Dear tiny baby growing in my belly,

Your mama is writing this to replace pregnancy journals and baby books. I won’t attempt to buy either because they will remain empty.

This doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It just means life is quite busy chasing after your nine big brothers and sisters. You’ll see!

Two weeks ago, your daddy and I got to see your sweet little fingers and toes at our ultrasound. I have something crazy to share with you:  It always makes me a little sad to share you with everyone else.

Up until that ultrasound, I was the only one who knew you, really knew you, except for God. Only I knew how nauseous and hormonal it feels to grow you from two tiny cells. Only I felt your little flutters and squirms. Only I knew how you kick like crazy when music plays loudly or my seat belt squishes you.

I have loved you ever since I had an inkling that you were growing inside me. Actually, I prayed for you months ago. You were not exactly planned as the rest of the world expects babies to be. However, your daddy and I were open to the possibility of you, and God willed you to exist at this exact time and place. God has a very special life in store for you.

Someday we will read scripture, go to mass, and pray the rosary together. I hope to share with you Luke 2:22-35, where the prophet Simeon holds baby Jesus, rejoicing that he recognizes the Messiah. He tells Mother Mary that a sword will pierce her own soul, too.

I have come to understand this scripture as it applies to my life. Now, in no way do I think my life compares to Jesus and the Holy Family’s, but all mommies know it’s just plain hard to live out our vocation. All mommies struggle, even our Blessed Mother. Sometimes this pain feels just like a sword piercing our soul.

My silly little suffering as I share ultrasound pictures with the world is just the beginning! I will blink my eyes and you will be walking away from me, not wanting to snuggle anymore. You will start kindergarten, and in a blur, college. Every moment I care for you will be spent preparing you to be independent of me!

So I share your ultrasound picture, knowing it is the first of many times I will have to share you with the world.

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For now, I am content to treasure every time you kick and squirm in my belly. I daydream about what your daddy and I will name you and if you are a boy or girl. Who will you look like? Who will you act like?

I am thankful the ultrasound deemed you “perfect,” although I would love you with purple hair and fourteen toes and whatever imperfections life may bring.

As overwhelming as my love seems for you, my love is not perfect. There will come a day that you will roll your eyes at me and I will be angry. We will both be hurt.

Always remember that only God’s love is perfect. In fact, God made me a mother to teach me about His perfect love. Nothing compares to how much God loves us both. I will spend the rest of my life trying to love you like God does.

Sweet, sweet little baby, your entire family—as big and loud and crazy as we are—cannot wait to hold you and meet you. And yes, I will share you with them, too!

Love forever and always,

Mommy

 

#SmallSuccess Thursday: My Brain is Scrambled Eggs

A friend sent me this a couple of weeks ago:

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So funny! What is my brain like then?

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I have so much to be thankful for this week!

1. In keeping with the scrambled eggs theme, I can’t get enough of them! Thank goodness all the eggs fit in just fine with Lent. I might starve without them.

2. I took a few pics of the kids getting ready for school. Speaking of eggs, my Drake cracks me up. He eats 3 fried eggs every morning, and he saves the yolks (his favorite) for last. What a goofball!

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I can’t leave out the rest of the kiddos! Kelsey (eating an egg sandwich) is truly thrilled I took her picture so early in the morning….

Erica wouldn’t even let me take her picture….Buh Bye!

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I’m about to eat an early lunch (scrambled eggs—big shocker!) and feed the little ones. We go through 8-9 dozen eggs a week around here, in case you wondered!

Count your blessings and read about other mom’s small successes over at CatholicMom! God bless.

Last Night, I Rocked Baby Jesus

For the life of me, I have no idea why my 17-month-old couldn’t sleep last night. Finally at 2:00 a.m., I brought him downstairs so my husband could get some sleep.

We rocked. I got him a cup of almond milk. We rocked some more. I turned on cartoons. I sang to him. I got him a snack, which he gobbled up. I gave him some water, and we rocked a million times more.

Was he still feeling sick? No, his ears and tummy seemed fine. Teething? Maybe. All I knew was he was fussy and just wouldn’t go back to sleep.

I started to half-ignore him, my patience wearing thin. I dutifully rocked him, sleepily browsing Facebook on my phone and trying not to snap. Nothing was helping him anyway!

Out of the blue, the Holy Spirit made me think of this scripture:

…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”  Matthew 25:35-36 NRSV

I began picturing Mother Mary rocking baby Jesus. Surely he was fussy or sick at times and she felt the same exhaustion!

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My entire attitude changed. Peacefully, I held my baby tight to my chest, snuggling cheek to cheek. I softly whispered prayers in his ear. I’m doing this for you, Jesus. I’m doing this for You. He settled down about an hour later, sound asleep in my arms.

At 5:00 a.m. my big kids woke up to start getting ready for school. The peaceful feeling that had washed over me remained. Miraculously, I packed six school lunches and got breakfast for everyone without biting their heads off. I was tired, but kind to everyone!

I think I have been a stay-at-home mom for so long (16 years!) that I forget that I serve Jesus every day. At this season of my life, I can’t start an orphanage or leave my responsibilities to care for the poor. Right here, right now, what I am doing for my family is how Jesus wants me to serve Him. Am I treating my family how I would treat Jesus?

Many of you reading this may not be in the midst of raising babies and toddlers. Maybe you are

  • tolerating a not-so-nice coworker.
  • primary caregiver for a sick parent.
  • in the middle of health problems yourself, fighting to stay optimistic and kind to others.
  • in a quarrel with your spouse, refusing to say you are sorry.
  • having a super hard time being kind to your rebellious teen.

Maybe my Holy Spirit moment will help you deal with whatever challenges you face today. Imagine the challenging situation or person is Jesus giving you the opportunity to serve Him. Jesus will not fail to pour plenty of grace, mercy, and peace upon you!

 

#Worth Revisiting Wednesday: 25 Years of Laughter

Today I am celebrating 25 years of laughter with my husband. Mike makes me laugh like no other person in the world—even if he is a cheater when we play tipsy Wii!

Please join me in linking up for #Worth Revisiting Wednesdays at Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You! This post was originally entitled “24 Years of Laughter” and was written January 24, 2014.

 

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On February 24, 1990, I was a freshman in high school sitting by my friends at lunch.  Mike sat down by me, slipped his hand on top of mine, and asked, “Will you go with me?”  Pretty sure I laughed when I said yes.

This was two days after his church’s youth dance.  Mike was nice enough to give his little sister DeAnna (my best friend) and me a ride to the dance.  He hoped Kelly would be there.  I hoped Adrian would be there.

As fate would have it, neither Kelly nor Adrian showed up.  Mike, in his acid washed jeans and mullet curls, decided to ask me, in my envelope waist jeans and sky-high perm, to dance.  He had the goofiest grin on his face, and his hand “accidentally” touched the skin on my back while we slow danced.  In his defense, I had on a cropped sweatshirt.  What did I do?  Laugh.

Laughter filled the car as his older brother drove us home.  Tony thought it was funny to slam on the brakes to the beat of him singing Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” while Mike and I sat in the back seat.  Mike put his hand on my knee, and all I could do was laugh.  Pretty sure De was laughing in the front seat.

When Mike tried to kiss me at my locker, I turned my head and nervously laughed.  My dad was a high school math teacher, for crying out loud!  No PDA in the halls for me!

Five years later, we were engaged and at a weekend marriage class that was required by the Church.  Several couples gathered in a circle, explaining why they were getting married.  Many gave long, complicated, deep explanations.  I had nothing profound to say except that Mike made me laugh.  Later in the day, Mike sneezed so hard he farted. Cut the cheese. Passed gas. Tooted.

No one else laughed but us!  We stifled our laughs until we had tears in our eyes.  Pretty sure the whole group thought we were headed for divorce.

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Our marriage has had its share of joyful and sorrowful times, but through it all I thank God for the laughter.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue was rejoicing….The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad indeed.  Psalm 126:2

 

Lent: Realistic Goals for a Mom of Many

As a convert to the Catholic faith, I have grown to love the liturgical seasons in the Church. I especially love Lent.

Is that weird?

I used to view Lent as such a downer. It’s all somber and serious, full of sacrificing and giving up chocolate. Gasp!

Truth is, I need the liturgical seasons. Without them, I would traipse along my busy life, getting crabbier and crabbier as I care for my husband and kids.  Barely pausing to open my heart up to the Lord. Rarely stopping to appreciate my blessings.

With baby #10 growing in my belly, I am busy. Flat out, nonstop, crazy busy all of the time. I think that’s why I enjoy blogging—I write out my thoughts, hit publish, and WOW! I have actually accomplished something. Something with a beginning and an end, which is so different than my real life. Laundry, messes, and hungry little tummies never stop.

To fit the season of life I am in, my 2015 Lenten plans must

  • be practical for my life right now (short, simple, yet life-changing)
  • be an actual sacrifice for the Lord (not in hopes of getting in shape or losing 5 lbs)
  • bring my family together
  • let God in so He can change my heart (He’s the only one who can!)

 

At a glance, my Lenten plans seem pretty short. I just can’t do elaborate or difficult right now! I would give up! Lent is a time of repentance that leads to the joy of rediscovering Jesus at Easter, not a time for feeling like a failure. That being said, here’s the plan:

1. Pray a decade of the rosary every evening with the kids.

It’s OK if one kid is at dance or Dad is coaching another kiddo’s basketball practice. Whoever is home, we will break out the ole rosaries and pray together.

It’s also OK if some of the kids don’t cooperate and rosaries turn into whips and nooses. You can’t tell me Jesus and Mary don’t giggle when this happens!

I know, I know. Many families do a nightly rosary already. We have started and restarted a hundred times. By the time 8:00 p.m. rolls around, I honestly just want to throw the kids in bed. However, bedtime is the perfect family prayer time because kids would rather do anything than go to bed. Even pray with their parents!

 

2. Spend time in prayer with Mike every evening.

I recently stumbled upon an awesome blog, Conceiving Hope. On it is a Virtual Marriage Retreat for Lent. This is the best idea ever!

Mike and I can do this. I know we can. A short video with questions to discuss is not hard. Imagine that, actual conversations that don’t revolve around bills or sick kids or managing our impossible schedule!

We may skip a day accidentally. We may fight the urge to veg on the couch watching Seinfeld reruns. We must keep refocusing our marriage on God. The stresses of a large family will crumble us if we don’t.

Besides, no one says we can’t watch TV after our Virtual Marriage Retreat! 😉

 

3. Pray without ceasing.

Over the years, this concept is becoming more natural to me. Being tired and pregnant with #10, I have reverted back to crabbiness and thinking I am right all the time. Prayer is the only way that Jesus will transform my selfishness into His mercy.

I’ve already started. Last night (and this morning) little ones were sick with a stomach virus. You all know how disgusting that is!

As I was scrubbing puke off the carpet, it struck me that the poorest of the poor don’t even have a floor to clean. If their baby gets a GI illness, they must wash the soiled clothing by hand. Many don’t have access to clean water, making their babies sicker as they try to rehydrate them.

My heart broke. I prayed with every nasty, yucky, stinky scrub, offering up my small suffering for all those parents who are powerless to save their sick babies. Please, Lord, have mercy on them. Please Lord, heal my babies. Please Lord, heal me.

 

That’s it, my Lent in a nutshell. These three areas of my life are where Jesus has been tugging at, gently nudging me to change. I can’t ignore Him any longer!

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

Have a blessed, soul-changing Lent! God bless each one of you!

 
See other Lenten blog posts at the #BISsisterhood Link-Up!