Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Celebrating our Judah - 5 years old!

Judah is turning 5 tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. 

Photo Credit: Liz Thomas Photography, 2012
He was joyfully anticipated after losing our first baby when I was 3 months pregnant. We were so happy to hear the news of him and see him grow.

He was supposed to be Riley Elizabeth, a girl, based on our one ultrasound where they were 80% sure he was a she. I guess that 20% margin was greater than we realized.

He was almost born in the car, on the way to the hospital. Labor was fast and furious and Waylon, by the grace of God, decided to floor it to the hospital, instead of pulling over on the side of the road and deliver him himself.

We learned he was breech as soon as we got to Labor and Delivery. But it was too late for a c-section. He came minutes after arriving to the hospital. He was born in his amniotic sac, making it look like I delivered a balloon. Once they popped the sac, he wasn't breathing.

Nurses and specialists were scrambling. And just as the specialist was about to force air into his lungs, he fought and began breathing on his own. Our small fighter from the start.

And small he was. Though he was just a week shy of being "full-term", he weighed only 3 pounds and 7 ounces. And he was no longer Riley Elizabeth. He was our son. Daddy beamed at the news.

His breathing stabilized within hours, but he was tiny and couldn't eat or regulate his body temperature on his own for a bit. We stayed with him in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks so he could eat and grow. 

Naming him Riley Elizabeth was definitely out, and from the time we first heard the news of our surprise boy, Daddy knew his name should be Judah...Judah, meaning "praise" or "celebration". After the shock wore off for me (it took a good day!) I was certain no other name fit him better. There was a great sense of awe in his little life, and praising God for him was all we could do. 

God was so present in his delivery. And has only continued to be. This boy has seen more specialists because of health complications than I can keep track of; he was hospitalized or visited the ER at least once a month for his first 6 months of life; he has went through 4 surgeries and one emergency blood transfusion thus far. But now, a solid year removed from any health complications with Judah, we can say in the fears, in the trials, and in the seasons of great health, God's goodness and mercy has always been so obvious in his little life.

I love this boy. He has made me so proud to be his momma. I adore his intense gaze. Those deep brown eyes have been taking everything around him in since he was a little 3 pounder in the NICU incubator. His love for people, learning, and sports makes me smile. His energy level never ceases to amaze me. His sweet words melt my heart. The unexpected, "Momma, you're pretty," and "Momma, you're sweet" seem to make everything else around me stop as I bask in the goodness of those easy words tenderly rolling off his tongue. So easy, yet so powerful. 

I'm so grateful we have him to celebrate tomorrow. Praise God and celebrate, we will, for our Judah Daniel!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Finding New Mercies (& gardening!) in the Drama of Raising Toddlers

Levi tried to "wash my computer for me" with some soapy water left over in his body wash bottle about 3 weeks ago. Then we found out that our "Black Tie Warranty" expired in April, and it was May. This means no computer for momma.

And honestly, it was OK. I don't want to get over spiritual about the sovereignty of God, but my first thought (OK, maybe my second thought...) was, "This is good. Thank you, God. Less distraction. I need this." And you know what? It has been good. And after all, we aren't without a computer (we still have Waylon's). I just don't have a computer with easy access all throughout the day. And I like it.

So I've been spending time tackling my new favorite hobby: gardening. It is something that involves more family participation than a zone out time that can often occur for me in front of the computer. It's funny though, the running joke in our house is that I most definitely DO NOT have a "green thumb" because our first year of marriage I killed a cactus house plant Waylon had gotten for me. A cactus. Yeah, that takes skill. 

But here we are in our awesome home with raised beds ready for action, rich compost, great soil, and already established strawberry beds, blackberry bushes, a few blueberry bushes, and a pear tree. We would be crazy to let this stuff go. And so, we have begun learning and just going for it. 
Pears coming!
Blackberry bushes are going crazy!
Blueberries beginning :)
Our first attempt at planting anything (and it was from seed...which felt even cooler!) was last fall when we did fall crops. And to our astonishment, we enjoyed carrots, lettuce, spinach and onions from our garden beds planted by us. (Our beans and broccoli didn't fair so well, but we were so excited about the rest of it all, we did not care!). 

So we are going for it again this spring and summer and having so much excitement in the whole process. We have been eating fresh lettuce, spinach, and green onion daily in fun salads for lunch, ending many meals with bowls of strawberries, and just snacked on our first carrots last night. I had no idea how rewarding gardening would feel and how much I would love having dirt in my hands! Plus, again, it's time outside enjoying the sun and fun with the kids and teaching them as we go, too. A win all around! Though I didn't take the initiative to set these computer boundaries on my own, I'm grateful for the change in my days. Thanks, Levi.

And yet, though this no-computer-more-time-outdoors season has been awesome, I'm challenged as I read my favorite blog lady's post today as I'm also in a season of "nesting" and feeling SO much demand internally to have all my ducks in a row: 

"What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?
You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy.
The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith." -Ann Voskamp

Oh yuck. This hits at my heart.

Just today I was boiling over Judah going into his bedroom and dumping all his puzzle pieces, all his Imaginext toys (both buckets), and most of his clothes from his drawer on his floor. Did he not know I had a list a mile long in my head that "needs" to get done before Samuel comes? How did dealing with this crazy mess fit into it all? 

Waylon gently led me to not go into "freak out mode" and think about the bigger picture. Would I allow this mess to control me for the morning? And would I hurt Judah in the process by handling him in anger? 

Now, don't get me wrong, he had a responsibility with this mess, but how would I go about getting him there? That is the important thing. Yes, he must learn responsibility, consideration of others and his things, but how do I come alongside him to get him there, especially when it messes with "my agenda?" 

It takes a shift in our perspective. What is the most important thing in my heart? Is it really a clean bedroom for my boys? Is it "To love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength...and to love your neighbor as yourself?" Yes. This is Truth. This is right perspective. Crushing Judah to ensure a clean room is not loving him as myself. 

So glad His mercies are new everyday. And grace is available immediately. I need it. And learning to be grateful that Levi "washed" my computer and Judah makes his room look like a tornado hit it. My boys help me see the condition of my heart and challenge me to walk with the right gaze.