This is a pretty special week for our family as Malachi reaches double digits! He turns 10 years old on Saturday and he gets the giggles each time we talk about it.
Malachi is starting to look like a preteen and has hit such a growth spurt lately. We meet with the GI doc in a few weeks and I am so curious how he will feel about the very apparent changes we are seeing in both boys.
There are a lot of things Jake and I haven’t mastered as parents and birthdays are one of them. We have always tried to make the day special for the boys, letting them each choose what we do that day, but we have never hosted a party for either of them. There are lots of reasons for this but the biggest factor has always been the germs that swirl around this time of year. The amount of birthdays we have had to spend in the hospital has also definitely made parties hard to focus on.
But with this being a biggie we decided that this was the year that we would try to make one happen! Malachi has been planning out the entire event using his yes/no sign language and it is absolutely a Malachi style party. I can’t wait to share photos with you on the next post!
As I reflect on the last decade with this beautiful boy I can’t help but feel such pride. Malachi is truly amazing. He has endured so much in his life, and does so with a mischievous smile on his face. We are so incredibly blessed to get to witness the world through his eyes and do life with him. Watching God’s story unfold in his life has changed me in so many profound ways. I am going to be hit with all the feels this weekend as we celebrate so I will save those ramblings for the next blog.
And little Levi is changing every day. He looks older, acts older, and his vocabulary and sentence structure has changed since he started school. His imagination has ignited even more and just sitting back and watching him play is such a gift.
He has been dealing with some ear infections lately which has triggered his medical PTSD. This anxiety not only affects the visit to the doctor but also his behavior at home after. When he can’t control his medical issues he tries to control everything else around him. We are having a lot of nighttime issues with separation anxiety and he is waking up at least a dozen times each night to make sure I am in the room. Finding that balance of supporting him within his anxiety and not enabling it has been hard to navigate.
The boys have been on all sorts of adventures since the last post! I am going to rely on photos to help summarize some of the fun they’ve been having.
Every November through January Jake and I make a conscious effort to slow life down a bit and reset. When February comes we start what we call “6 weeks of chaos”. It is very much self-induced chaos so we are very cautious about complaining, but all of our ministries merge for a 6 week span each year.
Starting next week here is the Carroll schedule:
Sunday: church in the morning, teen Bible study at our house every other week. We cook for the teens, feeding about 35-40 of them, which usually takes up most of the afternoon and evening. This also means we take our house apart, moving furniture and setting up chairs for everyone. And the cleanup after is always immense, but I find myself able to do these chores with a smile on my face. Doing work for God makes even the dishes fun.
Monday: Jake runs soccer practice for the high school team after school until 5:00. Then our adult and teen indoor soccer league plays games at the church from 6-9. We created this league ten years ago as a way to raise money for the teens to go to youth camp and usually have 60-80 players come out. I referee all the games, which is sometimes a nice break from caregiving.
Tuesday: Jake runs soccer practice for the high school team after school until 5:00. Then Leah runs practices for the children’s indoor soccer league from 5:30-7:30. This is the second year we have offered this ministry and we have about 75 kids registered this year! I do a devotional with the kids in the middle of each practice and game and genuinely love the discipleship it offers. I have about 15 people who help with this league and I genuinely couldn’t do it without them.
Wednesday: teach church youth group from 6:30-8 then a small group Bible study at our home from 8:15-9:30.
Thursday: hang onto your hats…this one is the doozy. Jake runs soccer practice for the high school team after school until 5:00. Then Leah runs practices for the children’s indoor soccer league from 5:30-7:30. Then the adult league runs two games from 7:30-9:00.
Friday: Bible study at our house from 8-9:30
Saturday: Children’s indoor league plays their games from 9:30-12:45. We bring in Dunkin Donuts and concessions for the youth to sell to raise money for their camp and clean up after, so our day starts a little sooner than that and ends a little later! Then men’s Bible study at our house from 6:30-8:30.
After 6 weeks we drop all of the indoor soccer from the list above and I team up with Jake to help with the outdoor high school team. We have been coaching together since before Malachi was born and it is such a great way for us to form friendships with a demographic of kids that will never step foot in a church. Many of the teens we meet through soccer end up coming over for Bible studies!
The boys love to tag along on these adventures. Malachi loves listening to soccer games and Levi loves finding new friends to run around with.
So why bore you with the details of our busy season? I share all this as a testimony for the provisions of God. His provisions in our energy, our health, our contentedness in marriage and ministry together. God gives Jake and I a spirit of likemindedness, each of us being able to stay focused on the goal of the chaos. We genuinely feel like God is calling us to run each of these Bible studies and ministries. And we are simply following in obedience, trusting God to sustain our health and our family.
Whenever we go through weeks that require more of us than we are able to give I have to stay focused on God and His Word. These last few weeks I have been feeling the pressing need to abide in Him in preparation, and in that preparation I have been drawn so much to the Israelites in Exodus and specifically their shortfalls. I think I am drawn to them because they reflect so much of my heart when I am being challenged and stretched by God. It is the ugly, fleshy side of me.
I start to complain. I start to get angry with the others around me. Just like my Levi grasping for control when he feels unsure, I too do the same with God.
But this also a season of manna for our family. It is an opportunity for us to evaluate how much we truly trust Him.
In Exodus the Israelites start grumbling about the lack of food in the wilderness. God hears them and responds.
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” Exodus 16:11-12
That last sentence is so significant to me. God’s provision wasn’t the result of their complaining. It was a demonstration of His power and His love for His people.
Exodus 16:13-21 “So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone gather as much as he will eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of people each of you has in his tent.’” The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. When they measured it by the omer, the one who had gathered much did not have too much, and the one who had gathered little did not have too little; everyone gathered as much as he would eat. Moses said to them, “No one is to leave any of it until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, everyone as much as he would eat; but when the sun became hot, it would melt.”
There are so many profound lessons in this scripture. But I want to focus on my favorite one…
God calls them to take just enough to sustain them for THAT day. God wants us to trust that each morning there will be bread to fill our bellies and meat each evening to provide our energy for the tasks He calls us to.
And in their arrogance some attempted to take more, doubting that God’s promises would remain steadfast. How many times do we offend God in this way? We reserve some of our energy, our resources, our time instead of trusting God 100% to provide exactly what we need to carry us through.
Do we truly trust God?
Last year during our “6 weeks of chaos” God kept our family healthy and functioning at 100%. That alone was such a hug from him, knowing that we are exposing our family to the germs of hundreds of new people each week during cold and flu season. We are praying that this year God’s provisions continue…
But what if this year is different and we contract something that puts Malachi back in the ICU?
We choose to believe that even that holds a purpose. And maybe it is an opportunity for someone else to step into our ministry roles and can become a catalyst for God to work through.
Part of faith is believing that even the valley moments in our lives are ordained by Him. The devil would love nothing more than for our fear of the valley to hinder us from allowing God to uproot and guide us to new things.
In this challenging season for our family we are given the opportunity for a faith marathon. There will be lots of sore muscles, lots of temptation to compare months with each other, and lots of sacrificing. But in return we are given the chance to build faith endurance from trusting God. We are able to witness the manna each morning and the quail each night, knowing that those gifts from our Heavenly Father are just enough to carry us through another 24 hours.
I am officially starting to drift, so I think it is time to wrap up. Sometimes I feel like I am writing disjointed jargon on here, but I trust that God can pretty it up and speak through my imperfections!
Please be in prayer for Malachi, that his birthday party continues as planned. I have this (very rational) fear that something may come up and he won’t be in a good enough health to enjoy his party. Seeing him disappointed is one of my least favorite things in life- he feels with all the feels. And please pray that God continues to prepare our family for the thick we are about to enter.