Wednesday, 30 May 2012

It's not science, it's motherhood

I'll admit I stole that tag line from a magazine cover I saw in the OB office today.  I will also admit I did not read the article, so this is in no way commenting on whatever position that author took.  But just the idea gave me pause for thought today.

It is so true.  Motherhood has been turned into a science, a psychology study, and a business over the years.  We've moved from just trying to share our wisdom, experience and ideas with each other to competing and judging and exerting authority over each other.

Whenever I encounter something unsettling or worrying about mothering, I repeat this to myself:

Women have been doing this for thousands of years.  Billions of mothers have done it before.  And I can do it now.

Mothers raised children without a bookshelf of parenting books.  They taught their children values and principles without expert-published programs.  Many influential men and women were raised in humble homes by mothers not revered by anyone else.  Good has been done quietly throughout all the generations of the past without every thought and action of a mother being dissected.

It's not science, it's motherhood.  More than anything else, it's instinctual.  There is an inherent characteristic we women possess that allows us to navigate the waters of mothering our own children in exactly the way they need.  While I do believe in learning new things and mothering with a purpose, it is most important to remember that we are naturally equipped with everything we need to be wonderful mothers.

So let's get back to the idea of the primitive community, where we share what we know with other mothers because of a genuine love of our calling, not because we have read the most books or have determined the "right" way to raise kids.  Let's join together to share in our trials and our triumphs.  Let's hook arms and carry each other forward, one step at a time.  Isn't that the most beautiful image of motherhood?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

3 days to full term!

The end is in sight!  It really, really in sight!  I delivered two of my babies at 38 weeks, which means only a week and a half to go.  Baby clothes washed, hospital bag packed...let's get this show on the road.

And that thought stopped me the other day.  I really want to deliver this baby rather than opt for a c-section.  Primarily this decision will be affected by the actual day I go into labour and where in my "up and down" cycle I am.  I seem to now be on about a 10 day cycle, with 3 good days and 3 bad days within that time period, and the rest a gradual ascent or descent.  If it's a bad day, then there would be too much likelihood of me fainting from the nausea, pain and exertion.  If it's a good day, then I'm hoping the adrenaline will kick in to see me through.

But I realized part of my problem also is the lack of physical activity I'm able to engage in.  The nausea and dizziness and pain means I spend most of my time either in bed, or sitting stationary.  It's been 8 months since I've had any semblance of physical activity.  I get winded just from going up or down the stairs.  So I've decided to try and go for a short walk every day in an attempt to improve my fitness level.  I'm hoping that even just this little bit of effort will help in getting me through the intense physical requirement of labour.

It's funny how laid-back I feel about bringing this new baby home.  We don't have a specific bed/cradle/co-sleeper for the baby yet...I'm still waiting on a couple of leads for a co-sleeper, otherwise I need to get the cradle from my sister.  But if the baby came tonight, well, when I got home then I would just put the baby in bed with me.  (James is already graciously sleeping in a spare bed so I can shift more easily in our double.)  I mean, really - what does a newborn need other than to nurse and sleep and be cuddled?  I could do everything he or she needs with no special baby supplies at all.

A week and a half isn't so long at all.  And my hope is that I might come early next week, just before 38 weeks.  Because after Friday, I'm free and in the clear!

Saturday, 26 May 2012


Colin had his first baseball game today.  On the way to the game, he told me that there are 3 important things to know about baseball:

1.  The worst thing is being tagged out.
2.  The best thing is hitting a home run.
3.  There are always snacks at baseball.

Good to know he's got it all figured out.

Also, on the first pitch at his first at bat, he hit a grounder right into the outfield.  It wasn't the first ball hit by the team or even the first ball to clear the infield.  But I think people were surprised that so much power came out of him, given that he's the smallest one on the team.  But hey - I was always the smallest one on the team, but I had gumption, determination and sheer power to make up for it all!  The apple never falls far from the tree.

(No pictures or video - I was on my own there today and feeling pretty rotten and nauseous.  But there is a whole summer of pictures and videos to capture, so I'm giving myself a break until this baby comes!)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sense of accomplishment

Owning your own business is crazy, nuts, and wild.  There are a few benefits, but mostly we see those wiped out by the insane amount of work it takes to keep the business going.  Remember that analogy I spoke of a while back about feeling like I'm holding onto a merry-go-round with my hands but still running with my feet on the ground, trying to keep up?  I'm pretty sure that's the same way James feels about the business.  No matter how much he does, he can't get caught up.  Which translates into many, many late nights, logging lots of hours after he already puts in his 7-7 day.

Over the past couple of weeks, I could sense his frustration building.  Because when you're constantly trying to play catch up, there is a lingering sense that you're not really getting anything done.  And that is frustrating in itself, and often debilitating also.

So I told him to clean the garage.

Okay, at first glance that might seem like a selfish request.  I usually do all the big cleaning and organizing like that, but of course it hasn't been touched in the last 8 months, and has been getting worse as it became a dumping ground for stuff we didn't have time to tidy.  But my wifey-sense was tingling when the thought jumped into my mind.  James was sitting at the computer, frustrated at a million things he had to do, but he had to wait for information coming from several different people before he could start.  So he paced the kitchen floor, knowing he would be pulling a really late night again.

So I told him to take a couple of hours and clean the garage.

As usual, I had to convince him that one of those supposed benefits of running your own business is that you can set your own hours.  He was planning on putting in at least 4-5 hours late at night, so it was okay for him to take 1 or 2 hours now and do something un-business related.  Once I won that battle (a rare victory, for sure!) I sent him into the garage.

The experiment was a resounding success.  Over the 2 hours of emptying the garage, sweeping, bagging garbage and reorganizing, I could hear his mood pick up.  He was whistling along with the music.  His step quickened.

This was a good lesson for all of us.  A sense of accomplishment is vital to mental health.  There is something satisfying in starting AND finishing a project, with the ability to look back and see a project completed.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Oh, how I love a good hot sticky day

Don't blame me for that post title, or think I'm crazy.  Blame the Australian blood coursing through my veins.  I LOVE the heat.  It's shooting up over 30 C today.  The last few days have been awful illness-wise, meaning I've been confined to bed.  No AC.  Sticky and sweaty under the sheets.  And I'm in heaven.

You know what else I love?  Getting into a hot car.  You know when it's already hot outside and you slide into your car and it's so hot it catches your breath?  Yeah, I never crack a window open or turn on the AC.  I love to just sit there and feel the beads of sweat form on my forehead.

I love lying in bed on a hot day, staring up at the fan whirling above my head.  It makes me feel like I'm sitting in a southern home 80 years ago, when the air outside didn't move and the flies lazily buzzed at open windows, and the big ceiling fans swept above lounging bodies too hot to move, with a record spinning music into the atmosphere.

People have asked me that, if I ever follow my parents to Australia, won't I miss having winter at all?  NO!  Absolutely never!  Even in the hot, humid weather that rolls around here in Ontario, I have never felt too hot in my life.  The cold, on the other hand, chills me to the marrow of my bones.  I put on long johns and snow pants to pick the boys up from the bus.  It's just the way I'm made.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Another week goes by

I had another ultrasound today, and have another one scheduled in 2 1/2 weeks.  Every time I go and I see my name on their computer, it says in big capital letters "OB - HIGH RISK."  I hate that.  This is my third ultrasound of the pregnancy, and each time there's it been.  They are kind of scary words to associate with your own pregnancy.  Luckily, everything is 100% awesome with our little baby.  Every technician is so good to me, talking me through every shot, assuring me everything looks perfect.  The "high risk" is there because of the Hyperemesis Gravadarium, which can often mean premature labour and birth, and low birth weight.  (Which, at this point, being nearly 35 weeks, I'll take!)  It doesn't look like the baby will be too small, either, since he/she is already over 5 lbs.  Maybe a little on the small side, since the baby is measuring only 33 weeks, but not by much.

Anyone know anything I can do to bring on labour?  I've been feeling even worse now that I'm off the Zofran.  The diclectin is letting me eat and keep food down, but the nausea and dizziness and near-fainting is really strong and constant now.  I'm back at not wanting to eat anything at all, which of course is no good.  It makes me wonder how quickly I'll bounce back after the birth.  Will I have any lingering psychological issues about eating?  I'll mentally know that eating won't make me sick anymore, but after 8 months straight of having very strong aversions to eating, I wonder if it will take a while for me to get over that instinct?

The end is nigh, the end is nigh, the end is nigh.

A friend asked if I was ready for the baby to come.  Strangely enough, I haven't packed my bag or the baby's bag, I haven't washed the baby clothes, I haven't set up a cradle or found the linens.  It's like there is this brick wall ahead of me, that is the actual delivery.  Everything I'm doing is just looking to that wall. I know that beyond it there is a whole new world of having a little baby around the house, but I think my mind won't let me go there, because it just needs to deal with this illness right now.  It's sort of like when you have a BIG project looming - all your thought and energy needs to just focus on that one thing.  Anything that happens after that can be dealt with later.  That's how I feel about the coming home with a baby.  I'll deal with it all later.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Mother's Day

I was putting off writing about Mother's Day because I hoped to have some photos ready, but that may take forever, so I'll just jump in.

I had the best mother's day, have the best kids, and got the best gift.

It all began Sunday morning with Caleb throwing open my bedroom door at 6am to announce that my mother's day breakfast was ready.  So maybe 6am was a little early, but the breakfast (waffles, eggs, bacon, home fries, orange juice) was scrumptious.

My gifts were all laid out on the table.  Cards from everyone, an adorable craft of flowers from Caleb, flowers, candy, and yes, my power tools.

Breakfast followed by clean up followed by church brought us to lunch time.  At which point mother's day sort of got away from us.  We helped out two of the young 19 year old missionaries in our ward call/skype home to their moms.  (They only get to call home twice a year - Christmas and Mother's Day, so it's sort of a big deal for them.  And one day I'll be grateful that a family somewhere helped me talk to my sons on Mother's Day.)  We all scattered to give them privacy, but technical difficulties meant that the one hour time slot ended up going right to 6pm, when we had to whisk away to James' parent's house for Mother's Day dinner.  And before we knew it we had to get the boys back home and to bed for school the next day.

But ever since after lunch time, we had noticed Colin was very quiet.  He didn't eat lunch, nor much of dinner.  He kept to himself, off on the sidelines.  It took all day to coax it out of him, but finally, just before bedtime, he climbed into my bed with me and opened up.  He had briefly mentioned earlier that morning that it would be fun to spend time playing games together for Mother's Day.  What we didn't know is that, after I had agreed how much fun that would be, he had spent hours putting together the activity.  But because of how the afternoon and evening turned out, we never got to it.  I assured him that we would definitely do it Monday night, and how that would make Mother's Day even better because I would get a whole extra day to celebrate.

Then, when it came to Monday night, we were blown away.  He had created 4 "stations" of activities.  Each station had a hand drawn sign and picture denoting the activity: Lego Station, Craft Station, Pin the Nose on Mommy Station, and Music Station.  At the Lego station we were all building Mother's Day flowers out of Lego.  At the Craft station we made Mother's Day cards.  At the Pin the nose on Mommy station, we pinned a nose on a hand drawn picture Colin made of me.  And at the music station, we all made up songs about how much they love their mommy.

Seriously - how amazing is my child?!  We had an absolutely blast.  I got lots of pictures and lots of video, including Colin explaining each station to us.  His creativity and attentiveness blow me away.  It's moments like these that feel like a reassuring pat on the back that all my efforts as a mother are truly making a difference.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Born to be a mother

I heard this quote today from Stephanie Nielson, of Nienie Dialogues, and it stopped me in my thoughts:

"I was born to be a mother...I'm good at it."

We use this expression all the time "I was born to do this" or "I'm good at it."  It applies to all sorts of careers, hobbies, interests, pass-times.  And we aren't all born to do all the same things, and we certainly aren't all born to do everything.  But what about motherhood?  Is it possible that we can all be born to do this thing?  Can we all be good at it?

If you know anything about Stephanie Nielson, you'll know that she truly indeed epitomizes the idea of motherhood.  She loves to nest in her home, enjoys all the little things about her children, creates magical spaces and experiences for their lives.  You can see she is in her element as she bustles around her home.  She loves it, and she really is good at it.

I think others of us (including me) struggle a little more.  Maybe it doesn't come as naturally.  Maybe we have ideas we wish we could implement that never seem to fit in properly.  Maybe we feel torn between life at home and other facets of who we are.  Maybe we have other passions that match our desires to be mothers.

And yet, as women, we literally are born with the capacity for motherhood.  We are the gender of humanity designed for child bearing.  Beyond the physical aspect of it, there also seems to be a strong nurturing instinct in women, designed for child rearing.  These are the only uniquely female characteristics.

I don't know if I would state as firmly as Stephanie did that I was born to be a mother.  I don't feel the same strong sentiments behind that sentence, in the same manner in which Stephanie displays it.  By this, I mean the traditional flitting about at home idea of mother, popularized more-so in early to mid 20th century literature.  Herein lies the problem... I may not have been born to be a mother in the traditional sense, but I was definitely born to be my children's mother.  I'm not surprised that I have these three fabulous and adventurous little boys who I will be able to romp in the outdoors with and snuggle up to around campfires.  We'll build Lego creations until the cows come home and maybe even one day build a house.

This past Sunday in our women's class, the conversation roamed to the idea of the "perfect mother" or "perfect woman."  We all nodded in agreement when asked if we could think of someone who we thought fit that description.  But then the teacher asked who of us would raise our hands in admitting that we are not the perfect woman.  It was a rhetorical question, but every head in the room nodded in unison.  Then we all laughed.  We had all pinpointed someone in the room we felt exemplified the perfect woman, and then witnessed as that very person acknowledged her many weaknesses.

I am coming into a new season of life where I am rejoicing and celebrating individuality.  I love the different colours of all the women I know, woven into a beautiful tapestry.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Time Magazine's breastfeeding cover

First of all, let me say that I HATE the caption on the new Time Magazine cover.  "Are you Mom enough?"  Seriously?  We are all moms doing the very best we can, making decisions that are right for us, our spouse, our baby, and our family.  While I love the attachment parenting philosophy, I would never say that following it makes me a better mother than someone else.  Absolutely ridiculous.  And yes, of course I believe Time Magazine put this specific image on their cover in order to sell magazines.  It's naive to believe otherwise.  They are in the business of selling their magazine.  I wouldn't expect any less.

But the article did make me think about breastfeeding and this new little baby who is coming.  Caleb and Benjamin were both breastfed, but I ended up weaning them when I got pregnant, which meant that I never faced the idea of determining when to wean them.

Here's an interesting paradox, that says a lot about our North American thoughts on breastfeeding.  If you asked me how long I would breastfeed a baby, I would probably tell you about a year.  If you asked me if I would breastfeed to 2 years old, I would probably tell you "no."  However, Benjamin was about 21 months when I stopped nursing him.  That's nearly two years old, and I hadn't even considered him too old to nurse at that point.  Even now, when we cuddle up in the rocking chair at night or before nap, it flashes across my mind to nurse him.  He's nearly 2 1/2 years old, and truly, he still seems so young.  If you asked me if I would nurse a 3 year old, I would say absolutely no way.  And yet, I think the days creep by so slowly that he would be 3 before I knew it and I still might be nursing.

Interesting, isn't it?  It's almost as if I've been conditioned by society to balk at the idea of nursing a 3 year old, never mind past that.  But the world-wide average age to wean is actually between 3 and 6 years old! In North America, less than 30% of moms are nursing past one month.  I don't have a stat on nursing past a year, but I bet it's very, very small.  My guess is that it has something to do with the high number of moms who go back to work after their baby is a year old, therefore making it much harder to continue nursing.  But I wonder why that mindset affected those moms who choose to stay home?

It makes me wonder how long I'll nurse this new little baby.  Knowing it's my last, and that I won't have to wean because of a pregnancy, how long will I go?  Will I hold on even longer because I know I won't be doing it again?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Kids and homework

With kids just in the first years of school, we are starting to navigate the "homework" issue.  I'm sure my ideas and philosophies will change and evolve over the years, but right now, I've adopted the "don't do something for your child that they can do themselves" motto.

What does this look like in real life?  Well, two examples from this week are what brought this to the forefront of my mind.  The first was a story Colin had to write.  It needed a beginning, middle and end, and must include a problem and a solution.  So he meandered up to my bedroom with his pencil and paper for some guidance.  Mostly, I let him do the talking.  I tried to confine my remarks to asking him questions to help him think about the assignment, and did my darndest not to influence him in any way I thought would be right.  (Because really, who am I to say what's "right?")  He then proceeded to fill the page with his story.  When he got stuck on a word, he made a comment about how he would just write it all out and then I could correct it for him.  I agreed initially, but as I watched him sound out words and make his best guesses, I rethought my position.  If I was to take his paper, correct all the spelling mistakes, and then he re-wrote it to hand in, well then, the teacher doesn't really know where he's at.  What she sees are perfectly formed sentences and impeccable spelling, neither of which is an accurate assessment of his current language level.

Now, I do think it's important that kids understand where the errors are, so that they can learn.  But the teacher can correct the work and then my child can see where he needs to improve.  There were a few words Colin asked me about specifically, and so I helped him with those.  But if he didn't ask, I let it go.  The next day Colin came home and told me that the teacher said it was a good story, but Colin was also a little disheartened because there were so many mistakes.  Then he told me it was okay, because I'm sick and I don't speak French a lot.  I asked how his friends did.  He said his friends dictated their story to their parent who wrote it out first, and then the kids copied that into their homework book.  I let the conversation go there, but I did make a mental note to help Colin understand why I chose the method I did.

The second example was Colin's first big project - to build a model of his community.  This one was a lot harder to keep the "hands off" approach and let him do it all himself.  First, it was a big project that took a lot of time.  Second, it was actually fun to do some of the cutting and gluing together.  Third, I wanted to give him a couple of ideas that were new to him - like using materials like astro turf for grass or popsicle sticks for fences.  But I bit my tongue on how to lay it out or execute it.  I can imagine some kids will show up with these amazing models that their parents micro-managed.  I hope Colin doesn't feel down if this is the case, and feels like his is "amateur" next to theirs.  I think his teacher understands our approach, and I don't think he'll be penalized for it.  In fact, I hope he is rewarded for his independence.  Because, to me, that's the best way for education to really blossom.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Please let it be soon!

Coming up on 34 weeks.  Yes, there really is an end in sight.  Which is good, because I'm about to go crazy.

Things sort of seem to be falling apart around the house here.  There is stuff piled up on our kitchen knee-wall, the microwave and portable dishwasher.  I HATE piles more than anything.  Plus I'm pretty sure there is a stray spoon and fork under the kitchen table that have been there a while.  Which also tells you we haven't swept or mopped the kitchen floor in a while.  Anyone else hate when you walk on the floor and are constantly trying to shake off the little crumbs that have gathered?  The stairway hasn't been vacuumed, the playroom needs a purge,  and now that we have 4 kids beds we only have one set of sheets for each, which means we can only strip the beds when we know we have the time to wash and dry them before naptime/bedtime.  The front hall area is a tripping hazard.  And there's about two pounds of Lego strewn about the upstairs rooms.  Never mind that you can't walk in the garage or the basement.

Sigh.  Today I also locked Benjamin and the car keys in the van when I picked him up this morning.  Thank goodness it's just around the corner from my house and my friend who was watching Ben had a bike, and could get the spare keys.  Then my flip flop broke while I was running for the bus to pick up the boys and there I am trying to limp down the street and catch the bus before she drives off (she can't wait because it's on a main street.)

I'm seriously gunning for a 36 week delivery.  2 weeks.  I can do that!  Come on, baby!

Saturday, 5 May 2012


This past week we set up brand new bunk beds...and Colin gets the top!  He's over the moon about it, and has been very mature about our rules we set down.  (No toys, no jumping, no playing.)  I know, I know - rules for a bunk bed, how lame are we?  But with Caleb and Benjamin in tow, things could get ugly, fast!


Today, Colin rode his two-wheeler bike!  We bought the bike last summer, but he wasn't quite tall enough for it.  This year his toes just touch, on one side, when the bike is slightly leaning.  Hopefully he'll grow into it over the summer.  He was quite tentative about riding.  We've been talking about it since last year, and he just wanted to stick with the smaller bike with training wheels.  But now Caleb is ready for it, and so I put my foot down and told Colin that the two-wheeler is his bike, and the other is Caleb's, so if Colin wanted to ride he was going to have to learn.

I was also really unsure about how to teach a kid to ride a bike. I can remember getting my first big bike, and riding it, but I don't recall anything about the technique of teaching.  A couple of friends said to find a slight (very slight!) hill so that the momentum would take some of the pressure off of learning to balance and pedal at the same time.  So we went on over to a nearby school and used a grassy hill (to ease the pain of falling.)  James first taught Colin how to "fall off the bike" - how to catch himself with his legs before he actually tumbled.  Then he gave him a push down the bump and off Colin went!  Now he can't get enough of it.  I'll have to find his elbow and knee pads so he's (I'm) not nervous about trying it on the pavement.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Oh yeah - playing the mom card

I totally won the game today with an AWESOME mom card.

Lately we've been struggling with getting the boys (mostly Caleb and Benjamin) to eat dinner.  We generally eat around 5:00 or 5:30pm, because I don't like to eat to close to the boys' 7pm bedtime.  But every day when they get home from school at 4pm and have a little snack, they never bother to eat dinner.  And around here, dinner is where I really get to load up on the healthy foods (vegetables).  So by not eating dinner every night, Caleb is basically subsisting on a diet of cereals and breads and the occasional fruit.

So here I am today, thinking about dinner and thinking about how James is working late and won't be home in time for dinner with the family.  And it occurs to me that no matter how often I tell the boys that they have to eat dinner if they have a snack, they still rarely eat much.

Today the kids jumped off the bus and started in with their usual "I'm starving!  What's for snack?"

Ha ha!  I thought.  Gotcha!  "Are you really, really hungry?"  "Sooooo hungry!" they cry in unison.  "Great - because dinner will be ready the second we walk in the door."

Okay - I will say that Caleb broke down in tears that he couldn't have a snack, but it didn't last long.  In the door we came and I served up dinner on the table.  Caleb gave me a bit of a "I'm not hungry now" run-around, but it didn't last long.  I told the boys that they should eat dinner until they are full, and if they are hungry after they can have seconds.  And then, if they clean their plate, there will be a little snack at 6:30, before bedtime.

Yes, I totally won this battle.  And I'll do it again tomorrow night, since James will be out late again.  And I'll do it again and again and again until they get the idea that dinner is important to eat.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Relief Society

The women's organization in our church is known as the Relief Society.  It is an international organization of more than six million women in 170 countries, and was founded 182 years ago.  For most of my life, I've only really associated it with the class at church I attend on Sundays, an hour long meeting where we learn how to strengthen our homes and families, increase our personal spirituality, and help those in need.

The "helping those in need" was the part that I most wanted to do, and yet never felt like I was being effective.  There are so many people who could use an extra helping hand, but my shy, introverted nature stalled my desires before they developed into efforts.  "Please let me know how I can help" and "Let me know if there's anything I can do" are phrases I've offered hundreds of times, but nothing ever came of it.

Then I heard this quote at General Conference this year:

"If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you ask if they need help—or would it be better to just jump in and save them from the deepening waters? The offer, while well meaning and often given, “Let me know if I can help” is really no help at all."  (Ronald A. Rasband)

That hit me hard.  The harsh realization that my offer of help is really no help at all.  But it made sense, because I had never had any takers on my offers.

Now, as I look back over the last 7 months of this pregnancy, and forward at the next 6 weeks or so, I have come to realize exactly what it means to be a part of the Relief Society, in regards to helping those in need.

I have had a food angel bringing 3-4 meals a week, every week for the past two months.
I have had a childcare angel who watches Benjamin every morning, since I can't.
I have had a sanity angel who drops in once a week just to chat and keep me from being lonely.
I have had parents and in-laws who cook and clean and watch the boys when James is late at work.

Last week James and I were just discussing how hard May is going to be, since the business is picking up and my IV medication is no longer viable.  I wasn't sure how I was going to get through.  And then, out of the blue, another angel called, said she and her family had been thinking about us and how to help, and could they come Friday nights in May to help cook/clean/watch the kids.

I am humbled by the great lesson about service I have learned during this illness.  I have truly seen the many ways service can be rendered.  More than that, I have seen such devotion, service rendered not just once but day after day, week after week.  I can understand much more clearly what it meant for Jesus to spend every waking hour of his ministry in serving those around him.

These lyrics of Laura Story's song "Blessings" have never rung truer to me than they do now:

What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

This is not a life where trials are meant to toughen us up.  This is a life where we can learn invaluable lessons of strength and understanding.  While there is no doubt these nine months have been the longest and hardest of my life, I could never have learned what service truly means without it.