Sunday, October 25, 2015

Motivation

What motivates us to do good? Selfless acts have roots in all kinds of soils. Some is dense with hypocrisy, while others are weak with insecurity. Either way, when we are honest, we'll often times see the crumble of selfish motivation. We'll give and sacrifice for a time, and then begin to resent those who aren't giving back. When we serve with the expectation of being served in return, we are often bitter and empty.
I am rarely described as cynical, and I have witnessed many volunteers who see the truth that it is better to give/serve than receive. However, for some reason it tends to be easier to give of yourself in isolation to those you may never see again, and therefore expect nothing from, than to give to those closest to you who may remain in your presence most of your Earthly life. This selflessness tends to waver in it's motivation.
Why on Earth do people continue to give up their needs, wants, desires, "rights," dreams, for others when they never feel as though others are giving equally for them?
Honestly, I don't think people can be so selfishly sacrificial. I think it takes a supernatural love to die to yourself like that every day. If you know Jesus at all though, you see a life that exists purely for the sake of others. He has no ulterior motive except love. When your desire is to become more like him, He enables you to check your motivations daily and continue to fight against your own selfishness. Our pride tells us that we've done enough. It's our turn to have ______. We've served others so much that we "deserve" a break. Unfortunately, our society echoes this chant making a life lived like Christ that much more difficult. Perfect selflessness does not exist in this life, but that doesn't mean we should stop "taking up our cross daily." Instead, let's strive to be led by the spirit and give up our time, schedules, plans, lives in order to truly find joy in serving; only then does our walk look like joy rather than begrudging frustration or self righteous angst. If you've never met Jesus though, this feat is impossible, and you will only end up serving yourself and showing everyone around you how to do the same. Love requires sacrifice, but God's love requires the ultimate sacrifice, which gains life abundantly.


Little Levi and I got some great one-on-one time this weekend, while the big boys were visiting Matthew's mom for her birthday! We hated to miss, (and I miss them a lot), but we are thankful half the family could go celebrate with her.

 I think my big man was a bit tired upon his arrival.

But "Gibby's beach" was anticipated weeks before the trip. Can't wait to hug you tomorrow Silas! Please stop growing up so fast.
Levi has made teeny tiny strides in all areas of therapy, which would seem like nothing to those who aren't working with him on a regular basis, but to me, I beam with pride! His new g-tube seems to be good in place (for now), but he's still spitting up frequently; it will only be a real issue if he stops gaining weight. Once again, our constant motto seems to be: time will tell. The unknown isn't really scary anymore because I realize there's nothing that's ever really "known." We must continue to live moment by moment, and I am so very thankful for my moments this week!

~Motivated Buster

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hurdle to Hilarious

The last week has been a bit rough...

But like anything else, there are little glimpses of Heaven to keep you going in the midst of the hard....
When everyone is exhausted...

Something has to happen to bring the laughter back... He LOVED my water bottle.
After a wonderful weekend, this week has been another hurdle.... Poor Levi has been spitting up a lot more, and we are trying different trouble shooting mechanisms to figure out how to keep his meals down. In the meantime, he got a new g-tube button size to hopefully keep that sucker in place. (The button buddy was my own purchase.) :)
Also, his feet are uber sensitive because he can't bang them around anymore; he is kind of hating his new leg braces. We are hopeful that he'll adjust quickly and be ready for the snow board slopes this winter.
The first and only time he's ever been in the bumbo without anything on his legs to hold him back! Go Levi!

I have a feeling Levi is going to have A LOT to say when he starts talking. He definitely likes to do things in his own way at his own time. Not only did he extubate himself from his breathing tube, once upon a time, but now he's figuring out how to slip out of his leg braces when no one is watching. I wish I could read his thoughts because I think he'd be hilariously rolling his eyes at all of us trying to "fix him" our way.

Instead of resenting my lack of sleep this past week, month.... well maybe it's been closer to a year, God continues to give me strength and energy I didn't know I had with Him and with wonderful coffee. :) Levi did great in therapy today, and I was reminded at how blessed we all are when a sweet mama came in with her two boys. Her youngest (like me) was there for therapy, and I noticed that he only had two fingers on one hand and barely two fingers on the other. How quickly we worry about simple things like talking and walking at the correct age when others will never even pause at such hurdles.

Thank you Jesus for getting us through some minor hurdles this week and using hilarious moments to keep us smiling.

Don't worry buddy, it's just like a really big water bottle.

~Hurdle Buster

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

HFMB


We are called to "Give Thanks" in all circumstances, which includes hand foot mouth virus, which I think should be called hand, foot, mouth, and body because it appears in many other places as well. After a "health advisory" email Monday morning from Silas' PMO class, I was notified that in his tiny Friday morning classroom, a child had unknowingly come to school with HFM. I was not familiar with the condition, but that soon changed. The fever started literally hours after I read the email. Fortunately, it seems to be running it's course quickly, and so far no one else is getting any symptoms. (Please pray for our little Levi!) While itchy and fussy best describes Silas at the beginning, middle, and end of the day, he also quickly forgets he's "sick," so we are giving thanks to quiet moments at home together. Sweet, snugly moments should always be on the gratitude list.

We have also been a bit disappointed with the "home nurse care" we've graciously received once a week. Let's just say it's been more of a hindrance than a help. And there's been weeks I've simply declined the help. Luckily, a supervisor we've seen several times came to watch Levi Saturday, so we could enjoy a fall day with Silas.

If you've never been to Cagle Farms, I highly recommend it. What a wonderful surprise we found simply by driving close to our house using google maps! Thank you Siri for finding our new fall pumpkin farm!
Pony rides, animal feeding, haystack jumpers, tractor rides, pig races, cow milking, sheep herding... you name it, they had it. Inexpensive, low-key, and awesome.  Maybe it was more awesome because I was so thankful that we got out that day. Levi's g-tube came out the night before AGAIN!

We aren't sure why just yet, but because Levi's g-tube is having so many issues, we are scheduled to have a "re-sizing" of his G button on Monday morning. Also, he's been spitting up a lot more, so they may need to take an x-ray at a later date to check if his "Fundoplication" is still in tact in his upper GI track. :(  Nothing huge, but just watching him closer.

Levi also gets his casts off Monday! I can't wait to give him his first real bath!!! Although I have a feeling he will think otherwise, being seven months old and not particularly liking sponge baths is not going to make for a very joyful event I'm afraid.

It will probably go something like Silas's first trip to the dentist. We had a couple of questions about his teeth, so we decided to go a bit before his third birthday. He was okay with it for a few minutes, but then it was a bit of a struggle. 

Mommy sat in the dentist chair too! Looks like a workshop, but that's just the decorative wall paintings.
Even with canceled therapy, Levi is working on it himself this week! You are awesome big man! (This was pre- HFM by the way!)
Some fun fall home-bound activities.
Thanks to HFM, Silas took his first morning nap in a year!
Please pray for these boys this week and next. Pray that Silas gets better quick, and Levi escapes HFM. Also, please pray for Levi with his GI unknown irritability. I hate wondering if I'm about to perform a medical procedure at any moment. Also, for his new boot sizing Monday after the casts come off!

Thankful for my sweet boys. This should be their "monthly pics." 7 months and 30 months. ;) 

~Hand, Foot, Mouth, Legs, Bottom, Wrists, Arms, Body  BUSTER

Friday, October 9, 2015

Contemplation


Contemplation. My natural and unavoidable state on a semi-regular basis; my alter ego that scares away all beings who prefer to skim the surface of life like water skis on an empty morning lake. Contemplation. My default, which allows me an opportunity to move forward during any given season.
Contemplation. My avalanche of words that I camouflage as a blog.

Through recent contemplative moments, God graciously spoke to me through repetitive words found in multiple books I'm currently reading. I typically can't stand to open more than one book at a time, but grad school changed that rule drastically.
As I have confronted the realities of losing my better half, way before I ever expected, I have wrestled with how we are to love our spouses like "Christ loved the church" without admonishing them exactly like Christ and the church. It's neither serendipitous nor coincidence that two of the books I'm reading have helped me address this very topic. It's simply divine. It is God's sweet voice loving me through written words. After all, "perfect love drives out all fear" (1 John 4:18).

Matthew and I just began reading You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. If you know anything about this couple, you know that this is hardly a typical "marriage" book. Rather, it's an honest look at life through a lover of the Almighty. We are only through chapter 2, but I highly recommend it (even if you are single or reading it solo).  In the second chapter, the Chans discuss the "marriage of the Lamb," and emphasize how our earthly marriages have become an obsession, when they are merely a snapshot or Earthly example of our true marriage relationship. "We are the bride--we have been reconciled with God, and we currently enjoy a relationship with Him--but the actual wedding is still to come" (Chan, chapter 2). As much money and time as we put into our weddings on Earth, this should be a fraction of how we prepare for our real wedding after this life. Our marriages are simply an opportunity, like any other relationship, to shine Christ's beautiful light. Such light was used as a further example in a book Kyra actually recommended weeks before she passed away. The Hardest Peace written by the late Kara Tippetts (who ironically Kyra said touched her life even though she didn't think they had much in common), is an authentic autobiography about grappling with life's hardest struggles. After multiple rounds of cancer and a recent additional diagnosis, Kara's husband preached at their church in Colorado, and he didn't shy away from his plans to discuss Mark 12:18-27.  She writes,
                                         "He stood and talked of how we cling to the morsel we have been fed as a reminder, and forget the banquet that awaits. Then he broke down and said, 'We cling to the shadow of the story and forget the light in the story. We love the shadow.'..... Marriage is an illustration, a living illustration of our marriage to Jesus. Marriage is a reminder, a shadow, a picture of what is to come. When a marriage is based on Jesus, based on love, on grace, on the goodness of God in relationship, all who come in contact with that marriage will go away blessed, richer, nourished....Our struggle in marriage is holding so tightly to the other and forgetting the picture is the living allegory.... None of us have the strength to loosen our grip, untie the knots, open wide our hands to the loves we love. We lack imagination for life beyond what we can see, feel, smell, and taste. We are reckless in our grasping for more time, and forget the best is yet to come. We simply have so little imagination for our forever home, and yet I feel that Jesus is very gentle with us in our lack of understanding." (103-104)

I agree with Kara. We've lost our imaginations. As my sweet Silas initiated "pretend" this morning, and we embarked on a journey that took us through a zoo, into a snow storm, and finally flying high above the trees in our own co-piloted plane, I am reminded that I forgot how to use my imagination. I see only what is before my eyes or things I can dream of with realism. We have become such tactile persons with our touch screens and interactive media that we've lost the idea of something better that we can actually acknowledge with one of our five senses. We must become like little children again in order to love correctly. We must love richly in the here and now without fear or stipulation. We must know how deeply God's love reaches in order to love Him most of all while loving unabashedly those he's placed in our lives for a short time. When we recognize His great love for us, we are able to see that our momentary troubles simply draw us deeper into that love.

Sweet love knows no bounds...

We were trying some other textures for feeding therapy, and I think Silas is the best teacher for Levi!

My big man loves to contemplate the falling leaves just like his mama. After changing Levi I came to find he moved the furniture to get alone with nature. :)



Loving fall and loving everything that comes with it- outdoor nature hunts, leaf stomping, picnics, and Levi sweating less. :)  

~Contemplative Buster

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Real Cabin Fever

If it's going to rain for a week straight, and cabin fever is inevitable, there's no better place to be than a real cabin. Matthew and some of our closest friends helped me celebrate my 31st birthday just north of Atlanta in a rental cabin. While we encountered flooded rivers, power outages, and non-stop showers, we were just happy to be away from our home because it's been almost a year since we slept away from our home (very unusual for a family that loves to travel and has extended family all over the U.S.).  It was probably a blessing in disguise as little Levi wouldn't have made it through a hike, and he probably would have sweat to death with a bonfire.  Thus, we crushed those lemons, and made jumbo, indoor s'mores instead.

 There's something about watching the simplicity of a child enjoying a s'more that makes you forget all your troubles. If only we could all live in the moment as children do. They aren't thinking about the rain, and they certainly are thinking about possible future storms. They are in the here and now... in a constant mode of squeezing those lemons and drinking lemonade. Good, sweet, sugary lemonade. 
Our sweet friends brought their precious Penny. I think she was a bit skeptical of the whole Smith clan. We are one of a kind Penny. 

The rain makes you pause and look at the little things... like Levi's gorgeous eye lashes. How did my boys both manage to get longer eyelashes than their mama? I'm so jealous! He's beautiful! Have I mentioned that I think both my boys are beautiful? I'm sure all mamas think that though.

The entire town of Helen was without power on our way home Sunday, so this was the extent of our stop- a quick tractor ride. 

I can't remember if it was my birthday or my son's. Thanks for letting me share my cake with you Silas!  :D

And thank you for those of you who were praying this week. Levi's eyes finally checked off as mature and 100 percent perfectly developed! Thank you Lord! One less doc to see for a while. He is at greater risk for glasses as a preemie, but I think he'd be even cuter with some near-sighted vision. Also, the hand specialist echoed our therapists prediction. His hand is not a product of any condition; it's simply a "packaging problem." I'd never heard it put that way, but it made me laugh. Sorry Levi. Even with my family in the moving and storage business, you just weren't packaged correctly. We'll check in with the hand doc down the road, but for now, it's simply a matter of therapy to stretch and strengthen what couldn't move in the womb.

Great birthday news all around! 

I hope you are making some lemonade or s'mores this week. Don't think about that future cavity, just enjoy today.

~Cabin Buster

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Needed Reminder

Exactly three years ago when I was first pregnant with Silas, and we thought we lost him, I stared directly into the face of a woman with fragile faith. While I believe that same woman has been strengthened through her trials of late, like a child, she needs to be reminded of God's goodness, and she needs to recover some of those timeless lessons.
There's a story in the Bible about Jesus "calming the storm." While aboard a ship with his disciples, the sovereign King falls peacefully asleep. His trusted companions soon panic during a raging storm. Calling to Jesus, they cry for help. "Doesn't [He] care that we may drown?" They question. Jesus responds with simplicity, "Why do you have such little faith?" The disciples obviously knew that their Savior could bring thunder and lightening to a halt, hence their plea, but their fear, control, and vision of how things should happen caused them to doubt Christ's motivation. While I knew God could save our pregnancy three years ago, I immediately assumed the worst and didn't trust all the goodness that could come from a difficult situation. Even though many believe in a powerful God, few hold that He has something better in store during tragedy or trial. Trying to prepare for a "worse-case scenario" and color coding it a "possible required lesson" is simply a lack of faith. There are those situations, like the story of the man born blind, that occur simply for God's glory to shine beyond human reach. Yet there are other times when we must blindly proclaim in faith that God has something even better in store. I confess that I've been unconsciously preparing for the worst again, knowing God can bring good out of bad and finding pride in my ability to accept and welcome hardships for their product of growth. Then again, I am neglecting to acknowledge that God has only goodness planned for those who love Him, no matter the rocky path that leads them there. Thus, I will never stop reading my Bible because I  never stop learning from it's timeless wisdom. We are just too good at rationalizing, controlling, and veering off path to live apart from God.

Here's some other things I don't want to forget:

Even with his weakness, I was able to make Levi laugh for the first time this week. It was slight, faint, and unforgettable!

Even with his tiny stature, Levi has the ability to outsmart any and every brand of diapers. I think every thing he owns has been stained with his bowels. (Thank goodness I don't care about his clothes!) One time his diaper was secured and he managed to get poop everywhere except his diaper. I was beyond impressed. Another time, he decided to rain down number two all over the pants and floor of his feeding therapist. It was literally like an avalanche. Let's just say he made a name for himself at our rehab facility (a name no one wants). Somewhere in his little brain, I believe he is laughing at all of us and getting us back for not leaving him alone.

Even though he still won't suck on a pacifier or take anything by mouth, Levi doesn't mind making out with any and every stuffed animal. Should I be concerned? 

Case in point.

No matter the weather, Levi sweats. Little man gets lots of compliments on all his traveling fans.

It's amazing to watch him get stronger!

I think that giraffe is his new BFF.

Picasso here hasn't minded all the seasonal rain one bit.

I'm loving having a mantle this year.! Now I just need to make.... well let's be real, this year I may buy a GIVE THANKS banner for the window. I am so thankful for Fall!

~Mindful Buster