For being locked in the house, we ended up having a pretty busy week. Busy is such a relative term these days.
COVID is spiking around this area and the city we frequent for our groceries and errands made the New York Times for being one of the rising areas (#2 on the list). We have been cautious but clamped down even more this week in avoiding that area.
Being cooped up most of the week took its toll on Levi and as much as we have tried to vary activities around the house he has had some three year old tantrums that resulted in him hitting Malachi.
We are trying hard to teach Levi kindness, and when our typical punishments weren’t working we resorted to “grounding” him from being near Malachi for a few minutes, much to Malachi’s enjoyment. This clearly hit the spot for him and he was devastated that he couldn’t be near his brother. When the grounding was up he hugged on Malachi like he hadn’t seem him in years and wouldn’t leave his side. He even went and grabbed the Cheerio bag, knowing that the crinkle of the bag would make Malachi happy.
Oh parenting. I am reminded often that I am not a perfect parent. This week had more reminders than most.
As many of you know, sleep has always been a rare thing for my crew. We made several big changes a few months ago and we have found a new groove that has been helping. One of the biggest changes came from something so incredibly simple…I am beating myself up for not thinking of it sooner.
Malachi is fascinated with superheroes, and we often talk about his muscles make him look like a superhero. He will puff his chest out proudly and put on a superhero face as he flexes his muscles for you.
I told him a few weeks ago that the only way for him to grow and build stronger muscles was to sleep until the sun comes up. Malachi is such a smart kid, but even I doubted that this would really make a difference. The first few nights he would wake up at 4am and I would tell him “Go back to sleep, the sun isn’t up so you aren’t done growing.” And y’all, it worked!! He would drift off back to sleep.
Each morning when he would get up we would dramatically go to the window and check to see if he slept until the sun came up, rejoicing wildly when he did! Then we would go to the couch and check all of his muscles to see if he grew stronger, and help him reach for his toes to see if he grew taller. This has been a new morning routine for awhile now and we have been so happy to see it working.
Levi is now the problem sleeper and I end up getting up and down with him every night. After a particularly difficult night with Levi this week, I was frustrated when Malachi woke up extra early and wouldn’t go back to sleep. I carried him to the window and said “Oh no, the sun isn’t up yet- I guess you just didn’t get to grow last night.”
Malachi burst out into tears when I said this, sobbing uncontrollably that he “didn’t get to grow”. I instantly felt terrible, and reassured him that maybe he did get to grow. But he was devastated. I told him if he closed his eyes and went back to sleep in the living room for a little bit longer that I am sure he could finish growing. And sure enough that was all it took- he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
Obviously I felt bad for causing so much emotional distress, but seeing him so cognitively active has also brought me so much joy. He acted like a typical, disappointed 7 year old boy and seeing some of those emotions was refreshing to my heart, as weird as that sounds. We often see happy Malachi, and we often see frustrated and sad Malachi, but this was one of the few times we have seen disappointed Malachi. Sometimes these glimpses of typical are what my heart really need to see.
Both of thee boys are growing so long legged! They are each outgrowing their clothes faster than we expected. It is so encouraging to see them both thriving so well. Just take a look at those long legs in this photo- Malachi is getting to be harder to hold as he is catching up to me in height.
And oh my goodness before any rumors start, that is not a baby belly on me…just an awkwardly placed sweatshirt bump haha!
We also got some much needed in-home haircuts from our very dear friend.
Levi has been his busy self, growing more independent by the minute. This week we mastered flushing the real toilet- over and over and over again. Oh boy.
We have been trying a lot of new recipes and Levi wants to be included in all of the meal prep.
Jake got a bonus day off this week as our area got hit with some snow. Our county is extremely large and mountainous so when it snow it affects some worse than others. I snapped this photo for the visual. Some of our county can end up buried in snow and we can have simple flurries on our end.
I asked Malachi if he wanted a Christmas tree this year and he emphatically signed YES, so on Saturday we headed to a local Christmas tree farm down the road and picked out a tree.
I think I underestimated Levi’s excitement over the whole ordeal. As soon as we arrive he started running around like a wild man, clearly enjoying the change of scenery and the freedom to roam. Levi’s new orthotics came in and he has been so much more stable with them.
We choose a tree based on how it feels, not how it looks so we took our time feeling each candidate and letting Malachi decide if it made it to the final round. Levi watched how we moved Malachi’s hand and went around feeling all the trees too.
Malachi really wanted a spikey tree but when Levi felt it he was scared by the sharpness so we opted for a softer one. Both of the boys thoroughly enjoyed the process of Jake cutting it down, and little Levi was a ball of nervous energy watching the scene unfold. He latched onto Jake’s head for a security blanket mid-cut which definitely slowed dad down a bit.
Malachi was giddy with excitement as we drove home! We decorated it this afternoon and each of the boys took turns putting on ornaments. Levi is fascinated with it and Malachi smiles each time we turn the room lights down and the tree lights on.
Uganda update! After just one week and help from lots of amazing friends, we have been able to raise all but $275 for our little buddy. We will be ordering the items this week and are praying now about how we can make sure the family learns about the love of God through these gifts. The missionary will be hand carrying these items over in February and I am so thrilled thinking about how these simple items will change this boy’s life.
Alright, so let’s talk God.
Pre-covid I didn’t have time to mentally dwell on things very long. Life was go-go-go and I could easily distract myself. But now that we are home all day every day I have caught myself dwelling on things and allowing stress to creep in a bit.
One of my main sources of stress lately has been the mailbox, as silly as it sounds. We have been fighting some pretty big insurance battles and have found ourselves on the losing end. Each time I open the mailbox I find myself holding my breath, worried that I will find another unexpected surprise.
This anxiety is a new one for me. We have clearly dealt with medical bills for almost 8 years, and the numbers would blow you away. But we have always walked in faith knowing that God would not call us to this life and not provide the means to walk through it. And God has never let us down!
But now that I have time to dwell I have been mentally going down the “what if” road. This week I could feel myself physically getting anxious as I walked through some “what ifs”. I immediately recognized the power I was giving the devil with my thoughts and I stopped and prayed that my faith in God would be stronger than my fear. I prayed specifically that God would continue to go before our family and fight our unseen battles.
My thoughts immediately drifted to one of our favorite chapters in Philippians.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The Bible is very clear that anxiousness does not come from God. Like Paul and the unnamed “thorn in his side”, anxiety has become something that I daily struggle with. Oddly enough, with all of the medical emergencies and surgeries we have been through, it wasn’t until COVID made his introduction that this thorn became so prevalent in my life. Back in March it started to manifest itself in physical ways enough that I ended up going for heart workups and testing. I am now on a daily anxiety medication that seems to help, but the anxiety is still very present and something I have to be very aware of. We also found an underlying weird heart issue in the process, but nothing that needs to be addressed or be concerned about.
Like the verse suggests, I went to God with some very specific prayers. It has been a long time since I have been so specific with my prayers to Him, laying some of my biggest sources of anxiety at the foot of His throne. Immediately after verbalizing these petitions to Him I felt overwhelmed with the peace of God, just as the verse assures us. It is always so fun to see firsthand God’s word become so living and active.
I have watched this week as God has very clearly and obviously answered each and every SPECIFIC prayer I laid at His feet. Every single one. Without exception.
My love for God is not contingent on Him answering my prayers or meeting my needs. When we focus on what we can get from God we lose sight of the relationship that God wants to have with us.
But it is in these moments of great blessings that God reminds me that He sees my needs even before I do. Like the Great Shepherd that He is, He is quietly leading me to still waters to restore my soul. And I am so thankful for the great love He has for each of us.
I saw something this week and the image stuck with me so I figure it may be a good visual for you as well.
This is Shrek the sheep.
Shrek ran away and hid out in caves for 6 years before being found. This type of sheep is typically sheered annually, so after so many years on his own without care his coat grew to weigh about 60 pounds.
When he was finally caught and sheered his coat was large enough to make suits for 20 large men.
As I read through this story I saw some of myself in Shrek, as odd as that sounds. How many times do we carry around excess weight unnecessarily? We allow our minds to grow our burdens to the point that they do more damage than good.
All Shrek needed was a shepherd that could meet his needs.
There are a million spiritual parallels that we can find in Shrek’s story. Take time this week to find which one you need to help you grow closer to the Shepherd!