Last night I went out for a "sisters plus Luke" night out. It was so fun, all 6 of us girls and Luke going out for dinner and doughnuts, then winding up back at our parents' house talking and laughing with them. One of the younger girls pointed out how nice it was, being "us," the original 10 (minus Paul, who lives out of town), how sweet this time was together.

And I have been haunted by that today.

2013 was a hard year for Matt and I, at least the last couple of months. And 2014 has proven even harder. Health problems, infertility, not just with me but with the boys. And not just with us four but with my whole family. Thanksgiving day we were all together, but three of us had been in the hospital, my parents in a car accident, my grandmother grieving in the few days before. As our family grows, our calamity, our hurt, our "risk" is growing. Which, honestly makes sense. We've gone from 10 to 20. Simple statistics proves we will be affected by more "bad" things.

And we end this year with the news of one of us having an auto-immune disease. Nothing life threatening, but still hard for us to wrap our minds around, to band together and fight, treat.

But, in these calamities, in these hard things, are such beauty. Beauty as we open up to one another and let each other into the hurt. Beauty as we pray for one another, as we cry for and with one another, serve and love one another. And I have loved it.

It is hard to see, especially the "younger" siblings, grow up and experience life hurts, but how wonderful to be able to live this with them and love them through it. To face life with 19 people behind me, with me, and vice versa.

As usual, ParadoxUganda's latest post had me in tears by the end of it, and again brought me back to last night, precious time with family.

And it's challenged me as we go into the new year. I want to let go of this need, desire to have life "just so." No one sick, nothing out of my way, everything organized and written down, no interruptions, life going smoothly from one planned activity to the next.

I want this year to be messy. To be full of following where Jesus calls us, wherever and whatever that is. To hard places, to opening our homes, hearts, and lives to people that aren't in my "planned life." To showing my messy side to others, so they can see the beautiful grace of God that covers all the mess. For our boys to fully know and understand grace, for all four of us to be God's hands and feet in a dark, lonely, love-less world.

I still want to write about some things from last year: our first ER trip with Levi, his T&A, and then 2nd trip to the ER, the infertility, hopefully soon.


Due Date

I've gone back and forth about whether I should write about today. My would-have-been due date. There are three women who I know who were all due within a week of me. One had her baby a few days ago, another is being induced tomorrow, and the third I have purposefully stopped asking about.

What made me post was this, an article about Kourtney Kardashian being pregnant with her third child. Stupid, right? See, this is what I've found over the last 33 weeks of "healing." It's a 95/5 split. Granted, it used be more like 5/95, but by the grace of God alone, the ratio has slowly shifted. Ninety-five percent of the time I am really ok. At peace with where we are. Lost baby, and still not pregnant, with all kinds of weird health issues popping up. But that five percent, it's a dark five percent. Where the loss, and continued longing, the comparison to other women who ARE pregnant, or have new babies, overwhelms and suffocates.

See, again, I know how dumb this sounds, Ol' KK and I have been pregnant at the same time the past two kids. She had her boy, I had Levi, I had Noah, she had her second. And now she's moving on without me, having her third. So what? Who cares? I don't, 95% of the time.

This day has been looming. Sometime in December I texted a friend saying, pregnant or not, the next 40 weeks will be long. And they have been. It's a very strange thing, mourning the loss of a baby, but hoping for another one as soon as possible. But at the same time, not wanting to get pregnant, because what if I lose another one? A lot of back and forth between healing and waiting. The past week I have been preparing myself for today, evaluating how I feel.

Mainly, I feel a weight has been lifted. No longer waiting for "the day." I am learning to be thankful. Thankful for the loss, for the clay pot being broken, and rebuilt, slowly but surely. I will never understand the WHY, but I can see the new growth.

This little saying on Pinterest grabbed my attention as I mindlessly scrolled through tons of beautiful improvements I will never do to our home, schedule, and meals.
great losses.

Suffering is universal. That is one thing I am learning. I want so badly what SHE has. To have the baby they have. The quiet burden I carry with me, that weighs me down, does not make me exclusive, it makes me human. And it has opened my eyes wide to the aching around me.

Everyone has these burdens. We all carry them, too often all alone. How heavy they must be.

So I am praying that this on-going burden, this ache, will continue to open my eyes. To see the rude, ugly, smelly people around me as people just like me who are just struggling to carry their burdens.

I have started working full-time, for a season. One of those girls I mentioned earlier, we actually share a due date,today, and work together. She is being induced tomorrow, to have her little girl. I am working her full time schedule while she is on maternity leave.

It is hard, being away from the boys 45 hours a week (40 hours plus driving),and Matt. With him working nights and my 10-11 hour shifts being anytime between the hours of 8am and 9pm, Matt and I can go a couple of days without seeing each other. I do not want this time away to be in vain. Yes, the money will be nice, but that is not what I'm talking about. I am increasing my face to face time with people, honestly, usually the lowest of the low (working at a big chain pharmacy in a poor section of a poor town) by 20 hours a week. That is a LOT of time to really love people well. To speak highly of children to their parents, to offer as many smiles and kind words as I can. To love well the people that I will be working with. To let them into my life and see my faults and mistakes and the grace of God that covers all of them.

So I am taking what I've been learning the last 33 weeks, and putting it into practice.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. FOR JUST AS THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST FLOW OVER INTO OUR LIVES, SO ALSO THROUGH CHRIST OUR COMFORT OVERFLOWS." 2 Corinthians 1:4-5

This was "my verse" when Matt and I lived apart for two years while I was finishing pharmacy school, and then Grace sent this to me soon after the miscarriage, and I have been saying it every day since. This loss will not be in vain, this grace poured out on me will not just be for my good.

So this is where I am. There is still the dark times, mourning times, the 5%. I had a good long cry last night, and teared up today on the way to work, but the 95% is a beautiful, peace-filled place. Knowing and resting in the fact that God has the crazy stuff going on with my body, and our family size and growth-rate (and how we grow: babies, adoption, fostering) in His hands.



I randomly get asked by people who don't know. "Well, are y'all going to have any more kids?" For the past seven months I would just nervous-laugh and change the subject. Tonight was the first time I answered the question honestly.

It was a girl from high school Matt and I both knew and were talking to at the playground while all of our boys played together (she has 3). She asked. And for the first time, I answered.

"Well, I had a miscarriage in October. We have been trying since, but it's been seven months, so I don't know. But it did take 13 months to get pregnant with Levi, and 10 or 11 to get pregnant with Noah, so it may just take us a while."

And then I looked up. She didn't realize the significance of this moment. And I don't even remember what she said. But I had talked about it, and not teared up. So much was left unsaid, but I said something.

There has been a lot more that has happened since the miscarriage, hardships that have just come up. And our future third child that I can feel and hear calling out for us is no where close. But I know they are there, and some way, God will bring them to us.

So we wait...


It's been so long since I last blogged that there is no right place to start. So I will start right here:

Levi. This kid is an amazing mess. Levi is kind, thoughtful (so thoughtful), funny, and hitting this weird quietly stubborn, constantly ignoring me on purpose stage. And he is SO smart, when he wants to be.

The last few days have been filled with lots of defiance. Not in a huge fit throwing way, but in a quiet, "I could care less what you do or say, or what the punishment is, I'm just NOT going to obey" way. Needless to say, today has been HARD. As I was laying him down tonight (Matt had already left for work) I was talking to him about the importance of obedience. The obvious WHY was asked, so I explained that God has given Matt and I to Levi, to teach him right from wrong and show him what being a follower of Jesus looks like, God had given Levi a mommy and daddy to obey. Levi: "Oh, so.... is God angry with me?"

I just laughed. Of course you would think that, dear. Because God gave you us, God was punishing you. Oh dear.This is what he is like. Exasperating me, but making me roll with laughter. Over and over.

Today he had his end of school (Mother's Day Out) program. He was "that" kid. The one making funny faces and talking in the microphone, but not singing along with the class. It was hilarious. I have it on video, but no pictures.

Anyways. I see what people mean. The stages Levi goes through are getting better and better, but harder and harder. And I love it.


The Last Week and a Half

It's just been one of those weeks (and a half) that have got to me. It started out innocent enough. In that first snow, a couple of weeks ago we had some gravel come up and crack the windshield of our van. So Monday (10th) we went to get the glass repaired. While we waited we went and walked around the Chickamauga Dam. It was pretty but getting cold.

"Supposedly" there was another snow round coming. But it's Georgia, and it had already snowed once, so it would probably just rain a lot, right? Just in case, when Matt went to work he took enough clothes for the week. Also, his grandmother had been in hospice and not doing well, so he also took his suit in case he had to leave from Atlanta and drive to be with his dad (in Vidalia, GA).

So when the snow started the boys and I got out of all our "snowed in" activities out and ready to go.

And it actually started snowing! I was talking to my mom and complaining about how I don't like playing in the snow and both boys were begging to. That's Matt's thing, but he was stuck in Atlanta. So, my mom sent Luke and Carly over to my house on the four-wheeler (we live less than 5 minutes apart). Within an hour, all my family had come to my house to play in the snow. We live on a huge hill so it's the perfect sledding zone. The problem is, we live on a hill so I am stuck here when it snows/ices. Thankfully my dad and Angie's husband had 4-wheel drive trucks and were able to make it up and down the hill to our house.

So Luke took Levi sledding while we waited for everyone else to arrive.

Again, I'm not a huge fan of snow so I went out once and slid down the hill and then retreated back inside. Thankfully, Noah isn't a fan of the snow either, so he was my excuse.

After awhile in the front yard, we all moved to the screened in back porch and watched all the kids take turns snow boarding down the hill in our back yard.

After a full morning of playing in the snow, Levi kept telling me he wasn't tired and didn't need a nap. He couldn't even finish 30 minutes of Daniel Tiger before he was knocked out.

All that playing in the snow and there was still a good 2" left in our yard. I made dinner and thought about how this would all be over soon. I was supposed to go into work, but they were closing all the pharmacies early due to weather so I didn't have to go in. That afternoon it started snowing, again and did not stop until the next morning.

It snowed another 8" overnight! It was unbelievable and our house looked like a winter wonderland!

So, beautiful, BUT I was supposed to work again today, from 11-7. I usually work two days a week, but of course I was scheduled for three back to back days, all right when bad weather hit. I had parked the van out by the road before the snow originally started, but there was 8" on the road as well. And our county doesn't salt neighborhoods. Sooo....

I found out the pharmacy wasn't opening until 12pm, and it wasn't busy so I wasn't in a rush, but I still had to go. So, after digging in 30 minute increments, 3 different times, I finally made a dent. But it was very "southern" snow digging. We have no snow shovel so I was basically sweeping snow with a regular, pointed end shovel. I'm sure I looked ridiculous. After my hour and a half of digging I was finally able to gun the van enough to get it going. I put the kids in the car and took them to mom's and went to work. It's lame, but I was so proud of myself for digging out of the snow, like a freakin' pioneer woman!

When I dropped the boys off at mom's I also left all of our stuff for us to spend the night. I knew by the time I got off work all of the snow/slush/ice was going to freeze and I wouldn't be able to get back out and go to work again Friday morning. Mom called me while I was at work and said that my dad and Luke had shoveled my entire driveway for me so we could sleep at our house, in our own beds. That was so thoughtful, and I know had to be a ton of work!

Matt got home around 2am Friday morning. He woke me up to let me know his grandmother had passed away Thursday night around 11:30. So, I went to work Friday morning (8-6:30), left work and went straight to Costco. After being in the house for a week, we were  out of everything! Milk, dog food, crackers, vegetables, everything. Saturday morning we got up at 3am and left the house at 4 to get to Vidalia for the funeral. It's a 5 1/2 hour drive so we got there early enough to spend time with Matt's parents in their hotel room.

Despite the difficult traveling and emotional conditions, the boys did amazing! After the funeral we piled back in the van and drove back the 5 1/2 hours to Ringgold that same day. We stopped at the huge Bass Pro shop in Macon and Ikea in Atlanta on the way home to get the boys out of the car to burn some of their energy off. Needless to say, we were glad to be back in our beds!

We were both beyond exhausted after the past week, and only getting four hours of sleep Friday night, so we took turns driving and sleeping. Here is Matt sleeping with his tie over his face to keep out the sun.

Sunday was church, trips to Target, Aldi, and Sams to get the rest of the groceries, and then to the park/walking trail to get some family time in. The boys loved getting out and walking around, picking up all kinds of sticks and throwing rocks in the creek.

These two boys trying to climb a tree. Adorable and frightening, all at once.

I worked Monday and Tuesday (yesterday). Matt texted me at work Tuesday night saying that Levi had started throwing up. 14 times later we had to admit it wasn't candy from his Valentines party at school that day, but the stomach bug had hit us. I came home from an 11 hour shift last night and swept and mopped all the floors and wiped down all the hard surfaces with bleach spray. Poor Matt had been cleaning up vomit for the last five hours and still managed to get all the dishes done and the living room picked up! I'm not sure how he did all of that!

We went to bed at midnight, and was awoken at 2am by Noah's screams. The second Morris was down. 

Two kids in, we have our middle of the night vomit routine down. We both go in, I pick up the kid and immediately start changing clothes, wiping them clean with a wash cloth, clean clothes, and take them to the living room where we camp out the rest of the night. Matt strips the bed and throws all associated stuffed animals and blankets in the washing machine. Noah and I spent the rest of the night rocking back and forth across the living room.

During that time, in the early hours of this morning, I just kept thinking about this week. It's been hard in different ways, being alone with the boys, all week without Matt, Matt losing his grandmother and grieving, me working so much during a time when we are all stressed out anyway, and some other things we are dealing with. It's just  a heavy time.

As I was reviewing all of this, thinking about NOW the stomach bug, I just kept thinking how thankful I am for Matthew. Seven years ago when we were engaged and about to be married I loved him for how nice he was, cute, funny, etc. Here we are now, living in the trenches of a life that is marked by chaos and I am so thankful for our partnership that has developed and grown  over these years. Even when we aren't getting along, or one or the other is stressed beyond belief, or when we can't even be together due to weather, we are still on the same team. Still fighting for the same thing, still working together. That love I felt for him when we were engaged has grown and changed in such beautiful ways. THIS man that I now love, I love not for the big bouquets and constant showering of gifts, and happy blissful moments I thought marriage would be filled with. I love him for how he cares for our boys, how he cried with me, and held me, during the miscarriage, I love him for how he explained to Levi the death of his grandmother and what that meant, about the beauty of heaven and being with Jesus. For cleaning up all the vomit (and more) while I was at work and he was home with both boys. I love him for our synchronized "middle of the night vomit reaction" we now have, for the fights that I feel secure in while we're having them, because I know they will pass. For today when I was barely keeping my eyes open and he says "I've got this, you need to sleep, go."

 Some of the (unmarried, young) techs were asking me about our Valentine's plans last week. Well, we went to the Terminal for dinner and used a giftcard for a movie the weekend before valentine's day. That was it. They all looked disappointed, "Oh, so y'all don't do gifts?" And I should have told them everything I've just written. But I just said something about we're not big into Hallmark holidays or something like that. 

I guess the point is, it HAS been a very hard, exhausting week. I am tired, but it's different now, tired but not frustrated or hopeless. We have changed as we've had kids, and had to learn to adapt. We've changed in our marriage, how we relate to one another, as we work together instead of trying to do more, or complaining about how the other isn't doing enough. We've changed in the amount of grace we extend to ourselves and our kids, especially in weeks like this. We've changed in that we are not striving to be the person at work who is there the most, who never calls in, and works around the clock, we are striving to love God, love one another, and love our boys. And in that order, no matter what happens, we will be ok.


Disney Trip

At the end of January we headed down to Orlando for two days at Disney. This is the last year we can get the boys in free, AND Matt got two one-day tickets from his work for free! We went last year about this same time, so we knew what to do to make it an easy, fun trip,

First of all, the time of year. Matt has done a lot of research, and the week we went is the slowest week of the year. Secondly, Matt was REALLY thinking ahead when he looked online Black Friday and found an awesome deal at our favorite place to stay in Orlando, Buena Vista Suites. This place is an actual suite with a door separating the living room (couch turns into a bed) and the bedroom. This is what we love because we can shut the boys off in their own room, everyone sleeps better as a result. And except for the Marriott Resort, it's the closest hotel to the park entrance.

We stayed on-site (Key West Resort) before we had kids, and it was so nice and convenient. But now that we take the double Bob loaded with tons of stuff, it would be SO hard to push the stroller to the bus stop at the resort, unload it, fold up the stroller, get on the bus, ride to the park, and repeat in reverse. Plus, it's so much cheaper to stay off-site. And that is our end goal :) It's so much easier for us to park in the parking lot, load up the Bob and walk to the park.

Third, the double Bob. It holds our extra jackets, towel, snacks, drinks, lunch, diapers, wipes, hats, so on and so forth.

Fourth, we only went to the Magic Kingdom. Matt and I had been to the other parks, and with both boys so young (and short), they could ride the most rides at MK. Plus, for a three year old boy, he's not going to tire of seeing Mickey and Buzz two days in a row.

Our first day in Orlando we spent hanging out at the pool and walking around Downtown Disney. Just relaxing and resting.

Dumbo was a favorite of both boys AND we saw Bruce Willis with his new girlfriend/wife and their kid (I'm assuming it's their kid). Pretty neat!

The boys LOVED every character they met

Both days the boys napped at the same time for at least an hour and a half. That gave Matt and I plenty of time to ride the two roller coasters and have "adult time."

Several of the rides we rode together and it was so cute to see all three boys' excitement as we rode

Levi got to pick one piece of candy the last day and he chose this swirly sucker. He was overly excited, as you can see.

This was my favorite character meet-up, both boys hugged Pooh and Tigger for several minutes

The boys watching a show in front of the castle. Noah has his face pressed into the bars. This was right before a duck bit his finger, poor guy.

And here is Levi break-dancing to one of the parades we watched. The night before he was getting DOWN with Mr. Incredible and Fro-Zo, it's hilarious to watch.

It was a great trip and we were so thankful for the opportunity to go.


What's Left Unsaid

In so many conversations, with so many people, so much is left unsaid. More is said in our pauses and eyes than in our actual words.

Saturday morning I was at work (every other Saturday I work 4 hours at the busiest store in the market to provide relief for the regular pharmacist). A woman, probably my age, called in. She doesn't get her medicine there, so I had no history on her or her medications, I didn't even get her name. But what she said, and didn't say was more than enough to know her struggle, as it is mine.

She had recently gotten a shot of a medication (that I worked with a lot at my old job in Bham, so actually knew a lot about it). This medicine helps women struggling with endometriosis, and usually, infertility as a result. She had the shot several months ago and hadn't gotten a period since, even though her doctor had put her on another medication trying to get that started.

She asked "Well, I mean, I know I haven't had a period, but can't you still ovulate even though you haven't had a period? I've taken pregnancy tests, and they're negative, but I mean, I can still be pregnant, right?"

And I started tearing up. I don't think she could tell over the phone. Because I know that hope. I also know the devastating blow my words were about to have. "Dear, I'm so sorry, but..." As I go on to explain the chances that she is pregnant with no period and several negative pregnancy tests are so slim they almost aren't worth talking about.  But they are. To her, in this period of never-ending waiting. Waiting for a period, and then for pregnancy. Always slightly out of reach. She was so nice, and thanked me and let me go. As I hung the phone up I knew she would be crying by this point. I do that too, month after month. As I did when trying for Levi (13 months of trying) and Noah (9 months of trying).

We have found a church, the church where we are going to join. But now comes the part of jumping in, getting involved, getting to know people. I went to Sunday School (Matt had to work tonight so he was napping). I am a really awkward person, especially when in social situations by myself. I much prefer to sit on the sidelines while others talk around me. I sat for the hour watching and listening. At the end, when I just felt so alone, so overwhelmed with this task/desire of knowing and being known but not wanting to travel the long, awkward road of getting to that point. When this woman came up to me. During prayer requests she (18 weeks pregnant) had asked for prayer as she was in a wreck with her four other children, totaling their van. So, she's pregnant and has four kids under the age of 5. She has a LOT on her plate. I can't imagine how tired she is, sore, etc.

She came right up to me at the end of the class and introduced herself, and started asking questions. We had a great conversation, but I could tell we were both leaving things unsaid.
She: "Do you have any kids?"
Me: "Yes, we have two boys" (I have another baby, in heaven, but I can't mention him without breaking down to you)
She: "Oh wow, do y'all want to have any more?"
Me: "Yes, we are trying, but it usually takes me awhile to get pregnant" (I started my period this morning, I cried all the way to church. I thought I might have been pregnant for sure. I'm not.)

And so on, and so forth. But she kept talking to me, asking me questions, letting me talk. In that moment, she was a God-send. Noticing me, drawing me out of my wall-flower state, loving me. That meant so much to me, more than she'll ever know.

But as Matt and I struggle with our own struggles, which people don't know about, as we don't all go about wearing signs with our problems written out, how much more is everyone else just like us? Every conversation I have, every question I ask, every patient I counsel. We each have our own parenthesis answers. The things we left unsaid that we just wish we could tell someone.

I've been re-reading "Disciplines of Grace" by Jerry Bridges. And I am praying constantly for grace. Grace towards others. To have my eyes open to these things that are unsaid, these weights people are carrying around that cause them to lash out, be rude, forget to call me back, etc. To love them unconditionally as I am loved unconditionally.

"For just as the sufferings of Christ pour over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 2 Cor 1:5

For as sure as we will suffer, we will be comforted. So much, in fact that this comfort we receive will be so much we will be able to comfort others. That is so beautiful to me. The covenant body of Christ, loving one another, comforting one another. This has been so heavy on my heart, as I miss our church family in Birmingham and long for one here. For people to know me well, and for me to love them, to "do life together."

This song by Sara Groves "Painting Pictures of Egypt" I've been playing over and over daily. It's about the Israelites when they were freed from slavery in Egypt, while wandering in the desert. They were so tired of where they were, so scared of what was to come, they asked to go back to Egypt. Back to slavery.

"I've been painting pictures of Egypt, leaving out all it lacks. The future feels so hard, and I want to go back....I don't want to leave here, I don't want to stay. It feels like pinching to me, either way. And the places I long for most are the places where I've been. They are calling out to me, like a long lost friend....The past is so tangible I know it by heart. Familiar things are never easy to discard. I was dying for some freedom, now I hesitate to go. I am caught between the Promise and the things I know..."

When I was in Birmingham I was so ready to go. To move here to Ringgold. And now I'm here, and I just want to go back. But see, Matt and I prayed for 6 years about when/if we should move home. And God opened the doors to come here in a huge, very obvious way. But I keep forgetting that, as I yearn for what I used to know, what was comfortable. So, this song cuts me to the quick. I'm so thankful for how God uses music to minister to our souls.