Monthly Archives: November 2012

Letting Go… And Growing On…

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We lived in a small two-bedroom apartment.  And life was good.  Sometimes we didn’t know it, but it was really, really good.  Two baby girls, and each other.  A little home filled with things mostly handed down to us.

A little home filled with warmth.

I happened upon a table one day.  Scratch -‘n-dent on the Walmart sidewalk.  The little walnut-stained table and four matching chairs was so much nicer than what we’d had since our first year of marriage.  So I bought it on a whim and asked them to put a SOLD sign on it until I could come back with a truck.

It was so nice for our little family to sit around our ‘real’ table.

And the years passed.

Four years, maybe five.

Our family of 8 now squeezed around it, clear it was time to expand our arrangement.

So the husband began a building project.  And suddenly one night, without any ceremony, it was carried out.  Given to another cause.

And as I wiped it down and tucked in the chairs one last time… as I watched it being carried through the front door, my heart tightened.  And my vision turned to watery.

All those years.  So many memories.

The faithful, solid little thing earned more scars.  More scratches and dents.

From the cutting of Christmas cookies…

… to holding lego creations…


So many birthdays were celebrated here…


And moments like this…


And this…

Family and friends have gathered around this table too many times to count…

And as we get ready for another season…

I have to let go of what I can’t hold onto.

But sometimes you have to let go of something good and trust God for what’s around the corner.


Best Moment

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Melt My Heart

We had a semi-busy day planned.  For me and 6 kids – traveling to Vidor (45 minute drive) for a double birthday party.

For Jeff, continuing to work on our farmhouse table he is constructing out of Beech wood.  He took off work Friday and this morning so that he could finally begin to tackle this project.  (And thanks to our friend Chris, that just might happen before next weekend.)

I was at the {current, seating for 4} table, setting out breakfast bowls, and Jeff was just about to leave for Lowes to pick up some hardware.

Carson came bouncing into the kitchen.

“Daddy, you read Go Dog wid me?”  ( Go, Dog, Go- Dr. Suess)

Jeff: pausing “Sure, son.”  He puts down his keys.

Carson: {Kirk Cameron style} “YESSSS!!!!” Runs to the chaise lounge with his book.

He didn’t just rush through it.  He paused at all the right places, and used all the right voices, and asked Carson questions throughout the story.

I knew that no matter what else happened in the next 12 hours, that would be my favorite moment of the day.

And it was.

On a Cold Night in November

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I wonder if somewhere right now, there is a young woman who is thinking of a cold night in November… seven years ago… when she went into labor earlier than expected…

And birth came so quickly there wasn’t even time to leave the apartment…

When she bundled up the tiny girl baby… so tiny and thin… but eyes wide as a startled cat

When she probably had to call a driver to come get them, she and the small, wide-eyed baby…

Did she try to nurse the little babe at first?  In those new moments… Did she even know what to do?

Did she know, as they drove to the hospital, that she would choose to leave her baby… did she even know herself the illness they both carried…?

When they arrived at the hospital, did she worry that her baby was so small and frail?  And hours later, did it twist her heart to the brink of ruin when she left without her child?  Never to see her again.  Did she feel there was no other way?

Does she think of that night every year at this time?  Does she wonder?  

Does she know that it was six years before her baby girl had her first birthday party?

Or a single birthday gift?

Does she know that it was six years before anyone sang happy birthday or baked a cake for that baby girl?

Lena with her buddy Alik

Tonight does she even imagine that the tiny baby lives so far away… speaks fluent English… is just now learning to read?

How can she know that her daughter still rocks herself to sleep at night… because no one ever did?

Look at my necklace!

How can she know that her baby loves purple… and hot dogs and pizza and ice cream…. how can she know the tiny baby is now a tall, lanky girl who loves puzzles and would swing until the sun went down? 

Staying up late on her birthday

Does she wonder?  Does she carry a guilt so heavy it could bury her?  Do her arms ache for what she gave away?  Does she fear for the future?

How can she know there is One Who Sees All…. Who sees her?  How can she know there is One Who would hold her heart in His hands… One Who has already covered it all?

I wish I could talk to her tonight.  To help her lay her burdens down.  To let her see the beautiful life she gave… to help her know the abundant life that could be hers…

… this cold night in November.


What Do You {Want to} Know?

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Seven years of blogging.  I think it’s time for a little Q&A.

But first, let me tell you why I’m happy as a lark

Sunday is Jeff’s birthday, and Lena’s is coming up too, so we’re having a Double-Whammy Birthday Cook-out Saturday… I thought about renting a bounce house (‘space walk’, for those of you who grew up with me and real roller skate, not those inline things), and researched a few options in this area.  And then I realized if we were willing to spend $__ on a bounce house for one afternoon, we could spend nearly the same amount and get a trampoline that my kids would love for years.

And if I’m really honest, I really wanted a trampoline as well.  How else is a mother of six supposed to get a workout?

After all, it would give my kids a little something more to play with than the ONE swing (the other one is currently broken, and a bucket of rocks.

Ridin’ His Wagon to Town

So tonight after dinner, we took all the kids to Academy, and just started walking around.  They had no clue we why we were there.  They really enjoy that store anyway, because there are so many fun and exciting things- the guns, the toys, the bikes, the battery-operated cars…

But when we ended up standing in front of the boxed trampolines and they realized what we were doing, they could not contain their excitement.  I’m pretty happy about it, too.

Gather ‘Round

Surprising your kids is so fun, isn’t it?  Especially when they’re asking sweetly, “please, can we get a trampoline?  I really, really want a trampoline. Please with a cherry on top?” – when you’re planning all along to buy them one.  It’s why you’re there.

Hm.  There’s a spiritual lesson in that, I think.  But I’ll let it stew.  Time for Q&A.

However, we have to have some Q before there are any A.

Here’s where you come in.  You have to click the ‘reply’ link above this post, and leave me a comment.

So what questions do you have for a broken, messy mama of six kids?  A mama who used to be pretty crafty and DIY... a mama who’s been the only white face in a sea of beautiful Asian ones (and kind of forgot I was a minority)… a mama who crossed the ocean twice to bring home a brown-eyed boy and a hazel-eyed girl (who turns seven next week)…

What do you want to know?  Talk to me!

Meanwhile I’ll be assembling my new exercise equipment!


Winding Down a Long Hot Summer – Part 2

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I’m practicing my “who me?” look

Ah yes, we’re catching up with pictures.  Since Olivia was born in April, we’ve been busy with birthdays in June and September… and celebrating being home from Ukraine One Year… we’ve just enjoyed the lazy days whenever we can get one.


Growing up before my eyes…

There have been lots of smiles and giggling galore.

Sister Love

When God provided a way for us to purchase a Toyota Sequoia – a vehicle large enough to fit our family of 8 comfortably with no parents riding on the floor (not that we would do something illegal like that, right?) – we celebrated!  We took a walk from our front door to the seafood restaurant hardly a block from our house.  It was so fun to walk there (the kids thought that was wild – they weren’t around when we lived in China and walked everywhere), and fried seafood is something we enjoy just a few times a year.

No seafood for me yet!

We had a great time divvying up the food.  Actually, I had a great time eating the food.  And Christopher in particular loves fried fish!  He had it for the first time at my uncle’s house last Thanksgiving and he ate his weight in fried catfish… they’re already planning another fish fry for him this year.

I came to America to eat fried fish. I came, I saw, I conquered.

It’s not unusual for us to get some stares and comments while we’re out.  Most of the time it’s positive, and this time we were particularly blessed when a sweet woman came to our table and said they had been watching us and what a nice-looking family we have – how it was wonderful to see large families.  I don’t really think of us as a large family, but I appreciated her kind words.  We later found out that she and her husband had paid half our bill.  I was moved to tears.  And that night we prayed that God would thank them for us.  It’s a gesture I won’t forget.

Maybe it was this guy’s charm that brought on their good will.

Carson can nearly always be counted on to pull out the charm.

There’s another little one in our house who promises to be a charmer….

Sucking her fingers just like Lilly did.

… when she’s not Sleeping Beauty.  This was yesterday before getting ready for church.  Good thing we had an extra hour with setting back the clocks…

I didn’t even attempt to get us all standing still and facing forward.

I didn’t realize until yesterday afternoon that it was Orphan Sunday.  We had a baby dedication at church for Olivia, and also dedicated Christopher and Lena.  I nearly cried when our pastor gave them both a nice ESV Bible with their names imprinted.

What a way to wind down the summer… and if you think it’s odd that I’m talking about the end of summer when it’s November, just remember in the armpit of Texas, November means you can turn off the A/C on some days… and you can keep your flip flops out at least another month!

Be Blessed, ya’ll
(I don’t actually say that)



Winding Down a Long Hot Summer- Part 1

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Lilly’s Birthday Party

Time for a catch up… and since a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I’d go heavy on the pics here and make this post worth a gazillion words…

In mid September, we celebrated Lilly’s 5th Birthday, and just about a week later, celebrated my 30-something’th birthday.

I love this kid. Seriously.

On my birthday, some dear friends met up with us at Cracker Barrel… we enjoyed the front porch while waiting for our tables.  Between our two families, there are 12 children (with one more on the way for their family), so preparing for our crew is no small task.

Rockin’ Lena

Cracker Barrel is so much fun.  And seriously, who can resist a biscuit – or ten?


Playin’ Checkers is Serious Work


Just the Two of Us… in a sea of children…

This little bit is growing so quick.  She is positively plump.

Enjoying it all from the stroller

She looks just like THIS one’s baby pics…

Beautiful Girl

What an awesome family, who’s celebrated countless birthdays with the Hazletons…

Our Birthday Buddies – Such Kindred Spirits

A few weeks after my birthday, we helped welcome home our friend Cody, who had been deployed all year.  We were so glad to see him come home to his family!

Could She Be More American?

I’ll be back tomorrow with more picture-overload!  It’s been a long, hot summer… but a good one!

Lessons From a Foot Tub

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No, these beautiful feet are not mine.

The kids caught a few minutes of an old 19 Kids & Counting episode yesterday.  It was the one where some of the children and cousin Amy decide to surprise Grandma Duggar to an at-home Spa treatment, complete with a foot bath, massage, pedicure and facial.

Ever inspired, Maggie rallied the troops shortly thereafter, and the kids found a plastic tub for washing my feet.  It was decided they would treat poor, tired Mama to a relaxing foot bath and massage after dinner.

Who was I to argue?

That evening, I was on the couch nursing Olivia, when the fun began.  Jeff helped them pour warm water into the tub.  Lilly snagged the foaming hand soap from the bathroom and gave it a few squirts.  Lena ran to get the lotion for afterward.  Christopher got a towel for the drying.

They gathered around. The washing began.

And that wasn’t all that began.

Imagine, if you can, five children, packed around one little foot tub.  Each vying for space and a portion of Mama’s foot to rub.

I have small feet.

And only two of them.

Yes, it played out pretty much like you probably just imagined.

A few settled for sitting by me on the couch, rubbing my hands or shoulders.  Christopher sat on my left, and is an excellent hand massager.  I rested my head back on the couch and anticipated some relaxation.

But his constant chatter and questions never ceased.  And little by little, they forgot about blessing Mama as they each fought to have their own way, to get what they wanted, to have more of my praise.

“Does this feel good, Mama?”

“Am I doing a great job?”

I’m on this side.”

I’m rubbing this foot; you get on that side.”

It was almost impossible not to think about how we must look to God.  We start out wanting to bless Him.  Serve Him.  Make Him proud.  We end up pushing and shoving.  Vying for attention.  Wanting to know who’s the best.  Wanting Him to listen to our constant chatter.

But you know what?  I wasn’t frustrated at how things dissolved.  Despite the fussing and the childishness, I really was blessed.  I really did feel pampered and relaxed.

Maybe it wouldn’t take much pampering to make me feel pampered these days.

But I think it also has something to do with how I love my kids.

Even though they kind of botched it up.  Even though they were selfish and childish through much of the task.  Somewhere in there was still a desire to love on their Mama.

And my love covered a multitude of imperfections.

I think I must have learned that somewhere.