Goals

I used to be a goal setter. I thrived with goals, setting challenges that were beyond my reach and taking great delight in achieving them. I would write the goals in journals, put them on sticky notes around my room, and stay up until 5am to knock one out.

I was always up for the challenges life threw at me…maintaining a high GPA in the midst of a tough college course…working three jobs while taking 21 hours a semester…succeeding at something no one thought would be possible fueled me.

As life progressed I realized that the things that I saw as challenges were things that could be achieved with a lot of hard work and a whole lot of determination.

Unfortunately that doesn’t transfer over to the special needs world. It takes hard work and determination, but it still isn’t quite enough. It will never truly be enough.

I have had to realize that some goals will never be achieved. I am unable to heal my children. And I have lost complete control of our day to day. And that is a very hard thing for me to accept.

I am at a phase in life where setting goals seems to do more damage than good. There are the obvious complex goals that are beyond my reach, but then there are the simple ones that require routines that we can’t afford to manufacture. We are still very much living in a survival mode mindset, unsure of what each day will bring with the boys. And those sticky notes no longer challenge me, but rather they taunt me.

We live day to day, hour by hour, and try to do all that we can to obey the calling God has in our lives. And the lack of control is something I daily struggle with, but I am learning to lean on God in those control freak moments.

We have learned to simply walk and look for the doors along the way that are opened by God for us to venture through. It has made me really process how God feels about us setting goals. I don’t have any feedback on that one, but maybe it will give you something to mentally munch on this week. I don’t believe that they are inherently bad, but I wonder if they do more harm or good to our faith walk.

We have watched Proverbs 16:9 come to life for us: “The mind of a person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

Why the long intro?

As I sat here and reflected on our week I found myself feeling so mediocre as a mother. We haven’t had any earth shattering moments. We haven’t had days filled with adventures and fun. We haven’t met milestone that I am excited to share with you.

But we have spent so much time together as a family. We have served in the name of Christ, giving energy we didn’t have because God called us to. We have made our boys laugh until they can’t breathe.

And even though we didn’t meet goals I feel like we accomplished some pretty immeasurable things.

And we also celebrated another wedding anniversary! Jake and I have been married for 13 wonderful years. We dated for 5 years before getting married so life with Jake is all I know. It has been so special to watch us grow as individuals and also grow as a couple in Christ.

These two little lovebirds back in 2003. This was the first photo I ever got of Jake.

Jake and I were able to sneak away kid free for dinner and a movie on our anniversary! These moments are rare and we definitely cherished our time together.

And on a silly note, we aren’t normally trendy people but I saw this one online and thought I would give it a try. It is an app that allows you to change yourself into a cartoon. They turned out pretty cute.

I do have some prayer needs this week.

-Levi’s surgery is less than two weeks away. I always get a little anxious leading up to surgery, worried they will find a reason to start the trach talk again. We went on lots of walks this week and his stridor was definitely significant after a few minutes of physical activity. Levi is also very anxious and remembers the Covid test from last year (which he will have to have again). So all kinds of prayers needed over that situation.

-I have been going through some spiritual refinement this week as God has been highlighting some areas that I need His help on. While refinement is ultimately a good thing it does require moments of discomfort and this week I have been extra sensitive to those. Please pray for guidance from God and obedience from Leah.

-Please pray for our endurance. I am physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. It is one of those exhaustions that taking naps or sleeping in can’t fix- this renewal has to come from God. Please join us in praying for that renewal.

I know this was an unconventional blog, but I needed a place to drop some thoughts! Thank you for taking the time to check in on our family, and tonight I will be praying Numbers 6:24-26 over you.

Much love,

Leah

Activity vs Productivity

We spent the first official week of summer running some much needed errands, taking some much needed long naps, and soaking in the family time. Each day we played a family game together and watching the competitive spirit that seems to be innate in my boys is fascinating to me. They come by it honestly as Jake and I are both incredibly competitive, but interestingly enough Malachi seems to be pretty savage when it comes to games.

Levi is a phone thief and takes dozens of photos a day before I can snag it back. He took this one and it had a certain artistic flair to it.

Malachi and I headed to the hospital this week for a routine visit with his neurosurgeon. Malachi has had the same wheelchair for nearly 6 years and is about to outgrow it, but getting a new one is quite the tedious task. From start to finish it takes about 4 months to receive so we decided we needed to start the process now. In order to even get an appointment with the wheelchair company we have to have appointment notes saying that a medical professional suggests a new chair. His neurosurgeon clinic has an amazing setup for helping jump through the insurance hoops for equipment so we decided to go ahead and try through that specialist.

Malachi will need to do an MRI to check his shunt function in the next year, but for now everyone on his team feels confident that his shunt in functioning as it should. On that note, we are truly blessed in that area. Many shunts malfunction or fail within the first 3 years but Malachi has had his for 8 years now without any issues. Praise the Lord for the small blessings we are able to spot within this complicated life. Just in case we have new readers, Malachi had grade 4 brain bleeds at birth that blocked the ventricles from being able to release spinal fluid. The fluid goes in but cannot find its way out on its own. They placed a shunt (a machine under his scalp in the back of his head with a small tube that enters the ventricles) to move the spinal fluid from the ventricles and down into his body cavity. It is programmed with a magnet so they don’t have to go into the scalp again each time it needs to be adjusted. It is actually pretty impressive technology.

As I drove to the appointment I flashed back to a conversation in the NICU with this same neurosurgeon before we placed the shunt. For Malachi the shunt was necessary, but we discussed the pros and cons of one so I could feel like my decision was an educated one. I remember leaving that conversation feeling disappointed because he told me Malachi wouldn’t be able to play contact sports with a shunt. As odd as it sounds, this was one of my first losses of normal. I mourned over this, not having any idea of the severity of what our journey with disability would hold. As I flashed back to that I prayed to God and thanked Him for unveiling his plan for Malachi just a little at a time. It allowed my faith the build muscles before the true workouts began.

The boys spent some time with cousins and friends this week and even got to partake in a big water balloon fight. Little Levi definitely didn’t understand the process and kept tossing them onto the ground to watch them explode. Malachi threw sniper shots from the deck at his unsuspecting cousins, giggling each time he made contact with one of them.

Levi made some big steps this week at church and starting attending children’s church without mom and dad! Jake and I are splitting the youth group for Wednesday nights now (he is teaching the high schoolers and I am taking the middle school class) and being able to focus on the lessons without a three year old in the room is so refreshing.

Levi is talking so much more and listening to him is proving to be one of my favorite parts of the day. There is something so special about being able to have a conversation with your child. Malachi can definitely converse in his own way with his signs, but the creativity in Levi’s stories blesses my heart.

If you look hard enough at that picture you will note some interesting things. Yes, there are three puppies in that photo. We did some dog sitting this week for one of the puppies sisters. When you daily live in chaos, adding one more element to the mix doesn’t impact too much! Levi is also in that photo. The boys love to wrestle with Jake, and getting Malachi in a spot where he can safely participate is a fun challenge.

This week I talked with some of my coworkers at the church about the difference between activity and productivity. In a ministry setting I have an easier time distinguishing between the two. But in a motherhood setting that line gets a bit blurred. My days are JAM PACKED with activity, but at the end of each day I can’t spot a lot of productivity from the day. This is extremely hard for me. I am a mover and a doer. But in the role that I am in as caregiver and mother I am not able to be as productive as I would like. Some days simply keeping my kids alive and breathing is all I can accomplish. Other days, three loads of laundry is all I can knock out.

I have started to see that I have spent far too long placing my self worth in my productivity. Motherhood asks us to make so many sacrifices, and sacrificing my productivity is one of them.

Motherhood is a lot about activity. Sometimes it is about being present and helping littles ones be productive….helping them grow physically, grow mentally, and turn into beautiful souls.

And I am learning that the seasons of motherhood change more quickly than the earthly ones do.

But I have also realized something else this week. It is in this season of activity without much productivity that I am able to dwell more on God. I often get so wrapped up in my busyness that I am unable to mentally focus on my walk with the Lord.

In Psalm 46 we find a verse that is very simple yet profound: “He says ‘Be still, and know that I am God;’ “

I have always read this verse in the context of the verses around it, meaning that we need to trust that God will fight our battles for us (read Exodus 14 this week for a GREAT devotional thought along that line and ask God to speak to you through it). But when I apply it to my life right now I see God reminding me that it is in the still moments that I allow my eyes to search for Him.

When I put my self worth into productivity I deplete myself, leaving scraps of energy for time with the Lord. Sometimes we need those quiet, reflective moments to help us remember that our self worth in Christ is just as meaningful in the quietness of life.

It is in these moments that I remember that God doesn’t NEED me. I need Him. And while my productivity can most definitely impact the Kingdom of God in a mighty way, God can produce an even greater crop from a mustard seed that I don’t spend hours cultivating.

This week I am trusting that God is honored in my moments of activity, as my heart desires that even these moments bring great glory to His name.

And I am so, so thankful for His grace.

Please continue to pray over Malachi’s ability to rest. He is staying up until 3am each night and back at it around 8 each morning and his body and brain need more rest. Also please cover Levi in prayer as his Cincinnati surgery is less than 3 weeks away.

Much love,

Leah