To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Time for a Vacation!!

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will 
give you rest. ~Matt 11:28

Do you ever just sit back in amazement at how God worked out a situation or how he provided for a need or even how he cares about our wants too? It is so easy to take things for granted, especially the little, everyday things. It's usually in the big stuff that we step back and say, "wow, I can't believe God did that". I know I'm guilty of taking things for granted everyday, even though I try hard not to. One thing that I am so thankful for right now is how God opened so many doors and made provision in so many ways for Ben and I to have a vacation, just the two of us.

We love our kids and we love to spend time with our kids but, we are always with our kids. Any time we get alone is precious because it does not happen often. There are not a whole lot of people lining up to watch 6 kids so even finding a few hours alone out of the house is rare! When the opportunity for this trip came up and we first started talking about it I honestly did not let myself get excited because I just thought there is no way this can all work out. It was before Tess was even born that Ben came home and said that sometime this winter he would have to head out to San Diego something work related. I swear I listen when he talks about work but I retain so little, haha! I was very overwhelmed at the thought of being alone for a week after just having had a baby, in the winter, for him to take this trip. Then I asked if this was a trip where it made sense for me to come with him. He really loved that idea so the wheels started turning on how we could make it work. One great thing about this particular trip is Ben could pretty much choose any week he wanted (another blessing!) so we had some flexibility with dates.

We had our doubts that any one person would feel capable of taking all 5 kids. At the time we planned to take Tess with us. And we were right. So the daunting task before us was finding enough willing people to take a few each. I prayed so hard that if this was God's will he would make it clear and show us who to ask for child care. And he provided in an amazing way. It was settled that Will & Jena would be with Ben's parents and Alex & Lianne would take Noah, Owen, and Gabe. All 5 would be up in the county so we had to make plans to take extra time off to get them all there and back. An 8hr car ride one way isn't exactly something you can do in a day with kids. Then our beautiful and lovely Tess was born and it was made clear early on that she was not the traveling sort of baby. Like Gabe, Tess hates her car seat, therefore hates the car for any extended period of time. Our trip would require a lot of traveling. Not only do we drive 8hrs to drop the kids off but we have that 8hr drive back, a 2hr bus ride to Boston and a flight to California...and then do it all in reverse not to mention any traveling and sightseeing we'll do once in California. So I prayed and prayed about what to do. I Even told Ben we should cancel the trip because I just didn't think this would work out well with having Tess. Then a good friend of mine in passing mentioned she'd take Tess if I needed. I didn't take it seriously at first but prayed about it for a week. After having a peace that I should ask her again about it I did. She told me that she had been praying that I would ask her to watch Tess because she really wanted to do this for me. So with tears running down my face I accepted her offer and began getting really excited! So Tess will be staying with my friend Anita and I can't even tell you how at peace with that I am. She told me yesterday she won't be taking her eyes off of Tess and I know she won't and that Tess will be in great hands...what a blessing! 

Not only has God provided for childcare but he has also provided financially. This trip is basically at no cost to amazing is that! The only expense we have is my plane ticket, which we got an amazing deal on and any shopping/sightseeing we want to do. Ben's flight, our meals, hotel and rental car are all paid for by his work. With the cutbacks they have been making at the Shipyard recently we were not sure this trip would happen because they have cancelled some travel. Any trainings, conferences or travel that is not specific to a project is cancelled...if I am understanding it all right. Ben's travel is project oversight....he manages a few people at the detachment out there and is checking in on what they're doing and getting familiar first hand with what they are working on. Again, Praise God! 

So it is safe to say that the whole family is very excited about the coming two weeks. The older boys are thrilled to be staying with "Aunt" Lianne & "Uncle" Alex. They have some big plans like ice fishing and winter blitz. They cannot wait!! Keep them in your prayers that everyone would be safe and pray for Lianne, she is pregnant and they have 2 boys of their own. I had no idea she was pregnant when I asked them to watch the kids but she knew she was and said yes anyway. Will & Jena will be with Oma & Pepere and they talk about it everyday. They both ask me every morning if today is the day we are going. They love spending time with Oma & Pepere and I know they are in great hands & will be spoiled rotten! Pray for Dan & Shelley. And pray for Anita and Tess. Tess is doing well at night but I am praying she will sleep well being at a new place. She is generally a very easy baby so I pray she continues that way for Anita. Anita also has 3 children of her own so it was very kind of her to offer this! And pray for Ben and I that it would be a relaxing time and that we'd have great weather and that I would feel well. Morning sickness isn't fun but thankfully it's subsided for the most part. I only have days here and there now so I am praying that remains the case while we are out there. We are so, so thankful for this opportunity to actually do something just the two of us...especially with a new baby coming in the fall. God knew we were going to need this time of rest and refreshment and I cannot express just how thankful I feel to be able to do this. This is one thing I am NOT taking for granted!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Time For Church

"...not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." ~Heb. 10:25

I am asked often how we manage to faithfully attend church with so many little ones. We attend Sunday School, morning service and evening service on Sundays as well as our mid-week prayer meeting.  Many will say, "I only have 1 or 2 and I can't get there, I don't know how you do it". So I thought I'd share how we make it so that we are able to attend regularly. If you don't go to church and have no interest in going then this post isn't for you. But to those of you who do want to attend church faithfully but maybe are struggling with doing so, this post might be a help to you.

The first thing I would say to those people who ask how we get everyone there is that it has to be a PRIORITY. Not going to church is not an option for us unless someone is sick. People make time for the things they really want to do so if church is something you really want to do then your mindset has to be that nothing will get in the way of you getting there. For us Sunday is for church and our kids know this. They have never known anything different. Any sport or activity that meets on a Sunday is not an option in our family. We keep church a priority even when we are on vacation. And I will tell you that we have met some wonderful people across the country because of this. Basically if you wake up on Sunday not sure if you are going to church or not, then you probably won't get there. There are too many other things that will pull you away. And also...our kids DO NOT decide if we go or not. They never have the option of staying home. EVER. Unless they are sick, of course. Thankfully we have kids that are sad when they can't go...for now anyway! 

The next thing that needs to happen is you have to be ORGANIZED! I start getting ready for church on Saturday. I usually make sure they have clean church pants in the morning so that if they don't I can do a load in the afternoon and have them ready for Sunday. This rarely happens but lately it's happening more often that not! At night when we are putting everyone to bed I take out their clothes for Sunday and lay it out so that when they wake up the ones that can dress themselves know what to put on and can be ready. This takes 10 mins so I can't ever say, "I'm too tired to do this". What's 10 more mins??! I also pack the diaper bag the night before. This has really helped me to not forget anything because in the craziness of the morning it's easy to forget something. I've forgotten a bottle for the baby before! Thankfully we live 2 mins from church but I still don't want this happening on a regular basis. 

An important part of getting anywhere and getting there on time is to WAKE UP ON TIME. Set an alarm, set two if you have to. We don't look at Sunday's as a day for sleeping in, even though for us getting up at 6 is sleeping in. I wake up early so I can get my shower in and start getting ready before everyone else wakes up at 7. We make the kids get up, they aren't allowed to stay in bed as long as they want...not that this is a problem because I don't have sleepers yet. They're all up at that time anyway. Ben gets up at this time too and HELPS. I stress that because there are so many husbands that don't help on Sunday mornings and I am so thankful that I do have help because it makes getting out the door so much easier and manageable. He usually gets them all breakfast while I finish getting myself ready. Then I start getting the girls dressed while he helps the boys that need help. Then Ben has time after that to get himself ready and practice on the piano before church while I make sure everyone has brushed their teeth, washed faces & hands, and do the girl's hair. 

Then there's Prayer Meeting. Ours is on Weds. nights at 7pm. This is a very challenging service to get to with little kids. If you attend a church and you have young families who faithfully attend this service please encourage them and let them know how thankful you are they come because it's not easy to get to. If there is one church service Satan loves to convince me I'm better off not being at it's this one. It's mid-week so there are work and school schedules to factor in, dinner to have and clean up, homework to do with kids. By 7:00 I'm wiped and looking for any excuse to stay home. I have to purpose in my heart to be there otherwise there are too many things that would keep me away. Currently there are two things that keep us from attending prayer meeting. Sickness and no nursery coverage. We are the only family that attends that needs the nursery so if for some reason there isn't anyone to cover it, I stay home. One way I have found helps ensure I attend this service is to avoid scheduling things on a Weds. if at all possible. This goes for Dr. appts., play dates, and any extra curricular activities. Sometimes having something on a Weds. can't be helped but it's not the norm. This helps me get a nap in that afternoon so I'm not so tired when 7:00 rolls around. I also try to plan a very easy, simple to put together meal (like leftovers) or a crock pot meal on Weds.
   *Just as a side note for prayer meeting. When Noah started kindergarten I was worried that him being up till 8:30-9 would be too hard on him so I did keep him home from prayer meeting for a few weeks till he adjusted to his school schedule. Then we attended regularly and he was fine. I have not found that I needed to do this with Owen or Gabe. The kids adjust perfectly well and maybe it means on Thurs. they take a short nap before dinner but that has happened maybe one or twice. I say that only because it's so easy to make excuses to not be there and using our kids as the excuse is the best and easiest one! I can't stress how strongly I feel it's important for our kids to know that prayer meeting is not something we do when it's convenient but it's something our family sees as a priority.

And lastly, BE INVOLVED in your church. Don't just be a bench warmer, but be an active participant. There are so many ways you can serve in the church and often times having a commitment helps to keep you coming. When you go to church make it a point to say hello to people and find out how they are doing. Form connections with people in your church. Ben and I both serve in different ways in our church and yet there are times when we have needed to say no to things. What you are involved in will depend a lot on what season of life you are in. Our church is in great need of church cleaners but that is an area that right now, with so many little ones, is not something we can be involved with. Just because the heart is willing doesn't necessarily mean you are meant to serve in that capacity. Be wise in how you choose your commitments so you don't burn out and not want to attend. 

There is nothing profound about how me make it to church. These are all things we all know but maybe just need to be reminded of. If Ben and I didn't have a strong belief that it is important for us to be involved in the local church then there's no way we'd be there. It's just too hard with so many kids and Satan makes it too easy to form excuses. If you take nothing else away from this just remember it is all about what you "purpose in your heart" to do. You have to be decided that this is what is important to you and your family. That's where you need to start. Once you are there, then hopefully some of the ways we make it manageable will help you make it manageable for your family too!

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Time for Irish Twins

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. ~Psalm 127:3

Never in a million years did I think I would be writing this post. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind to say the least. I was already overwhelmed with adjusting to having a new baby in the house and dealing with some medical issues, never mind finding out I was pregnant. I am one who usually is very antsy to tell people we are welcoming a new life into our family. This time has been very different. Mainly because I can honestly say I was not excited for a long time and I knew that I was not emotionally strong enough to handle any negative comments or criticism or even the jokes. I needed time to come to terms with the news and to be ready to face whatever people have to say, the good and the bad. In a perfect world I wouldn't care what people think, and most of the time I don't but for some reason I just knew there would be many who would have their opinions and I wasn't ready to deal with them. I am not sure I am ready now but I have to face it sometime! :) 

We were really done after Tess was born, I had already given away some baby things. You know what they say about that don't you....apparently there's some truth to it! Before Tess was born I was very open to the possibility of having more. But her delivery and recovery afterwards led to some serious medical issues for me, to the point that my OB strongly advised taking measures to make sure I didn't have another pregnancy. Strokes are scary and when you almost have one, you listen to your Dr. Appointments were made for more permanent measures to be taken, precautions were taken at home, but before I could see the Dr. I found out I was pregnant...taking a test they advised I take before they do anything, to be on the "safe side". When I saw positive I cried. I was in shock. I am so incredibly thankful for Ben. He is always cool and steady and can usually keep me calm and focused on what is true. He was so encouraging and has continued to be. I know a lot of women will read this and be angry because I was upset and not happy right away. I really am not trying to be ungrateful or insensitive. But I have to ask those women to put themselves in my shoes. If you had just delivered your 6th baby six weeks prior and found out you were pregnant again with your 7th would you be super excited? I think you might shed a few tears too because there is just no explaining how overwhelming that feels. It was like I couldn't breath for weeks. I couldn't think about it without crying or having anxiety about how I would handle it. I am passed that now, thankfully. I honestly see this baby as an incredible gift from the Lord, like all the others have been, and I am excited to meet him/her. I still have moments of anxiety when I look to the future but I mostly try to focus on today and take it one minute at a time. 

This baby is due Sept. 14 and Tess will turn 1 on Oct. 18 so they are considered Irish twins because they will be born within a 12 month period. Based on the due date they will be 11 months apart. That's pretty cool I guess...I think I'll find it cooler once I've "been there done that" because I know it will be challenging while we're going through it. Before this our closest babies were Gabe & Will. They are 14 months apart and I cried then too but we got through that. I should say GOD got us through that. Honestly without my faith in God and a trust that He is in control of all of this I don't think I could face it. He has always faithfully given us what we need each day to raise this family and He will continue to do it.  We are being refined and drawn closer to Him through it and I am happily surrendering to his plan even though it has been so much different than mine was! Our plan was never to have 7 kids in 9 years but God has seen fit to allow that so we are just going with the flow.

 We are also trusting him with my health, which to date has been great. I will have the gestational diabetes to contend with as I always do but so far my blood pressure is where it should be. We are so thankful for that and thankful for the awesome care and attention my OB is giving me, they've been so great! We are also so thankful for our faithful prayer warriors. The few who we told in the beginning because we needed prayer (I did really, Ben has been remarkably okay from the beginning). Your love and support these past weeks have meant so much to us. We are so blessed with such an amazing support are our family away from home! Now that the rest of you know, the praying friends reading this, if you would keep us in your prayers for the duration of the pregnancy it would mean so much.
Oh and by the way...for those of you on facebook...I had no idea I was pregnant when I stated that my goal for 2013 was to not have a baby! I found out 3 days later! God has a sense of humor! :)