thankful

I wanted to give a bit of an update after the last post. Yes, motherhood has felt particularly difficult over the past several weeks, but also YES, I have a God who is alive and who meets me in the midst of all of life’s struggles and provides even more than what I need. And my heart is refreshed and thankful today as I think about …

  • grace and mercies new every morning – and every moment – as I need them
  • the refreshment of a week with family – who reminded me what a delight Lucia & Alethia are to us
  • moments to relax on the beach without having to track down the girls (thank you, Gigi & Pops!!)
  • the infinite horizon of the ocean meeting the sky that is just a tiny picture of the infinite love of God for His people “O, the deep, deep love of Jesus … vast, unmeasured, boundless, free … rolling as a mighty ocean, in its fullness over me …” (lines from my favorite hymn)
  • a date with Seth in Charleston
  • the refreshment of God’s Word – recently decided to read through the book of James. Its practical wisdom has been just what I need in this season of life, from the book called the “Proverbs of the New Testament.”
  • a day to be with God’s people and worship and receive the bread & the wine … and rest (thanks to a longer nap from the twins)
  • friends who encourage, pray for me, remind me that I am not alone in the hard days (you know who you are – thank you!)
  • my husband who faithfully loves and cares for me and our daughters
  • our God who is always faithful and loving and merciful, unchanging though all else can seem like it has changed

a steep six-month learning curve: the first half of year one with twins

A few weeks ago (ok – actually almost three weeks ago now), our twins turned 6 months old. Since it was also the day after their Daddy’s 30th birthday, we didn’t really have a huge fanfare for them in celebration. Yet I’ve found myself celebrating various milestones and achievements – mostly along the lines of, “Yes! We all made it through half of a year!” So as I’ve had various thoughts flit through my head, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve learned in six months, both humorous and heart-rending:

I’ve learned …

  • that I can survive on MUCH less sleep than I ever thought possible
  • how to cut a baby’s finger nails without cutting their fingers
  • changing diapers in the middle of the night is rarely worth the wake-up – that’s why “dry max” was invented. we often push the 12-hour limits unless it’s of the smelly category (thankfully the girls usually save those for the day)
  • hearing my babies’ cries can induce my own tears or anger, depending on the moment
  • how heart-wrenching “crying it out” can feel
  • the twins are more likely to synch their schedules together than to synch their schedules to my plans for them
  • our twins’ average length for a nap is 45 minutes
  • it is so tempting to compare my babies/parenting to others and feel either self-righteous or self-condemned
  • guilt is part and parcel of being a mom: whether you feel guilty for how you feed them, whether you co-sleep or not, whether you work or not, for wanting time alone and then when you are alone for being apart from them …
  • I will only take the girls out shopping with me if I am ready to answer, “so … are they twins?” and the ensuing questions, “are they identical or fraternal? … do they have the same personalities? … how do you tell them apart? … ” etc.
  • they love music, dancing, and clapping
  • Lucia and Alethia have very different personalities which require different care and nurture
  • feeding solids really doesn’t help babies sleep through the night
  • feeding solids is REALLY messy
  • the church nursery is a wonderful way to care for families (they had their first experience there last Wednesday during our weekly women’s Bible study)
  • a double ear infection means a cranky baby who has a difficult time sleeping & eating
  • trust my instincts – so glad I took Alethia to the doctor to get diagnosed with her double ear infection the day I did
  • I cannot be a good mother without my amazing, supportive husband alongside me and being such a great father
  • we need our community to raise these girls
  • there is nothing better than my baby’s smile at me
  • I can choose to get things done during a day or to be present with and attentive towards my babies – usually not both (at least not well)
  • babies get cold quickly!
  • parenting is impossible without God’s daily and moment-by-moment grace (which often includes sending help just when we need it)
  • it’s 10:30 pm and I really should have gotten to bed an hour ago – because the girls will be waking up at 6:30 am regardless of when I go to bed … so off to bed I go!

the best Christmas (and New Year’s) ever

It just wasn’t about the presents this year. Not that it has been for a long time … at least a couple years. (ha, ha) What was so sweet about Christmas was being with family – and having two new additions to our family. Alethia and Lucia didn’t know Christmas was different for them than any other day ~ except for the way their routine was mixed up a bit and there was more large-group family social time (and fewer naps and a later bedtime) than normal. They did sleep a tiny bit later than normal, which was their Christmas gift to Mommy (closer to 8:00 am than 7:00 am). But we knew it was a different day, and the best part of Christmas was seeing their smiles first thing in the morning.

I must say that New Year’s Eve was not the most memorable of them all … or exciting. Having twins really ties you down to the house. And we were actually traveling back from South Carolina, and so it served as a bit of a reality check for how much our lives have changed in a year. What normally is a 6.5-7 hour trip took us 10 hours (!), meaning that we got into town around 8:00 pm. We put the girls to bed and then sat down for dinner. However, the slight problem with dinner is that there was nothing for me to eat. Seth had a pizza, but I had inadvertently bought a pizza that I couldn’t actually eat (I can’t eat red sauce – quite limiting, I know …!). And after determining that all our pantry held was beans & rice or Ramen noodles, neither of which seemed very appealing, I ended up having a bowl of cereal for my New Year’s Eve dinner. Seth and I just had to laugh at the entire evening. And as we sleepily toasted the new year with a glass of champagne (an hour early so that we were semi-awake), our hearts were full despite the meager “celebration” for the new year. For truly we felt as if we had the best gifts the New Year could bring asleep in their cribs in the bedroom beside us.

And, yes, I am just now posting this when January is more than halfway through because, well, that’s life with twins. I started the post on January 5th, if that counts for something. !

September already!

There are many reasons why I can hardly believe that it’s September. Like so many of you, I’m asking, “Where did the summer go?” Yet unlike many of you, my answer is rather mundane: umm … it passed while I sat in a recliner observing the comings and goings of our Norfolk neighborhood, wondering how close I was to delivering these twins. There is some grief – that I couldn’t make it to Bryan & Megan’s wedding, that Seth & I only spent a couple days at the beach together (in contrast to last summer when we took full advantage of being only 30 minutes from the beach by going every Saturday), that my favorite of seasons is almost gone, that hanging out with friends and family was always in the same atmosphere: our house. Of course, I would say that it was all worth it – and certainly will be once we meet these daughters of ours.

I am certainly in a very different season of expectancy now. All of my self-given “projects” are over; leaving me to read and write and chat with friends. I feel like “circling the wagons,” in the sense of wanting to soak up each minute of time left when family time still consists of just Seth and me. We are as prepared as we can be, knowing full well that there is nothing that will quite prepare us for the chaotic joy that is ahead of us. I am not sleeping well at night because I can’t get comfortable, and then once I do, I inevitably wake 1-2 hours later and then can’t get back to sleep. I’m not too tired during the day, surprisingly, but I wish I could store up more sleep for the sleepless days & nights sure to come.

And there’s a hurricane coming through this weekend. Three people have told me that the low barometric pressure brought on by such a storm makes labor much more likely. There is some interesting research that seems to support this. And so now that I am at 34 weeks and now that we are in September and now that I feel like there’s really nothing left I need to do … I can’t help but wonder if this weekend (Labor Day weekend, incidentally) will be “the” weekend. Part of me is scared and part of me is excited. It’s similar to the way I’ve felt before each mission trip I’ve embarked upon (to Haiti, Mexico, Ireland, New Orleans): once preparations are completed and it’s the night before leaving, I have a sense of exhilaration mixed with fear. Like I am diving off of a cliff and can’t quite see what’s below. Yet each time, my faith in the God who flies with me – who not only beckons me beyond the comfortable but also goes with me into the unknown – has been strengthened tremendously. I see new sides to God that I never would have noticed had I stayed in the comfortable. Certainly becoming parents to twins will be even more faith-building as we must trust God in ways we cannot even anticipate. Here’s to the journey ahead … which will take me far beyond what has been a comfortable (albeit boring and mundane at times) summer.

Tuesday thoughts

In my copious amounts of free time while on bed rest, I have been able to begin reading through my stack of books that I bought but never had time to read before now. Yesterday, I picked up from my shelf a relatively new book on marriage from one of my counseling professors, Paul Tripp, entitled “What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.” I’m a few chapters in, and I’m finding it to be a good reminder of the foundation marriage is meant to be built on: loving one another out of a love for God and a perspective of living in God’s kingdom (not mine). It’s the simple thoughts that can make a big difference. In this morning’s chapter, I was struck by two illustrations about the importance of daily choices to shape the overall course of a marriage: (1) you reap what you sow: “…there will be organic consistency between the seeds of words and actions that you plant in your marriage and the harvest of a certain quality of relationship that you will experience as you live with one another”  and (2) the investment principle: “Every treasure you set your heart on and actively seek will give you some kind of return.” Both beg the question and day-to-day reflection on what sort of “harvest” I am sowing to in my marriage — or what sort of treasure am I investing in? Am I sowing words of kindness and love or of harsh criticism? Am I investing more in the “treasure” of my own kingdom (getting my own way – being demanding) or in God’s kingdom (seeking ways to love and serve and build up my husband)? Here is a good summary of why these are important things to consider DAILY in marriage:

The character of a marriage is not formed in one grand moment. Things in a marriage go bad progressively. Things become sweet and beautiful progressively. The development and deepening of the love in a marriage happens by things that are done daily; this is also true with the sad deterioration of a marriage. The problem is that we simply don’t pay attention, and because of this we allow ourselves to think, desire, say, and do things that we shouldn’t.

More thoughts I’m sure as I continue through this book. And I must say it’s a nice break from all the pregnancy & baby books I’ve been reading — probably a good balance, too, as we must keep in mind that our family is built first on faith in God, then on our love for each other … into which we invite our children to join. Marriage must remain a priority for Seth and me, which I know will be all the more difficult as we double our family size soon! But that’s truly what’s best not just for us, but it will be what’s best for our daughters as well. They will derive security from knowing that Mommy and Daddy love each other – through both good days and bad.

Second set of thoughts – or actually more of a recommendation. My little bro Bryan just started two for-fun blogs called best or worst, where you get to vote on what you think about his daily pick. So I will shamelessly promote them – check it out and cast your vote: Best or Worst Ride and The Best or Worst.

Bed rest update: today marks the fifth week of it. I’m still hanging in there – and the girls seem healthy. I’m now 30 weeks along, and I’m hopeful for more! Really thankful for friends and family who are taking such good care of us during this season.

a picture says a 1000 words

And so I give you the pictures that speak about this past weekend’s celebration of Seth becoming a “Reverend” as he was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church of America. Our hearts are full from the outpouring of love from family and friends, both old and new, many of whom traveled to be with us in celebration. We feel like it was a glimpse of heaven. Thank you all! (or y’all or yous guys …)
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The ordination service as Seth becomes a Reverend through the laying on of hands

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IMG_4171My sister-in-law Nicole, “little” brother Jonathan, and nephew Caleb

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Caleb was the most excited of all for Uncle Seth …

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Family and out-of-town guests on a tour of Norfolk

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friends from Philadelphia & my parents

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IMG_4190 A few of our new friends in Norfolk

Seth’s family (parents, aunt & uncle) who traveled from New Jersey

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IMG_4164And we all know that no party is complete without my youngest brother Bryan!