Just writing a few updates on our little family of seven, for my memory’s sake and for anyone else who might be interested! We are always surrounded by trials large and small, but I truly feel that by God’s grace we are in something of a precious ‘Golden Age’ with our houseful of children, and with opportunities every day to bear witness to the goodness of God.
Nels continues to serve at First Southern Baptist Church here in Hutchinson in various roles. He has recently loved ministering a few times in the prison system, sharing from God’s word and through song and being encouraged by the faith and sincerity of the inmates there. Hunting season is different when you’re a daddy of five and don’t have much time for being in the woods, but he enjoyed a sweet couple of days with friends and his brother in law in Western Kansas and brought home fresh meat. 🙂 The highlight of my day every day is having coffee and devotions with Nels, usually on our back deck as weather permits! He is such a wonderful, devoted husband and father and makes our life so sweet…especially bringing me that fresh cuppa most mornings! He keeps my heart inspired and encouraged sending me new worship music to listen to and praying the kids and I through our challenging days.
Kaya Abigail is making my heart ache daily, growing up too beautifully and too fast! I realized recently that she will turn 10 in a few months and I was desperate to go wake her up and cuddle her! She is in 4th grade, and loves reading and singing and being outside. She is strong and beautiful…every day a little more “young lady” and less little girl. The baby is particularly smitten with her and for good reason! I refer to her often as my “right hand girl” and she truly is. Kaya is a joyful presence and encouragement in our home, a diligent worker and an imaginative, bright spirit. Kaya is FUN…so, so much fun. She has contagious energy for life and the sweetest disposition. I am so thankful that she loves the Word of God and cares tenderly for people.
If Kaya is my right hand girl, Hudson Nathanael (almost 8) is certainly my right hand boy. He is turning into such a sweet little man! He takes pleasure and shows initiative in all the little “manly” chores around the house, taking out the trash and helping mommy with random things. He is his Daddy’s mini in so many ways – except that he easily triples Nels’ daily word count! He is a chatty kiddo who knows no stranger and loves people so naturally and easily. Hudson has been devoted in prayer for several of his friends and people who he knows need to know Jesus. He shows signs of maybe possessing a spiritual gift for evangelism. He is a diligent student (2nd grade), loves reading with me each afternoon, enjoys fishing and playing ball and being with people. Tall and blue-eyed and handsome, he melts my heart regularly with kindness.
Ezra Neal celebrated his 6th birthday and a few weeks later lost his very first tooth! It was only slightly loose, but his big brother is a savage about such things and yanked it out, to Ezra’s delight! These brothers!!! Ezra’s shock of white-blonde hair is so striking and sweet, and his strong little frame is so full of vim and vigor! He leaps and dives and barrels around, but loves to cuddle with his Mama too. He recently learned to write “Mom” and “I love you” and writes me a note with those words almost every day along with a picture of us holding hands (this might be why I feel like we’re in a special ‘Golden Age’ stage!). Ezra has a flair for the dramatic, often quoting from different movies he loves and easily storing up poetry and songs and scriptures in his sharp mind. He is in Kindergarten and spends a lot of his day playing with his little sister Aspen. They are moment-to-moment either best friends or acting like full-on opponents (they remind me of their mom and dad – ha!!!).
Aspen Raye (3) is huge amounts of joy and delight packed in a tiny little preschooler body! I feel like exploding with happiness just watching her skip around for the sheer pleasure of it. She tells lots of stories and demands that she be allowed to do almost everything her older siblings do. Being a big sister is the pinnacle of joy for Aspen in her life right now, and she literally shakes with crazy love for the baby and longing to squeeze him. In the last year she has really exploded out of her shell and is no longer the clingy, ultra-shy and reserved Mama’s girl that she once was – she connects a lot more with family and friends at church and shows signs of maybe being our wild child…but she still loves her lengthy afternoon naps. 🙂 She is crazy in all the best ways! Her antics make Nels and I laugh almost every day (often away from her seeing us! haha!!).
Titus Theodor is the quintessential cream baby. His rolls and all-over pudge bring so much hilarity and joy to our home. I am so thankful for his good health and mellow personality. Sometimes I look at him and can hardly believe that he was once inside my body, that I was puking so so much…he is completely unaffected by that! What a dream boat my little “Teddy” bear darling is! He’s a perfect squeeze, an easy smile, a drooling-teething mess! I adore his blue eyes and his 98th percentile chunky, soft bod. His life has brought a lot of healing to my heart after miscarrying our baby last year. Who will he be? We wonder…and we love who he IS right now. C.S. Lewis said “in each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets…”I have seen this played out with little Titus joining our home…him bringing out new things in his siblings, and each of them showing something about him in their relationships with him.
As a mother, I feel like a totally different person with our fifth baby, so much more relaxed and maybe in some ways able to soak it up more. I look at him and think that everyone should have “just one more” baby! How are our hearts able to just expand like this? God is so good.
I am daily delighted and exhausted (okay also demoralized sometimes!) by the demands of my life as wife, mother, and homeschooling teacher. God has given me a work that has so much variety that I am never bored, which suits my personality well. There is a really happy fullness with having five kids. It has been a season of stretching and growing, and I am so thankful for the grace of God as we make all the necessary adjustments. Over the last year I have faced some personal suffering through the intensity of morning sickness and fourth cranial nerve palsy (affecting my vision, balance, ability to drive, etc.) and various stresses and sometimes depression. In all that I have seen God prove himself so profoundly loving and faithful, over and over again, that in spite of the struggles I am fully grateful and also have the special joy of seeing my own growth as a person and having certain breakthroughs, spiritually and physically. For the first decade of my motherhood I think I struggled to keep an understanding of how this work mattered even though it felt so hidden, and now I have a hard-won, underlying “neutral” mode that is peaceful and just accepts it as true and I am able to operate out of that in a healthier, happier way, knowing God is glorified in our faithfulness even in the hidden places.
In the coming months we are all anticipating with great joy our family trip to Colorado, the wedding of a dear friend, my brother’s wedding, and more. Life is never without it’s challenges which we struggle with always, but I truly am thankful for this little ‘Golden Age’ and all the sweet details of our current life. We trust God that there are better things even (!) to come, as we walk with Him – ‘Further Up and Further In’!