Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Are you full or even filled?

Some parents love DIY crafts. Some have a knack for homemade costumes or perfectly balanced healthy meals. Other moms and dads are great team captains or school committee leaders. Still others just love cooking or cleaning. However, I have yet to meet a mother or father who actually had every area of parenting naturally and sincerely mastered.
None of us was built to be perfect, but I believe we all have aspects of our calling woven into our natural fabric. When we stop trying to be what we think we should or what we believe others think we should, and when we embrace our natural God-given gifts and let go of those areas we struggle to fulfill, joy envelopes within our current calling and state of being.
I may not be crafty, and I have tried and tried but failed and failed at sewing, but I do love to cook, organize, and write. Writing may not be in the tagline or job description for mothering, but God has given me an outlet to document a diary, so to speak, of the past and present for posterity purposes. One day in the future, I hope that my children will be able to read my words and see that their mother never had it all figured out; she was always learning and growing even if they thought (for a time) she had it all figured out.
If you think your talents and abilities are not utilized to their fullest in your current position, then ask God for outlets to strengthen and develop those gifts, and trust that He will give that to you because He is the one that gave you the gifts and talents to begin with. We do not choose our gifts; they are just that--gifts. For this reason, I believe we are most fulfilled when we utilize our talents for a greater kingdom- not our future retirement kingdom or our children's happiness kingdom, but a Heavenly Kingdom. When His "kingdom comes" through the gifts He has bestowed, it's truly like being part of a supernatural purpose. Even if its minuscule, and we don't always realize our impact, when we seek His will through our lives and choices, we begin to feel fulfillment in the most mundane faithfulness. There is no pressure to perform when you embrace your calling, but trust God to use it for His perfect purposes. I read a great quote from the book Missional Motherhood, "we can only help teach it, suggest it, exemplify it, and affirm it. Salvation belongs to the Lord" (Furman, Gloria). I certainly can't be perfect for others, let alone my own family. Thank goodness I was never expected or designed with that in mind.

Speaking of expectations:   Levi is doing well! Although we are thrilled we haven't used his feeding tube in over a month, the nutritionist and GI doc basically track his weight gain and chart status (as we all know too well). Thus, instead of fireworks and excitement, we were told that we are simply "holding our own," which means we've gained just a little weight in the last six weeks. It isn't about whether or not we use his G-tube, or even what types of solids he can swallow now. The docs simply want to see him get much bigger and stronger much faster before we even speak of removing anything. Thank goodness I didn't really have any other expectations. Little Levi is still just under 20 pounds. We are hopeful that spring and summer will bring less illness and more weight gain!  But we are excited about his progress and showering him with our own fireworks. The more he sees his big and little brother do, the more he is naturally driven to do himself. We are thankful for that natural competition. ;)
Here's a little yummy weight-gain for St. Patty's day- green pudding!

Now I'm not too crafty, but I couldn't resist making these myself when I saw how much they would cost me at a home store. Happy Spring!

Warm weather means Ro Ro can't just wear pajamas all day. He looked so old  our of fleece footies!

I really think he's my chunkiest baby yet! (He's already competing with big brothers.)

Levi trying to get those muscles bigger!

Don't give up big man! 

If Levi can hold his own, mommy can hold two kids for our afternoon walk too!

Happy spring!

~FulFilled Buster

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Competition or comparison


Many believe it, as I do, to mark a significant calendar point in history: Before Christ.
Some associate the abbreviation to mean Before Common Era, adding an E in order to escape any religious associations.
You may quickly think of Boston College or the Breakfast Club.
I now have my own favorite:   Before Children.

Before Children, I used to be the world's fastest eater. I'm not sure where I gathered this skill set, but I know that a meal didn't take me more than five minutes to consume. For some reason I did not pass along this Olympic medal speed to my eldest child. Like other three and four year-olds, Silas eats at snail speed. He also dresses, brushes his teeth and does a myriad of other common tasks painstakingly slow. Besides pulling out all our arm hair to get through these activities, we have found that a little friendly competition helps move him right along. Unfortunately, I think he has now associated "winning" and "speed" as the most important endeavor imaginable. Matthew and I are both fairly, (okay extremely) competitive, so we definitely passed the generational baton there.
Since getting Silas to hurry along and "beat Levi" at putting on pajamas and buckling his seatbelt seemed harmless and effective, I began using my parental powers for something I said I would never do BC--  comparing my children to one another.

Silas has recently decided to revert back (again) to being a baby. Instead of just Roman waking me up at night, Silas gets our of bed to wake me for reasons only God can understand. He's cried more in the last couple of weeks than my other two kids combined. Regardless of the fact that he's been a little sick again, he's always been my sweet dramatic child. However, his behavior has seems downright ridiculous compared to what his brother has to go through on a regular basis. (But there goes the dreadful sibling comparison that I swore I'd always evade.) In my frustration I have lashed out letting him feel the sting of having little Levi be much braver, stronger, and sane. As I stepped back and watched Silas deal with himself from afar, I painfully asked God to forgive my iniquities.

I heard all the verses that I had ignored.
"But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor." Galatians 6:4
"Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding."    2 Corinthians 10:12
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

How could I compare my two boys who are each made so uniquely with their own strengths and weaknesses. I distinctly remember being the "sensitive" and "fearful" child in my own family, but I also distinctly remember my parents never telling me that I wasn't strong like my big sister. They did their best to push us out of our own comfort zones, and not compare our zones.
Thank goodness my God and my children are willing to forgive me so quickly because I know I'll continue to make BC mistakes.
Fortunately, my big boys are now sharing a room, which has brought out a whole new strength in big brother Si. He's nothing short of a miracle for little Levi. The two teach each other so very much, and their differences help push the other on to bigger and better things. I pray Roman will be as close to them as they are to each other right now!

Levi wants to do everything big brother does, which means great hand therapy!

And great feeding therapy!

And great "cheese" skills thanks to Silas!

Just a little something I tell myself on tired mornings.

I can't believe this nugget is already four months! 

Thanks Dee Dee and T Pop for our new beds!

~Competition Buster

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Levi is 2!

As any momma will tell you at any age... "I cannot believe my baby is ____."  Well with Levi, it's always a little extra special to watch him hit new milestones and new seasons. He welcomed his second birthday with many milestones finally struck, including wearing overalls! Since we haven't used the G-tube in 3 weeks, little man can wear those cute straps without having to take them off and on all day. He's still taking down his 7 syringes by mouth, and even though he threw up from some mucus this week, he's learning to handle colds and coughs a little better! He also decided to act like a "typical" two-year old the day before he actually turned two. While not enjoyable, I was thankful to watch him act "normally" with meltdown after meltdown for no apparent reason. In watching our little ones grow, I began to notice some of the sentiments that other people expressed towards my current season.
"Those are the lost years."
"You all are in the black hole, but you'll emerge again in a few years."
"It's just a season of no sleep." 
"This season will be a blur, and you'll look back and wonder where the years went."
"It's just a season of survival."

I realized that I've become too accustomed to relegating every uncomfortable stage as simply a "season." When I use the term "season" in this context, I'm actually giving a negative connotation to my circumstances. Yes seasons change, and yes my life changes daily, but I do not want to simply survive my season right now. Embrace the cliche: I want to THRIVE in every season. Why do I naturally adhere to common customs and cute hashtags (I don't even know how to tweet) #terribletwos. Probably because I love words and alliteration.
It's a natural instinct to want to help others through circumstances that you've already weathered, but I want to be careful that I do not succumb to commonalities. As sweet big-little Levi has taught me (rather, God has taught me through him), some situations and seasons may never change, so I must decide in the here and now to embrace their own unique goodness. We must all remind ourselves that we may not get to the next season, so do not miss out on the current one no matter how "seasonal" it may feel.

As an important ritual, we visited Levi's first home, Northside Hospital, and thanked his first doctors, nurses, and therapists, for getting him where he is today! It's a true blessing to recall those hard days that brought such goodness.

Thank you Gibby for sending us some great bday hats!
Levi is learning to "bowl" in physical therapy, so we thought it'd be a great way to celebrate his 2nd birthday! The boys loved it, and what's more amazing-- we let them each bowl for us, and Levi actually won the whole game!

Ice cream makes Levi's birthday everyone's favorite day!

Well Roman kind of missed out. 

But it was all about you bubba!

Happy birthday bubba! We love you little man!

Thank you for continuing to pray for our humble little home. Levi is approaching the 20 pound mark, so please pray as we go to his nutrition appointment next week!  God bless each one of you in the season you find yourself in today!

~Seasonal second Buster

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Laughter is the best medicine

By March, most Americans have forgotten or given up on their New Year's resolutions. For this and other reasons, I don't think I've ever been resolute about anything on January first, but this year I did decide to try and laugh every single day in 2017. I can tell you that I've already failed at this endeavor. Like many resolutions though, I think mine was a bit unrealistic. Rather, I should have resolved that someone in my household would laugh ever day. With sweet little ones, this goal is actually within our reach. We do not all have to laugh together, but one man's laugh certainly brings on another's.

At deeper glance, I realized one of my major opponents at joy-killing --  illness. I have yet to fully let go of the anxiety I feel when I know one of my babies is getting sick. With dirty boys, I have strayed far from the label of germaphobe, but history has hurt my optimism. When Roman is sick, I am up all night; when Levi is sick, I am cleaning up throw up all day, and when Silas is sick we all have to feel it, day and night. So how am I to embrace a sick season that ensures some measure of discomfort? Laugh at it!

Illness is inevitable. Instead of resisting, I should (as a Proverbs 31 wise woman) "laugh at the days to come." Likewise, Proverbs 17:22 says "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."  My bones definitely ached with Shingles, but I bet if I had laughed a little more, I wouldn't have felt so tired. When we don't take our lives or ourselves so seriously, we actually release any preexisting anxiety about what may or may not be waiting for us. I've seen tickle times help resolve most problems in our home. While this would probably be a bit inappropriate in the workplace, there's something to be said for silliness. Regardless of your illness, find something that makes you smile, it's truly the best medicine you'll take today.

Little Ro Ro is doing well. He has a four-month doc appointment along with Big brother Levi on Tuesday- Levi's second birthday!!! I can hardly believe he's going to be two. It is nothing short of a miracle. We are praying for great weight gain for Levi as he continues to try new foods (he swallowed a tiny piece of meatloaf the other night!), and even though all the boys seems a bit snotty this week (as I just cleaned up the "throw up bucket" from Levi), I'm hopeful for what lies ahead for our sweet middle child. All three boys bring me such joy whenever I forget how to laugh. May we all step a little lighter with our newfound medicine this week!

A little something to make you smile...

~Laughing Buster

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

There's no such thing as a scar

Choices and circumstances can quickly shape our entire outlook on life, so much so that parents worry that every major experience can potentially "scar" their offspring. However, I've reconciled that there is no such thing as an emotional scar. No matter how deep the tissue, I've seen how God can create an alternate experience that counteracts the first removing the "scar" completely. Thus, there's less pressure to control our environment and more laughter at our future.

Before Levi...
I told my husband that I'd do all the dirty diapers if he'd please handle the throw ups because I had a scarring stomach bug experience as a child. Little did I know that Levi's daily regurgitation would help heal that wound.
Before Levi...
I thought I'd never give my kids sugary cereals or other terribly processed foods. Little did I know that Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks would be one of Levi's first independent solids.
Before Levi...
I said I'd never let my kids watch screens for pacification purposes. Little did I know that a screen would be a great way to keep Levi from throwing up and keep Silas from interfering with therapy sessions.
Before Levi...
I assumed that if a child threw up multiple times a day, every single day, they he would certainly develop an emotional scar associated with eating. Little did I know that Levi would be an anomaly who would instantly want to eat whatever food he just gagged out of his mouth.
Before Levi...
I worried that I would somehow scar my children because all parents make mistakes. Little did I know that God can really change all scars into fresh flesh and future stories for their children.

There's nothing we can do and nothing that can happen to us that God can't change. We may bare physical scars for our entire lives on Earth, but that's just on the surface. It's how we heal internally that adds to our stories.

Some amazing steps this week: No Levi is not potty trained, but we have not used his G tube in a week! This is huge! It takes longer to get him to sit still to drink his Pediasure by mouth (hence the toilet locale), but it is definitely worth the work. We still have to learn to suck from a straw (please pray for this because it would help with self feeding), as well as swallow things that aren't completely soft, but he seems to be swallowing new foods every day! It's amazing to watch!

I hope these two always like to share with each other! 
Sweet Saturday reading. 

Even sweeter Sunday dedication for our two little ones. Roman didn't quite stay awake for the final pic.

Praising God for our church and for little Levi finally able to attend one.

I took this picture because it was an amazing moment. I sat there watching Levi, about to turn two, remembering distinctly where we were two years ago. I saw myself back in that NICU rocking chair wondering how his little deformed, fragile body would ever make it to the age of two. What could he possibly look like at two? Here he is... using two hands with two straight feet, trying to use his tools on his train just like a big boy. It was exceptional. There are no words. God is good. God is gracious. I am eternally grateful. Levi may have several scars all over his little body, but I am at peace knowing God will heal any present or future emotional scars.

Please continue to pray for his hand, his eating, and his verbal communication. God bless you!

~Scarless Buster

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Needed and Needy

Well, our honeymoon period with Ro Ro is officially over. He's a great baby for sure, but I recall with Silas that the 3-5 month range is a bit challenging as they become much more alert and aware while still needing significant sleep. As he tries to deal with losing a pacifier, regulating his system, and changing with leaps and bounds, Roman also remains subject to his brother's schedules. With Levi's awesome doc/therapy schedule, Ro, just has to figure things out a lot quicker as he can't enjoy long naps in his bed. Unfortunately, he's decided he doesn't like sleeping in his car seat anymore, which makes for tiresome travels. As my weary soul searches, I've struggled with whether or not my Lord, whom I thank for coming to Earth to take on the sinful trials of man, can actually empathize with motherhood.
I know that the Word tells me He experienced every emotion we experience, and He's the only God to have also become man, but he wasn't an actual mommy. How on Earth could He understand the ins and outs of dealing with children, toddlers, and teens? The monotony and grind that refines your patience: daily diapers, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Did He really feel the frustration of an unconsolable infant? YES.
When Jesus humbled himself as King to walk on Earth (and water), many people sought his attention every minute of the day. Not only do we need Him more than air, but people were needy for him like little children. "Heal me! Hug me! Feed me! Forgive me!" Jesus barely had a moment to himself. In fact, he rose early forsaking sleep to get alone with His Father above. Just like my children seem needy for me, everyone was needy for Jesus' care and concern as we still are today. The difference between his parenting in mine is that He was sinless. I am 100 percent flesh, and He was 100 percent flesh and 100 percent divine. I can only hope to let His Holy Spirit live through me so that I don't lose heart and allow divinity to win the day. By His grace I can keep on keeping on even in the hard weeks.

Pray for us: I was just diagnosed with Shingles (Apparently a result of undiagnosed stress I didn't know I had!) Please pray that Roman doesn't get chicken pox at his ripe ole age of 3 months!

Little Levi- He's making great strides with his eating. As long as his tummy isn't too full, he's getting better at navigating solids. He wants to do, go, and eat whatever big brother Silas has chosen. It's encouraging, but at times nerve wracking because his little body can't quite handle what his mind understands. He will be two in a few weeks! Now, he will actually tell me whether he wants to ingest his Pediasure "by mouth or by G tube!"  So thankful for his understanding!

Moments to get you through the rough ones...

I asked Levi to read a book to Roman!

Sweet big brother!

New fav activity- flashlight discoveries!

Levi was SO excited to go into Silas' class for the Valentines party. 

He was teaching the other kids how to lick knives... sorry mamas!

Little man wants to go to school so bad. 

But more than school, he just LOVES to play in anything that gets him dirty. 

If you say something is gross, yucky, dirty, or the like, it's Levi's first choice!

Can't wait for spring!

Thank you Jesus for relating to me in every way. Thank you for forgiving me when I feel as though I am failing on all fronts. Thank you for new mercies each morning, and hope for a sweet perspective that the grass is always greener! Thank you that I can be needed and needy!

~Needy Buster