Our Last Goodbye

It has been a busy fall, but I wanted to take some time to write and update on what’s been going in our family. As most of you know, my dad lived with us from April through the end of August this year. I was thankful he was able to stay with us during that time, especially as the civil unrest in Venezuela increased over the summer. In June and July, there were numerous protests and attempts to overthrow the president of Venezuela, bringing with it a civil war primarily centered in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. It has been difficult to watch and we have grieved here for all that has happened over there.

* Source: The Washington Post

It was hard at times to have my dad live with us. But I feel that God used this time to peel away layers of selfishness in my heart and to slowly mold me more like Him. I say this because there were plenty of times I didn’t want to love my dad, when I wanted to have my extra free time back, when I wanted to spend my weekends and days however I wished. But each time I was ready to throw in the towel, I had to turn to God and ask him for the ability to love my dad in a way that I couldn’t do on my own.  These were the times when I threw my hands up in the air and said something along the lines of ‘You gotta come through for me here, because I simply can’t do this!’. And every time He did.
I wanted to write about the last time I saw my dad.  He took a plane from Orlando to Miami on Saturday August 25th, and from there he took a plane to Venezuela. I was incredibly emotional that week thinking about how much I would miss him, and at the same time feeling a sense of relief that he was leaving. I drove him over at 11am, hoping to make it back for my friend’s surprise  40th birthday party at 2pm that day. I thought for sure I would drop him off and be able to make it back somewhat on time.

When we arrived at the airport he asked if I could park and walk him inside to help him check his bags. I didn’t want to, knowing full well this would make me incredibly late to our plans for that afternoon. I reluctantly and grumpily pulled in to the parking lot only to drive around in circles for what seemed like an endless amount of time and no luck with the parking spot. I was getting more and more frustrated and grumpy with him, but at the same time fully knowing that this would be the last time I would see him for a long time. And that my mind was in two places… and I wasn’t really saying goodbye to my dad at this time when he needed me. So I cried out to God and prayed ‘Please help me to fully be here to say goodbye to my dad… and if you want me to walk him in please open up a parking spot!!’. As soon as I prayed a parking spot opened up right in front of me. I knew that I needed to walk him in and not rush him through the whole process.

We walked in and we walked a lengthy amount to get to the baggage counter. His bags could only be checked in through a computer (no real people to talk to) and of course the machine broke down and it took a good while to fix it. My dad’s poor English wouldn’t have been able to get him through this, so I was glad to be able to be there to help. He seemed thankful and nervous, and I could tell that he was glad I was there to help.

After checking in our bags, I walked him over to the customs line to say our last goodbye. We didn’t cry like we always have in the past. We both had countless times assumed that this would be ‘it’ the ‘last’ goodbye and we had hugged each other tightly wondering if it would be our last hug. Not this time, we felt confident that we would see each other again. I felt a heaviness in my heart that I needed to apologize for my selfish attitude, not just for those last few moments, but for my attitude over the past few months. I had given a lot to him, yes, but at the same time I often done it with a grudging attitude. I opened my mouth and said “Please forgive me for all the times I’ve been selfish during your stay here”. To which he shrugged his shoulders and said ‘’ Only you know what’s in your heart’’ but kind of agreeing with me in a way.

And so that was the last time I saw him. He made a long trip back (spending the night in the Miami airport) and spending 4 hours to open a lock to his house he couldn’t quite get open. But he made it safely and with both of his suitcases full of imperishable food in hand. I knew that his stay with us, had a purpose in God’s plan and that part of that was to show him the love that Jesus had for him. To lay down our wants and love sacrificially (at times) because showing love to someone often (if not always) comes at a cost. I know I did it very imperfectly during his stay and I do have some regrets. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wanted to show my dad His love for him through our family. And I also know God was at work peeling away a lot of layers of self-centeredness and selfishness in me.

Please continue to pray for my dad as he still has a lot of unknowns in his future. And ultimately that he would find freedom from all things in Jesus Christ.

*On a side note- we did eventually make it to my friend’s surprise birthday party… we were about 2.5-3 hours late from the time we were supposed to get there, but we made it!

On Andrew's 9th Birthday

Every year on Andrew's birthday I've written a blog post about him. But this year is different... I don't really feel like writing or sharing much on how we're doing. It’s been a physically and emotionally exhausting week in our family for different reasons, and it would be much easier to curl up in my couch and not think about anything today.

However I know from experience if I don't take the time to remember him on this day, a great sadness takes over me. It is a subtle sadness and it lingers for days and weeks. I know how important it is to grieve and allow myself to be sad, especially on his birthday and the day he passed away. Because even though it’s been nine years I still think about Andrew every day.

Sometimes when I get caught up in the petty and temporary things, Andrew pops up in my mind as an ever present reminder of what’s really important. Of how blessed I am on this day to have health, a husband, and three healthy children. When I am tired and my kids are driving me crazy (and I want to throw up a white flag and quit on this whole mom thing) I remember the countless times I would’ve given anything to be a mom to Andrew. To be up in the middle of the night when he was sick, take care of him when he was clingy, or even deal with his temper tantrums and difficult days. Yes I longed for those hard days I didn’t get to have with him. And sometimes when I’m really struggling and my one year old refuses to sleep at night, I will silently mutter a ‘Thank you God that I get to stay up with her’ tonight.

Today we are going to take a walk on Bayshore as a family and then out to Outback. Bayshore was the very last walk Steve and I had before I went into labor with Andrew. And then that night we went out to Outback excited and in anticipation that Andrew would join us any moment! Both places remind of us Andrew and it will be nice to take the kids there today.

Thank you to those who have sent texts and notes today. It means a lot to us that he is remembered and loved even after all this time.

The past month

The month of January was a wonderful month filled with milestones for our family. I was slightly sad to be off social media on this month because I missed out on sharing so much of our lives. But I am glad I've stuck with it since I've sensed the Lord leading me to give it up for some time and it truly has been good. Now I'm even extending it for longer.

To go all the way back- Here is a picture from New Year's Eve in our front porch. The kids had a blast staying up late and watching fireworks. 

The second week of January I had the honor of hosting a baby shower for one of my dearest friends Laura and baby Lucy Grace. It was so fun hosting another shower for her, especially since we hosted a shower three years ago for baby Selah here too!

In January Jack also came first in his class for a spelling bee contest. From that he competed against other first grade classes and qualified to compete outside of school. So in a few weeks we're heading to Clearwater for another spelling bee contest. Who knew we would one day be going to spelling bee contests?

January 21st was Steve's birthday and we were able to go away for a night. We enjoyed being away from the kids (oops did I just say that?) and having some time to ourselves. We were able to go down to Anna Maria and watch the sunset a few times. We didn't take pictures while away- not big fans of selfies!

January 22nd we dedicated Lilian at our home church FishHawk Fellowship. It was a very special day because we waited for what seemed like sooo long for her, that it was a joy to dedicate her back to the Lord. I truly am so thankful she is part of our family and I thank God for the gift of her life everyday... some days I still can't believe she is here!

My mom and Godmother came into town and it was even more special they came. My Godmother has known me from the day I was born and she has been always a big part of my life. 

January was a very blessed month and I'm thankful for all we experienced! 

Digging Deeper

Life seems more quiet and less filled with distractions being off social media. It has been hard to stay off in some ways, but on a good note it has been so much easier to hear from God during my quiet times. And they've been more consistent and regular. A big reason why I decided to take a break was because I hadn't heard anything from the Lord in months and He felt distant... and I was growing frustrated. It has been a joy to be able to hear from Him slowly again.

A post on Lillian

With my social media break I thought I would take the time to write about Lillian and what it’s been like to have her in our family. I get asked that question often, and for some reason it’s a hard question to answer. She sure has been a joy and a delight to our family, and sometimes I feel guilty for feeling that way. I think its because I don’t ever want to put her on a pedestal or focus on her so much that she becomes the center of my world.

It also hasn’t been an easy last 9 months. Adding a baby has been exhausting! There have definitely been adjustments, sleep deprived nights, tired days, and days where I wondered how I would make it through the day. 

I’m so thankful for the great bond with Lillian from the time she was born. I definitely think a big part of it was having more skin to skin contact after she was born (something I didn’t get with the boys, but I insisted on to my doctor and the hospital this time around).

Also with both of the boys my mom came in town for the first 10-14 days and helped me tremendously with them. She would rock them to sleep and hold them endlessly for hours. I took that time to recover and try to catch up on sleep! But when Lillian was born my mom was very sick and wasn’t able to come until after a week or so… I was devastated and wondered how I would ever make it through! But looking back it was a blessing in disguise, because those early days allowed me to spend more time with her and develop a good bond with her. Steve of course always helped tremendously, but he usually held the fort up with the boys, meals, the house, and school. No easy task.

The first three months were very hard. She had severe reflux and that made for a sleep deprived and fussy baby. After she was put on medication she made a huge improvement and was able to sleep longer at a time. One thing she always had going for her was that she never had her nights and days confused. She would always sleep great when it was night (waking up to eat but going right back to sleep) and she was a horrible napper during the day. These days she sleeps through the night from 7pm to 6:30am and has been doing that for a few months all on her own. She’s in a pretty good napping routine, although recently she’s been changing it up on me as babies often do around 9 months.

Her nicknames in the house are: sneaky ninja (because you’ll sit her somewhere and two seconds later find her in a different room), sweetie-heart (by Steve).

She loves sweet potatoes and bananas. You mix any rice or vegetable with either of those and she’ll go to town. I’ve also struggled SO much less when it comes to feeding her. I had such a hard time with the boys but I think it was mostly my fault. I would always spoon feed them baby food (and often force them to eat when they didn’t want to) and with her I’m allowing her to pick up more finger foods in her own (and never forcing her to eat). I think she likes it and it gives her a sense of control. She doesn’t get as bored during mealtime and has been a great eater thus far. She even loves raw peppers??! Who would’ve thought.

I see a lot of Andrew when I see her. Her and Andrew where both born with the same blondish-strawberry hair. They both had round faces. They both had extremely big fingers and toes. Although for the first six months she truly was the SPITTING image of Palmer.

I am so in love with her smiles and giggles. She laughs often and I’m soaking every moment in. It probably helps she has two older siblings entertaining her every chance they get. The house feels quiet and empty when they’re at school, and I even feel bad for her because I can tell she misses having them around.

I am thankful to have a daughter. And while I am thankful I also know in my heart that having a daughter does not complete me as a person, or is in any way better than it would’ve been to have another sweet boy. I have heard comments along these lines from so many people and they are far from the truth. I know how difficult it is to even become pregnant, that any child God chooses to give us is a great honor and a blessing.