Survival

That really sums up the past weeks. Like, I could stop right here. That’s all. 

Survival.

Amen.

At the risk of sounding like a chronic complaining mom of a hundred…let me describe the past few weeks in a few sentences.

Our pastor died. 

We attended his funeral, among the other thousand people. And this time, I’m not stretching the numbers.

We have been actively praying and working on where God wants us to worship/fellowship. What is next?

I have not been feeling well. Many days, nausea is a battle to fight. Ward off. There are days I lie down and become overwhelmed.

The twins and I contracted a head cold that settled in our sinus’. That along with seasonal allergies has kept me from sleeping really well for weeks…maybe months.

The next week, Enzo came down with a fever. (We are now speaking of last week.) I thought he had simply caved in to the cold we girls had, but after a day of hard fever, he broke out in a rash on his chest and little backside. In the days since then, it kept spreading, and it’s itchy. Then the other three, one by one, started with the fever. I didn’t take their temp, but it was not just a light fever. Bomani has rashes on his feet and hand now. 

Hand, foot & mouth disease. I have since heard that it’s around this area, as well as wider spread. 

Last night I’m guessing there were a good dozen times the kids were making noise or calling for dad. Maybe two dozen. I finally took Daisy to the living room to sleep with her there. I couldn’t sleep lying down anyway because of my sinus’. 

I’m exhausted. 

🙂

There. 🙂 It is. 

This is the life I have chosen. But in all honesty, I (gratefully) didn’t know the half of this side of motherhood!

And then, in the smack-dab middle of the survival, God came. 

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Last weekend I attended a women’s seminar in Grandbury. I had been planning on this for a while. But the closer it came, the more we got whacked. Sickness. More sickness. I was so tired, and Friday, the day of the first evening session, I was overcome with exhaustion and nausea. 

I almost didn’t go. 

But I knew, in my heart, the devil was fighting this. And I really, really didn’t want to let him win. But honestly, I was becoming very weak. 

Friday evening, even though I was low on food because eating was a real struggle that day, I went. 

And God met me. 

Over the weekend of seminar, He worked through the most extraordinary women I have ever met. Women who have been to hell and back. Women who have had “normal” lives. Women who, above all else, have been set free and are so overflowing with the love of the Father, that it poured out and filled my soul. 

My thirsty soul.

In my survival, I had avoided God. I had no energy. And maybe I was afraid of the multitude of tears that could be let loose.

Yeah. I cried a lot at the seminar. 

God did more than bring me back from my land of survival. He went way back. 

He healed things I have, honestly, been working on for ten years. 

For some reason, this was the time. The place. 

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Nailed it to the cross. 

And later, our “sisters” took red paint and covered the papers.

I am changed.

At the end of the seminar, which was as full of worship as teaching and ministering…

God finished my weekend by speaking truth through someone who doesn’t know me…

And He gave me my life’s work. My long-time dream. He has now called me to it. 

More tears. 

Oh yes. He also freed me to use the gift of discernment that I’ve been more or less hiding out of fear and uncertainty. 

No wonder.

No wonder the devil did everything possible to keep us ladies from coming together and giving…receiving…changing. 

Yesterday was Sunday. We went nowhere. We took care of kids with fever, relaxed, and rested. 

I walked out among the wildflowers. 

I asked God what His heart is for His children. (I am starting out to practice and learn listening to the voice of Father God.) 

He said it’s love. More love than I can ever begin to imagine. 

Ladies, God isn’t asking you to “have your quiet time”, to “be in close relationship with Him”…to “become a stronger Christian”.

God didn’t need to create us. 

He wanted to create us. 

Because He deeply, deeply longed for relationship with us. 

That’s it.

He longs for relationship with you. 

Love.

 

Mother’s Day Twenty Sixteen

Mother’s Day was a big deal at our house. We girls would carefully wrap gifts for mom, and make or buy cards. We would pose for pictures. On Mother’s Day, we thanked Mom. We celebrated and blessed her. 

Mother’s Day was just that…a fun day to celebrate.

Until we lost Mom. 

Honestly, I don’t know why. I can handle her birthday. I can make it through the anniversary of her death. But Mother’s Day, every year, just put me under. 

It became an awful time of the year. May…creeping up on us. I avoided the aisles of pink cards. I hated all the hubbub. I cringed at the sermons thanking all of our Mothers. Last year. I wanted to boycott the whole deal. Anything. Anything to keep that terrible grief from seeping into my soul. 

And then one of my friends knocked me upside the head. She wasn’t even talking to me. She posted on facebook, something that had been bothering her for years. I don’t remember the exact text. But what I remember was this.

Mother’s Day is set in place to honor and bless Mothers. But we have turned it into something to tiptoe around. Think of all the women who have lost children and babies. Think of all of us who have lost our Mothers. Be careful. It has become a time of grieving. In all this kindness, we are losing what Mother’s Day is for. To bless Mothers. She did not sidestep grief. She just in all honesty said–get a life. Then she spoke of her own mother. Her mother was adopted. Lost her mother. And lost half a dozen or more babies. But every year, at Mother’s Day time, she reaches out and blesses others…never even thinking of herself. 

I was brought to my knees. Because I know her mother. And it’s true. All of it. I yelled around for a bit, then I let it go. I made a decision. No more screaming at Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day, for me, is going to be a day to celebrate others. To bless the Mothers in my life, both the older Mothers who fill that spot for me, as well as my peers…who work and laugh and cry every day, up to their necks in motherhood. 

Really. It was just time. Time to get my eyes off myself and my pain. 

I decided that next year, I’m going to make a pile of lovely soaps, and give them to as many Mothers around me as I can. Well, being me, I have already given out most of my lovely soaps. 🙂 But that isn’t the point. 

The truth is…for me, this year, Mother’s Day is okay. I am completely at peace with it. I am so relieved, actually, to get my eyes off myself and my own heart. Look around. Bless others. It’s such a relief. 🙂 Wow. Seriously. It takes me years to catch on sometimes. Sigh.

Yesterday HEB had quite the hubbub. Gorgeous cakes. They were dipping strawberries in chocolate. Cuz hey, mothers and chocolate…yes! And the flowers…ahhh…the flowers! I wanted to just walk among them…soak them in…

So thanks, Charlotte. You’re a true friend. Hit me upside the head some more. It’s also called “iron sharpening iron” somewhere else.

Pick some flowers up there, Mom. When I come, I’m going to celebrate Mother’s Day with you again. 

For now, though…we’re okay. 

Happy Mother’s Day!! 

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Pastor Jerry

Always gentle. With a smile for you. What he loved to do more than anything else was to serve others. Serve Jesus.

We have been so blessed. 

Jerry treated us like his own kids. He came and mowed our field whenever it needed a good mowing. Our kids had a local Grandpa. He and Craig met Thursday mornings for prayer. 

We accept this. We look at heaven… We let the tears fall.

It was an honor to know Jerry.

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Prayer…again…

Just not sure sometimes how to do the next day. My stomach ulcer flared up a week or two ago, and hasn’t healed up since. I’ve noticed that when I am in anxiety, about a week later, my stomach crashes. And it takes some time to heal then. So it’s been hurting. And often what I want to eat is acidic…like strawberries and chocolate and apples and raw peppers. The nausea is better, but still ever on the fringes, sometimes crashing in. And then I went and came down with a sinus/ear cold. Some days I don’t do well at all. Other days I do well for several hours, then crash. Thank you for prayers…

Rachel

Real. He Cares.

Today, my heart is drawn to my chat with my friend, Leslie, yesterday after church. 

Leslie is a grandmother. She has a 16 year old (or is he 17?!) son, Ethan, with cerebral palsy. He is delightful. We love him so much! And her life is full. Full of things she had no idea she would be doing at this age. 

She is also raising her grandson. Her grandson comes from a very hard place. He has extreme behavioral difficulties, boundless energy, and a sweet heart. But her emotional energy is completely maxed out, trying to raise this little guy.

I am pregnant. My first trimesters are always difficult. They stretch endlessly before me, making me long to crawl into bed and never come out. Some nights I go to bed, no longer able to fight the veil of ickyness that is constantly in the perimeter of my life during these months.

Our Pastor is in his last days…possibly hours. We went to visit him on Friday. He locked eyes with Craig. That is our last interaction with him, this side of glory. Jerry has 11 children and 60 grandchildren. They are all here now. Surrounding him. Waiting. Loving. And watching as their hearts break before their eyes.

I want to tell you something today…something that is pouring out of my own heart right now.

You may have broken your little toe, and it doesn’t heal. You may have a strained relationship and have no idea how to mend it. You may have a lot of little kids running around your ankles all day long…and night. You may have just lost someone you love, with no warning. Gone. You may live in a country that is lonely, hard, and painful. You may be struggling with your church, and be in confusion. Your finances might not be reaching…again. God might feel very silent to you. Your friends may feel very silent to you. The man who is supposed to be marrying you may not have yet gotten the memo. Your child may just have left for college.

Or a thousand more things I never imagined. You might be walking through something really hard, right now.

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What God is pouring into my heart today is this…

Your difficult particular pain is legitimate. What you are facing, walking, falling on your face, sobbing in front of…

Is legitimate. It’s real.

I don’t care what it is.

It’s real.

Father God is looking at you. At it. He is reaching down to you–in that exact part of your life. With more care and love than I have ever been able to understand. 

Cuz really, there is no small or large pain. Our hearts stretch and squeeze and grow and fall apart…there is no size to pain.

 This idea that “I should shape up cuz look at them! Look at what they are going through! My pain is nothing…” That’s a lie. 

A lie.

I don’t find it in the Scriptures. 

All I find is God’s enormous heart for you and me. 

I find how he sees a bird fall to the ground. 

I find how he has the number of your hair.

I find how he keeps your tears in a bottle. 

May His love and incredible care fill your soul today.

<3

A Beautiful Morning

I am frying ground beef. This.Is.A.Miracle. 🙂 I also made granola and baked oatmeal, cooked potatoes to roast later. Yeah! 

Some days are good. Some are beyond awful. I really thought that since we had coop yesterday, it would be a good day. But I felt so tired and nauseated there, and when we came home, I crashed. Kids were on their own. I nearly had Bomani change Enzo’s poopy diaper. I was bad. In the evening, I came the closest that I ever have this pregnancy, to throwing up. I am not sure yet what makes one day good and one day so bad. Maybe it’s just…life. I hope to improve. Not let it overwhelm me. Craig prayed for me and the nausea really abated after that. Not sure what is what here…

Playing music this morning. 

And lifting my hands to my Father as I pile up rough stones once again…knowing He can make them holy. 

<3

To Canada!

Ah, the excitement mounting as we packed our bags for a double trip!

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And after a lovely week in Kansas (six days!), Enzo and I were off on a jet plane!

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After a certain amount of screaming, he fell asleep…yeah! 

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Meanwhile, in the United States, Craig was back in Texas. He took a break from his roofing…

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To go visit our Pastor in Arizona!

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He flew through New Mexico, where there seemed to be a boneyard for American Airlines…

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Arid. Green only where it is irrigated!

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Continued prayers for our Pastor as he fights cancer…

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It was beautiful there. We are now scheming for a get-away to Arizona sometime before baby arrives!

And the big three? They were having a fantastic time in Kansas with Grandpas!

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Back to Canada…

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With my cousin Katrina.

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We stayed at my Aunt Joy’s house. Enzo was quite at home there! 

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He even got over his fear of dogs. 🙂 

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This is my Grandma. Even though she did not outwardly acknowledge that she knew me, I like to think that inside, she did. 

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Enzo with my cousin, Eden!

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Grandpa!

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Grandma loved Enzo. I couldn’t even get her to look at the camera. 🙂 🙂 

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Aunt Joy and Cousin Tamera. Tamera wanted to keep Enzo, but I took him home with me…

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This is important! No sitting!

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Lovely Sunday evening get-together!

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And then we flew home. 

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Selfie! Just kidding. 🙂 

Flying with Enzo was actually pretty challenging. I bought an umbrella stroller for the trip home, then, which helped a lot! He was just pretty heavy carrying him in my baby carrier. And on the last flight to DFW, a drunk lady two seats ahead of me threw up, and had to be removed from the plane. Then we waited while a cleaner came to get rid of the mess. All in all, being pregnant, it was a bit of a…strain. 🙂 But we were fine! Can’t tell you how awesome it was to be home! The trip to KS and Canada were both lovely. So grateful to my husband for allowing me to go see my Grandparents and relatives!

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It took a couple days to unpack. I crashed after I got home! But now things are in place, clean, and we are happy. 🙂

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The weather has been a slice of heaven! This evening, there are possible tornadoes on the horizon. But we’ll trust the Lord and climb into the bathtub if need be!

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Pastor Jerry used to treat us like his own kids, and come mow our pasture. It is currently overgrown. But the wildflowers are lovely!

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We had Bomani’s birthday gift after we were all home. Unfortunately, we wrapped the wrong box, and when he opened it, it was a jack for the truck! 🙂 He was a great sport, and I found his gift waiting at the post office. 

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He loves cards!

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After the big trip and separation of family members…and we were all together again…we were enjoying Enzo, and Daisy asked, “Mom, can we keep him?” I said yes. 🙂

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Legos for his birthday!!

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We appreciate continued prayers for our Pastor. 

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May your week be blessed.

Kuepfer Kids

This title really…says it all. 

For starters, we are the Kuepfer Kids. We had a chat titled such, going on before, during, and after our time together. All six of us. Kuepfer Kids. 

And then…we have a lot of Kuepfer Kids. 

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Babywise, three boys…

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…and two, darling girls. 🙂 

Oh yes. Those are just the babies. There are also five big kids…

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As you can see, the babies were actually easier to photograph. 🙂 

Kids. We have ’em. 

We had fun! Beginning Thursday evening, we convened at Oasis Ranch and Retreat Center every day, with three meals a day and snacking in between. Cuz every mom there was nursing and one was nursing and pregnant, although she didn’t know that last bit yet. And because we’re Kuepfers, and Kuepfers eat a lot. 🙂

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Enzo and Ezekiel. They look a lot alike! 

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Real men do dishes. 🙂 

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Aww, they are all so darling!

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Twins…and twins. 🙂 

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Oh my. Melt me. 

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Roxy! You are so cute!

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The kids played outside a lot of the time. It was so perfect there! 

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Not John the Baptist. But sometimes he does do John-the-Baptist-like things. 🙂 

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Love.

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It was a challenge. 🙂 And hilarious! Gotta’ love the way Daisy is sitting so calmly with Ezekiel crying on her lap! 

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I am just melted. 🙂 

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He says we convinced him against having kids…but really…

🙂

It was a lovely reunion. 

And then…on to the next Kuepfer trip! To Canada!

Surprise

I was born in an era of the Mennonite culture when ladies who got pregnant, would hide the fact with their very lives…until they could no longer hide it. Then, when they wore their maternity dress to church for the first time…the secret was out! This maternity dress was very distinctive. No one could mistake the exciting fact that they were expecting a baby!

I sort of…missed out on that piece of culture. It’s just not me! And since we see no right or wrong in it, we did it our way. 🙂 Every time I got pregnant, I just wanted to go tell all my friends and family immediately! So exciting! And so we pretty much did. 🙂 Sometimes I would kid myself with the idea that next time, I am going to hide it until people start guessing at…five months. 🙂 Very funny. Not me!

Also, since we moved to Texas, into a new culture, and one where a good number of my friends are midwives, my “filter” has significantly changed. I try not to offend anyone with what I talk about, but pregnancy and such things are no longer a “hush hush” sort of topic in my life. 🙂 

All this to say, I was still taken aback, as I placed my three items on the checkout counter at Target. A pair of shoes. Socks. And a pregnancy test. The sweet lady behind the counter looked at my items, and said…

“Hoping for another one?”

I had Enzo with me. He is one year old. I swallowed. 

“Uh…I don’t know…I guess we’ll find out…!”  We chatted about our kids then, and how close together their ages are, and I left Target. 

That morning I had kissed Craig good-bye and he left for Texas. The next day, Enzo and I were flying to Canada for a week. We were not “planning” on a baby this year! No big, bad reason…just, not in the current plan. I had a baby! Enzo. And I was thoroughly enjoying having one baby instead of…three, like I had experienced before. 🙂 

But I had noticed the week before that when evening came, I was exhausted. Like, could-hardly-push-through exhausted. And then the hunger came. Ahhh…I could eat every couple hours, a lot. Something was up…

And then, there it was. Two lines. I let the excitement and shock and delight soak into my soul. I sent a picture of the test to Craig. We laughed together. Chuckled. Grinned. Happiness. A baby means happiness. I instantly had a strong feeling that God wants this baby. Now. 

The other emotions had time to gather and find their places in my heart. A deep grief for a friend who lost a baby earlier this year. Wondering how I would juggle a hundred and one kids. December? I never have babies in December. December is cold! December has virus’. And I know that hey–you’re married, and so you might get pregnant. Cause and effect. But I also know that God has His hand in our family. And I’m going to do this with delight…and joy…

Fast forward a couple weeks. I am not feeling well. Some days are awful. I sit around. Tell the kids to eat whatever they want. Curl up in bed and never want to come out. Other days are good. I go places. I refuse to allow the nausea to take over. I eat well. I drink water. I never know how the day will be. I have some control over how I feel, but not complete. I am pregnant. 🙂 

But I am happy. Happy to be giving Enzo a playmate. Just, honestly…some days I yell. “I can’t do this!” “No MORE babies!” “This is it!” I am absolutely looking forward to my next trimester…when things settle a bit. You don’t feel “over the top” every moment of every day anymore. The terrible hunger moderates. Nausea is gone. Yeah! 

So…prayers appreciated for the next month or so. I am at seven weeks. 

And there is our surprise. 🙂 A surprise for us and a surprise for you. 

May you be blessed this week with His love.

 

Slielnce

I can’t even spell that word correctly.

We are okay. 🙂

More hopefully tomorrow. 

🙂