Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy Due Date Day

Happy Due Date Day my little one in Heaven.  I know your brothers and sister arrived several weeks early, and likely you would have too, but I choose to celebrate you today.  I celebrate your sweet tiny life that only lasted a few short weeks.  The life that I prayed for for five years before you came to us.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about you and I miss you more than I can say.  You would be five years old now. Starting Kindergarten.  Learning to read.  Becoming your own little man.  We should be celebrating today with our family tradition of chocolate chip pancakes for dinner.   I should be making a huge whipped cream "5" on your plate-sized pancake!  I miss you at our school time and at our dinner table.  I miss you when we take family vacations. I miss you when I look at all of the books I have and wish I could snuggle with you on my lap for "just one more". I sit in church and look around and wonder who your friends would be.  Would you be falling asleep on my lap or would you be able to sit still and pay attention? Would you be able to comprehend the amazing depth of God's love for you?  Would you be best buddies with your cousin who was born right before you would have been?  Would you be playing with cars or trains or taking your brother's beloved Legos?  Would you be climbing all over your biggest brother like other little ones do?  Would you look up at your sister and plead with her to make cookies or read a story? So many questions without answers.  While I do fully believe in God's sovereignty over the womb, I still long for you. While I know that God works all things together for my good and His glory, I still miss you.  My grief arrives fresh when I pray for sweet friends who lose much-loved babies in the womb.  My anger returns when I hear of a mother murdering her little blessing at an abortion mill, or a father projecting his new-parent frustration on the helpless newborn he was designed by God to protect.  But in spite of my questions, my anger, and my grief, God is still God and I am not.  I don't know why He chooses to give babies to clueless teenage girls instead of sweet, godly barren women.  I don't know why He gives babies to heartless, angry men who will just abuse them.   And I don't know why He gives babies to women who rejoice over the blessing, and then silently removes them.  But through my tears I read that "...we walk by faith, not by sight."  So, that is what I keep on doing.  Walking walking walking through this life.  Trudging daily in this walk on Earth.  Sloshing through the muck that my sin creates. Knowing that thought I am counting it all joy, this is not the best life God has for me.  That will come in Eternity.  "

"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!"~Psalm 118:1

Until that day that I am able to see your sweet face and embrace you and smother you with years' worth of kisses, Mommy loves you deeply.  Forever.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

He Knew

Ten years ago today an event occurred that changed the lives of countless families.  One man chose to end the lives of others because of his sinful, selfish desires, without a thought of what it would mean for anyone else.  He didn't think of what the loss of a wife and daughter would mean to her husband or parents.  He didn't consider what the loss of his younger brother would mean to his father, grandparents or school and church friends.  He didn't care what it would mean to the two men he convinced to help carry out his plan.  He certainly didn't know that the lives of five members of a police officer's family would be affected.  (If you don't know the story, look here

That night, Marshall sat down to his computer to work on his on-line class, and I went upstairs to put my babies to bed after church.  He got a phone call and said, "There's been a home invasion with a shooting.  I don't know when I'll be back."  I asked him if there were children involved and he told me that they thought so.  As he left I prayed for him, not knowing that he was praying at the same time.  It would be two weeks before we would see him again.  As the work got more intense for him, we weren't even sure he would be able to spend Braden's first Christmas with us.   Marshall spent months, and then years working on this case, including many days away from home.    Sleeping on the floor in your office is really glamorous, right? He worked so very hard that even when he was able to be at home, he still was working.  I saw his brain working all the time!  As the mother of a 7-year old, a 4-year old, and a 9-month old, I did my fair share of whining and complaining. Especially when, during one particularly romantic moment, he picked up his phone to call his partner!  All I could do at that point was laugh! 

The LORD was so gracious and spoke to my aching heart.  He gently let me know that whatever loneliness, frustration, or anger I was feeling, was NOTHING compared to what the Whitaker Family was going through.  Mine was only temporary.  Oh my.  Thank you LORD. I wish I could say that I had been the perfect wife for Marshall during that time, but with a different perspective, I can say that I tried.  

I'm sure that Bart Whitaker didn't care that what he wanted to do would affect so many people, but like Joseph said, "you meant evil (against me), but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Genesis 50:20, parenthesis mine. 

He didn't realize that hundreds of people would daily petition the throne of grace on behalf of his father, AND the investigators involved.  He didn't know that through the investigation, new techniques would be developed, implemented and used to educate new officers throughout the state.  Who knows how many "should be kept alive" because police officers and investigators are better educated and informed and have better resources now? 

 The LORD used this tragedy, and the timing of Marshall's being on-call to respond, to work many things for good in our family. After an initial time of intense work, things settled down a bit.  Marshall was able to coach Little League, attend church with us, and finish his degree.  As a matter of fact, Marshall graduated with his degree the same week that he was able to go to south Texas to return Bart Whitaker to custody.  Along with Hurricane Rita, that was a pretty eventful week for him!  We were also able to see the effects of Marshall's growing spiritually.  Many people Marshall came into contact with told him that they were praying for him.  Our Sunday School class prayed regularly for him (and me too).  He was able to share the Gospel many times.  Several times Marshall called or came home and said, "Do you know what the LORD did today?"  What a blessing it was, and is, to know that in one of the worst occupations in which to see GOD, Marshall was becoming more intimate with Him!  My children and I are recipients of this amazing blessing! 

But what Bart didn't know, GOD did know.  He knew what would happen.  He knew that He would work it for good.  He knew that families would be changed.  He knew that lives would be changed.  He knew that people would be seeking answers from their pastors.  He knew that people would start conversations about Him.  He knew His name would be glorified in churches and homes, including ours, not because of, but as a result of this event.  And even ten years later. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

GIANT step in faith

Well, after nearly two years of praying, thinking, wondering, learning, and talking, we are doing it! Marshall and I have decided to begin the journey to adoption! What happened to push us over the edge? Glad you asked! One Sunday a couple of weeks ago, one of our Elders said something from the pulpit that was like a bell ringing! He said that we as Christians should be actively seeking to fill our quivers. Marshall and I talked about it at lunch, and we decided there. Now, does "actively seeking" mean that God will grant us more children? No. And I'm OK with that. But He does require us to be obedient. Believers are called to care for widows and orphans. Slots have helped other adopting families by praying for them, helping with fund raising, and financially. But now it's time for Slots to help with actual hands and feet! When we told the kids, do you know what they had the nerve to do? They all said, "Oh, OK" with a shrug of shoulders and eyes on the Brady Bunch re-run they were watching! What?? When I kinda pressed them-well more than "kinda"-they said that it was about time! They had been ready long ago!
So, here is what we have done so far:
Talked to a bazillion friends who have adopted and gotten some great support. Our beloved church family at Grace Family Baptist Church is very supportive! So many brothers and sisters are praying for us. Something for which we are very thankful!
Decided to look at Chinese adoption. It seems that I am too old for most other foreign countries. And, bonus! I had already sent off for the application months ago so I had it handy to start filling out as soon as Marshall gave the OK-no way was I letting him re-think that one! ;)
A friend from church mentioned to me one Sunday that she had heard of an agency here in Texas. I sent an email that night and received a call on Monday morning. I was told that they have a process: they send questionnaire, we fill it out and send it back, they approve and send a longer application, we fill it out and send it back, they approve it and then invite us to the annual orientation. "BUT, the orientation is in 4 weeks" she tells me. OK, God's plan is fine with me, especially since it is my first time out there in all of this. I'm thinking that this is not what we need to do. Wait! She says to me, "So, what I'll do is send you everything and you can fill it out and send it back in" What?? God is so funny like that!
We attended an orientation for the agency here in Texas this weekend. We totally fell in love with the agency and the workers there and decided to go with that one. Yeah, OK, so we didn't really do a whole lotta looking around, but we really felt that God allowed this one to happen.
So, we will be filling out some paperwork to send in this week, and see about getting a home study. This part terrifies me, but I am praying that God will multiply my time and the work of my hands to get the house prepared for more children. (yes, I made that plural-just to freak Marshall out a bit)
OK, so, want to know the crazy part? As if it all isn't crazy enough, right? This is what has happened this weekend: I posted on Facebook that we were taking our giant step of faith and was totally blown away by the love and sweet words that were sent to us! On the drive, we listened to the audio CDs from Vision Forum's Baby Conference, we heard the orientation, at church on Sunday, the message was from Exodus 2:1-10 (Moses's adoption by Pharaoh's daughter), we listened to more Baby Conference, turned the radio on to hear a talk show about adoption, and got home to find a Facebook message from a friend about some adoption possibilities.
So, here is the beginning of our journey. We have no idea where it will take us or what we will learn, but I can guarantee that it will be a ride that we will never forget!
Please join us in prayer for the children that God has for us, out there somewhere-Texas, China, or maybe even both!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Year's Day-after

The Slot Family has a fun New Year's Day tradition. We sit around, mostly in pajamas, and do three very important things to celebrate the new year. 1. Eat. 2. Play new games. 3. Watch new movies. Yep. That's all we do. It goes on all day. In no particular order. This year, since New Year's Day fell on a Sunday, when we spent the day worshipping with our amazing Grace family Baptist Church family, we had to postpone the festivities until the next day. Our family looks forward to this every year. This time we had MiMi with us-she just moved back from Utah and we were so happy to celebrate with her!

We had yummy brunch, with crock pot egg and sausage casserole, hot spiced fruit, and homemade cinnamon rolls (thanks to my new Christmas breadmaker)

Then we played our new favorite game Logo. What a blast we had! If you don't know about this game, look it up here!

We watched movies, played someWii, and then ate again. We don't really have a "lunch" or "dinner", but more of a "grazing all day long at the feeding trough" meal. This year's menu consisted of chips and cheese dip (of course), Aunt Jennifer's Herbed Crackers, spinach dip, make-your-own sandwiches, tuna salad, and bacon wrapped chicken bites. Yes, I know, but the spinach in the spinach dip counts as a veggie, right?

After more games, movies, and wii tournaments, came the most celebrated meal of the day. Dessert!! Yes, dessert counts as a meal when you do it like The Slots do! On the table this year, as always, the world famous chocolate chip cheese ball with graham crackers, my MeMaw's peanut clusters, homemade fudge, and making it's first appearance at our extravaganza, the chocolate chip cookie-oreo-brownie. Oh. My.

We did do other productive things, I played on my new Kindle Fire and washed mountains of dishes, Brianna worked on her itouch, Bryson investigated his new laptop, and Braden built one of the 13 Lego sets he received for Christmas. But, we started the year off right by making our family time together our priority.

Next year, remember, y'all are welcome to The Fourth Annual Slot Family New Year's Day Extravaganza! Just be sure to wear your pajamas so you won't feel overdressed!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mother of Four

"We only have three" I said. The sweet, homeschooling mentor-sage we were having dinner with was asking everyone at the table how many children we all had. "FOUR!" my heart shouted. "You have FOUR!" I smiled as everyone else answered. "We have six", "We have seven", "We have five with one on the way". Then. "We have seven. We have six at home. We lost one in between five and six". Oh, I wish I could have been that brave.

I lost a baby two-and-a-half years ago. Well, eight hundred and sixty-four days, but who's counting. After way too long foolishly thinking we were in control, repenting, and praying, I got pregnant. I adore bring pregnant. I savour the fatigue and the heartburn. I was even thankful for the nausea that came when I had chocolate. And even better, my brother's wife was pregnant too. Due the week before I was. Christmas was going to be so much fun.

Then came the emotional crash I didn't have time to swerve to avoid. I lost our baby at nine weeks.

It happened on a holiday weekend. When Marshall went to church on Sunday, naturally he shared our loss with our church family. Almost immediately they started calling, sharing their own stories of heart break. They sent cards expressing heart-felt sympathy for our loss. Some friends even brought food, knowing I couldn't even get myself off the couch long enough to even care what anyone else was going to eat. Friends emailed Marshall, noticing I was spending an inordinate amount of time on the Internet all night long. I am so thankful for a church that truly values children. As much as I love my church family, it was more than a month before I could bear to be back in church. It took every ounce of strength to walk in the door. I only did it because Marshall is a deacon and my absence was very conspicuous. And he pretty much made me. We sat in a different place-Providentially I'm sure. I was plopped in the middle of two VERY pregnant women who both made eye contact with me and hugged me. I cried all the rest of the way through the service. I felt like God was mocking me. Pregnant women and lots of children all around me. The music speaking of God's love and promises. It was so many months more before I could get through a service without crying. Well, crying is not really the word. Sobbing uncontrollably describes it better. Now, two years later, I still cry in church. I still cry when I see my adorable nephew because I can't help comparing him to my baby that would have been born at the same time. I still cry after baby showers. Sometimes I cry in Kroger. I'm crying right now. It's still painful.

I wish I could say that I'm in that place that some of my friends are. Some of them are so brave. Some carry many children a year and lose them. Some know they won't be able to carry a baby to term but are genuinely thankful to be allowed to carry a soul that will live eternally. No, I'm still in that place where I want to stamp my feet and scream to get my way. I want the Lord to stop making me be around 20-somethings who say, "I know how you feel. I lost a baby before too" as they caress their swollen belly. I want to shout at them, "But you're 25!! I'm 43!!" *stamp* I want the Lord to stop allowing barely-teen aged girls to get pregnant and get their own reality-TV show. *stamp* I want the Lord to take into consideration that I love being pregnant. I'm not one of those whiny pregnant women who complain about being tired, or nauseous, or fat, or uncomfortable, or can't wait for it to be over, or this or that. *stamp* I want the Lord to reward me for repenting from preventing His blessing and allow us more children. *stamp stamp* I want the herbs, oils, and supplements to work. I want to somehow go back in time to when my eggs were healthier and and maybe we wouldn't be so stupid. I want. I want. I want. *stamp stamp stamp*

But, none of that happens. My heart is still broken. Shattered. Crushed. Ground down into a fine powder. Scattered to the four winds. And all over again every 29 days.

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" Psalm 34:18.

Slowly, I am working through this grief. Very. Slowly. Not only of a child I will never hold in my arms, or kiss his sweet face. But grief knowing that the time when I could conceive and bear children is coming to a close. Grief knowing that we foolishly denied what the Lord calls a blessing. Grief over sin. Thankfully I know that God forgives sin. He forgives the sin, but sometimes we still have to walk through the painful consequences. God, in His sovereignty, can do all His Holy Will. He is still near when my heart is broken.

I am, and always will be, Mother of Four.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Girlfriends wanted. Apply here.

I have spent the last couple of weeks contemplating. Maybe it's because I'm 40-something. Or maybe it's because I've been to several weddings and funerals lately. Or, maybe it's because I'm coming to a point in my life where I'm seeing things shift. My children are almost all taller than I am. People who are my peers are retiring from their jobs. My 25th class reunion was recently. I am no longer expected to take everyone with me everywhere. No more diaper bags or car seats. I am reminded monthly that there are no more babies in our future. So, what comes next? Yes, I am still training my children and growing every day as a helpmeet to my sweet husband. Mind you, I'm not at all discontent, I am just in need of some girlfriends. Not the high school I'll-only-like-you-if-you-wear-your-hair-this-way kind, or the whiny, nothing-is-going-my-way, my-husband-is-so-awful kind. I am seeking those kinds of friends who will be brutally honest with me. As in. "Sheryl, why are you still wearing the same clothes you wore in high school?" Or, "Honey, get in the car! You're coming with me for an intervention-lip wax!" Friends who will exhort me and point me to scripture when it's needed. Friends who will save up their vacation time to spend an annual weekend together where we just pick up where we left off last year. Friends who will serve food at my relatives' funerals so that I won't be burdened to do it. Friends who will attend my children's weddings and cry with joy alongside me. Friends who will answer my calls or texts at all hours. Share books with me. Laugh or cry with me. Share secrets with me. Play Bridge with me. OK, maybe not Bridge. Maybe it's because I don't have sisters. Maybe I have some crazy romantic notion about having a group of friends who will love me when I'm 97. Who knows? So, if you think you're up for it, and you won't just whine about your husband, give me a call. Apply here. Maybe we can learn to play Bridge together. :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Altered Notebook

As Brianna approaches young lady-hood, I am seeking new ways to keep our communication open. I have been wanting to make one of these for a while. Since we cleaned the house this morning I didn't feel so guilty dragging out the crafting stuff this afternoon!

First, I took an ordinary, every day spiral notebook. They are on sale for 15 cents now for back-to-school. Then I took a pair of pliers and bent the ends open and wound the wire out of the notebook. I set the paper and backing aside so that I just had the cover.

Then I gathered my papers, stamps and ink, and frillies together.

I cut a piece of scrapbook paper the same size as the cover. I attached it to the cover with scrapbook adhesive. Then I punched tiny holes in the side of the cover using a tiny hole punch. I put the cover on top of the notebook and wound the wire back into the notebook.

Then I took more papers, the stamps and the flowers and decorated the cover.

Brianna is thrilled with it and so am I! I am planning on using this as a way for us to ask each other questions and for me to share scripture verses with her. I am sure she'll want to glean wisdom from her wizened mother! Ha ha ha!
It was a fun, easy project, and since I had all the materials it was free! Can't beat that!