Friends, Letters to My Kids

#MomForAWeek

Dear Little One,

This week I’ve experienced life as a single mom of four kids. It had only day 3 and I was like, wow, exhausted. The kids have been great and we’ve had lots of fun together. But I have a whole new level of respect for moms of any kind – let alone those doing it alone. (To be fair to myself, I did gain 4 kids overnight and I’m in a house that isn’t mine…but still. :)) Kudos to you, Mom-Heroes.
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Over the past 4 days, we’ve gone to friends’ houses, tried to ice skate, watched movies, had a scavenger hunt, made ice cream sundaes and pizza and cookies, practiced piano, enjoyed good conversations over dinner, had many bath times, snuggled, read books, visited the library, played board games, braided many pig tails, gone shopping, had a Tim Hortons date, went to piano lessons, hosted friends over, and done laundry and dishes.

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In addition to the fun I’ve had with the four L kids, I’ve gotten to see so many of the wonderful people I loved and left here in Albion. I thought it’d be fun to tell you who all I’ve managed to see in the 5 days I’ve been back in town.

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Sunday night: Randy, Sheryl, Ashlyn, Brendan, Madison, and Jillian
Monday morning at school: Katelyn, Lucy, Zoe, Sydney, Reuben, Corey, Nancy
Coffee with: Tom & Darryl
Lunch with: Tara, then saw Catherine, Jacob, and Sarah
Around town while taking kids to piano lessons and going for a walk: Lisa, Zach, Mike, Rick, Brooke, Marsha and Lucy, Margy, Wayne, Tara, Hanna, Sarah, Catherine, Hannah, Tod, Anna, Amelia, Henry, Charlotte
Evening visit with: Olivia
Tuesday (off school): ice skating with Tara, Catherine, Jacob, Ashlyn, Jillian, and Victor; Andrea, Zach, Jadon and Kasey; Lisa, Jody, Jaimie, Lucy, Adam
Wednesday at school: Peggy (aka Leggy!), Kristen and Abby, Corey, Kiera, Lisa,
Coffee with: Hannah
Visit with: Anna and Amelia
Survivor Night: Jon, Jack, Wayne, Grant and Jan
Morning School: Clara, Peggy, Greg
Girls night reunion! Catherine, Olivia, Marella, Savannah, Trinity, Jessy, Vivian, Tara, Jacob and Sarah.

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My body is so tired. My heart is so full.

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About Me, Confessions, Husband, Infertility, Letters to My Kids, Ministry

In Addition to You

Dear Child,

I’ve been searching for my place – my calling – for quite some time. For the past ten years (or perhaps the last 28), I’ve been wondering what I should do with my life. As you know, the dream held in my heart since childhood was to become a mother. Having children became my sole pursuit and (if I’m being completely honest) rose to a level of idolatry. To add to my sinful view of motherhood, I began to believe my goal of mothering would be the capstone of my life. My vision was fogged, prohibiting me from seeing God’s guiding hand. As your father and I entered into our fourth year of infertility, I finally began to wonder if the Lord had been allowing time and space for me to recognize an additional calling on my life.

(In lieu of misunderstanding, I would like you to know that my desire to be your mom will remain steadfast. Should God grant me the gift of children I will mother you with great joy. I hope my recent procedures have been successful and that you join us soon. However, I want you to see that motherhood may be a part of my tapestry, but God is weaving together an even bigger picture. I think I’m becoming more fully me because of my years of waiting for you, Child. I am already grateful for the role you’ve played in my self-realization.)

In this time of longing and waiting, I feel a little bit like the Israelites on their journey through the barren desert, wondering if God really has their Promised Land waiting. With Kevin’s completion of grad school and ordination and now settling into full time ministry, I started feeling an ache for more. “What about me? What now?”

A decade has passed since my days as a naïve freshman at Spring Arbor University. (How has it been that long?) I’ve spent hours talking with loved ones, professors, and pastors about what God might have for me. Kevin has endured countless conversations of speculation, resulting in no decision. After a late-summer discussion left me with no further clarity, I started getting frustrated with my husband feeling that he wasn’t supporting me in my pursuits. He explained that he has been waiting for me to say with gusto, “This is it! I’m going for it.” He knew my calling was between me and the Lord.

In the moments that followed my complaint, the Lord spoke to me, revealing the journey ahead of me. After taking the risk-free roads for so long, I am finally willing to plunge headlong into a Masters of Divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary.

I have always wanted to go to grad school, but didn’t want to dive in without a clear vision and purpose for the degree. While I’m completely aware of the fact that I will need to remain pliable to the Lord’s leading (even if it means diverting from my plan….), I believe this degree program will allow me to hone my passion and deepen my knowledge of Spiritual Formation. I intend to become an author and lecturer on this subject, helping many experience God’s transformation in their lives. Ordination in the Free Methodist Church may become a part of this journey, and I’m considering the longterm goal of a Doctor of Ministry degree. (*ahem* Ruth Haley Barton, if you’re reading this, I’d love to come work for you at Transforming Center.)

I’ve not a clear vision clue what I’ll be doing in 10 years, and that’s ok. We are stepping out in faith believing that God will provide the means and the dedication to complete this step along His path. My Child, if you join us during the next year or three, I will certainly have my work cut out for me. But God’s got this.

As of November 5th, I have officially been accepted for admittance in the MDiv program at Asbury with plans to enroll in the online program for the Spring 2015 semester. And get this! I learned that ATS is creating a Advanced Standing Program in which students with an undergrad degree in Philosophy/Religion (me!) can transfer up to 18 credits of their coursework into the 96 credit hours of the MDiv meaning (woah!) my Bachelor’s degree might finally pay off!

Always waiting for you
& stepping out to follow in faith,

Your mama

(PS – check out this blurb from my in-law’s Christmas letter in 2007! I had completely forgotten this notion of mine, and felt an amazing confirmation when I stumbled across the words written seven years ago.)

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Family, Husband, Letters to My Kids

Birthday Kitten

Dear Little One,

Last Monday, your Daddy celebrated his birthday. He turned 28. And we realized this is the 11th birthday we’ve celebrated together. How has time passed so quickly? 

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The day before his birthday – on his brother’s birthday – his whole family joined us for lunch out at Nick and Nino’s (coal fired pizza is totally amazing) and dessert. I made this Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake Cake and it was a big hit with everyone (a two layered chocolate cake from scratch, a cheesecake in between the layers, salted caramel frosting, and fudge ganache on top. Oh my, yes.) It was so nice to be together for the boys’ birthdays.

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Grandpa & Grandma Eccles (just a few days before they left for Florida!), Beth and Brian, Gordon and Linda, Grandma and Grandpa Arvidson, Kevin and Melanie

The next day I planned a scavenger hunt for Kevin. It turned out to be the perfect way to do our all-time favorite thing spend time together. Here are my silly clues.

1. To start out our venture, let’s not add an “S”
People in Michigan all seem to be obsessed
With clothing and movies and fish and the like
This place will surely have all your top favorite bites.

Answer: Meijer (I had already purchased a few of his favorite snacks and had them packed up in the trunk: specialty bottled ginger ale, tortilla jalapeno Combos, and Lindt dark chocolate truffles)

2. I’m pretty sure this beverage place means something in Spanish
My taste buds are hoping the roasting in man-ish
With “water” and “milk”
And sugar and cream
Surely we’ll find the right mug that will please.

Answer: Agua Dulce Cafe (A coffee shop downtown Monroe that we’d been wanting to try. Turns out I had the Spanish a little wrong, but he still got the hint.)

3. Let’s head to the place where the choices are unlimited
People drive from all over for snacks that should be prohibited
It’s not a long jaunt
Is your face looking gaunt?
All’s I know is the place’s quite smoky.

Answer: Beef Jerky Unlimited in Dundee (Another spot we’d talked about checking out for quite some time. Turns out they have amazing jerky and tons of great hot sauces. Kevin picked out Sweet and Spicy Jerky and Firehouse Jerky.)

4. By now in our journey we may be quite ravenous
I know of a place that’s cozy, not cavernous
Steak or soup
Potato or rye
This restaurant’s alone as a star in the sky.

Answer: Lone Star Steakhouse (What guy doesn’t love a steak dinner? We even had a $5 coupon that I found online earlier that day.)

5. There’s one place left, well, two if you’re specific
You will not believe your wife is this terrific
She wants you to have these cute little guys
To snuggle and play and annoy and surprise
You’ve never heard of the spot where we’re headed
So Melanie will drive and you’ll give her the credit.

Answer: Heritage Animal Hospital in Dundee (Kevin’s wanted a kitten for…oh…all the years we’ve been married. And every time we get a cat, I want an old, declawed, lazy thing. I finally figured a kitten would probably be a lot of fun, and just went for it. I found these cute black kittens on Pet Finder and after visiting with them, we opted to bring one home. We loved Heritage because they seemed clean and professional, and affordable – $85 includes all her shots and vacs, plus getting her fixed in February.)

 

MEET OCTAVIA. (We’ve taken to calling her “Tavie.” Your dad will have to explain why he chose the name Octavia.)

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Our little black fluff ball was 8 weeks and 4 days old last Monday, and we’ve absolutely loved every day with her since bringing her home Thursday. She is exactly what we needed right now – a little spark of joy. Tavie has reminded us to take pleasure in the good things God has filled our lives with, to laugh at the silly things, shrug off the mistakes, and shower love. 

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We’re looking forward to the spark of joy YOU will bring to our lives. We’re ready for you, Child. And we’re pretty sure you’ll love Tavie as much as we do. (Don’t worry, Willow kitty, we still love you, too. And you’ll love Tavie in a week or too once you figure out she’s really not that bad.)

 

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Confessions, Infertility, Letters to My Kids

Truth is,

Child of Mine, my heart is on a roller coaster every time I go on Facebook. The truth is, I’m probably on Facebook far more than I should be. The truth is, even though I know I’m going to see 90% of my newsfeed overflowing with beautiful babies and ultrasounds and birthday parties, I can’t seem to look away.

Perhaps it’s because I want to share in the joy of my friends. I am truly thrilled for the new life that is springing up so frequently in the stage my friends are in. You can’t deny these child-bearing-years. I haven’t struggled with hearing pregnancy reveals or baby shower invitations or receiving those adorable factoid cards in the mail after the birth. It can only be credited to God’s grace that my heart hasn’t become entangled in these moments.

But my voluntary exposure to the baby craze is perhaps a little too risky. I am in a very vulnerable place right now, hoping beyond hope that this surgery is the solution to our barrenness. Praying that our years of waiting will soon be over.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone tell me, “Oh! as soon as so-and-so adopted they got pregnant!!” I would seriously have a few hundred bucks. I’ve heard all these accolades and more: “It’s all in God’s time.” “You’re going to be a wonderful mother.” “I just  know you’re going to have children of your own someday.” “Now that you’ve moved in that big home and settled into life, it’s got to be the right time.” “Just relax and it’ll happen.” “I got pregnant right away after we did such-and-such.”

And typically I can stop the emotional upheaval in time to recognize the sincere concern each of these people is trying to show by their words. I feel the love, I really do. But the words? They’re just empty. There’s nothing I can say, nothing my husband can say, nothing our families or friends can say that will make this better. 

The only fullness left is Jesus.

He’s not my magic wand or the whisperer of answers. But He is my peace, my burden-bearer, my ever present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1).

The truth is, I’m not all that shaken up right now. I’m not angry or inconsolable. I’m just over itI’m tired of the jealousy I battle every time I see another one of my dear friends’ beautiful children. I’m tired of the hopelessness I’ve sunken into over the past 52 months. I’m tired of being poked and prodded. I’m tired of answering the same questions. I’m tired of updating the people who want to know the latest scoop. I’m tired of my loss of privacy, albeit voluntary. I’m tired of it all. 

More and more frequently women I meet ask right away if I have children. And perhaps my response is too much, too fast, but I’ve become accustomed to honestly sharing our infertility. Just get it all out on the table. More often than not, these ladies share their own journey with endometriosis or trouble conceiving. Child, this is a rampant problem that’s kept a secret by so many. It’s so private, so painful. But in sharing my own story, others are released to share theirs and we both leave encouraged. It’s just good to look someone in the eye and know they get itThe interesting pattern I’m discovering is how removed these women have become from their days of infertility. And I wonder what I will be like if and when we have our own children. How quickly will I move on from this pain, this thing that’s become my identityI don’t want to leave these stage unchanged. I don’t want to forget what it was like.

Barrenness is a scary, dry, lonely place to live. And it has left me with only Jesus

And I don’t ever want to forget.

Mama

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