Wednesday, February 6, 2019

When you're pulled a million directions

My husband and I recently finished something called the "Annual Examen". It's a really neat tool that walks you through an overall examen of your past year. It's divided into categories Physical/Emotional/Spiritual/Vocational and allows you (through questions) to analyze how your overall health in those areas was and currently is and what changes you would like to make moving forward.
A big one that came out of it for me when it asked: List 5 words that describe your top emotions over the past year positive or negative. One that I wrote down was the word pulled.
As I reflected more on this I think this is something so many moms are feeling. Like no one is quite getting "enough" of you. Pulled in a million directions all throughout the day. For me, wanting so badly to pour deeper into each and every area of my life. As a mom of multiples I know this just comes with the territory. Not every one of my kids can get my full attention and while I know there's so much goodness in knowing our limitations (and that kids can and should do their own thing!) I have to admit this is a huge struggle for me!

When I'm doing homeschool I see all the ways I want to go deeper, do more projects, have more fun, the co op work I should plan for and the supplies I need to order. When mothering I never want to miss a moment that may seem insignificant and have a spiritual heart conversation with that child. I want to have one on one time with them and hear the funny (and eternally long) stories they have for me. When I got to put my kids clothes in their room I see the drawers spilling over and think of all the better ways I could organize that room (haha or spark more joy? 😆) When running into the grocery store I wish I had meal planned and been more intentional with my health and fitness goals. When taking my child to the doctor I know I could spend more time researching more time improving her quality of life. When working in our ministry I see that I could easily spend 30 hours a week there and still have much to do and so so many people to invest in and care for. We all know this list goes on and on. Or maybe you're just thinking geez Anne get your life in order 😂.

But the list does go on. As a wife, a mommy, a friend, a sister. Our world is fast paced and it has to take conscious effort to fight against running on the hamster wheel. To say to no to certain sports and electives or music lessons your kids could be involved in. And as I fight against it all I can still feel the pullllllingggg on me and the internal voice telling me I have to give more and be more. Then I hear the Lord reminding me to stop. Just stop. Listen. How can I listen when I'm running at a manic pace. He reminds me that I can stop striving. That I can give what I have and know he can carry the rest. How prideful of me to think that I could provide for all the needs of the people around me instead of pointing them to the one who can provide for them in the ways their heart and soul truly needs. And even better that I can be a model of someone saying "I can't do it all" but look, look at the one who can! That yes I need to strive to be closer to my savior and do what he's called me to do but how amazing that I can lay down the expectations of doing it all and lean back on my savior and enter his rest. I know the people pleaser in me wants to make people happy with me all the time at all costs and as I've grown I've realized that often that cost is too big. The Lord calls us to GIVE generously he calls us to show others who HE is, not who we are. I know I'm guilty of feeling that pride when someone mentions how much you're doing and how well you're doing it.....yikes. What a joy that I can lift the millions of plates that I've been trying to spin at once (and in reality dropping!) and let him carry them. If you're feeling unable to carry it today please know that he can. The focus was never meant to be us, it was meant to be him. Did you know you could "accomplish" nothing and still be completely and wholly loved by him? That's something to give us big deep breaths.



Consider this section from a great book I'm reading called Made for More by Hannah Anderson

Unlike the rest of creation, as majestic and glorious as it is, only men and women are made in the image of God. Only we have the breath, the very spirit of God, flowing in our earthly lungs' only we can be truly called His children. 
And this is why your life is significant. 
It's not because of what you accomplish or how many people you influence. Your life is significant because when God created you, He "crowned [you] with glory and honor" by making you like Himself. Because as certainly as God formed our first parents, He formed you in your mother's womb, and just as certainly as they bore His image, you bear His image today. As you walk and talk and live and move--and prepare those 50,000 meals--your very existence, your life itself, reflects and represents Him on this earth.  
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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Choosing to Fost - Adopt

Our family has recently (as in last week!) been given the final approval for fost - adopt. I can't even believe it. I feel like we just went to the orientation to learn more and now my heart jumps every time my phone rings. This decision was one that had been on J's and my heart even back to when we were dating. Although I have to laugh, thinking back to being 17 at a candlelit dinner talking to this cute guy about how amazing it would be to adopt someday - it seemed like a lofty notion at the time and yet the Lord has kept that desire burning in both of us. Which may seem crazy since we have 3 little kids ages 7, 5 and 2 and the 2 year old seems to thinks it's his life purpose to give us zero sleep and make us wish we could baby proof every inch of our home.........all while being just so adorable it makes you want a million more of him even if you'd lose your sanity. He's currently burying my legs in throw pillows while I sit on the couch typing, actually now he's removing my socks and pulling my toes - you just can't make this stuff up. He's the only one who's really too little to understand the idea of a "foster baby" coming into our house. But I know he will do great.


We've chosen to go through the county and the way their process works is really cool. While there are still some families who choose to only foster, the county has worked to transition to mostly foster families who desire to adopt. This eliminates the foster home hopping around - which is so mind blowing to me! They call this concurrent planning - it's like track A and track B are both going at the same exact time. When a child is placed with us, everything is moving forward for them to be reunified with their biological parents, yet at the same time everything is moving forward for adoption. That way if the reunification falls out, the adoption is already in place and ready to go. This is amazing for the kiddos (especially older ones) because they know they will either be back home or at stay at their foster home. However, it can be brutal for the foster families......because this does mean we could have a child for months and then they go back to the birth parents.

What set us up really well for this process was a class our church did about adoption along with a book we read. One night a lady came in from the county and shared her story and the process they use. Everything she said convicted our hearts and showed us the places we hadn't even realized we'd wanted to control the process. She kept saying "you don't enter the foster system hoping to get the "least damaged" child possible and hoping to complete your perfect family unit". We realized we would have to embark on this journey with hands wide open knowing we may have several babies in our house before we even are given the option to adopt. That class also changed our whole perspective from US getting a child to US SERVING a child, for however long that is needed. It became less about our family and more about helping these children who needed security, love and safety.

When the social worker has asked me how we're prepared to cope with all this I've usually answered, "Well I'm not sure lol, I've never bonded with a baby and then had it taken away...." but I can honestly say we feel so much peace about this and I know the Lord will pull us through even the very hard times. They train you so well in how to create support networks around you and you're also required to meet with foster family support groups. The social worker has given us great verbiage to use with our kids like about how we're going to be helping a baby/toddler because their mommy and daddy are sick. It's very very easy for kids to transition from the baby being there 9 months and then staying forever if that is the course it takes, it's a lot harder to tell them they are staying and to have them go just a few weeks later.

So everyday we are praying for this precious kiddo that will come into our home. Our bracket it age 0-2 and female. The age is because the county greatly encourages you to keep the current birth order of your kids and the gender is because they require only 2 kids per room per gender even your own biological children - and we're pretty excited to have a baby girl in this house again. Bring on the bows and princesses again.

We were told that for the age bracket of 0-2 it's almost always a newborn - which really surprised me at first! She told me this is because unless a child is at a daycare or something is noticed at the grocery/in public, then few people interact with kiddos in those toddler years. Once they are 5 and enter kindergarten a lot are noticed for abuse or neglect and at birth they are noticed due to the mother's health. This broke my heart as I thought about all those babies and toddlers needing to wait years until they will be helped. If our girl is in that category I just keep praying for her and her parents. That God would give her comfort as she waits and that he would help the parents to love her and make good choices. Being a parent, I do feel it helps you in this process. The ideal is for that child to be back with their parents. However often that's not a safe environment......so here we wait.
The parallel to our own spiritual journey is so vivid to us these days. We didn't accidentally land into God's family and therefore he has to call us his children and love us, but instead he came to us and chose to bring us into his family. He saw everything about us - all the grime and yuck that we were stuck in and still pursued to adopt us as his children and give us life with him.
There's something so powerful about being chosen, wanted and adored - it gives my soul rest in midst of everything else. I often feel completely inadequate to do this process and can see clearly see all the things that could go wrong or how we could get hurt - but He has called us to do this of that I am sure. And that means he will provide the strength through his spirit and give us peace only he can provide.
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Sunday, September 30, 2018


Our sweet girl turned 7 this month!!! We celebrated with twirls and girls and teacups and cupcakes (sugar and gluten free oh boy hahaha!) This was ALL her idea - I promise - not her former ballerina moms idea. She had such a sweet time!



Just like any good birthday party day - our day started with chaos lol. Couldn't find her other ballet shoe (which is weird because my house is REALLY organized 😇 JK)


Princess girl waiting for her guests!





Dug up my old point shoes and used them as decor! Perfect haha!


My mother in law made these adorable little tea pot boxes with her Cricut! 



We began with a tea cup gift exchange and then the girls used those teacups for the tea party luncheon 


We had a special REAL ballerina guest come and teach the girls ballet moves and a dance - TOO precious











*Crafting*





Somehow Luke got in this picture 😅






Juliana's new diet is fructose free - and they would prefer that means all forms of sugar and sugar alcohol. So that leaves us with some stevia and dextrose. They were topped with whipped cream!



💕

Happy Birthday to our precious and beautiful girl. She continues to grow and learn even with the curve balls thrown her way. I can't wait to see what God has in store for her life. While we continue to beg that it would be one with less physical pain, we know God will be faithful to her even in that. Love you Juliana 💞



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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

#ittakesavillage


Welcome to my blog, where I post 3 times a year and can't figure out to change my picture so it looks like I have 2 little kids still 😌 This is my life these days. It's a good thing to be busy living life that you don't have time to write about it but I do miss blogging. Although the audience of people that listen to the blog posts I write in my head every day are very impacted hahaha.

The reason those sayings and videos on facebook about the days being slow but the years so so short are so accurate is because that's exactly how it feels in this stage. Like you're always a little bit dizzy from the amount of needs placed upon you. When several very little people depend on you for everything it can leave you feeling like a wrung out sponge yet there are so many moments during the day I wanna cry "freeze!!!" because the snuggles, the adorable conversations and their complete adoration for me is something I wish I could bottle up and never forget. Jeremy and I were talking about how in this stage of parenting the needs are so physical. They need us to care for their physical needs during the entire day (even the basics of wiping and eating) but I know the years are coming where that will transition to very emotional/spiritual/psychological needs and I'm not sure that will be any easier. I may want to cry "take me back to when you needed me to wipe your nose!"

As a mom it can be incredibly overwhelming to be the caretaker for so many littles that have oh so many needs. A friend of mine recommended a blogger who has titled her series "Overwhelmed by my blessings" I still need to check it out, but I already resonate with the title. It can feel wrong to be frustrated, overwhelmed or resentful towards little people you so desperately love and wanted. Then I think the guilt sets in about how we "should" be feeling about motherhood and comments like "You're gonna miss this/You've got your hands full (yes thanks I KNOW, as one of my kids pulls my shirt down and the other drops their drink)".

I personally think there is a huge problem we have in our culture and era and it's what I believe is one of the biggest causes of moms feeling depressed, anxious and overwhelmed. I think of the saying we like to throw out there in our hashtags #ittakesavillage and as much as I have experienced that from time to time (for example when my fellow mom friends boost me up through our group text or my friends come over and help me fold laundry!) But I think we so badly want that saying to be a truer reality than it is. Because the reality is that unlike many decades before us we are more isolated and alone in our large houses with no true village right there to help. I've visited villages in several countries and there's always so many things that strike me. The pace of life is slower. Much much slower. No running to dance, soccer, art, and other activities. The kids grow up running to and from the different huts and or mud houses and learn more basic life skills like collecting things, maintaining fires and playing games. I'm not saying that the amazing skills and opportunities our kids have to experience where we live is a bad thing, it's a wonderful and I've personally benefited from it. But I do think it can quickly become a prison we feel stuck in.

But the biggest difference to me is the communal living.

The village depends on each other and the families are in such close contact I can see how the older lady in one home can easily step over to help the younger mom. By no means is village life something I'm trying to say in perfect or glamorous haha I love my home and after a couple hours without heat or ac I'm pretty much a wimp. BUT we live further apart from people not only physically but emotionally than what was normal in previous times and I do believe it's taking it's toll on us. We don't depend on our neighbors or live in community with them. More often than not we are chordal and kind but pretty much keep our distance out of privacy. I feel it necessary to note that I have seen pockets of this kind of communal living currently in places here and it looks awesome! But I honestly think for the majority of Americans we live so isolated in our houses with our 1,2,3 or whatever kids and could even go the whole day without talking to another adult. How can that not be depressing?! We don't live with our extended families like many cultures still do to this day. Caring and being with our older parents or grandparents.

We may value privacy and boundaries more than we value community and relationships.

My husband is currently overseas in a middle eastern country and he said he loves that EVERY person he has met has a stack of cushions in their house ready in case someone is traveling through or a friend needs to stay the night. This post may be all over the place from motherhood to community but I think the 2 are so interwoven. I do think that all the younger moms like myself long for those of a generation or two up from us to help guide us in this. This phase of life IS heavy. And having others there to come alongside and walk with you in invaluable. I think it's why social media is such a big thing for moms (well everyone actually) but it makes one feel connected to the outside world when confined in your own home - whether it's sick kids, naps times, homeschooling, the list goes on. But now we've got moms - myself included - with heads in their phones because we are so desperate for community but I'm not sure we can articulate that that is what we are seeking when we are on our phones, yet it's not the best source of community we can get.

The times when I've felt this communal living my heart is SO FULL. The load is so much lighter when carried with you. I don't really have a solution to the way our culture/era and model of a nuclear family is since most of us aren't going to move close by to our friends and do life together because we really do value our space and privacy. Yet we need to figure out how to be ok breaking the social norms and live the hard parts of life with people and being ok asking others to come into our space during the mundane tasks. To end this with a nice positive - this week when my kids were sick my friend came over within an hour of me telling her what was going on. She knew I couldn't leave the house and brought broth, meds and a hug. This is what we are craving! God made us to live in community with others and our hearts feel so seen and heard when we live that out.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Juliana Medical Update



It's been a while since I did an update about Juliana. I think about blogging about her more, but I'm often met with my weariness in writing out this situation that continues on. She's 6.5......which means it's been 5 years since I first noticed something was not right in the "hiccups" she had. The first several years held so many medical tests and medications it felt like we lived at the doctor. As options ran out the appointments also slowed down. While I'm grateful for her sake we don't go as often, it's a sad feeling to know we've hit the end of the line. At this point, no one has any more ideas or options for her and yet her bad spasms remain. 😒We met with a neurosurgeon at UCSF last month to talk about a much more invasive option. It's called a VNS device, commonly used in children and adults with epilepsy. The device is surgically placed in the chest with chords going up into the neck.

It is activated when someone is having a seizure to stop it the seizure - the device can often even detect what the heart does before seizures and stop them before they even begin. Think of it like a room of chaotic kids and then the teacher claps their hands. It kind of *claps* everything back into order and typically stops the seizure. Since she doesn't have seizures, and they don't know what her body is doing, we went into the appointment pretty skeptical. No real surprise the neurosurgeon (rabbit trail...........haha never in all the appointments have a met a doctor so well dressed haha! nicest suit, shoes and watch I've probably ever seen......chaaaaaching. jk. kinda) anyways, he was all for it. He told us he does dozens of these a year and considers them very "low risk".........however he said himself that he's a brain surgeon so everything seems less stressful than that. The doctor who came in before him was very hesitant about the idea. They said they've never seen something like what Juliana's body is doing so it's basically like flipping a coin and hoping it works. After a couple days praying about it we just don't feel like it's the best option for her right now. The device is risky to remove so if it doesn't work we are looking at two possible surgeries that have no guaranteed benefit.


 On the polar opposite side of implanting a VNS device, we've been beginning the process of working with a doctor similar to a functional doctor. We shipped off an at home testing kit that included her blood, hair and saliva. Collecting that one drop of blog from her finger, you would have thought I was cutting her arm off. We all made it out alive 😌. They will check a variety of things that is too confusing to type out. We aren't sure what will come out of that but maybe something that can help.

These past few weeks have unfortunately been really bad for her which is probably why I am blogging about it. Where often we get 4 days between spasms she's been having them 2 days apart then for a solid 2 days they are going. sigh. It's hard that as she grows she's able to tell us the pain they cause and how she wants them to stop. Before she was talking so well she couldn't express that so there was a thought that maybe they didn't bother her so much. We are really careful to not make it into a big deal. Kinda like "awe man sorry those hiccups hurt! They will be gone soon I'm sure" -- hopefully I hide the anxiety they still give me watching her spasm like that. She's also going to have to grow knowing this is something that we pray about and yet the Lord is allowing this to happen in her life - I pray that we can lead her through that well as it's exactly what I've had to go through for the last 5 years! There's a lot the Lord is still teaching me about this ongoing burden that I'll share soon.

Her EOE (esophagus disease) remains the same and we take scopes regularly to check the inflammation level. She's only Gluten and Dairy free right now and it's made life much much easier for mama!!


❥Encouraging things about our sweet Juliana❥
She's growing bigger and taller!
Her speech has improved so so much. She's been working with the same therapist for 3 years and she's been working with her Apraxia so well. 
She's doing so well in school :) Writing and reading!
She's in swim lesson and ballet and loves both! 
She's the BEST big sister around and loves her brothers :) We are so lucky to have this lil lady in our family. 



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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Love for the Enneagram

At our work we have engaged with many "personality tests" over the years to help our people with their own personal growth and awareness as well as aiding team dynamics and effectiveness overseas. We've seen that these can help us and them, not by putting people in a box but seeing where their strengths and giftings are and setting them up for the most success to use those. I am a big fan of personality tests, and while I agree that they can sometimes put people in boxes (especially when people use comments like "of COURSE you would do that, you're an xyz type!") but I do believe that overall they can be so helpful in getting insight as to tendencies we have in responses to situations.

Our newest fav and by far the one that I believe is going to be the most popular and effective is called the Enneagram. The Enneagram divides it's types into 9 numbers each with ways that that type typically behaves when healthy, stressed or in conflict. There are books about the enneagram (I've heard amazing reviews about this one ). And probably my favorite - PODCASTS. My favorite right now is the Typology podcast ( Click here ). I have been getting more and more obsessed with podcasts lately. I think it's because I never have time to read -- I mean.....I wish I could say I was ever a reader but I wasn't.....the TV is just too good 😅 insert that Jim Gaffigan clip about the radio wishing it could be a TV here hahaha :). And now when there is book I actually WANT to read the only time to read that book is at night and I fall asleep on the first page. So PODCASTS have become my new bff. I can turn one on while I am unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, driving, etc. I LOVE them. But what I love about Typology is that the host often interviews panels of people with a variety of responses to their type on the enneagram and it helps the listener figure out if there are traits they identify with or don't. And.......wow....sometimes I'm listening and it's crazy to hear a panel of people talking like they were in my own head!

I can't recommend the Enneagram test enough - it's $12 and SO worth it!! I know there are free versions of the enneagram and even an App but I personally like the Rheti the best it's 144 questions so leave yourself enough time. This is not a paid ad I promise haha. It has helped us so much especially in the last few months as J and I have been able to dive deeper into our own and each others. It just gives you some awareness for yourself and others and the different ways we tend to go through experiences. It can help you put the pieces of the puzzle in place for your own head as well for the way you're feeling or why you can't seem to move on from a situation or even the decisions you tend to make in parenting or relationships - basically it's just helpful for LIFE :)

Go take it! Click on Buy a code for the RHETI test) OPEN ME

You'll get results that look something like this and I highly recommend printing them out and reading through the material it's well done.


Also for more fun, a sweet friend shared with me that Sleeping At Last created a song for each enneagram type - some amazing stuff here


Here's a preview of one of their amazing songs ↟ about type 2.

I want to share more about them along with my own type in a future post!

Enjoy Friends!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The last couple weeks I’ve been on a little social media break - cliche I know - BUT I was encouraged as some of my other friends were doing this and it’s one of those things you always think “of course I’m not addicted to my phone or social media or whatever” but until you try it’s hard to know. 

This was really good for me for a lot of reasons - realizing that it sucked me in was something I just needed to be honest about. 10 Min is nothing when scrolling (yet I coudln't seem to finish my bible study *insert that questioning face emoji haha*). I also wanted to be aware of my mindset after being on social media, was it more positive or lifted up or brought down and discouraged. I think about when we grew up and there was just no access to EVERYONE'S life like there is now. We knew what our friends and family had going on, but not how Cindy the friend from high school’s party went last week. I think there's obviously positives to that, it connects us to people from all over but it also gives our minds a influx of info that we probably don't always need. And of course.........we can be anything we want on social media which I do believe is part of it's appeal to us. We can present ourselves however we want yet only those who are walking through life with us know if those things hold true.

Before I sound like I’m on a high horse of ANY kind let me just say, it was pretty eye opening how often I would reach for my phone when waiting or bored for even a second -- or even more honestly not only when bored but when feeling overwhelmed or anxious. There is nothing about our phones or social media that is inherently bad, but I do think we need to pay attention to what, how and when we use them. I even had to delete the Facebook and Instagram app off my phone. 

As with anything, I think there as so many parts of social media I adore. Pictures and baby videos from those I love, connections with people around the world, and being able to gather people together for causes or prayers. I think especially if you are a stay at home mom those things can help you feel connected to the outside world haha. But I also know I have given social media too little credit for it's addictive nature. Realizing that we can have sweet family moments, fun vacations or special outings without everyone knowing and --- gasp haha -- it was wonderful! We remember them and have those memories. 

I don't intend to block social media or never go back but having a little break like that brings so many things to the surface that I think (for me!) were important to discover. I actually did have more time for reading, cleaning or being outside which is again embarrassing cause it shows how much time I was allowing for scrolling. I'm hoping that I can reengage with a much healthier and appropriate view of social media because those baby pictures are too hard to resist!

***this is written as my own personal experience with social media and in no way is meant to be applied to everyone***

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