I've never had any trouble with setting boundaries, saying no, doing what's best even in the face of tears and tantrums. I'm okay with not being my kid's friend. I'm secure in my position as parent.

Bam.

That sounds firm, right?!

And yet, we are wading straight through this twilight zone known as the tween years and all of a sudden I'm not so sure about everything. (Anything?!)

I didn't realize...

  • Hurtful words coming from a 3 year old are just...toddler speak. Hurtful words coming from a nearing adult...can actually hurt.
  • The growing need for this tween to be more independent is normal, understood, and completely expected. Yet, this growing independence...creates a vacancy that is felt way beyond the dinner table.
  • And this one is hard for me to admit: I didn't realize how utterly unprepared I feel for this new stage. Where is the learning curve? Where is the intuitive instinct that tells me just what to say? Or do? Or not say? Or not do?  I kid you not, sometimes I stand there and hear crickets chirping up in my brain as I strain to think of how to react in a way that will help bring reason back to a person who used to be quite predictable.
These moments, these realizations are teaching me a few things. And to be completely transparent, lest there be any misconceived notions that I am getting this parenting a tween thing down...I'm not. I don't have a clue. I don't have even one single answer.

But I do know The Answer. Personally and intimately, and after crying out with frustration one morning I heard that soft, sweet whisper of the Holy Spirit remind me that "if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)

A light bulb went on inside my brain. Illuminating all those crickets. When I was pregnant I read books and asked questions and sought knowledge. When I was raising a baby, then two, three, and four babies and toddlers I had done the same...seeking out wisdom from books and people who were intimate with The Answer and The Teacher. And yet, I hadn't applied this same earnestness to this next stage I was finding myself in.

Duh.

And so I set out to seek out wisdom from those who've gone before, asking questions from older and wiser moms, reading books from trusted Biblical sources, and crying out every day for inspired wisdom to walk through these tween (and upcoming teen) years with joy. And sanity. Please, let me preserve some sanity.

This tween parenting thing, it is HARD work. (Makes me miss the potty training days...)
But (I'm learning) that hard doesn't mean it's not without hope.
And joy.

That sweet three year old who loved catching butterflies and frogs and reading and chocolate milk. She's still there. Just bigger. She's not morphing into some person I don't recognize, but growing into those same gifts and passions she had as a tiny person.




And with this comes the biggest thing I didn't realize...The most absurd pride I'd feel at watching who she is becoming right before my eyes. The extreme gratefulness I feel at the pure privilege of being allowed to be her parent. Entrusted with such a precious task. Even if it is a hard task.






So, I had some major dental work done this week and Jeremiah (being the super smart hubby that he is) decided to make an impromptu 36 hour trip away with the kiddo's so that I could rest and recuperate. Yes, very smart hubby.

Being by myself has allowed me time to just be...an introverts filling time, if you will.  I vacuumed the house the moment the kids left because the carpet lines would oh-so-fulfillingly stay for the next entire 36 hours. But then, no more "work." I've finally looked through and processed photo's from months ago. I've read. I sat on the porch and just soaked up the Autumn sunshine. And now, I'm doing that whole blogging thing that used to bring me such enjoyment but which has fallen to the wayside in the priorities of living.

Rather than try to nicely and neatly organize all these photos and catch you up slowly, I'm going to just throw it all out there. Coming at ya!

Haiti this Summer was wonderful. It was a vastly unique trip for us in that we didn't have any major project we focused on, but rather, we were entirely about the relationships the Lord has put into our lives... 

 







We enjoyed some quieter moments too..


This one is always about the creatures...rats, cockroaches, puppies, starfish, if it moves, she loves it.

And more time with our Haiti family...
Who needs toys when you have a whatever-that-thing-is?!


And time with the Price family, who have become like our family. We are so thankful for them.,,


Time with the grandparents is always a blessing.



And, because we like complete quick transitions to polar opposite lifestyles, we went from Haiti to our family vacation at Lake Anna. (Seriously, if anyone knows how to make all the transitions easier, I am all ears!)

Transitions aside, we had the best weather and the best time together...


Of course, Eli is our patient fisherman.

I love that 3 generations are working on this puzzle!

This dimpled cutie turned 9 on vacation week!

Enjoying some much needed r&r. He's a hard worker, this one.

Can we just pause for a moment to acknowledge that my baby doesn't look even remotely like a baby anymore.

Or, for that matter...NONE of my babies are remotely babies anymore. 
But they are becoming kinda amazing little adults...so, there's that.


 From Vacation the kids and I headed home to re-start school and life and Jeremiah headed back down to Haiti for a playground build at Quisqueya School. He returned home just in time to miss Hurricane Matthew. We are thankful that the House of Hope, Have Faith Haiti Mission, and all our friends and family in Port-au-Prince were relatively unharmed through the hurricane. Our friends in southwest Haiti didn't fare so well, and Jim and Debbie are there now assessing how we can best help.

And now, life...is back to whatever "normal" is for us. School is in full swing, Jeremiah is stateside for a bit, and the Holidays are coming. We are embracing this Autumn season and all it has to offer and for today, I'm just incredibly thankful for this life we've been given. For this day to sit and reflect. And for carpet lines...gloriously in-tact carpet lines for an entire 36 hours.



November 2012

"There's someone I'd love for you to meet," my Father-in-Law told us. 

"Her name is Ms. Elizabeth and she is just right down the street from us. She is a dear friend.

And so, we set off down the road. 


We were filled in on the fact that Ms. Elizabeth was in the final stages of breast cancer and told to prepare ourselves for the sight we might encounter.

We stepped thru the curtain-as-door and were greeted by Ms. Elizabeth's official greeters and led into the one room that served as her home. 


We met and talked and prayed together. And then we sang...

Amazing Grace and 10,000 Reasons. Creole and English intertwined.

I'll never forget the image of her eyes closed and frail hand raised, worshiping with the intensity of a person who is close to meeting the object of her worship.



















We would go back and visit again. My in-laws numerous times, administering meds to keep her comfortable, praying, and singing...always singing.

And then, a few weeks later we got the phone call letting us know that Ms. Elizabeth was free from her struggle and singing in the presence of her Jesus.

Later that week, we were eating dinner listening to music when 10,000 Reasons came on. Jeremiah and I looked at each other and the tears welled up as we mourned and rejoiced the privilege of having met Elizabeth and knowing she was no longer in pain.

Those tears led to questions from the boys. Mom and Dad don't usually cry at the dinner table, after all. And then, the story of Ms. Elizabeth ultimately led them to the story of Jesus and they both started their own story of following after Him that night.






























July 2016

When discussing their baptism, the boys really wanted to do it in Haiti. And so, on our last trip, the boys publicly declared their faith in Jesus. Just down the street from where Ms. Elizabeth lived.


How cool is it that their baptism was witnessed by so much Haiti family!






Pretty cute onlookers.

The story doesn't end here.

After the boys were baptized, Zoe jumped onto the steps, looked directly at me and said, "I want to be baptized too!"

I explained to her that being baptized was a big decision, one that happens after she made a decision to follow Jesus. I told her that we would talk more at bedtime. And then, in the rush that is life and dinner and showers and teeth brushing...I didn't bring it up again.

But she did. As I was tucking her in, she, again, directly looked at me and said, "Remember Mom, you were going to tell me about becoming a Christian!" 

And so I did. And in her completely trusting and sincere 5 year old way, we prayed for her to begin her own story of following Jesus.

Ms. Elizabeth never had a single facebook like in her lifetime. She had no bank account, no degrees or books written and died a very painful and undocumented death.

Yet, the legacy she left by her simple faith and joy, found in a Jesus who was real and present to her, will live on forever in our family. 

"I thank my God upon every memory of you." 
Philippians 1:3

Progress. Just 3 left.

Future florists of America.

Ezra to Eli: I think it's time we start working out.
Eli: Yeah.

Gardening joys.

Photo cred: Jeremiah
Hummingbird cred: Jeremiah, who possess much more patience than I.

Bucket fail at the Safari Zoo.

5 year old in her happy place.

35 year old in her happy place.



5, 8, 9, 10. As it stands.


 Before we head back to Haiti, I figured I better finish documenting the last trip.

Life just keeps truckin' on, doesn't it...

One of the best parts of this particular trip was having our good friend and missionary to Madagascar, Tim Norton, join with us for the week. I was amazed all week at how interested and attentive the Haitian people were to hear of a different country other than America. I'll admit, I was fascinated as well.
And very grateful that Tim likes to take photos: a ton of photo credit goes to him on this trip.


Our friend and neighbor, Alfonse.

Teaching the "three circles" at one of our kids camps.


We made some new friends on this trip, visiting a small, entirely Haitian run orphanage. When I asked the directors daughter why they had taken these children in, she simply stated, "My family loves Jesus and children." 





Another highlight was the opportunity to photograph the merging of a new family...friends and adoptive parents meeting their children for the first time. My favorite kind of photo shoot.




And, of course, seeing my cutie nieces is always a highlight of a trip to Haiti!!

Of course, there's more...there is always more. 
Haiti can never and will never box neatly into a photojournal or story. And that's okay.

Until the next time...