COVID-19 Week 4

Friday April 10, 2020

Hello!

I had a few random stories of faith that I was getting ready to share with you when COVID-19 hit, so hopefully one day I’ll get to it, but they seem a bit irrelevant now.

I just wanted to check in and share what life is like in our home as we complete our fourth week of Pennsylvania’s Stay-At-Home order.  Obviously, homeschooling hasn’t been much of a transition for us.  We started Kiana in a cyber school 12 years ago as a kindergarten student and every year or so since then we’ve signed up the next kid.  We’ve been really happy with the school year after year, so if you’re looking for a recommendation please let me know.

Four of our older kids usually attend classes two days a week on campus, so life has changed dramatically for them.  Kiana, Amaya and Lucia are pretty crushed that they aren’t able to dance and that their spring dance events were cancelled.  To try to ease the pain we cleared out one of our basement rooms and converted it into an Arts room with a ballet barre on one side and artwork on the other side.  They are now attending their classes via zoom, so they look forward to seeing their teachers and friends, but its just not the same.

Tai’s private school announced a tuition increase for 2020-2021 a few months ago, so we knew right away that we could not afford to send him back next year.  When schools closed down a week before the end of marking period 3, and we just really felt in our spirits that we needed to withdrawal him and start that transition early.  It was a heart breaking revelation, but we were struggling to keep up with our tuition payments, and the only reason we were even making those payments was to help him get out of the house, so it just made sense to bring him back home to homeschool.  God has given us a new vision for next year that we are super excited about, so we hope to share that story soon.

Sadly, A.J. lost his paternal grandmother to cancer on March 24, 2020.  You may already know that A.J. lost his father back in 2010, so the amount of loss that my sister’s kids continue to sort through really just breaks my heart.  A.J.’s grandfather is doing a tremendous job of shepherding A.J. and his older brother through this loss.  His gentle leadership and transparent heart are precious.  He is a kind man and he lost his best friend.  We see such great evidence of God holding them all together but we also acknowledge that this is a terrible loss for each of them.  Please lift them up in prayer as you think of them.

Tray had his final hand appointment just days before the stay-at-home order was put into effect.  After four months in a cast an MRI confirmed that Tray had Preisers Disease, a condition where his scaphoid bone had died.  Thankfully the x-rays and MRI show new calcification which indicates that the bone is coming back alive with rest due to better blood supply.  We are grateful for our doctor’s wisdom in making Tray sit still for so long, and we’re hopeful that he’ll be back to normal soon.

When school was cancelled a few weeks ago we asked the middle boys in particular to set a goal that they could achieve with their extra time.  Tray’s goal was to learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube, and just as I am writing this he presented me with a perfectly solved cube.

Tray

We are also thankful that Theo was seen at CHOP exactly 15 days before that cardiologist was diagnosed with COVID-19.  Theo passed his physical with flying colors and they shared that the new protocol is a check-up every 6 months, so he is cleared through August.

Now that we’re home more, Theo and Tai run around the block a lot together.  Tray and Theo ride scooters together, and Tim and Theo ride bikes together.  It’s a blessing to have a pack of brothers who share different hobbies, and its neat to see them break off into different pairs to enjoy different activities.

Theo also has an inner artist which he doesn’t like to admit, so his creative goal has been to work on this paint by number lion.

Theos Lion

Another neat pair is Tim and Troy.  They both have vivid imaginations, so they will often start the day with castles and dragons, legos and train tracks.  Troy’s birthday is this month, so I made sure to order his birthday presents early because of the shipping delays.  The only problem is successfully hiding the presents until his big day.  I wrapped one in pink unicorn paper to throw him off, but I found it under his pillow that night.  Then I put his gifts into a large Rubbermaid container in the back corner of our closet, and this morning I found the container pulled out and opened in our bedroom.  So I continue to play keep away from the 3 year old.

Cali and I planted seeds in this dish on a whim after a friend from church shared a picture of her seedlings.  It is seriously so cool to see them actually grow.  I honestly don’t know what to do next, so that’s next on my list of things to Google, I’ll keep you updated.

Cali's Plants

I love having Scott home.  He spends a good bit of the day in our  (finished) garage on Zoom with his classrooms.  He attends chats with teachers and therapists, students and parents, and we are grateful that he can keep working for both the school and the church remotely.  He and our six oldest really look forward to youth group zooms, which are 3 times a week now to help keep everyone connected and positive.

Our morning devotion time is similar to what we normally do, but we now start at 7:30 each morning instead of 6:30 which is nice.  We begin with Scott reading the Proverb of the day, then we set the kitchen timer for 10 minutes so we can journal (or color), and then we work on memorizing Matthew 6.  We’ve taken one verse a day Monday through Thursday, and then we review on Friday.  We just finished the Lord’s prayer this week, and we are reflecting on Matthew’s emphasis on forgiveness.  Matthew even goes as far as to link our forgiveness of others to Jesus’ forgiveness towards us, so we have been discussing what it looks like to forgive, especially when many times you don’t get the apology you feel you deserve.

We also are keeping a list of people sick with the COVID-19 virus and we pray for them each morning as we conclude devotions.  Prayer is a powerful tool and it is reassuring to know that we can make a difference in people’s lives even as we sit at home.  If you know someone who is sick and needs prayer, please send us their name and we’d be happy to add them to our morning prayer list.

As for me, I start my mornings about an hour before devotions feeding the baby while watching as much news coverage as I can.  I want to know everything that everyone thinks.  It just helps me.  But it also worries me.  So I spend the rest of the day trying to forget what I learned and by the end of the day I’m relaxed again.  I love to run on our treadmill, but I also love to eat, so I’m trying to somehow run more than I eat, but I don’t think I’m winning yet.  I feel anxious as I wear my mask to the grocery store every third day, I shower as soon as I get home, I leave the groceries in the car for at least an hour before unloading.  Again anxious in the morning, but it wears off as the day goes on.  It will be interesting to reflect on these days six months from now, one year from now, etc.  But in the meantime we continue to pray that we accomplish what it is that the Lord would like us to accomplish, living by faith, with wisdom.

You know Easter is my favorite holiday, so I’ll try to post again on Sunday to wish you a fabulous Resurrection Day.  Until then, stay safe.

Matthew Chapter 6
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Another Milestone!

Sunday November 17, 2019

We’re excited to share that we’ve hit another milestone …. Theo is no longer a monthly patient at CHOP!

For the past 22 months we have visited CHOP every 30 days for blood work and every 90 days for a physical.  Theo’s counts are strong and we haven’t found any lumps or bumps.  Praise God!  His follow up routine can now be downgraded to blood work and physical every 90 days, which is a huge milestone.  Theo is doing really well as a 3rd grader in cyber school and he loves to ride his bike every day.  Please pray that Theo continues to heal and grow into the man God is calling him to be.

Theo Handsome

Since it’s been a while since I’ve written, I thought I’d give you a quick update on everyone else…

Kiana auditioned for a local theater over the summer as a dancer and earned the position of Teen 1 in their Christmas Show cast.  She is now in the midst of 44 Christmas shows over 8 weeks’ time and she couldn’t be happier.  It has been such a joy to watch her grow up into God’s calling for her life.  I love watching her on stage and if I could, I would go to every. single. show.  Please pray for protection and health over Kiana as she has 36 Christmas shows to go.

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In just one month’s time we will celebrate A.J.’s one year anniversary with our family.  A.J. is a joy to have around.  He is very gentle with our younger kids and loves to banter with the older kids.  A.J. spends two days a week in an advanced high school program and this past week he had a mock interview day.   We have been praying that God would reveal to A.J. what his life calling will be, and so far we’re testing out the idea of a math teacher.  You can pray that A.J. will continue to learn to balance work and play and that God will reveal to him a vision for his adulthood.

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Amaya loves photography and has become our go-to family photographer.  Our city hosted a photography contest this past month and Amaya was one of three winners who received a cash prize for their submission.  Amaya’s passions are photography, design and real estate, so you can be praying the God will open doors of opportunity as she pursues her passions through high school, college and adulthood.

Amaya Art Show

It was about this time last year when Tai was going crazy being home full-time with his mommy in the school room.  What can I say, I am always learning.  Between his love for people and his pursuit of becoming a man, my company just wasn’t enough.  We prayed all last year for a solution and through the help of friends found a Christian school not too far away.  The principal, vice principal and teachers have captured my heart with their commitment to prayer and scripture.  Tai also played football this past fall and was nominated Homecoming King at the end of the season.  You can pray that Tai will be quick to forgive and he will grow in his identity as a man of God who loves the city but goes to school in the country.

Contest 3
Photo credit: Amaya Pollock 2019

Lucia is an all-around doll.  She attends the same performing arts school as her older sisters and she’s an all-around talented young woman.  She takes vocal, piano, dance and drawing class and loves them all. She is managing her cyber schoolwork without my help this year and just finished marking period 1 with really good grades.  You can be praying that Lucia will continue to pursue the Lord with all her heart as she grows up this year.

Lucia 12

Photo credit: Amaya Pollock 2019

Tray was having a great year until we stumbled onto the truth about an old injury.  We still aren’t sure if it was the basketball game in September or the flag football game last January, but Tray crushed the scaphoid bone in his right hand.  He is now fully casted and fully frustrated by his new reality.  For a guy who loves every sport every day, and who excels in typing on his laptop in cyber school, this has been a real setback.  The doctor has said it could be months in a cast.  Will you please pray that Tray’s wrist fully heals?

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Tim is now seven and he is in second grade.  He is a thinker, he loves to draw and he loves to build with Legos.  One of my favorite parts of the day is reading with Tim.  He a joy to learn with and I can’t wait to watch him grow up.  You can pray that Tim will continue to excel in school and that he will put his trust in Jesus as his Savior.

Tim Handsome

Cali is in now six and she is in first grade.  Cali loves animals and loves art.  Her daily art project is painting objects we find outside like rocks and acorns.  Please pray that Cali continues to excel at reading and please pray she will also put her trust in Jesus as her Savior.

Cali Pretty

Troy is the sweetest three year old I have ever met.  He is fully articulate and relates well to men.  Our favorite imagination game is to walkie talkie about construction sites and emergency vehicles, and we play our game everywhere we go.  I caught myself at work last night reaching for my walkie talkie and I had to laugh, I hope the security cameras didn’t catch it.  You can pray that Troy will be kind to others and continue to grow into the man who loves God with all his heart.

Troy Adorable

Tennessee is now one and is an easy going baby.  He loves when the big kids play with him but he has learned to play by himself when we’re busy doing school.  You can pray for continued health and growth for Tennessee.

Tenn

I miscarried our new baby back on October 30th so that was a sad week.  We continue to trust the Lord with our family, believing only He fully knows our abilities, our finances and our future.  We believe each life is a gift and even each day of pregnancy is a gift.  This baby didn’t have a calling on Earth, but he was given a permanent place in eternity, and that is significant.  I imagine my nursery in Heaven filled now with five perfect babies.  I am completely content with the family that God has given us here on Earth, but I also wouldn’t say no to having another child.  It is the Lord who has written our family story for twenty years now and it has been a beautiful story of highs and lows.  I can’t imagine taking the pen out of His hand, so to speak, and ending this chapter on my own.  We look forward to discovering what He writes next, fully trusting in His love and Sovereignty.

Butterfly

Scott loves his school job, loves his church job and loves his new position as the Chaplain for our local high school football team.  The Lord has Scott with the most broken of children during the day, the most dynamic of teenagers mid-week and the best of student athletes on the weekends.  You could not design a better life for my husband. Please pray that God will continue to provide for our family through Scott’s hard work and pray that Scott continues in good health and energy.

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Photo credit: Joseph Good 2019

As for me, I love what I do.  I’m not sure what it is that I do, sometimes it feels like a little bit of everything and sometimes it feels like a whole lotta nothing, but in either case I love what I do.  I have reached complete peace and contentment about our home.  I used to pray for more land, more driveway space, more bedrooms, etc. but that has subsided.  We have organized 11 kids in a 4 bedroom house and it feels right.  I am praying for a deck, though, but I suppose that’s a first world problem as they say.

Adriel's wedding

It is well with my soul as we continue our journey here on Earth.  Thanks for reading along and we hope you are well too.

Colossians 3:13

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

(this is our theme verse this year as we live in our perfect 4 bedroom house together;)

Welcome A.J.!

AJ

A.J. is our nephew.  He’s a really bright and sweet kid who lost his father at a young age.  My sister moved out of state a few years ago, but as time went on A.J. became increasingly homesick.  Over the summer we started discussing the idea of A.J. coming to live with us and after more time and prayer, we all agreed it was the right decision.

We are ecstatic to have A.J. here with us full-time now.  Our hearts overflow as he’s able to spend more time with us, but also with his older brother and both sets of grandparents.

If you see us around town or in church, please take a minute to welcome A.J.!

Proverbs 18:24

…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother…

 

Tennessee Charles

Smile

photo credit: Molly Caitlin at http://www.mollycaitlinphotography.com/

Introducing Tennessee Charles!  Tenn will be three months old on Christmas Day and he is such a sweet baby.

Tenn’s name came easily to us on many different levels.  The obvious level was a nickname of “Tenn” as he’s our tenth child.  The historical level honors the Cherokee who lost so much to the dooming presence of the white man.  The spiritual level references our trip to Tennessee back in August.  After many years of being separated from my sister and her family due to Theo’s health, Tennessee was the first place I wanted to visit once we finished chemo.  My heart had ached for years to see my sister, and the Lord was faithful and brought us together again.

TN-Teaser2 - Copy                TN-Sisters2 (2)

The prophetic level comes from the meaning “gathering place.”  It’s our prayer that Tenn will be a gatherer of souls, a uniting presence wherever he goes.

Tenn’s middle name is in honor of a dear friend named Charlie.  Each of our sons is named after a man who has made a difference in Scott’s life, and Charlie is no exception to that description.  Charlie was Scott’s first role model as a Youth Pastor and a man passionate about the local church.  Thirty years later Charlie continues to invest in Scott and in young people everywhere, and it is an honor for Tenn to take his name.

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

 

Our Summer Update

CHOPblood

Friday July 20, 2018

Theo is doing great! His counts continue to be stable and his physicals are uneventful.  Our only glitch has been frequent bleeders in his eyes which, honestly, bother me more than they bother him.  Between the eye doctor and the oncologist we have classified them as harmless so we are thankful for that.

Prayerfully Scott decided not to work for the Summer School Program this summer.  Although we’re always appreciative of another paycheck, it seemed like “time” was the priority this summer and it has been fantastic to have him home.  We start every morning with devotions and a bike ride and he’s teaching the boys how to play baseball at our local elementary school.  This decision has given us the chance to be more intentional with each kid, enjoying one on one conversations that don’t always happen when you’re hustling during the school year.  Scott has also purposed to meet with a friend each day.  I have purposed to meet with one friend a week, so if you do the quick math, that means Scott has 45 friends and I have 8 friends.  What can I say, opposites attract.

For about 30 days our house was on the market with the hopes of finding a 5 bedroom home for our soon-to-be 10 kids.  That turned out to be a more costly goal then we expected so we’ve decided to stay put for now.  Instead we’ve converted one of our master closets into a toddler bedroom for Troy, we have the baby’s crib set up next to our bed and we’re adding a shower in the laundry room.  We’re calling it the “boys’ shower.”  In an attempt to honor our daughters we have given them exclusive rights to the upstairs bathroom, which means all 5 boys have been sharing our master bath.  Once I realized moving wasn’t an option, I started brainstorming ways to reclaim my privacy and a first floor shower is what we landed on.

I am now 30 weeks along with Baby #10.  I am grateful for good health and an uneventful pregnancy.  With the bedrooms and bathrooms better organized I think we’re ready to begin a new school year and meet Baby Boy in September.

As always thank you for your friendship!

Psalm 34

 

 

A Good Book

Friday, May 4, 2018

PleaseGod

It isn’t often that I find a parenting book that really resonates with me, one that sends me looking for my highlighter or heading for my desk to find my journal.   This book, however, is now on my top five list of recommendations.  It is less about having a large family, or family size at all.  It is mostly about rising to a higher level within your calling to parent, applying scripture and developing the people you have been tasked to shepherd.  I so appreciate Lyette’s straight talk style which helps me to relate to her but also challenges me to step it up a bit.  Just thought you might enjoy!

https://therebacks.com/

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

 

Our Arrows

SonareaHeritage5x7

April 7, 2018

We are so excited to share …

We are expecting a new baby boy …

He is due September 30, 2018 …

So Grateful

Psalm 127:3-5

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.

Assessing the Damage

Tuesday February 27, 2018

Theo’s surgery went really well; thank you so much for praying!

There were many blessings that day: Theo was first on the surgery list, Dr. D and his nursing staff were great, and Anne came and talked to us while we waited.  Anne was a mom and a sister in Christ who was also waiting for her son in the Parent Waiting Room.  I was extra thankful for her boldness and chatty nature because she helped the time pass quickly.  We were home by 11am and yes, eating Doritos by dinner time.

Tomorrow we go for an EKG, echocardiogram, bloodwork, and an exam.  One of Theo’s chemos is known to cause heart damage so this is part of the after-care routine.  Honestly we’re just so glad the kid is alive, so don’t spend too much time worrying about the damage.

We’ll visit monthly for two more years for blood work and a physical exam, and every now and then they’ll throw in an extra test.  Theo is dreading the arm stick, but that’s not until June.

That’s all that’s new around here.  Our new normal is nice.  Real nice.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Surgery – The Final Step

Eagle Image 2

Thursday February 8, 2018

This is it.  This is the final step in closing out our cancer days.

Theo is scheduled to have his port removed tomorrow at CHOP.  Out of the 3 risk factors, he only has one, which is that the port has been inside his chest for longer than 2 years.  Ideally the port and it’s wire will slide out of his artery with relative ease.  Dr. D says he’ll have the cardiac team in the room in case there’s excessive scaring making it hard to remove.  He says they have a plan if that happens, but I didn’t ask and he didn’t tell.

The anesthesiology team called yesterday to go over the final details.  I was crying on the other end and hoping the woman didn’t notice.  We have fought so hard for this kid, I just don’t know if I can hand him over one more time.

Will you please pray for Theo tomorrow?  Will you please pray that this port comes out with such great ease that everyone in the room breathes a sigh of relief?  Please pray for Dr. D and our witness as we meet with him.  This is our third surgery with him so it’s been fun to develop a relationship along the way.  Please pray that the Lord would give us comfort as we watch them roll Theo out of the room one last time.  Please pray that we’re eating Doritos together by dinnertime.

Thank you dear friends

Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

E-A-G-L-E-S

Eagles Logo