father-in-law had extensive heart surgery on Tuesday, so we've been spending quite a bit of time at the hospital. It has been a very rough road, so far, however, he is slowly improving. The fact that he is still with us has been the best Christmas gift, for sure.

Merry Christmas, to you and your families!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The House That Patience Built

The kids and I built a gingerbread house today. It was our first time doing one and at one point I was thinking that it may, also, be our last. This was another parenting moment that required so much patience; with the fragile gingerbread walls, the icing that needed time to dry, the shall-remain-nameless-3 year old who kept licking the candy before putting it on...patience was required.

I'd love to say that I flew through the whole task with flying colors, but I didn't. However, I made sure to get right with the kids when my patience wore thin and, in the end, we all left the table with joyous memories of building our little house of candy. The event even made it into Grace's journal. And she only writes about the fondest memories of her childhood in her journal.

And we will do it again.

One of the biggest lessons that I've learned as a mother is that I can't run away from the things that I need to work on in my life. Although, sometimes I really want to avoid situations that are going to require me to work in areas that sin may be lurking, like my impatience. And that's exactly what my impatience is...a sin. And how can I say to my kids, "Sorry, kids. No more (enter activity/situation that requires patience) because Mommy doesn't have any and she's not willing to work on that sin in her life?"

So, I try to keep moving along. Growing. Stretching. Learning. Getting it wrong. Getting it right. And my kids go along with me, sometimes having to see, all too clearly, the sins in my life, but also getting to witness my overcoming them. They get to see that Mommy's not perfect but she's still trying to get it right.

And I pray that they'll take that approach in their lives, too. I don't want to raise them to believe that it is okay to be complacent in their sins. I want them to be able to go on to build their own houses...with candy and patience.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Family Night: Christmas Lights Drive

We had a rather easy Family Night this past Friday. Jeff is working a very hectic schedule right now, so I knew it would have to be something easy and kind of late, since he wouldn't get home until around 9 that night. When he got home, we were waiting in the van for him and we took off on a hunt for Christmas lights. We, actually, do this quite a bit during the season, as we go along our way to other places. However, the kids were very excited because the main goal for this drive WAS the Christmas lights. They would yell out to us when they could see a house all lit up, "Mom, turn that way!" Or, "There's one!"

We listened to Christmas music on the radio as we wound our way through different additions and we sang Christmas carols, too. Abby is at a wonderful stage where she sings so loudly and without abandon...even when she doesn't know the words. She had all of us giggling throughout the night.

As we drove along though, I did have a specific house that I wanted to see. So, we made our way to the other side of the city, in search for this house. It's one of those houses that is all lit up with lights that are choreographed to music. Not exactly my cup of tea, however, I knew that it would be something that the kids would enjoy. Unfortunately, I didn't know exactly how to get there, so I ended up having to call my Mom and have her give us directions. Which caused Grace to get a little nervous because she does not like to hear that Mommy and Daddy don't know where they are going. After a few wrong turns, we eventually made it to our destination.

The kids were squealing with excitement when they saw the house. They quickly unbuckled from their seats and clambered their way over to the windows facing the blinking lights. They watched and danced with the lights as they flashed along with the music

At one point, I could hear Abby climbing over coats and car seats as she made her way towards the front of the van. Without a word, she climbed up onto the console next to me, grabbed my face in her hands and gave me a big wet kiss on the cheek. Then, she turned to her Daddy and did the same thing with him before she climbed down and made her way back to her spot at the window.

So, without much planning and about a quarter tank of gas, we were able to have another memorable Family Night. So much so, that the kids ask almost nightly if we can go back and see the dancing house.

For more Family Night fun, visit Heather at Whittaker Woman.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Little Getaway

My mom, sister, and I slipped away for a few days last week. We left the menfolk home with all of the kids and flew to Florida. It was wonderful! We stayed at a nice little resort on Marco Island. We had a great time full of conversation, laughter, and even some tears...but mostly, laughter. I hadn't laughed so hard in a very long time.

A few things from the trip, which will mean nothing to any one else, but I know my mom and sister will appreciate them:

~Morning walks on the beach, combing for shells.

~Beautiful sunsets

~My inability to drive and do anything else at the same time, like tune the radio, talk...breathe.

~The response from the valet at the resort when I asked him for directions to Walmart.

~3 o'clock sorbet on the beach


~Dolphin tattoos (No, we didn't get tattoos, but we joked about doing it.)

~My sister carrying around her coupon book...everywhere.

~Christmas lights

~More U-turns.

~Our daily lunches on the beach.

~Plates and bowls. ;)

~Building Rudolph to send a photo to the kids and then getting to watch other people stop and take pictures of him.

~Mom trying to get her bulging suitcase zipped shut for our return flight.

~Panther crossings

~And, more U-turns.

It was a great time and I feel blessed that we were able to do it!