Miscarriage: Take Two


This is another of those blog posts that I never wanted to write.

Yesterday I miscarried a baby, for the second time. It was all eerily familiar, in an unwanted way.

We had known for about 2 weeks that we were expecting. We were thrilled. After our years of infertility and our miscarriage last summer, we were elated to be pregnant again. There is a 4 year gap between my two living children. And it was 4 years again before we conceived the baby we lost last summer. After that, we wondered if it would be 4 years again before we could conceive. We were so very excited to know that we could conceive again, after a relatively short amount of time.

Yet, since finding out about the pregnancy, I've been holding my breath. What if it happened again? What if we lose this baby? It couldn't happen again... could it? I was so cautious. I didn't want to do ANYTHING that might cause a problem with this pregnancy (not that I caused the last miscarriage, but just in case, I wanted to be extra careful). I started drinking more water. I made sure to take those prenatal vitamins each day. I did nothing vigorous or intense.

But, as I've seen again and again, I'm not in control. Despite my attempts to be cautious and careful, it still happened. I started bleeding and knew immediately what was coming next. This is now, unfortunately, a path I've been down before. Within 24 hours, I went from sharing the pregnancy news with a good friend and celebrating with ice cream to a dead baby and an empty womb.

My husband and I felt that this baby was a girl. We had referred to her as our "spark of hope" during the pregnancy. Now we officially named her Hope. We buried her near her brother Grant. My two babes in heaven together.

My heart is numb. I haven't even had a really good cry yet. I am exhausted, drained and spent.

My hope remains. God is good. God remains faithful. Heaven is nearer than ever.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of both heaven and earth. Thank You, Lord, that I can know that my children are alive and well with You. I can know that I will see them and spend eternity with them in Your glorious presence. That is my hope and confidence.

In the meantime, your prayers and shows of support are appreciated as our family struggles through this valley of death once again.



Last weekend we took a mini-vacation. Since Christmas, we had set aside some money for a hotel stay but waited until now to find a Saturday that wasn't already filled with plans.

We headed to Splash Universe in Shipshewana, Indiana - the heart of Amish country. Splash Universe is a hotel with a family-friendly water park attached and it's about an hour from our home. This made it perfect for a one-night getaway.

Neither of my kids had ever stayed in a hotel before. My 8-year-old daughter was especially excited to finally see what a hotel room looks like. The accommodations were fine, though none of us slept very. Here's a picture of some of the water park. The small blue slides in the foreground land you in a 8-inch kiddie pool, where I hung out with my son most of the time. Here's my daughter enjoying one of the water slides.

Here's another shot of the water park, showing the lazy river in the foreground. We all liked floating down the lazy river in the inner tubes. This Amish buggy was inside the hotel as a photo opp, so we couldn't pass it up.

My son's biggest memory: slipping at the water park and hurting his cheek. Thankfully it was nothing serious and didn't even leave a bruise, but he fell and hurt his cheek and that is the first thing he is sharing with everyone, right after saying "We went to Splash Universe!"

We enjoyed our mini-vacation. It was the first time we've ever taken the kids on a trip that didn't involve camping or staying with family members. Now we have some wonderful memories of our time together.

Children's Reading List: American Girl Kit and Lapbook


Kit. 1934. The era of Shirley Temple, typewriters, and the Great Depression. Having read all of the American Girl books in chronological order has led to some fascinating discussions with my daughter about how much has changed and what things have stayed the same. Reading about Kit from 1934, there are many things in Kit's life that are much like our lives today. Cars. School. Newspapers. Electricity. In that way, 1934 doesn't seem like it was that long ago. Talking about the Great Depression was also timely, as we compared and contrasted that with current economic woes in America.

As we've done with all of the other American Girls before Kit, we made a lapbook detailing her story. All of the materials we used for the lapbook can be found for free here.My daughter drew a picture of Kit for the cover of her lapbook. Here my daughter shows page 1 of the lapbook, with mini-books about Who is Kit, Mother, Father, Best Friend, Kit's World, Kit's Pet Dog Grace, and Life in 1934.
Here is page 2 of the lapbook, with tabs detailing more of Life in 1934, Conflict for Kit, What Changes Kit's Life, a few of Kit's favorite things, and a map showing where Kit lived (Ohio).

We've already requested the books for the next girl - Molly - from the library. After Molly, there is just one more girl left! Yeah!

Family Photo Friday


How can it be the middle of February already!? Another week has flown by. Here's a sneak peek at our week.

Here's my son, our pet bird and one of my son's toys that is placed on top of the bird cage to see how the bird would react. Yes, this is a favorite past-time for my little man. I think he's trying to scare her. He thinks she is having fun looking at all the toys he brings her way. Uh-huh.

Here are my kids reading books on the couch. This is honestly one of my favorite things to see when I walk into the room - both kids, quietly reading books, looking so cozy with their blankets. I can't help but smile! Sometimes our living room is scattered with dozens of books by the end of the day and *sometimes* I find myself frustrated as I pick them all up and return them to the shelf. But in those rare moments when I keep things in proper perspective, I thank God that my children love to spend their time reading books. What a blessing!

Happy Friday to you!

The Make-Others-Happy Game


If you're a parent, I know you can relate. The kids are playing nicely for maybe 2 minutes until someone starts crying. "He did this!" "She did that!" They aren't sharing. They aren't being kind. They are exhibiting natural selfish behavior and it drives me nuts as the mom who is called on to intervene a few thousand times each day.

We've implemented numerous strategies over the years to deal with sibling rivalry but none of them have lasted or really helped with the root cause of the behavior... sin and selfishness.

Last month we read through Philippians during our family Bible study time. In chapter 2 verses 3 and 4 say "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others." This was a big challenge to me and got me thinking further about how my kids could do this in their relationship with each other.

Recently I read somewhere about teaching your children that everything they do is for someone else. They learn to read and write to be able to teach others some day or to be able to read to their younger siblings, etc. They color a picture in order to share it with someone else and bring a smile to their face. They clean up in order to keep anyone from tripping on toys and to keep mommy happy. It's the idea that everything should be done with someone else in mind, a servant-like mentality.

One day I pondered how this could apply to playtime. It's usually considered to be free-time at our house. A time when school work is done and there is no list of chores waiting to be tackled. The kids are free to simply play. How can this be done with someone else in mind? Is playing naturally a self-centered activity? Hmmm.

Thus was born the "Make Others Happy" game. I've started to tell the kids at the start of playtime that the goal of their play is to make the other one happy. To my daughter, I say "Remember to play whatever your brother wants, however he wants. Make him happy!" And to my son, I say "Play so that your sister is happy. Do what she wants to do!" This way they are both thinking about the other on, looking to the interests of the other instead of just their own interests.

When one does come running with a "He took my toy" or "She knocked down my tower" or whatever... I ask "Are you playing to make him/her happy? Remember that is the goal of your play." This shift in our thinking has cut down on the number of tattlings and arguments by at least 50%.

When our little buddy Eli came over for a day, I reminded the kids of this principle again. My son (age 4) especially struggles with letting Eli (age 2) play with toys in the way that he (Eli) wants to. By reminding my son and modeling for him how it looks to play "To Make Eli Happy" he was able to let Eli have the freedom to enjoy playing however he wanted. They both ended up much happier and enjoyed the playtime much more than when my son hoards the toys or wants to be the boss of Eli, telling him how to play with a certain toy.

It brings joy to my heart now to hear my son proudly proclaim "I played so sister can be happy!" or to catch them playing together in a kind, considerate way. I heap on the praise when I catch them in the act! And as the weeks have gone by, the kids are getting the hang of this more and more. Slowly they are realizing that everyone enjoys playtime more when they play to make others happy.

And isn't that the way life is? When we live with a servant attitude towards our spouse, our family, our church, we discover that joy can be found in looking to the interests of others instead of living life just to fulfill our own selfish desires. In that way, the Make-Others-Happy game is preparing my kids for life, as well as teaching them how to obey God and the Bible.

Thank you, God, for your perfect example of living life for others! We ask you to enable us to do the same. In Jesus' name, Amen!

My Love


Happy Valentine's Day!

Here are the beautiful roses that the love of my life gave me yesterday.
Love them and love him!

The years pass by so quickly, but our love is stronger than ever before. Here we were back in August 2003 as new parents to our baby girl. And here we were celebrating Valentine's Day 2009 with beautiful roses too.

We've been through the ups and downs of life together, but it is that journey TOGETHER that makes our love stronger and more meaningful with each passing year.

I love you, Babe!

Girl Scout Cookie Sales


This is my daughter's first year selling Girl Scout cookies. It's been quite an experience!

It's been good in a number of ways. First, there are the cookies themselves! They are delicious and our family has sampled almost all of the kinds offered in our area.
Second, my daughter has been pushed out of her comfort zone (and her shyness) to talk with family, friends and even some strangers about cookies they want to order. She has really struggled in this area, but I have seen some improvement.

Also, there have been ample opportunities for math skills as we've dealt with money and cookie inventory.

We have also spent more time with other Girl Scouts from our troop, as we've worked together at cookie booths at local stores. My daughter and I have worked 10+ hours at such booths with quite a few other mom/daughter teams. My daughter has actually enjoyed working at the booths and talking with strangers more than she has talking with people we actually know.

Another benefit of the cookie sales: the scouts are encouraged to set goals and then work to reach them. My daughter set a very realistic goal of selling 100 boxes of cookies and reached that goal fairly quickly. The girls have certain incentives they can earn as they reach certain levels of cookie sales.

There are about 2 more weeks left before this year's cookie sales are done. In some ways, it will be disappointing to see it come to an end. But for me, I'll be thankful that we will have fewer boxes of tempting cookies around the house!

Yes, it's cookie time!

Founder's Week at Moody Bible Institute


I attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for my undergraduate studies. I love Moody and enjoyed my time there. I still appreciate Moody's strong commitment to the Word of God and to training the next generation of missionaries and pastors.

Founder's Week is an entire week that Moody sets aside each February for students, alumni and the general public to hear wonderful Bible teaching. Numerous pastors and speakers are brought in from around the country. Classes are cancelled for the week and students are expected to attend all the sessions they possibly can. It is a week full of encouragement and challenge and maybe even some overload by hearing so many great messages.

Last week was Founder's Week 2012. While I couldn't attend in person, I am grateful for Moody's website and links to hear/watch the messages.

Francis Chan, one of my favorite authors and speakers, shared a message for Founder's Week. You can find it here. As usual, he did not disappoint. He was authentic and heavy on taking the Bible at face value... and then living it out.

For not being able to attend in person, this is the next best thing. Check it out!

Book Review: Duggars and A Love that Multiplies


I recently read two books by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar: 20 and Counting and A Love That Multiplies.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the Duggar family. Personally, I've never seen their TV show and knew very little about them before reading these books. I was impressed by how open and honest they were in both books about their life, their faith, their struggles. I suppose there is little left to hide when you host a reality TV show in your home! I found that candor to be refreshing and encouraging. I can honestly say that many of the tips and tricks the Duggars have learned as parents were worth noting.

One of the goals my husband and I are working on this year is to hold the Word of God higher in our family. That is, we are being more intentional about studying God's Word together as a family and also in bringing it to bear more on the decisions we make, including parenting decisions. The Duggars are great examples in this way, valuing family Bible study and memorizing Scripture together and looking for ways to apply God's Word to daily life.

I am also challenged by Michelle's gentle tone. Since reading the books, I have checked out a few short videos from their show. For Christmas I also received a one-hour video called "Tea with Michelle Duggar" which I recently viewed. She has such a soft, sweet voice and she notes in the books her challenge to keep her voice calm and quiet all day long, never to raise her voice in anger. For over a month now, this has been a path God has had me on - working to maintain a quieter voice with my children. Although I haven't done so perfectly, I can already see a difference in the way my children are responding to me when I stay calm, with a gentle voice, even during times of stress or anger. And not only do they respond better, but I feel better about myself (no guilt) and about the example I'm setting for them.

I enjoyed the wonderful stories throughout the book of how God showed up at just the right moment to provide or to encourage or to guide the Duggars. The books include dozens of these true stories that encourage me to pray and to expect that God will move on my behalf.

If you are looking for an easy-to-read book with a good mixture of practical advice and faith and humor and even recipes... enjoy getting to know the Duggars!

PS: Of course you can also learn more at the Duggar family website here.

Children's Reading List: American Girl Rebecca and Lapbook


My daughter has finished reading the book series for the next American Girl - Rebecca from 1914.

Rebecca is from a Jewish family of immigrants from Russia. They live in a cramped apartment in New York and raise money for other extended family members to make the trip to America. My daughter asked some deeper questions about what Jewish people believe after reading these books. She also found it fascinating that "moving pictures" were just being invented and were woven into Rebecca's books. She proudly recognized the name Charlie Chaplin.

As we've done for the previous girls, we worked on a lapbook for Rebecca.
All of the materials we used can be found for free here. Since Rebecca is a newer girl, there aren't templates yet designed for her. We used the generic templates that can be used for any girl.
Here's my daughter with the cover of her lapbook - a picture she drew of Rebecca. She included a menorah in the background. Page 1 of the lapbook, with mini-books describing Rebecca's mother, father, father's job, hobbies, house, fashion from 1914, my daughter's favorite book from the series (and why) and what lessons she learned from the books.

Page 2 of the lapbook shows mini-books describing Rebecca's best friend, her hometown, her pet, and 4 fun facts about life in 1914, along with a map highlighting New York (where Rebecca's story takes place).

There are now 3 more girls before my daughter has read all of the American Girl books (for the historical characters) and earned her way to visit the American Girl Store in Chicago. Looks like I should prepare myself that visit to be in March, at the rate she's going.

Moving on to Kit, who lived during the Great Depression.

Miscarriage: This is the Day


"This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Today is an important day. This is the day my baby would've been born, if...

It's an important day only because of what might have been, but isn't. If things were different, it'd be a day for celebration. A day of birth. A day to remember and celebrate each year hereafter.

Instead, the day will pass as another ordinary day. But I will praise the Lord for my baby, who lives with Him now. Praise will be on my lips, even if I also have tears in my eyes. Although my arms ache to hold him, I will rejoice to know that I will see him some day. I will grieve, but as one who has great hope.

I love you, Grant David, my son. I loved being your mommy for as long as I had. And I smile to know that you are in the precious of Jesus Christ and praising your Creator. You know no pain or suffering or sorrows - how blessed! I'll see you soon!

Although this isn't the way I would've planned things or hoped things to be, I will say "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will be glad and rejoice in it." He has made me glad and filled me with joy and hope. I praise and thank Him alone!

Praise the Lord!

PS: I know this is the day he would've come. He was due in late January. All my babies come late, so he would've come late too. And all my babies are born on the 5th of the month, so I just know that today is his day. He probably is big like his brother, who looked like a beefed up football player at birth. Appropriate that Grant's day would've been Super Bowl Sunday. :-)

Family Photo Friday


The first Friday of February is here. My week's been crazy - how about yours? Here are a few photos to give you a glimpse into our week.

We watched our little buddy Eli one day this week. He is almost 2 years old now and is very much on the go. What fun he and my son had running around together!

My daughter has been sick with a cough and runny nose and then developed an ear ache. Yesterday we headed to the doctor and she was diagnosed with an ear infection too, so she's had a long, tiring week and needed a good nap!

Here's my son looking proud of his Lincoln Log building. Isn't he adorable?!

And a close up picture of his cowboy man. My husband is building a dollhouse for my daughter. Here's what it looks like so far. My daughter is super excited and both kids are helping with the work of making it. My family being super silly with Dad's breakfast sandwich. The cheese really did squeeze out and look like a tongue. The googly eyes were added for the silliness of the photo.

Happy Friday to you!