Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It Takes a Village...

Raising children is hard.  Our worldly culture makes it even harder.  Throw Christian culture into the mix and, sadly, sometimes you have another hurdle. 

I see the body of Christ as an extension of my family.  I don’t know how it goes down in your church, but in my church we promise as a body to help in the raising of covenant children not our own.  I love that.  I love knowing that when sweet octogenarian Mrs. Dot Wood says “I do” to the question set forth from the Book of Church Order to the congregation- that she really means she does.  She will tell my kids to quit running in the sanctuary, she will remember their birthdays and special events, she will praise them when they need praising and scold them when they need scolding.  She doesn’t talk down to them or act like they are beneath her notice, a nuisance, a bother.  Not Dot.  My kids KNOW Mrs. Dot loves them.  And I know she loves me.  She is always quick with a personal story or exhortive word when all I see are my failures as a mom.

So why can’t we moms offer each other the same grace?  Please don’t tell me it only surfaces later in life!

We compare ourselves to each other, compare our kids and tend to end up feeling very guilty and defeated or very smug and proud.

When I interact with friends of my children, am I harsh?  Do they know that I love them?  When I see them in sin, do I mention it to them and/or to their parents?  Do I pray for the children that God has placed me in authority over, whether I’m a Sunday School teacher, Bible study leader, youth worker, coach, teacher, or employer? 

Honesty:  conviction is setting in here.

As my children get older they are really seeing how not everyone does things the way we do things…I’ll be honest: sometimes they think it’s weird.  But just like I don’t know the ins and outs of why you do what you do in your home and with your kids, you don’t know those things about us either.  I say we as women…moms…Christians…should do a better job of encouraging one another in the most challenging role we face by doing two things:  First, let’s be more generous with the grace to each other.  Second, let’s as a group try to remember some truths about children and parenting.  Feel free to add any others you come up with…

1.  I do not trust that my children will always represent you correctly to me, nor me to you.  Let’s not jump the gun in taking what a 12 year old says happened as gospel fact without a little bit of investigation, especially if it has made you angry. 

2.  My child is not always the victim, and neither is yours.

3.  My child is not always the instigator, and neither is yours.

4.  If you see something in my child’s life that concerns you, by all means please tell me.  But tell ME…not another one of my children, not another friend.

5.  Let’s not verbally criticize each other, each other’s home, each other’s kids…especially not in front of our own children.

6.  Note to self:  If I say something negative about my child’s friend and my child hears it, my child WILL eventually tell that friend.

7.  Let’s keep short accounts.  Don’t let things build and build until you can’t be in the same room with me anymore.

8.  Don’t be afraid to bring it up…whatever it is.  Real friends ought to be able to discuss the hard stuff.  The Father is glorified when we understand each other and the truth.  Let’s be honest.

9.  Let’s ask each other for prayer more often.  Let’s stay connected.

10.  Let’s show this list to our husbands.  If they aren’t all in, we’re sunk.

11.  Let’s remember that children are usually more perceptive than adults.  The harsh reality is that my kids know how you feel about them, just like yours are on to me.

12.  Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt.

13.  Sometimes you may have to drive more than me, or sometimes I may have to host more than you.  Let’s just let that be okay…okay?  In the whole scheme of life, does it really even matter?

14.  Let’s not hold others’ children to a higher standard than we hold our own.

15.  Let’s remember that our children are just as sinful as everyone else’s and stop pretending that they’re not.  This goes for ourselves as well!  We are all a bunch of hot messes and the sooner we figure that out, the sooner we can stop trying to pretend we have it all together.

When we fail at all this, and we will fail at all this, let’s just be quick to repent of our lack of love for each other.  The Father has placed us and our children in each others lives for very specific reasons- and He is good.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

This is the cake from Caroline's 12th birthday party.

Slumber parties rock.  When I was a kid I loved to have them and I loved to go to them.  Do you remember this:  18 or so girls, sleeping bags strewn over the living room floor, "Don't Stop Believing" or "Crazy Train" blaring on the record player while copious amounts of pizza, pop and cake were consumed?  Bonne Bell lip gloss, Rubik's Cube, prank calls.  After the lights finally went out there were trances.  You remember:  one girl lays down while all the other girls slip two fingers underneath her...light as a feather, stiff as a board...

The poor, sad soul who gave in to sleep first ended up with her bra soaked with water and placed in the freezer, her face covered in shaving cream, or her hand placed in a bowl of warm water.  Good times.  The next day was utter agony at home because you still had to clean your room on little to no sleep or nourishment.

Can I be honest?  Slumber parties nowadays?  Way different.  At least in my house they are.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining.  Four girls came to our house Thursday night.  All girls ate cake and ice cream and retreated to the basement.  All girls watched a movie, ate popcorm, drank 3 cases of Capri Sun, played Uno, did each other's make up.  No one tried to sneak out, no one played the music too loud, no one made a prank call (of course, you really can't do that very well anymore, what with caller ID and all).  These girls may have teased each other and told stories their moms might not have wanted them to tell, but they enjoyed each other and, I think, had a good time.

I like it this way better, and not just because I'm old.

As a girl even with my "friends", a slumber party felt like a fight to survive.  Those 15 hours were a social mine field.  Caroline's childhood is so different from mine, and even though I had a good childhood, I glad hers is different.  I'm glad she and her friends have different priorities and values than I did.  They are far from perfect, of course, but a laid back party and a Disney movie are fine for them now...and that's the way I want to keep it for as long as I can.  Once that innocence is lost, it's lost forever.

Bless ya!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two Years...

Time passes quickly.  Two years ago, about the time I stopped writing my blog, I found out I was pregnant.  It was a complete and utter shock but such a wonderful surprise.  All the other times I have been pregnant the other children were too little to really understand, but this time everyone "got it".  It was fun.

Finding out was funny.  I was cleaning out my medicine cabinet and came upon an unused pregnancy test.  I took the test, mostly because I didn't want to waste it.  Imagine my surprise when I passed with flying colors.  41 years old.  Michael had just left to go out of town.  What do I do?

I called my friend Lynne.

"Lynne, I think I might be pregnant," I said.

"What?!?!" was her reply.  I got this reply from my friend Crissy as well.  

I called Michael who was on his way to Birmingham.  I asked him to pull over and gave him the news.  He was silent for only a moment and then his joy was evident.  

I have never been one for waiting to tell others.  In my opinion, if I tell and then something happens well, that just means there are more people to go through the storm with us and more prayer support all around.  

Telling the children was a blast.  They screamed and cried (except Mason who is too cool for that sort of thing) and asked a hundred questions.  

The pregnancy progressed with ease.  I felt sick every day; hurt in all the right places.  I got to hear and see that little heartbeat.  I had forgotten how much fun it was to be carrying a child, and watching the other children just added to my joy.  I knew in my heart it was a boy.

Pretty soon it was time for the ultrasound.  Michael and the kids gathered around as the tech pushed and poked, but the baby wouldn't move the right way so we could tell girl or boy.  The nurse came in and told me the doctor wanted to see us again in the exam room.  I sat and watched as the doctor walked in with a box of kleenex.

On the pictures of the ultrasound it was easy to see the hydrocephaly.  The baby's brain was not forming correctly.  We were being sent to a high risk specialist in Mobile the following week.

At USA hospital I was shown to an exam room.  The ultrasound tech came in and began to look.  She asked if I knew why I had been sent to them, which of course I did.  She again told me that the baby had fluid on the brain.  A doctor came in and told me that not only was there a problem with the brain, but also with the heart and face.  From a cursory glance it looked like trisomy 18 or 13, but without an amniocentesis we could not be sure.  

The doctor told me that our baby had so many problems physically that there was no chance he would live more than a couple of hours, if he even made it to term; all of the defects kept him from being "compatible with life".  Aborting was an option given the circumstances.  

I told the room full of people that aborting was not an option, that our little boy was a person with a soul, made in God's image; a person with worth.  I was going to give him every chance I could to have any kind of life no matter how short.

After this we drove to the beach and stayed a week.  I don't remember much about it, but I do remember the beautiful sunsets over the water.  I'm not going to go on and on about all the wrestling I did with God.  I'm sure you can imagine.  I didn't (and still don't) understand why, but I knew (and still do) that God is good.  He is GOOD.  He loves me.  He loves my family.  He loves this child inside me.

Back home, I went to a ladies' luncheon.  People didn't know what to say, and I understood that.  I had been reassured the night before having felt the baby kick, but after the luncheon I drove straight to the doctor for an ultrasound...I knew something wasn't right.  Lying there, looking at the screen, I could see right away his heartbeat was gone.  

I knew that at this point a D&C was the route some would take, but I really wanted to deliver the baby.  I wanted him to have a birthday, to have a name.  It took a while, but on July 17, 2010, Brennan Crosby MacCaughelty was born.  The name "Brennan" means "teardrop" and "Crosby" means "at the cross".   I was able to hold him (he was so small he fit inside a handmade cap), and I got to have some pictures made of his little hands.

Many people didn't understand why I would want to put my body through the rigors of childbirth when the baby was already gone.  Mostly it was for my other children.  This was their brother, and I wanted them to be able to go through the process of saying goodbye.  The following Saturday we had a service for Brennan and buried him.

The children still talk about Brennan.  They miss him, even though they never got to know him.  We talk about what he must be doing in heaven...maybe playing football with Jesus, whether they will recognize him when they get to heaven themselves.  This feels good.  It feels healthy.  Even though it was short, we honored his life and uphold his memory, and feel so blessed that we got to be his family.

Glory Baby
(by Watermark)

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby.. 
You were growing, what happened dear? 
You disappeared on us baby…baby.. 
Heaven will hold you before we do 
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you… 
Until we’re home with you…

We miss you everyday 
Miss you in every way 
But we know there’s a
day when we will hold you 
We will hold you 
You’ll kiss our tears away 
When we’re home to stay 
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you 
We will see you 
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you… 
You’ll just have heaven before we do 
You’ll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting 
We are hurting 
But there is healing 
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing 
And in knowing- 
That all things work together for our good 
And God works His purposes just like He said He would… 
Just like He said He would…

I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like 
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home 
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Dreamer

When asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" this was Ethan's reply. We're so proud of him.

Bless ya!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Little Something Sweet

I know that, for a lot of people, it's traditional to have a nice, big, family dinner following church. Not so much for us. Our Sunday lunch usually consists of what is leftover (and still edible) in the frig from the previous week. Not very exciting.

Today was leftover london broil, brown rice and gravy. There may have been a vegetable...wait...no, there was no vegetable. Molly looked at the meat neatly cut up on her plate and said to us, "Mom, Dad...if I finish my lunch can I have two pieces of candy?"

"No, Molly. No candy today."

A minute or so later Molly asked, "Mom, Dad...can I have one piece of candy?"

"No, Molly. We aren't going to eat any candy this afternoon."

"If I finish all my meat can I have some?"

"No, Molly."

We finished up lunch and dispersed.

I was making a pot of coffee and talking to Michael when Molly walked in holding a bag of candy.

And let me just interject here: this candy came from the MLK parade last week. Any parade in M'ville loads us down with candy from whatever holiday has just passed. For example, at the Christmas parade, we get leftover Halloween stuff. Also, the candy is usually stuff you could ONLY get rid of if you were fortunate enough to be in the parade and needed something to throw at people. It's basically dum-dums and hard candy that's starting to get sticky around the edges. To be fair, however, we did actually get some pretty good candy at the MLK parade compared to some others we've been to...but the good stuff was long gone before we even left the square.

Anyway, like I said, Molly walked in holding this bag of candy. Michael saw her and said, "Molly, let me see your tongue."

She stuck out her tongue, which happened to be a very vivid blue.

"Molly, have you been eating candy?"


"Well, how did your tongue get blue?"

"Ummm...I just brushed my teeth with blue toothpaste."

"Molly, are you telling the truth?"

Thus the crying began.

It was hard for me NOT to laugh. Molly thought she was so smart, hiding her sin. Little did she know that the Father saw her eat that candy and in His grace, he allowed her to be caught so that she would not miss out on the opportunity to see (and feel) the consequences of her sin. If she had gotten away with that, her heart - even if just a very little corner of it, I think - would begin to harden. It's easy for me to look at this whole story, chuckle to myself, and think, "awww," but it's not sweet, or really even cute. Why would I think that just because it's a child - my child - that her sin is cute? I'm reminded again how much the Father hates sin and what an affront to him it is. I'm also reminded of God's love. he obviously loves Molly enough to see her, lead her to us with guilt on her hands (or tongue in this case) and let her be caught in her sin. And that's how he loves me, too...even though my tongue is sometimes blue.

Bless ya!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Midnight Mix-Up

One night last week I woke up around 2am with a tummy ache. Leaving all the lights off, I stumbled into the bathroom and felt around in the medicine cabinet for the Pepto to take a big swig.

It was Nyquil.

Note to self: Pepto and Nyquil have the same shaped bottle.

Bless ya!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Frenectomy That Almost Wasn't

Today Mason, Caroline and I drove 1 1/2 hours to Mobile where Caroline had an appointment with the Periodontist.

Caroline was born with attached frenulums (frenuli?) both upper and lower. The lower one was taken care of early in life, but that upper one just didn't show itself until much later. So today was the day it was to be addressed.

Caroline and I sat while the Periodontist looked her over. He explained the procedure very thoroughly, step-by-step, while Caroline and I nodded our heads in understanding. He then asked us to move to a different room while he had his nurse prepare the procedure room. Caroline, very lady-like and grown up, proceeded to the room ahead of me. Once we got in there, she whipped around to face me and said,

"Yeah...I'm not doing that."

I explained to her what a total "non-issue" the whole thing would be. You know, it'll only take a second; it'll feel just like a mosquito bite; I had something similar when I was your age. Nothing worked. She was determined that no way was Dr. Whatshisname getting into her mouth. When I tried to drag her back to the procedure room, she just went limp. I called Michael: no help. I begged: didn't work. She was crying and I was just about crying as well. I explained over and over and over (and over) again that this would not hurt, but to someone who has never had a cavity or anything, getting a shot in the gum just doesn't sound like a party. I get that.

Finally, the nurse very politely pulled me aside and said, "We can't do this if she's not going to be still and cooperate." I asked her to give me 5 more minutes with her and then come into the waiting room to get her, as I was not allowed back during the procedure.

I said a quick prayer for wisdom as I sat her down. Again, I reiterated all the "it won't hurt" jive I had already lost my voice on. Then the light bulb came on.

"Caroline!" I sputtered, "Penny! I'll get you Penny!" (American Girl Felicity's horse)

"OK...I'll do it," she replied.

And that was that. She didn't utter another word of protest, but took the nurse's hand and returned to me 10 minutes later frenulum-free.

Did I do the right thing? Did I cave? Is it wrong to bribe your own child? These are all hypotheticals...please don't answer. The answers may very well be no, yes and yes...but I just wanted to help her through something scary. It reminded me of the time my brother got stitches after putting his arm through our front door window (which I happened to lock...but I digress). While he was crying and moaning my dad told him that if he was brave he'd buy him a Buffalo Bills football helmet with mouth guard. That shut him up and he took it like a man.

It also reminds me a little bit of how the Father, subjects us sometimes to things that are painful - for our own good - but always does so with love and the blessing of his presence.

I hope Caroline remembers this day. I hope she looks back at this thing that occured between us and thinks "My mom tells me the truth. She said the frenectomy wouldn't hurt, and it didn't. I know I can trust her in this other scary thing I'm facing." Wow...I hope I can always keep her trust.

Bless ya!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

School Stuff

Crayola Crayons, 3 packs of 96..................$16
Elmer's Glue, 6 bottles............................$7
Wide-ruled notebook paper, 8 packs............$5
Jansport backpack.................................$17

The feel of new school supplies: PRICELESS

Molly's Melon

This morning I was doing laundry.

I don't mind doing laundry...it's the folding and putting away that I can't stand.

Anyway, in my laundry room I have a bottle of Shout. Probably not much of a surprise considering there are 4 children to do laundry for. You probably have a bottle or two yourself. This bottle of Shout, however, is bought for one main purpose: Molly.

When Molly gets home from school, I don't have to ask her what was for lunch. When she gets in the car at 3pm, one quick glance gives me all the information I need.

"So, Molly...how were the sloppy joes today? And red jello, too? Nice!"

I buy Shout for Molly. I spray down her clothes and then have to vigorously rub it in. Oftentimes I have to wash her school uniforms twice. This morning I was going through her things and spraying them down when something caught my eye. It was something brown, and it was in her pocket. Is it a bug? Is it a bit of Monday's lunch? A blob of ink/dirt/something else? I was scared to put my finger down in there, but reason overruled...I knew I had to get it out.

It was about 30 watermelon seeds.

Molly had gathered up the lunchtime seeds from all at her table who would share.

Bless ya!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Picnic

I can't say enough wonderful things about my family. They make me laugh, they make me thankful, they make me think, and they give me over and over again that general "warm fuzzy" feeling. Oh! And they always give me plenty to blog about.

One day the week before school started back, I packed a picnic basket and the splash bomb, threw some bathing suits and towels into a Target bag and we headed to the beach. This is one thing I love about living in Lower Alabama: day trips to the beach are totally doable.

As I sat with my book looking out across the ocean, watching my family frolic in the water (a little far away in my opinion, but dad's with them, so how bad can it be, right?), I couldn't help but be a little overwhelmed - verklempt, if you will - at God's goodness in giving me such sweet and sublime folks to share space with, even if they did get sand in the Cheetos. Ahhh...peace. This is exaclty what I've been needing. A respite from life shaken and stirred. If I could be anywhere in the world right now I would choose this exact spot. Why, even the weather seems to...

Huh. That's odd. Michael's face looks a bit funny. Hmm...what could be wrong with Caroline and Ethan...they seem to be waving at something. Is that crying I hear? I wonder...could it...no...JELLYFISH!

Mason then came running to me to let me know that, indeed, a jellyfish had entered our lives that picturesque day. The look I saw on Michael's face was not a smile, but rather, a grimace of pain. It didn't take long for Ethan and Caroline to become mildly hysterical. Caroline got stung on her hand while Michael tried to push her away from the gelatinous beast. For Ethan, it was his thigh.

I applied some ice to their stinging skin. A brazen novice at this, I tried to process information as well-meaning beach goers offered sage wisdom and home rememdies a-plenty: put them back into the water, apply sand, go by a balm, pee works, try that.

The stings were actually not too bad (Michael got it the worst), and after some chocolate chip cookies, gatorade, and plenty of hugs, the hysteria began to ebb. Molly took the longest to recover. That's right, Molly - who was no where near the water when the attack occured. She just has such a compassionate heart that she was in almost as much pain as the actual victims.

Alas, the sun was setting on our day of peace and tranquility. We were no match for the jellyfish, but we held our heads high as we packed our junk and trudged back to public parking.

Don't worry...we'll be back.