God Did This


God Did This

2 Comments 19 November 2009

The stress got to me today. It hasn’t happened very often and it usually doesn’t last long when it does, but when it comes, it comes like a flood – abrupt, painful, and pervasive to every aspect of my life. Today it was more like a tsunami. While these episodes have yet to be crippling, the suddenness with which they come and the relatively minor events that seem to trigger them always leaves me wondering if I’m falling back into some old habits, my old ways of “dealing” with stressful events in my life. It frightens me to think that maybe I’m not ready for all of this, that maybe I’ve tricked myself and others into believing that it’s all going to work out just fine. What if my faith isn’t strong enough to carry me through? What if the reason that we’ve been able to enjoy this adventure up to this point is simply that we haven’t yet been hit with the fatal wave of circumstances that is certain to wipe us out? What if we can’t possibly handle what’s coming our way? What if our marriage suffers? What if Eliot is overshadowed, over-stressed, and overwhelmed? What if my career, my company doesn’t succeed? What if, what if, what if…

Stress and, more specifically, recognizing the stress in my life has been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been pretty good about sucking it up, dealing with it, ignoring the pain…fill in whatever other cliché you can think of here. Problem is I never dealt with the stress; I just got really good at not allowing myself to feel it; essentially I was ignoring it. Sounds great, right? Never feel stress again…who wouldn’t want that? Unfortunately however, I learned the hard way that you cannot confine this talent to just the stress in your life. At least I wasn’t able to; maybe others can, but I couldn’t and didn’t. I also learned the hard way that ignoring the stress is not the same as dealing with it and just as the rubber on your tires only has so many miles it can handle so also does the tread on your soul. The miles add up, the tread breaks down, the soul falls apart…

While I was busy ignoring the stress in my life, I was also ignoring the wounds that were being inflicted by stressful events in my life. To make matters worse, my ignorance of my own stress level allowed these wounds to grow instead of heal. The hurt, anger, bitterness, and frustration from these events was building up inside of me and never found release. Possibly worse than that or at the very least equally unhealthy is the fact that I was also ignoring the needs of those around me – close friends, family, and strangers alike. Without even realizing it, I was shutting people out of my life, including those closest to me, and I slowly became aware that I was living alone, inside the very constricted, cold walls that I had built up over the years. Walls that were initially intended to protect me were now walls that confined me. My growth as a person, as a member of the community God created, had become like that of a fish, restricted to the size of the container that bound me.

Well, as you might imagine, you can’t go on living life this way until something eventually gives. And give it did…big time! I’ll spare you the details, but know that thanks only to the Lord above, the effects of a life lived this way, though certainly life altering was not life destroying. And the damage that was done, with help from good friends and good people in my life, was quickly undone and I was soon well down the path of reclamation and restoration of a soul that had lost its way.

I learned a few lessons along the way – I learned a little about life and I learned a little bit more about the God who made this life possible. Now that I look back on the course of events of my life, I know that I was never alone in all of this. Though I never asked for it, never would have admitted it, and oftentimes was never even aware of it, I had a lot of help in keeping it all together when it very easily could have all fallen apart. There was a hand at work, busy filling the cracks and holes in my life that had begun to accumulate as a result of my choices and the bumpy, dark, and dusty roads I decided to travel. Back then, I never stopped to reflect on my life, I just kept moving, onward and upward…or so I thought. I never stopped to give thanks and I never stopped to consider just how blessed I was.

These days I do look back – almost daily – and I do give thanks after carefully considering just how blessed I am. I consider how fortunate I am to have the wife that I have and I consider all of the ways that she was designed perfectly just for me. I also consider how amazing my daughter is and how her attitude and happy-go-lucky-ready-for-anything nature will be just right for the challenges that lie ahead. I consider how truly incredible my parents are as are many of the other folks they brought into my life who have all contributed to the person I am today. I consider how amazing it is that the people who have selflessly and tirelessly carried us, cared for us, and loved us from the day the Quint Invasion began entered our lives only 18 months prior.

When the tidal wave of emotion and stress comes over me and sends me reeling into a backwash of doubt and anguish, these are the things that I consider. And after careful consideration, there is only one conclusion that I believe any man who has his wits about him and has in place a rational view of his role in this world can come to: God did this. God chose to knit me together in my mother’s womb, to place me in my parents’ care, to bring me together with my amazing wife, to bring Eliot into our little world, to bring us to Riverbend Church and the Marriage Builders group. He chose to smooth out the rough patches of our lives, to challenge me, shape me, mold me, and to love me too much to leave me the way I was and am today. And he chose to breathe life into those five little babies that now breathe life into ours.

So this is how I make it through and this is how I know I’m not falling back into those old, dangerous habits. When the stress strikes, the world begins to tighten its noose, and the air suddenly gets really thin, this is the place I always return: God did this; there is no doubt in my mind. God did this and he will see us through. How he’ll do it, how he’ll answer the what if’s that seem to come up every day, no one can say. To be honest, I don’t know much of anything beyond how I’ll handle today. And, strangely, I’m comforted by that. It takes some getting used to, but yes, I’m comforted by the fact that I have little clue as to what road I’ll be traveling when I wake up tomorrow morning. I’m comforted because I believe that this is exactly where he wants me – living one day at a time, living a life completely dependent on him. God did this just as he has always done this, with or without my permission. God did this and he will continue to do this. God did this, and with his continued guidance and direction on my life, we’ll continue to be able to do this…somehow, some way…one baby step at a time…


Yes, Absolutely…It’s a Time to Celebrate!!

4 Comments 23 August 2009

When we got home from the babies’ church dedication last week and before we had changed clothes and settled into a Sunday afternoon feast, a little spontaneous moment of celebration broke out between me and Casey. I had gone to the garage fridge in search of a casserole to warm up for the meal. What I discovered, along with the casserole, was a bottle of champagne that a client of mine had given me a few months back; a bottle which I figured due to our hectic life would not be dusted off for many months from now, perhaps on our 11th wedding anniversary next June. Popping the top on a bottle of champagne means only one thing in my mind – a celebration has ensued – and I was immediately struck with the realization that in the midst of all of the chaos and craziness that this day had brought to our family, we had not taken pause to celebrate the day for all that it meant to us. Needless to say, I came back from the garage with more than a casserole in my hands.

It was Thursday, August 14th, 2008 when we got the news that would change our lives… immediately and indelibly. At the time, it was six babies, labeled by our fertility doctor as A, B, C, D, E, and F on the sonographer’s screen. And as you know, the final head count ended at five, labeled six months later by their still-in-shock parents as Brooklyn, Britton, Jack, Lila, and Ryan. And now here we were, seven months to the day after their birth, committing our little tribe to the care of Christ’s church. On that day it was never more apparent that these five babies – five blips on a sonographer’s monitor 12 months ago, five little newsmakers on Austin’s TV screens just seven short months ago – had grown into five precious, beautiful, little miracles, whose very lives speak volumes about the glory of our creator and now continue to change our lives…immediately and indelibly…every day. Yes, we had reason to celebrate!
Maybe it was the busy-ness of the preparations for the day or the fact that we went on our mini-vacation the two days leading up to the dedication that directed our thoughts elsewhere. And though I had had some thought that the day was every bit as much a celebration as it was a dedication, it never really occurred to me actually take time to, well…celebrate. Judging by the look on Casey’s face when I walked in from the garage with a casserole in one hand and champagne in another, the thought hadn’t occurred to her either. But as the cork was popped on that pink, bubbly bottle and we shared our first toast, there was no doubt that a celebration was called for…and maybe even longed for.
When the first toast was being poured out, a friend commented to us that he sensed that the day had been a bit of a celebration – honestly, I think that is the first time the word had been uttered in reference to the babies’ dedication. Of course, our immediate thoughts and response were in reference to the babies: we’ve got five healthy, happy, growing, smiling, beautiful babies that were dedicated to the church today…heck yeah, this is a day to celebrate! We’re still alive, still mentally competent, still married, and still happy with life after seven, wait make that twelve, of the most difficult months anyone we have ever known has ever had to endure…you better believe we’re celebrating!! That day, and most especially that moment, will forever serve as one of the more captivating memories in my overstuffed inbox of memorable times thanks to the course of life our Father has put us on!
In the few days following the dedication, once the glow of recent memories began to fade like the embers of a campfire as do the stories that are passed around it, my thoughts began to trail to a different reason for celebration on that day, in that moment, because of these times. No question, the day was reserved and celebrated for the babies and God’s goodness and that was reason enough. But another reason began to emerge, unknown and unspoken to most, but equally important to our family, if only in our little world with only quiet recognition.
Casey and I have been married for ten years and dated for six years prior to that and had enjoyed a pretty decent relationship for much of that time. But never had our marriage been on more solid ground than the day we got a glimpse at what lay ahead for our marriage and for our family. We had just come off a year of heavy focus on what was most important in our lives – faith and family – and we had found a really good place for both. To find ourselves in that place, where our marriage was never more alive was an achievement we were proud of and as we went through the process of trying to bring another baby into the world, we were looking to the future with more excitement than at any time since we said our “I do’s.”
And that is why, as the doctor dutifully identified the six little blips on that screen as our future brood, behind the excitement was a whole lot of fear in both our hearts. How would our relationship survive, let alone thrive, with all that the changes that these blips would someday bring to our lives? We had worked so hard to bring our relationship to a place that God had intended when he created the institution, why would he now drop this bomb on our hopes, plans, and dreams? How would we have enough time to ever focus on each other, something that had been so vital to our lives together? I don’t know how to accurately rank our fears following the news we received on that day little more than a year ago, but I can say for certain that the future health of our marriage, our relationship, and our love for one another was at the top.
So after a bit of reflection on just what it is that we were celebrating on Baby Dedication Sunday, my answer to that question may not be as obvious as once thought. The way I see it, the babies’ health, well-being, and miraculous lives are reason alone to celebrate on that day, but honestly, those things were never in question in our minds. God did the heavy lifting on that part, with little input from us. He created them, protected them in the womb, allowed for the amazing medical advances that ensured their health beyond the womb, and stirred a tremendous amount of love in people’s hearts to help care for them in the months since. You’ve heard me say this before, but truly, God did this.
I believe that there are times in life where God takes complete control as I believe he did with the babies’ health. But I also believe in free will. And somewhere between these two polar opposites, I believe there are times in life where he simply presents us with options and gives us a choice to make and decisions to be made around that choice. And this is what I believe was presented to me and to Casey, as individuals and as a couple, in the days following that fateful appointment in our doctor’s office. We were presented with options and were forced to make decisions that would impact our lives forever…immediately and indelibly.
I tell you today that the evidence is on display and our verdict is in: we made the right choices. We chose to not allow this pregnancy and these births to destroy what we had worked so hard to build. We chose not to accept survival; rather we chose to maintain our focus, sharpening it where necessary. Simply, we refused to believe that God would allow his creation to destroy his blessing…as long as we did our part – make the right choice. And somehow, through all of the craziness that has swirled around our lives lately, our marriage has found an even better place than it had a year ago. Somehow, in spite of all of the stress and the worry for what lies ahead for our little band of misfits, we are even more excited about the future than we ever could have imagined!
So yes, absolutely – it’s a celebration! It’s a celebration of all that is good and pure and miraculous about life, as any baby’s life can attest. Can there be any more striking example of God’s goodness than the life of an infant, let alone five at one time? I think not! But it’s also a quiet celebration for Casey and me, a small victory dance between the two of us, whether the world is watching or not. We have survived, we have thrived, and we continue to fight alongside our Father – for our marriage and for each other and for our family – as we look confidently towards the future. And yes, every once in a while, we celebrate…

God Bless,




4 Comments 19 June 2009

“For this cause will a man go away from his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; And the two will become one flesh; so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Let not that which has been joined together by God be parted by man.” Mark 10:7-9

Ten years ago today, Casey and I began our new life together as husband and wife. There have been many good times and a few rough ones along the way, as most married couples can attest. Over the years, we’ve had quite a few major moments, definitive events in our life together, especially in the last few. But the moment we both said “I do” to a life lived together continues to be the single most impactful moment of my life.

This year, unlike any other will continue to shape and mold our future like nothing else before it. And though our ten year anniversary celebration tonight will likely consist of eating leftovers for dinner, feeding babies until all hours of the night, and looking forward to more of the same for the weekend ahead, I have never been more excited about where we are as a couple and as a family! Our life is crazy, so is our marriage, but it has never been better than it is right now!!

Happy Tenth Anniversary, Casey Ann…I love you!

God Bless,


Welcome to the Family, Summer Ann Jones and Angel Marie Jones!!!!

7 Comments 10 June 2009

It has been my intent to update on this for a while, but things didn’t quite time out the way I was hoping. So, at last, here we go…

For those of you who have been following the blog for awhile, you know that my mom and dad welcomed two little girls into their home last July as foster parents with the intent of fully adopting them once they could wind their way through the legal process that was required. Well, I am very excited to report that the process was completed on May 6th and the Jones family has two new additions to throw in the mix! If you want the full details on this part of our lives, follow this link to the original blog I did on the subject:

I think my dad does a better job than I could in describing the day. Here are his words on an email he sent out to friends and family after the adoption was complete:

“On May 6th, Lynn and I drove to Hillsboro, TX and finalized the adoption of our 2 girls. The attached picture is (from Left to Right), Angel Jones-daughter, Katie Jones-granddaughter, and Summer Jones-daughter in their Easter dresses. They are officially our daughters. As the judge said, “they are the same as if they were our biological children”. What is amazing about this whole process, almost immediately Lynn and I noticed they begin to act differently. It is like they knew that they were no longer a “guest” but a “permanent resident”. Full citizenship in the family of Jones. Even though Lynn and I have never treated them any way but as our daughters, they somehow knew that it was not official.

Prior to the proceedings, we had to sign some papers and so did the girls. It was really interesting to watch the girls sign the adoption papers. At ages 6 & 7, they painstakingly took their time, concentrated, and signed their new name in their very best penmanship. It was very important to them that did they did their very best.

Summer made the comment, “now we have the same name as Mom, Dad, Dusty, Jaime, Tristan, Jacob, Katie, Ethan, Casey, Eliot, and the 5 babies.” For those of us who have always been a part of a family, no matter how dysfunctional, we really do not know how secure or important it is. For 2 little girls, whose only family was each other and a mother that is in prison, it is a BIG deal. To be a child and not have someone “Big” to take care of you is very scary. To be in a situation of no security one day, to full security the next and to be only 6 & 7 years old and have that understanding, has got to be pretty amazing to 2 little girls.

Just for the record, Lynn and I have not had one minute of regret for taking this on. We both agree, yes the girls definitely are beneficiaries, but we are the bigger beneficiaries. We have been truly blessed. Thank you all for all of your thoughts, comments and prayers.”

Reading these words, I cannot be more proud of my mom and dad and the lives they have lived. And I am absolutely amazed at the life-altering decisions people find the courage to make in the face of incalculable costs when they open their hearts to God’s call on their lives!! So, here’s to you, Mom, Dad, Summer, and Angel! And thank you, to all four of you, for the impact you’ve had on my life and on the lives of untold others…CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!
God Bless,


What Day Is It…Seriously?

1 Comment 06 June 2009

Two days ago, which was Thursday, I thought it was Wednesday…all day long. I made scheduling calls for a project I’m running, I made plans for studying that night, and I did all of the other things that I would have done had it been the day I thought it was…Wednesday. This isn’t the first time since the baby invasion that I’ve lost track like this and I’m afraid it will not be the last. We have developed an irritating little habit of forgetting to feed Eliot dinner until she gently reminds us around 8:30 or so that she is about to start gnawing on the furniture if we don’t get her some food. A few weeks ago, several pieces of our clothes, Eliot’s blankets, and a few other things had to be thrown back in the dirty clothes pile right after they came out of the wash. Apparently, somebody forgot to put detergent in the machine and everything that came out smelled like baby vomit…awesome.

Yes, the baby invasion is taking its toll on our sanity. It is taking its toll on our everything, actually…energy, patience, sanity, civility…say goodbye! School started up last Monday and is in full swing for the next two months, Eliot is losing interest in her new role as daughter-in-waiting – very stressful, the inconsistency of our day-to-day has become a consistent source of frustration, and cabin fever has struck Casey with a vengeance – she left the house one time last week…one time! All in all, this experience has begun to tug at the ties that bind.

Despite all of this, we have found some peace amidst the storm as a sliver of light has appeared at the end of this tunnel. It’s merely a dot on the horizon at the moment, but it is there nonetheless, and it has provided us with renewed focus and a renewed sense of what life will be like once survival mode is a distant, laughable memory. Among other little improvements that have come in the last few days and/or weeks, Ryan’s colic seems to have settled a bit, all of them are sleeping slightly longer stretches at night, and all are smiling, cooing, and gurgling with great regularity, we’ve settled into a night routine that is more manageable than before, and there is a plan in place for Casey to get some time outside the house on a daily basis. None of this was happening or could have been managed just two weeks ago, but now it is and we plan on taking full advantage. It’s possible, rather it is likely, that these whispers of future freedom are the source of much of the frustration of late. We’re an impatient bunch, no doubt, and the hints of progress bring with them much anticipation of better days! And that sliver of light? I have to admit that it is more than just a sliver and it is more than just light…it is soul. Here is what we see when we look around the room at the faces that have already begun to shape our future:

Brooklyn Faith – She has the most unique look of all of the babies – huge eyes, wide lips, chubby cheeks, and male pattern baldness…adoreable! As you know, she also has the sweetest little cry we’ve ever heard. She has developed a taste for her hands which can be found in her mouth, sometimes both of them and sometimes the whole fist, almost all of the time whether she is hungry or not. Maybe it’s just the cry that leads us this way, but we think she is going to be our sensitive one, the crier who just wants everyone to be nice.

Britton Grace – Baby Bright Eyes is living up to her name, though today I started calling her Bobbles. Her eyes shine bright, seemingly all the time, and with her teency, tiny frame she almost looks like a caricature. I’m calling her Bobbles because she loves to stand up and when she does, her growing dome is too much for her little body and constantly bobbles as she looks out at the world. She is the one who we believe will give Eliot a run for her money in the personality department!

Jack William – Just call him ice because he is super cool, all the time. Seriously, Casey and I laugh that if he was our only baby, we’d forget that we had one at all. He lays back, taking it all in, never fussing unless he is hungry. When he is hungry, he eats – no fighting the bottle for this guy who often feeds himself with a bottle propped against the arm of the chair. He is built like a bowling ball and when you hold him he feels like one, too. Big boy doesn’t talk much, but when he does, it is sweet as can be. We don’t think he could have been designed more perfectly for life with five little girls competing for rule of the roost!

Lila Addison – Another little chill bug, Lila is generally kicked back, eyes wide open, watching the chaos swirl around her. With her blond hair, big eyes, and perfect little face she is in competition for the prettiest of the bunch. Just about everyone who comes through here says she looks like Eliot and we agree. Almost every time she falls asleep, she does so with her hands and fingers laid out like she just got a manicure and she’s waiting for her nails to dry…funny! She is a sweetheart who never seems to be too bothered by much, but we haven’t quite figured her personality out just yet. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Ryan Elizabeth – She used to be Ryan the Lion because of her constant roar. Now, she is Ryan the Smilin’, Cryin’ Lion because that’s all she ever does – cries or smiles…no in between. She’ll go from screaming so loud you think she’s going to pop to smiling the biggest, flirty smile you’ve ever seen and back to screaming in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, her crying doesn’t come in two hour spurts anymore…thank the Lord! Britton and Eliot better keep their eye on this little firecracker if they hope to continue their diva dominance!

As the metaphor goes, we are still climbing the mountain and probably will be for awhile. But the terrain seems to have leveled out a bit, the trees are clearing, and we can finally see clearly the first of what is sure to be many summits on the path that lies ahead. We still could use your prayers, we still needs loads of help to make it through each new day, and we continue to rely on God’s provision to help us enjoy the craziness we call life. But as these five little lights, souls of the most innocent kind, continue to teach us how beautiful this life can be, we cannot help but feel fearfully, wonderfully blessed.
God Bless,


Where Do I Begin…?

11 Comments 02 May 2009

*Author’s note: the last time I wrote a blog with a similar theme as this one, I unwittingly created a bit of a stir. To those who know what I’m referring to, I want you to know that all is well and there is no need for concern. Happy reading!

The title says it all, I do not know where to start. It’s been a long two weeks since I updated the blog with anything truly substantial and a lot has happened in that time. I apologize for not updating sooner, but I’m guessing you’ll forgive me :). Two weeks ago…ah, yes, that is the day Baby Bright Eyes finally came home, the six pack was finally complete, and everything in our happy little world was officially turned upside down.

So again, where do I begin? Right now seems as good a place as any so here we go. It’s 11:27 pm on Saturday night. Casey has been in bed for 45 minutes and I’ve been trying to get this blog going for the last :27. This is my fifth time to sit back down, laptop in tow, after getting up to bounce Ryan in her bouncey seat, each time saying a little prayer that she’ll just give me an hour. So far, the prayers have gone unanswered. The other four are fast asleep, each in a bouncey seat of their own, snoozing away the hours until their next bottle.

I’m up, listening to some nonsense that’s playing on the TV (why do they play nothing but junk after 10 pm??) while Ryan is sleeping – finally, face down across my lap between my stomach and the laptop. And I type away. I am up because I am pulling the first shift tonight while Casey gets her 4~ish hours of zzzz’s for the night. The next feed begins at midnight, assuming they all cooperate between now and then, so I’ll be lucky to finish this blog in this sitting.

There used to be a schedule to all of this, each of the babies had a set time and an order in which they fed and they pretty much stuck to it…not anymore. Now, if we can just get them all fed and quieted down within the two and a half hour time we have allotted for them to feed, life is good…exceedingly good. If all goes well, my head will hit the pillow around 2:30 and I won’t have to get back up until around 7:00. Reality is I’ll probably get in bed a little later than that and I’ll likely get up a time or two to calm one or two or three of the babies before Casey’s shift begins at 4:00. And that is how it goes on nights when we do not have help. It is now 11:41 and, as if an invisible spirit just went through the room and pinched all of the babies at the exact same time, Jack, Brooklyn, and Lila have all started to fuss. I’ll be back…

Good morning! I’m back and it is now 9:51 on Sunday morning. Jack is in the cradle, the girls are all sleeping in bouncies, Casey is getting dressed, Eliot is playing downstairs, and I am upstairs, bouncing Ryan with my left foot and hoping that Lila’s fussing doesn’t turn into a full blown baby freak out. If I randomly type something like “Schlitterbahn” in the middle of a sentence, it’s because Eliot has just come upstairs and asked me to help her name her dogs that she just bought from my pet store…(Schlitterbahn is one of the names we’ve come up with so far). Ryan and Brooklyn woke up this morning around 6:30 so Casey got them into bed with us and bought us another hour of sleep. The rest of them started fussing around 7:45 so that is when the day officially began.

All of the babies are eating every four hours and we still wake them up through the night to feed, whether they want to or not. We could probably stretch them out a little longer at night, especially Jack and Brooklyn, but the problem is that if we do not keep them on a regular schedule, I think we would be handing care of the asylum over to the patients. I’m only half kidding when I call this place the asylum because the babies all completely lost their minds around this time last week and just about drove Casey and I to commit ourselves. Call it a growth spurt, call it babies being babies, whatever it was, it was nuts for all involved. What used to be a relatively peaceful existence turned into utter chaos and is just now starting to settle down a bit.

Side note – you think my perspective on life has changed slightly over the last six weeks? Read that sentence before one more time and you’ll have all the proof you need. Yeah, the one where I described life with five newborns in the house as “relatively peaceful”. Knowing what you know about our lives these days, could you ever even come close to describing it as relatively peaceful?? Yeah, life has changed, just a bit, and along with it so has our perspective.

Alright, back to the story. For the first 3 or 4 weeks since Jack came home, managing the babies’ care was about as easy as it could be. They were all like little alarm clocks that ran on formula instead of being wound up. every three hours, the formula on the clock would run low and its alarm would go off. Fill it up with formula, and the clock re-sets itself and goes into snooze mode for another three hours. Other than the occasional leaky clock or minor maintenance work needing to be done (aka: bath time, tummy time, or cuddle time), piece of cake. The nights were long only because we had to get up to feed them, not because they were up screaming for some inexplicable and inconsolable reason.

Like I said, relatively peaceful…until last Saturday. That is the day the babies, apparently in a collusive agreement, decided to flex their collective muscle and launch an assault on our sanity. Fussy? Check. Sleepless? Check. Inconsolable? Check, check! Baby team solidarity and commitment to the cause? Oh yeah! The four hour feeds became 1-4 hour feeds; the sleepy little angels became angry little devils; night became day, day became mayhem; minor maintenance became major overhaul; relative peace became a relative grip on reality. Honestly, I think it was just a growth spurt that they all went through…at the same time. They all wanted to be held all the time – even easy-going Jack, Britton was eating every two hours (more on that in a minute), and Ryan decided to scream for two hours at a time, several times a day. Collic? Gas? Who knows, but anyone who has been through it with their baby (we also did with Eliot) knows that it sucks, no other way to describe it. Oh, other than helpless, frustrating, and exhausting…

Ok, we’re done with dog names – Schlitterbahn, Feliz, Boy, Pinkers, and Princess – and now we’re onto watching Hotel for Dogs, carefully narrated by Miss Eliot McKenna. Picking up on a theme here? One of the casualties of this new life of ours was the dog we promised Eliot. She hasn’t forgotten that one and may need therapy someday to forgive us for it… ;-)

Britton has now been home with us for two weeks and she is doing very, very well. The NICU reluctantly released her to us with careful instructions to zealously guard her daily formula intake. Two ounces of her own special mix, every three hours, only given by mom and dad – no volunteers or other family. If she doesn’t take it down, insert a tube in her nose and get her the food that way. Those are the doctors orders…not easy, but better than keeping her at the NICU and struggling to get up there to see her every three or four days. In the NICU, whether she took her bottles or was being fed through the tube, she was having a heck of a time keeping her food down and gaining weight so we really had to be vigilant. After about 12 hours at home trying to keep her on the three hour schedule, we made the decision to pull back to a two hour schedule and feed her less with each bottle…’round the clock. That is six hours spent every day feeding one baby. I might have said this once already, but I’ll say it again – not easy.

Well, I’m very happy to say that after about 12 days of two hour feeds, Baby Bright Eyes is gaining weight as she should, keeping her food down (mostly), and is now back to a three hour schedule!! It is such a relief to see her finally beginning to thrive! She actually sleeps now…with both eyes closed…amazing! I am also very happy to say that whatever demon had entered our home over the last week appears to have left as all of the babies seem to have calmed down a little over the last 24 hours or so. Except Ryan. I’m afraid her tormenting spirit will be with us for awhile…uuggg :(

Despite this week’s craziness, the babies really are doing very well. Brooklyn still has the sweetest little cry I’ve ever heard and, as Casey told me this morning, she is by far the best cuddler. Britton is a total diva, but amazingly cute, alert, and ready to party! Jack – Chillmaster. The little guy is so relaxed about everything, rarely fusses unless he is hungry, and simply seems to be content with life. Lila, another chill bug, but more alert and social than Jack. Ryan, as before during the NICU stay, is competing with Britton for H.D.I.C. – Head Diva In Charge. Ryan doesn’t fuss, she screams, but good lord, she is beautiful! I’ll probably get skewered for saying this, but at this point she is the prettiest of the five, not necessarily the cutest and certainly not the sweetest, but without a doubt the prettiest little thing I ever did see!
Here are their weights as of Friday:
– Brooklyn – 8 pounds, 7 ounces
– Britton – 6 pounds, 10 ounces
– Jack – 10 pounds 2.5 ounces
– Lila – 7 pounds, 14.5 ounces
– Ryan – 8 pounds, 5 ounces

You can probably tell by what you’ve read so far that the smooth edges of our life are not so smooth anymore. I’m guessing you can sense a bit of frustration through my words and you are sensing right. Life with the Fab Five plus Little Miss Sparkplug is tough and it has taken its toll. We are tired, stressed, ready for things to calm down, and hoping that those calmer, relatively more restful days come sooner than later. Casey and I pass each other in the halls and are barely aware of each other even when we are arms length apart in our own bed. Everything we do now – from showering to eating to playing with Eliot to brushing our teeth – is done in a hurry, usually with a baby or two in hand. Our bodies ache, a sure sign of the worry, stress, and long nights that are now as familiar to us as anything else. We miss each other terribly, we miss our church, we miss our family and friends, and we miss the comforts of our former lives.

Yet, every time I’m at the peak of my frustration, times like last night when I was trying to write this blog, and the words “I can’t take this anymore” begin to form in my head, something stops the thought from completing itself. Every single time, without fail, the thought retreats. Maybe it is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me or maybe it is my faith in the One who brought this mayhem into my life, I don’t know exactly because I haven’t felt this disconnected spiritually in a good while (kind of hard to squeeze a daily quiet time into the new normal). But when I feel as though I’m coming to the end of my rope, something gently reminds me of how good I’ve really got it. Something always reminds me of how heartbreaking and life destroying this story could have been. Something reminds me that no matter where I am in life, no matter how challenging everyday living has become, someone somewhere has a steeper hill to climb…no matter what.

We have become a living case study in James’s teaching in the first chapter of the New Testament book that bears his name. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds!” Read the rest of the thought outlined in that chapter of the Bible and you’ll discover that the key to navigating the storms of life is to be happy, right where you are, no matter what is happening in the world around you. That is the challenge that God presents to us in those few words at the beginning of James and that is a challenge we are proud to have overcome for the moment. Yep, we are stressed, more so probably than we ever have been. We are tired and we are looking forward to a better day (which hopefully comes tomorrow!). We’ve been through some tough times before, some very rough patches, none as challenging as this one, however. But here’s the part that is different this time around: we’re happy. We are not bitter, we are not angry, and we are nowhere near regret.

We are in an odd sort of storm, maybe like a hurricane with several eyes where the sunshine shines through with random regularity, I don’t know. I’ve tried to come up with an adequate way to describe the tempest that swirls around us, but to date that’s the best I’ve come up with. Yes, this time in our life is HARD! But it is also the most gratifying, electrifying, and exciting time we’ve ever experienced. Our main complaints are so minute in comparison with what could have been thrown at us. And the steady mantra of “short term pain, long term gain” maintains its presence at the forefront of our minds, providing a nugget of wisdom and comfort that can be gained only from life experience.

No infections, no illnesses, a seemingly well adjusted, though completely nutty, four-year-old firecracker, great help from generous folks volunteering their time to help us through it all, abundant love for each other and for the babies, relative financial security, donations that still come in from time to time, a mini-community rallying around us, relationship with the God who made this all possible…five precious, beautiful, amazingly perfect little babies. We have so much to be thankful for that the thought of being unhappy seems as ludicrous as does the thought of having five babies at one time. Ha! Crazy, right??!

Be happy, right where you are. It hasn’t always been this way for us, it’s something we learned. Or rather, it is something we were taught through a conscious deliberate effort on the part of the Great Engineer. When we opened our hearts to Christ, he opened his arms to us and this peace amidst the storm that we now enjoy is the greatest gift he gave (oh yeah, that and the whole eternal life through salvation of our soul thing…). He’s been good to us and given us a good life, as defined only in His special way. Sometimes it seems as if he has asked a lot of us though he has promised much in return. But when you boil it down to the basics and you strip away all of the baggage that we bring to the journey, life becomes a lot more manageable. Truly all he has asked of us is to love on these five little babies, to love on each other, and to love those around us as a witness to his power in our lives. That’s not asking so much, now is it? :)
It is now 4:25 pm on Monday. It has taken me no fewer than 20 sittings to get this blog done. I am typing this one-handed because my left arm has been occupied by Mr. Jack for the last half hour as I attempt to hold him off of the bottle for as long as possible. For some reason, four of the babies decided to eat at the same time (maybe that evil spirit is not quite done with us yet). Casey is upstairs feeding two babies while a volunteer feeds a third. I think Britton is the only one of the five not being tended to at the moment. The volunteer is leaving soon and we have no one else coming until tomorrow morning…it is going to be an interesting night.
And so the mantra continues its steady beat…hard work always pays…short term pain, long term gain…be happy right where you are…someone somewhere has a steeper hill to climb…God works for the good of those who love him…consider it pure joy…
God Bless,

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