Friday, February 11, 2011

My Valentine

For Valentine's Day this year, since we agreed not to do "gifts", I decided to dedicate a blog post to you, my dear husband!  You are no stranger to my love of blogging, since I make you read and critique each and every one, which you do lovingly (and carefully).  To keep it simple, and from getting too terribly mushy, I am limiting myself to my ten favorite things about you, Letterman style.  Here goes!

10.  I love your laugh.  It is the very first thing I remember noticing about you. You can be watching cartoons, talking on the phone, or playing with the kids, and I can hear your laughter throughout the house and it always brings a smile to my face, no matter what I'm doing.

9.  I love that you would rather be at home than anywhere else. It means so much to me that you choose to spend all of your "free" time with me and the kids. That you are not always looking for an opportunity to do your own thing or pursue your own interests.  This one thing has made me feel so loved! (and spoiled me just a little...)

8.  I love how you interact with the kids.  You are such a great Dad!  To watch you play on the floor with the babies, or play basketball in the driveway with the boys, or how you listen to Lexi attentively when she is talking about her day... You give them so much of yourself, and with seven kids, that is quite amazing!

7.  I love the way you work.  No matter what you are doing, you give it your all. Your job, the yard, coaching the boys, even cleaning the house, you pay attention to every detail and don't mind the hard work involved in accomplishing any task.  Even when you don't like what you are doing, you stick with it until you are satisfied with the results. Your work ethic gives me a sense of security. I know I can trust you to do what is needed, even when it is not easy or enjoyable.

6.  I love your strong sense of self. You know who you are, you are confident, you say what you mean and don't play games or manipulate. Maybe this should be #1, because it is this quality in part that gives me the freedom to be myself, to be authentic and open with you. 

5.  I love your wisdom.  I love that I can present any problem to you and you take time to think about it before you respond. Even though at times I get impatient waiting on you to share your insight, I know that when you do offer a solution or suggestion you have considered all details and options, and have thought through the consequences of each, so I can trust your guidance.  This is especially helpful for me because I tend to be more impulsive and short sighted.  You bring balance to my decision making process, often saving me a lot of heartache and trouble!

4.  I love your humility.  I have watched as God has worked this quality into your heart over the last few years, and I love the humble way that you think of others before yourself.  Everyday I see examples of you putting the needs and desires of others, especially our family, ahead of your own.  I am often amazed at the selfless way you conduct yourself, even in your job, and I am so proud of the man you are becoming.

3.  I love your sense of humor.  I can get really stressed out so easily, and you always find a way to make me laugh and ease the tension, even when I am being nasty to you!  You have a silly side that is so adorable, and one of my favorite things about you!  I love that you joke around in such a sweet, non-sarcastic way.  You keep me from taking myself quite so seriously!

2.  I love how hard you work to make our marriage healthy and happy.  You are so good at trying to see things from my perspective, and so quick to forgive me when I have said or done something hurtful.  You are so patient, letting me say what I am feeling and giving me time to process things... You don't force your opinions on me or tell me my feelings are silly or wrong.  You don't just do and say whatever comes naturally to you, you try hard to be sensitive, and make such an effort to communicate your feelings in a healthy way, even when I don't.

1.  I love that you love me so much.  I am not always easy to love. I am not always happy, cheerful, gentle or patient.  I am often stressed out, harsh, impatient and proud.  I am stubborn and difficult at times. But your love for me is constant. It doesn't change with my moods (thank God).  Your unconditional love energizes me and makes me want to be a better wife and mom, and makes me proud to be your girl! I thank God for you everyday, you have brought so much joy and laughter into my life.

Happy Valentine's Day, Michael! You are my best friend, and I love you with all my heart, forever and always!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Birthday Blessings

God always knows what we need. He does things that make absolutely no sense to anyone so that later we will say, "Wow!" when we begin to see how He works ALL things together for our good.  About 2 1/2 years ago, He did that for me.  My life was in chaos, turned completely upside down as a result of some painful choices and issues I was dealing with. I was lost in my own little world, drowning in a sea of confusion.  When Michael and I discovered that we would soon be welcoming not one, but two innocent little babies into our chaotic world, I was in a state of total shock.  Michael, on the other hand, was great. He was calm, happy, and even excited, which blew my mind because all I could see was the mountain of problems in front of us.  He kept saying things like "Don't think about how hard it is now, think about 2 years from now... Holding their little hands and walking in the park... It will be worth it!"  And here we all are, 2 years down the road, celebrating the precious gift of Gracie and Hudson.  He was right, as usual, it has been more than worth it. They have been the light on our darkest days and have given us courage to face life when we were weary.
Initially, I told very few people that I was expecting, only those I knew would be unconditionally supportive and positive.  I needed encouragement more than ever, and God surrounded me with a tight group of people who just loved on me and got excited with me, and helped me "keep it together".  As the months progressed and others started to find out our big news, we were shocked at the outpouring of love and support and help we received.  Everybody knew what a tough situation we were in, and it was such a blessing to see how our families and our true friends rallied around us and did everything they possibly could to help us welcome these little babies into our crazy lives.  For the first time in my life, I experienced first hand how Jesus uses people to reveal the unconditional love He has for us.  And I began to believe that He must really love me to be so good to me when I least deserved it. 
I kept working full time at the bank until the week before the twins arrived, and spent the last few days on my mother's couch with my swollen feet propped up.  On Friday of that week, Michael lost his job.  Time to panic! God, what in the world are we going to do? How are we going to make it? It made no sense to me that God would allow this to happen at this time. Did He not understand how frightened we were already? Did He not care that we were afraid? He must be punishing us... Surely that was it. Punishment. It was the only answer that made sense.  Who could blame Him, after all? Certainly we deserved it. These were the thoughts going through my mind. I had already forgotten how He had lovingly provided for every single thing we needed up til then, and it took some time to see how this part of the plan could possibly be "good" for anyone...

On Saturday evening, I began to have contractions, and we made our way to the hospital.  We spent a sleepless night in our hospital room hooked up to monitors, waiting, talking, worrying, planning, praying and hoping things would go smoothly.  Around six the next morning, the doctor said we would be having a c-section to deliver the babies, because Hudson (baby "b") did not want to get "in position".  I was terrified! I had never had surgery of any kind, and I had not expected to have a c-section, so therefore did not have a clue what to expect.  But it was over about as fast as it began, and by 8am we had two healthy babies in the well-baby nursery, a miracle in and of itself with multiples, who often have lung and breathing issues as a result of being born early.  Gracie weighed in at 5lbs 12oz, and Hudson right at 5lbs. We were shocked to see that Hudson was covered in red "fur"!  He was so fuzzy and orange and drowsy, and Gracie had a head full of dark hair and was very alert from the beginning. They looked nothing alike! Gracie eagerly began nursing well, and I watched as Michael fed baby Hudson formula with a bird dropper.  Different in every way, these two babies were. 

We brought them home to lots of open arms. Their grandparents and five older brothers and sister fell in love with them immediately.  And, as it turned out, for the first two months after the twins were born, Michael was able to be at home with me and the babies nearly everyday as he searched online for job openings. He was there for almost every bathtime, mealtime, and diaper change.  His presence kept me calm, made me feel more confident, and helped me to feel that we were becoming a family despite our challenging circumstances.  He was able to form a close bond with Gracie and Hudson very quickly, and I got to see everyday what an amazing daddy he truly was.  And somehow, the money that he had already saved lasted long enough to provide for us in those months with no paycheck.  We eventually began to see that God had allowed Michael to lose his job, at least in part, to provide him with the opportunity to be a daddy to Gracie and Hudson, and a helper to me.  I will always treasure those days in my heart. And I can truly say I am grateful for that "in-between" time that we had together as a family.

We have watched Gracie and Hudson grow and learn and play, and can already see their unique little personalities shining through.  Gracie loves to be in charge, is very loving, nurturing and affectionate (until you make her mad). She is all girl, and loves anything pretty and sparkly.  Hudson is content to play by himself when Gracie will let him.  He loves to build things, put things together, and sort things, and gets upset if he can't do it perfectly. He is silly, loves to make funny faces and loves to run and climb.   They have little in common, but love each other to pieces!  Michael and I love to stand back and just watch them interact with one another.  They are our entertainment! No matter what problems we may be facing on any given day, we can rely on those two to provide some laughs!

The last two years have flown by, and I would have to write an entire book to relay all the struggles, blessings, answered prayers and changes that have taken place in our family. But for today, I just want to say how thankful I am that God blessed us with Gracie Lynn and Hudson Thomas.  In many ways, those tiny ones have been the glue that has helped our blended family come together. They are the joy that we all share. They are the common bond that brings us closer as a family, and only God in His infinite wisdom could have planned it so perfectly.  So today, on their 2nd birthday, I am praising our Heavenly Father for loving us so completely and for showing us such love and mercy and grace.  He sent these precious little ones to draw us closer to Himself, to teach us about love, and to bring immeasurable joy into our lives at a time when we desperately needed it.  Happy birthday, Gracie and Hudson!  May God always use you to show others His lovingkindness and grace!  And may you always know without a doubt how special and loved you are, especially by your Mommy and Daddy.