an answer to a prayer

I’ve been wondering what to do with my life.  Life is very different from what it used to be.  Things aren’t completely settled in the new house yet, but they’re getting more so all the time, and I can see the end in sight.  Or at least, I can see things getting to the point where they’re as good as they’re going to get.

So, what now?  What do I do?  Both kids are in school, albeit Jujubee is just mornings, but what do I do now?  I can tell I’m starting to get restless and bored being at home.  I’m not doing the things around the house that I could be doing, as I don’t have any real impetus or reason to do them, outside of them needing to be done at some point.

And, I’m not pregnant.  Sigh.  That would help shape my future path, wouldn’t it?

In thinking about this, I came up with four options.  I could…

  1. Do something with teaching Music Together, either by working for another center or starting my own franchise.  This is probably what I’m most equipped to do.
  2. Finish off my doula training, either birth or post-partum (or both!) and start my own business.
  3. Do something more advanced with music, like go back to school for a choral music degree or a choral composition degree.  I don’t even know if there are opportunities for that around here, but it would be something to investigate.
  4. Get involved somehow in women’s ministry in our church body.  I don’t know if this is even close to being an option, but it’s something in which I have developed an interest.  I think this is an option that if the Lord wants me to do it, he’s going to to have to clear a path for me where none currently exists.

What now?  What do I do?

My devotional life is not always what it should be, but the other night, I was able to spend a good half an hour reading my Lutheran Study Bible (John 6-7) and praying.  One of my prayers was that God would give me guidance as to what to do next with my life.

Wouldn’t you know it – tonight I got the beginnings of an answer!

The nearest Music Together franchise director called me this evening to offer me a job!  It’s not a huge job, just teaching on Saturday morning, but it’s a start.

And then, God chuckled.

Because no sooner had I gotten off the phone with that center director — when I opened an email only to find that the center director of a different MT franchise wanted to talk to me!  She wants me to teach for her, too!  Now, these two center directors know each other; the one gave the other my email.  And they know that they’re both offering me positions, and it’s very possible I could work for both of them simultaneously.  But, after talking to this second center director, I can see some real possibilities for long-term plans, and that’s exciting!  We had such a good conversation together that we’re going to try to get together next week sometime to talk in person.

We’ll see how all of this plays out, but I’m glad to feel like I’m starting to be able to make some plans.  I’m thankful that God is starting to show me a direction for my future path.  🙂

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love, laughter, and joy

Despite being still SO tired (I was up with Jujubee from 2-4 a.m. last night), I was reminded today of how I wouldn’t give my little girl up for anything.  If having her means I have to deal with less-than-ideal amounts of sleep for a while, I’ll take it.

Because I do love my girl.  I love that girl so much.

She has a lot of my personality and spunkiness, with a good dose of my husband’s sense of humor thrown in.  She is funny – and she knows it.  She routinely cracks the rest of us up at the dinner table.  Her laugh is infectious, and her ability to substitute words in for other words in songs (something she learned from Music Together) is limitless.

In a recent Kids Sing class, we sang “If You’re Happy and You Know It…” with each child naming something they do when they’re happy, and then we all sang about it.  When it was Jujubee’s turn, she thought for a moment and then said, “Do a somersault!”  In 7 years of teaching Kids Sing classes, that was the first time I’ve had a student come up with that substitution!  And her fellow students loved it!

Tonight at supper, she started singing “C is for Cookie” (which we haven’t sung in months – how did she remember that?) except she changed it to “P is for Pepper.”  Pepper is the name of our cat.  She did it in such a cute way, and then, with a twinkle in her eye, she confused something about the song on purpose.  JJ and I couldn’t help but laugh at her; as she laughed back at us in triumph.

A few nights ago, JJ got the girls singing the song “Feelin’ So Fly Like a Cheesehead,” and it didn’t take long for Jujubee to start substituting other things, such as “feelin’ so fly like a plate,” or “feeling so fly like an apple,” or whatever else her eyes fell upon.  Some of them turned out pretty funny, too.

And when she soberly announces to me or my husband, “I have a problem!” (or as she pronounces it, “I have a pwobum!”) it’s often hard to take her just as seriously as she is taking herself.

She has always been, and continues to be, a good sport about being sick, although she doesn’t like being sick.  Hopefully this time we’re going to get rid of the crud in her lungs for good.  More on that tomorrow.

She also is very able to entertain herself for long stretches of time.  She’s starting to move into the realm of imaginary play, and now rather than just paging through books or playing in other ways, I hear her making up stories with dolls/Barbies/whatever is close at hand.  It’s pretty neat.

We stopped at Trader Joe’s today, and she was happy to get a child-sized cart to push around the store.  She did a great job with it, and as we checked out and her cart was unloaded, she walked on her own about 30 feet away to put her cart back all by herself.  I could and did watch her the whole way, as did the lady behind me in line.  She remarked positively on Jujubee’s behavior, and I confess to experiencing a bit of Mommy Pride in my little girl.

It’s too bad that Jujubee has recurrent health issues like she does, but her cheerfulness, helpfulness and general happiness haven’t been dampened by the experience.  She continues to be a huge blessing to each member of this family, spreading love, laughter and joy wherever she goes.

I’m so thankful for my little girl.

a true, unexaggerated story

After our nightly prayers, our family has now gotten into the routine of creating our own prayers.  We do a simple format that the girls can follow: We choose something to say “thank you” for, or we ask for something.  Both girls, but especially Jujubee, have caught onto how this works.

Tonight I put Jujubee to bed a little earlier on her own, so it was just the two of us.  I laid myself down next to her on her bed to say prayers.  After saying and singing our usual prayers, Jujubee piped right up without my prompting and said, “I’m going to pray tonight that Momma has a baby in her belly.”  After she said her prayer, I took my turn; I thanked God for Jujubee and asked him to help me be a good mother to her.

After Jujubee and I said Amen, J said to me, “That was a good prayer.”

After a pause, I said, “I have no baby in my belly.”

Without missing a beat, Jujubee leaned over on one elbow, looked at me and said, “But you have me.”

I started to tear up a bit and replied, “Yes, I have you.”

Jujubee leaned down and hugged me and said, “I like you.”

That prompted my tears to actually fall as I responded, “I like you, too.”

Jujubee noticed my tears and hopped off of the bed, saying, “I’ll get you a kleenex.”  She got the box of kleenex and brought it to me.  I took a tissue and wiped my eyes.

Jujubee looked at me and said, “Next time you’ll have a baby in your belly.”

All I could say was, “I hope so.”

Jujubee watched me for a moment and then said, “But you have me!”

I said, “I’m so thankful for you, baby,” and gave her a big hug.

After a few moments more, I got up off the bed and told her, “I’ll be right back to say good night one more time.  I have to run downstairs for a bit.”  I went downstairs to get Lyd’s clean pajamas out of the dryer.  I stayed down for a few minutes, telling my husband what our daughter had just told me, and I cried a bit again.

When I got back upstairs, Jujubee was already asleep.

I kissed her forehead, whispered, “I love you,” stroked her soft hand, and closed the door.

beautiful

I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying watching my Jujubee grow up.  She is growing up so beautifully, inside and out, that I can hardly lament the fact that she’s not my baby anymore; I wouldn’t want her to stay a baby, not when she’s turning into such a lovely young lady.

This past week, she found herself in three unusual situations, and in each of them she just shone.  She is an amazing little girl, and I am so incredibly proud of her.

I am amazed at how she handles new situations and new people and unfamiliar places with ease and calmness.  Changes in plans really don’t throw her, and she enthusiasticly meets whatever new situations come her way.  She’s patient and kind with friends older then her, younger than her, and her own age.  She’s even very forgiving of her sister, and those two girls remain best friends.

And she is unbelievably cheerful all of the time.  Seriously, it’s … unbelievable.  She is truly a Joy to have around the house.

I’m truly not trying to brag.  It’s just that somedays I truly can’t believe that this amazing little girl is ours.  I don’t know what our family did to deserve a little girl like this.

In a recent music class, she behaved as if she were a poster child for Music Together.  She participated, sang along, followed my instructions to the group, and heeded my whispered answers to her whispered questions.  And during the lullaby, she almost embarrased me with her good behavior: During the lullaby at the end of class, she always comes and lays down by me, and I rub her back, sometimes her whole body, as I sing.  One little girl in class, who is about two years old, happens to be absolutely fascinated by Jujubee.  So, as J was lying on the floor by me during the lullaby and I was rubbing her back, this other little girl came over and started rubbing J’s head and fingering her long hair.  Jujubee didn’t realize at first what was going on, but eventually she figured it out that Someone Else was touching her.  She looked up at me quizzically, and I whispered to her something along the lines of “be patient” or “it’s okay,” and wouldn’t you know it, Jujubee stayed calm and still.  The other parents in the circle just couldn’t believe that Jujubee was tolerating this overt attention so well, and frankly, I couldn’t believe it either!  What a girl!  After class, I told her a number of times what a big girl she was and how proud I was of her.

She has an amazing memory, and she has a long memory for what people say and certain things that have happened.  She also has a wonderful ability to entertain herself.  She can amuse herself on her own for long stretches of time, over an hour.  She sings to herself, plays with blocks/dolls/rides her tricycle (she finally figured out how to pedal a bike!)/looks at books, and is perfectly happy on her own.  Yet, she loves to play with other kids, and when the opportunity came up today for her to have a friend her age over for a playdate, the two girls played well together for two hours straight.

And, oh my, is Jujubee pretty.  She is so lovely!  Just like her big sister does, she too gets prettier and prettier the older she gets.

She’s beautiful on the outside and beautiful on the inside.  Our family is so incredibly blessed.

appreciating my blessings

A dear friend recently told me, “Emily, you really appreciate your kids.”

I thought at bit about that, and all I could think was to say — yes.  Of course I do, and I can’t imagine feeling any differently.  I have been blessed with wonderful children, and never a day goes by where I forget that, indeed, they ARE blessings from God.  I can honestly say that I thank God every day for my children, and I usually thank him multiple times a day.

My first child was a wonderful “accident,” and my second child, well, I went through a lot to get that little girl.  So, I very much appreciate both of my children.  Rarely does a day go by when I don’t think about what an amazing blessing these girls are to my life.  They are cheerful, bubbly, funny, heartwarming, beautiful, good-hearted, innocent and kind (most of the time!  They’re still human.)  But overall they’re really good kids.  Every parent is conscious when others compliment their kids, and obviously it’s not polite to compare the compliments my girls get with other parents, but I feel like I get quite a lot of compliments on my girls’ behavior and demeanor, both from people we know and from strangers we meet.

I adore my girls.  They mean so incredibly much to me, and I’m so, so grateful to have them.  In fact, as the struggle to become pregnant continues for me, I appreciate more and more what miracles those girls are for our family.  It’s rather a miracle that I had two babies at all!

I continue to pray that I have another baby.  As a year of unsuccessful trying turns into the second year, I am struggling with feelings of brokenness and hopelessness.  But, those feelings are made easier to manage by the fact that I DO have two beautiful girls, girls to whom I want to be a good example.  If two girls is all God chooses to give me, then I want to be the best mother I can be to those girls.  Furthermore, it’s likely that my girls will get married and try to have babies someday, too, and if they end up struggling to get pregnant as I have, then I want to be a good, godly example for them of how to deal with that struggle.  It’s not easy (Oh, it is NOT easy!), but it seems to be the cross I have been given to bear.  So, bear it I must, and I pray God will help me.

Meanwhile, I have two darling little ladies whose minds and bodies are growing every day, who are deeply attached to me, and who daily look to me to be involved in their lives and to love them unconditionally.  So, I’ll do my best to focus on what I have, and I’ll do my best to be at peace with whatever the future holds for me as far as more babies go.

Thank you, God, for these two precious girls.  I really appreciate them, Lord.

thankful

Since it’s Thanksgiving Day, here are five things for which I’m thankful (in the tradition of “5 Kernels of Corn”):

  1. new heater and a new roof – The church spent a big bunch of money to put these in/on the parsonage last year, and over the past week we have been SO thankful for them!
  2. hubby’s paycheck – I am so grateful for his regularly-arriving paycheck, and for the generous hearts of the members of our church.  I know not every pastor’s family is so blessed, and I pray for those pastors who are financially struggling in their congregations.
  3. minivan – We bought our Honda Odyssey when Jujubee was a newborn, and it is a wonderful, reliable car.  Now that we’ve been down to one vehicle for most of 2010, it’s been getting plenty of use, and it’s never let us down.
  4. daughters – Every day, I marvel at the miracles that my two daughters are.  My struggles with trying to get pregnant have made me even more aware of what a blessing my children truly are.
  5. hubby – My husband has taught me so many lessons, and most of them were lessons I didn’t realize I needed to learn.  He is truly God’s gift to me, and I am grateful to God for joining us together in marriage.

Most importantly, I am thankful to God for giving me all of these earthly blessings, and most of all for giving me the sure promise of future eternal blessings in heaven.

I am thankful.

feeling better

A few weeks ago, I was experiencing a number of health woes.  Thankfully, I’m feeling a lot better now.

My bladder seems mostly healed.  I took antibiotics for 3 days, and then drank a lot of aloe juice/cranberry juice to finish the healing process.  I’ve now added a little homeopathy to finish off the healing, and I still feel the need to drink a glass of cranberry juice every day or so, but for the most part it’s much better.  I’ve even nibbled judiciously on a few sweets, and I haven’t noticed any big problems afterwards.  This is good, especially since the holidays are coming. 🙂  But I definitely need to keep drinking enough water!

After my miscarriage, I experienced a lot of tiredness and light-headedness.  When I told my acupuncturist, he started me on new herbs to build Qi and Blood.  Those herbs have been amazing — my light-headedness was gone in three days, and I now have more energy than I’ve had in a long time.  With all the extra work that comes with the holidays, it’s a good time of year to have more energy, and I’m thankful for that.

I’ve also been getting more sleep as well as more uninterrupted sleep, and that has been wonderful.  Up until recently, I hardly ever slept through the night, with many different factors causing me to wake up.  I’ve found some solutions to reduce/remove those factors, and it has really helped.  For the first weeks of my uninterrupted sleep, my dreams were vivid and wild and very much reflective of what was immediately happening in my life.  All of that crazy dreaming was probably a sign of how bad my sleep had been!  Now my dreams are calmer, less vivid (I hardly remember them now) and have taken on more obscure themes and topics.  I think that’s a good sign.

The only problem that I still have with my sleep is that I have some trouble falling asleep.  Thankfully, I’ve been off Valerian for a few months now, and when I need help falling asleep, I now rely on a gentle homeopathic bedtime spray.  It’s not physically addictive, but I feel that I’m a little mentally dependent on it.  However, if I stay up too late and get my second wind (which I often still do), it’s really, really hard to fall asleep.  The spray helps me calm down MUCH more rapidly than I would otherwise, and I know that right now, sleep is really important for me, so I opt for sleep.  I was very pleased that last week when I went to bed earlier before getting my second wind, I was able to fall asleep without the spray.  That was good for my psyche; I now know I’m not totally dependent on that spray to get to sleep.  It’s that second wind that keeps me awake!

I have been taking some vigorous walks 2 or 3 mornings a week with a friend.  Most mornings I break a solid sweat – just the fact that I have the energy to walk fast enough to break a sweat is amazing!  All of the hills that we walk up and down certainly help!  I always dread going out in the cold morning, but luckily we chatter away together (she talks as fast as I do!) and I’m always grateful to have done it once I get home.  I would never go walking like this on my own, so I’m very grateful that she comes with me; the fact that she shows up at my front door at 8:30 a.m. ready to walk is what makes me get up and go.

With the holidays coming, I have a lot to do, but I still want to continue getting good sleep.  I’m not sure how I’ll manage that yet, as my pattern is to stay up late the night before something big is happening and wear myself out getting everything done.  I don’t want to do that this year, but we’ll see.  Old patterns don’t change overnight, but my goal is to moderate the “staying up late before a big event” so that it’s not QUITE so late.

Plus, if I am ever to have any hope of getting pregnant, I’ve got to keep getting good sleep.  That’s a big (perhaps the biggest) motivator to get to bed, too.