The Newest Arrival

We are so thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of the Schwab tribe!

Dorothy “Dottie” Grace Schwab. Born on 11-24-20
5:32am
9lbs 2 ozs

Sometimes you wait and wait and wait for something to the point of exhaustion. I got to that point. I waited and prayed so long that this baby would just come!

Photo credit: romeberryphotography.com

Then last night I realized I was begging God for what I wanted. I never once during the 11 nights of contractions, submitted to His will and ways. So, before bed last night, when contractions had once again stalled out, I repented. I asked God to forgive me and help me submit to His will, whatever that was.

Then I slept hard. No contractions, just full, deep sleep. I woke up at 2 am with a contraction, and finally, they kept coming. There had been so much back and forth, thinking this was it, that my midwife was sleeping on my couch, determined not to go home and leave me empty handed again!

Andrew got the tub ready, Nickie did her thing, and I got in the tub. Then everything seemed to stop again. For a minute I started feeling discouraged again. But I quickly started praying it away. I asked God once again to help me submit and surrender to whatever He had for me. So I just rested in the warm water, enjoying praise music and Andrew’s hands on me, offering support. There was such an overpowering sense of peace in the room and a confidence that all would be well.

It wasn’t long and my body kicked into gear. It was the strangest experience because nothing was painful or overwhelming. Not until I had to push and even that happened so quickly I was shocked!

Photo credit: romeberryphotography.com

Suddenly, all that waiting, all that anticipation, all that wondering was a faded memory. It felt so far in the past as I scooped up my baby girl and snuggled her and said, “Thank you, Jesus!”.

Photo credit: romeberryphotography.com

Now, as I lay here with her sleeping on me, relishing in that new baby smell, I am in awe of what God can bring us through. I honestly can’t even tell you how many people texted me over the past week telling me they were praying for me and baby. Some were people I haven’t talked to in a while, yet God moved them to pray and reach out. I love how intimate and personal our God is. He knows just what we need to get through a trial and He never leaves us. He lavishly pours his grace on us!

And so, we come to our sweet little girl and how we chose her name. Names are important to me. Their meanings carry weight.

Dorothy Grace means God’s Gift of Grace. And don’t we all need to be reminded that it is a gift from God, that no man can boast. And He wants to pour His grace on us, lavishly, abundantly, never ceasing. God’s grace is what gets us through this life, the hardships, the trials, the wondering and waiting. And God’s grace is the only thing that gets us into heaven!

Dorothy is also my grandma’s name and I can’t think of a more amazing, tough, sweet woman to name my daughter after.

My prayer for our sweet girl is this: that she would know deeply and intimately God’s gift of grace and that she would spend her life pouring that grace on those around her just as Christ pours it on her. May we all aspire to this goal!

Now that you’ve been introduced, excuse me while I go and enjoy some baby snuggles!

A Stirring

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve been here. Sorry! Sometimes I just hit dry spells and don’t know what to write about. Other times there are so many thoughts I’m not sure which direction to go. This time around it’s been vacillating between both!

Part of me thinks, well, life is just life right now. Plugging away at school, work, activities. Waiting, somewhat impatiently, for a sweet baby to arrive. Nothing overly exciting, you know. So then I think, there’s nothing people would want to hear about. Sometimes, just for fun, I browse YouTube vloggers to see what they are sharing and some of it is just so weird and silly. “Spend the day cleaning with me”, or “Here’s what we eat in a day”. Who wants to spend their time watching that? It seems so silly to me.

The other part of me thinks about all that’s going on in our world, our nation, our streets, our relationships and it’s so overwhelming I don’t know what to address. And, honestly, I don’t want to share my opinions on it all. Why? I just don’t think it’ll help. A friend recently told me that Facebook is like an echochamber. People throw their opinions out there or repost someone else’s opinion that they agree with and it just goes round and round. No one is changing anyone’s mind and no one is really listening to anyone else, just their own echo. And, they feel justified in sharing those posts because, really, people need to know the ‘truth’. If I’m completely honest, I just scroll past those opinions. You aren’t changing my mind via Facebook and I don’t bother posting what I believe to be true because I already know you’re scrolling past them too.

But, something that has been stirring in my heart in the midst of this all is this: there is absolute truth. There is something out there that we can stand on, no matter what’s happening around us. And, if you are feeling anxious, tired, worried, scared, depressed, angry because of what is happening in our world, then I need to ask you a question.

Are you standing firm on absolute truth or are you being tossed about by the waves?

It’s not an easy question to answer. Because often, we don’t even want to give up our anxiety and worries. For some reason, it feels good to hang on to those.

But, I want to challenge you to lay it down. Stop the anxiety. Stop the worry. I’m not saying it’s easy. I am saying it’s possible.

The Lord tells us repeatedly in His Word “Do not be afraid” “Don’t worry” “Be strong and courageous”. Why does he tell us over 300 times? Because He knows we need to hear it over and over and over. Everyday. Sometimes every minute.

In Joshua 1, God tells Joshua three times “Be strong and courageous”. But one of those times He says, “Be strong and VERY courageous” (emphasis mine). I just love that. God keeps saying it and then emphasizes it. Don’t just be strong and courageous, but be very courageous. He doesn’t want His people to be cowardly, to huddle away from the conflict or the trouble. God wants us to be courageous.

Very courageous.

Are you living in fear and anxiety and letting it rule you?

I’m not pointing fingers. I’m asking myself this question too.

If the answer is yes, what do we do? Again, God’s firm foundation, His Word answers for us.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Have you ever really pondered this verse? Do you realize this means you can actually take control of your thoughts? Do you realize you have control over your anxious and fearful thoughts? Again, I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is possible.

Years ago, when I suffered depression and severe anxiety, I learned how to do this. It’s takes diligence, perseverance, hard work, and patience. It was horribly difficult at first and felt like an exhausting battle in my mind. Day by day, though, it got easier and easier. And I didn’t have to fight as often or as hard the better I got at it.

You can choose what you think about. You can control what enters your mind. You can fight those thoughts of anxiety and fear. Doesn’t it feel good to know that through Christ you have this power? I know it gives me a sense of freedom from the troubles of this world.

The next step of taking your thoughts captive is replacing them with different thoughts. You can’t just take those anxious thoughts captive and then expect them not to return. You have to fill your mind with something very specific.

Wouldn’t you know it? God’s Word shows up with the answer again.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters,

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

If all the posts on FB are making you anxious, get rid of it and take that time to read God’s Word. If the news is making you afraid, turn it off and read God’s Word. If you’re worried about being sick, turn to God’s Word. It’s filled with promises, truth, hope – things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

I’m telling you from personal experience this works. Not only does it rid your mind of fear and anxiety, but it changes you. Deep within you are changed. That change comes out in ways you may not even expect. Others will notice you are more hope-filled, more content, more outward focused.

Fear can creep in at any time. Be prepared. This world is unsure and will continue to be so. Put your trust and hope where there is certainty – God’s Word.

One Word

We had our first day of school yesterday! The two oldest had to start college classes, Olivia started her online classes, although Zoom was having a lot of trouble because of all the online classes starting yesterday, and Elliot started Challenge B for Classical Conversations.

So, I decided that the rest of the kids should start too. We didn’t do much, and really the day didn’t really go as I envisioned!

After the boys got out the door, I left with Elliot to drop him off. Then I met a friend for coffee. We both have 10 kids and just get this life we’re in! It’s so good to talk with someone who really knows what it’s like to manage a really large family everyday and try to coordinate and follow their schedules.

I glanced at the time and it was 11:40!! I guess we had a lot to catch up on! I had to race home to get Olivia on her first class.

When I got home my kids had had lunch, cleaned it up and put the little one down for nap! They had also read and done math on their own! The big kids had even helped the little ones read their practice books!  I could get used to that kind of first day.

We did a little project in the afternoon and then swam in our pool with some friends.

It was a good first day. Not at all the way I planned or thought it would go, but it was good.

I’m not really one for big events or even having a tradition of doing the same thing every first day. Some years we just crack down and get started.

But I might just have to continue the tradition of mom going out for coffee on the first day. Getting that boost and reminder of how good it all is, was so helpful!

This summer as I’ve been praying and thinking about our school year, the Lord keeps giving me one word: Consistency.

The big events and traditions can be fun and there’s nothing wrong with them, but what happens in between those is way more important.

Are we being consistent? Are we diligently working on our school work? Are we puffing away and making progress weekly?

We almost always have other things in our week that take away our time for school. We rarely get 5 days in and thats ok. The other things we do are important too. We need time with friends, time for appointments, time to decompress. But if we can be careful with our time and choose wisely what we say yes to, then we still have enough time for school work too.

This year, the theme is consistency. Just keep at it, keep working, pick up where we left off. And part of being consistent, is being very careful with our time and what we say yes to. The reality is that it’s difficult to maintain everyone’s schedules in a big family and having a big family takes a lot of time. Everyone needs something and everyone is at different levels.

Taking some time for me is also important. If I’m not recharged daily,I have nothing to give my kids. So, my part in being consistent is getting up early and spending time reading Scripture and praying. It changes and alters my heart, mind, and soul, and aligns me with what God wants me to focus on for that day. It’s amazing how if I spend time in God’s Word, whatever comes my way is manageable but if I don’t I feel harried and worried. So, my consistency is being with Jesus everyday.

For my kids it means working on what God has given them. That math that’s difficult? Let’s do it, work hard and push through. That paper that needs to be written? Let’s find a way to enjoy it and get it done.

And, as a family, it means making sure we spend time together and unplugged from technology. After having gone to our cabin where technology wasn’t possible, we saw such a deep deep need to unplug regularly. So, somehow in the crazy busy life, we need to unplug weekly and actually look in the eye the people God has given us right here.

Also, as a family we want to consistently spend time with good friends. People who speak wisdom, people who love Jesus, people who build us up and encourage us, and those who we can do the same for.

Your consistency may look really different from ours. You may have different focuses, but the important thing is to discover what God does want you to focus on and be consistent in them. I encourage you to take some time to pray over all the activities, curriculum, and outside forces vying for your time and really choose wisely. You cannot be consistent if you are over booked. It just won’t work.

This morning I read in 1 Corinthians 15, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” And verse 58: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”

By His grace we are changed. We can be consistent and diligent because of the effects of His grace. And because of His grace we can stand firm. We can say no to those things that just take away time and don’t add value to our lives.

May He guide, direct, and bless your day and your school year and help you be consistent!

Just a Little Sin

20180319_085132Such a cute little mason jar soap dispenser. So innocuous, so innocent. Non threatening, just a cute way to display and dispense soap in a farm house bathroom, right.

Apparently not.

Seems every time my kids would pump soap this cute little thing would fall off the edge of the sink, into the sink. They would set it back up and none of us thought anything of it. But time after time…plunk, plunk, plunk.

Eventually…

 

 

20180319_085233Yeah, that’s a gaping hole in my sink right there. A hole about 3 inches by 5 inches, rendering that sink totally useless. You know what it’s like to have one bathroom sink for 11 people? Well, I’m sure you can imagine some scenarios there.

Little did we know that every time that little mason jar fell it was creating a stress fracture and time after time it got a little worse and a little worse. Until suddenly one day, we had a major issue on our hands. Andrew temporarily fixed it with so-called water proof tape. That held for a short while as we tried to find a new sink.

Enter more issues. The sink that was put in was some Menards special from long ago that’s no longer made. It was anchored to the wall and didn’t actually rest on it’s pedestal. The pipes come up through the floor instead of the wall, because, let’s face it, we live in a 120 year old house so nothing is normal. The sink was placed really low, making it impossible to find another one just like it.

Enter solutions. Cut a hole in the wall and move the piping. Find a sink that matches the height and width of the anchor bolts. Put in a cabinet to hide everything. Refit the pipes.

Sometimes you just gotta thank the Lord for Home Depot.

I picked out a sink that matched the anchor bolt width but not the height. So there is sat in the box for a couple weeks as we debated what to do. Andrew wanted to put in a cabinet, but I love the pedestal sink look and didn’t want to give that up. I wanted to cut a hole in the wall but Andrew didn’t want to take on that project. (I don’t blame him!)

20180319_085122

Another trip to Home Depot.

Did you know they have just about every fitting known to man there? I mean, it’s actually overwhelming to walk through those aisles. Thankfully we found someone who knew what they were talking about and we bought all sorts of goodies. They were all foreign to me!

Sometimes you just gotta thank God for a handy hubby!

A couple of evenings of hard work and Andrew had successfully fitted a new and beautiful pedestal sink into place. And it works! One request: get rid of that soap dispenser!

 

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There’s the new sink! Isn’t it pretty? And a normal height too. Notice the plastic soap dispenser from Target? I listened.

This whole issue made me really think about sin. How often do I think my sin is no big deal? It’s not really causing any problems. It’s not really doing any harm. My harsh words to my children just run off their back so it doesn’t really matter. My annoyance and frustration over little things isn’t really a big issue. It doesn’t make a lasting impression on anyone. My negative self talk doesn’t really do any damage.

Yet, just like the soap dispenser, a little at a time, that sin starts to wear away, causing unseen stress fractures that eventually cause a gaping hole! It may seem harmless, we may call it a “little sin”, thinking it doesn’t really have any weight. And then all of a sudden, craaaack. The relationship is torn apart, the mind is at war with itself, the people around me are at odds with me. And the seemingly tiny, harmless sin has caused a major issue that takes weeks to heal, if at all. It sometimes takes professionals to wade through all the parts and pieces and it takes all sorts of deep thought on how to remedy it.

It doesn’t matter if we think the sin is “small” or “big”. It all separates us from God and His goodness and glory. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

Having just celebrated Easter and Jesus’ resurrection, I’m reminded how important it all is. We cannot do enough good to reach God and heaven on our own. We need help, a lot of help! Thank God He sent His son, Jesus. And thank God, that the death on the cross wasn’t the end.

He overcame death!

He was victorious!

And best of all, he did it for you and me.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.

Check those “little sins”. Take hold of them. And thank Jesus that he forgives and HE LIVES!

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Enough.

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I wake up every morning feeling overwhelmed. I’ll just admit it to you now. There isn’t a morning where I don’t wake up and think, oh man, how am I going to get everything accomplished that I need to today?

Ever feel that way?

Weighing on my mind is everything from whose turn it is to do laundry to how will I get my dyslexic son through college to what’s for dinner and did I thaw any meat. n top of that are the thoughts of who I need to contact, what friends haven’t I talked to in a while, what forms need to be filled out for numerous activities and events, and who needs a shower or bath. Then I start to list all the activities and sports we AREN’T involved in and whether my kids are missing out. It doesn’t end there. The list continues and by the time I get out of the shower my mind has already formulated a plan on how to accomplish it all.

No wonder I wake up tired!

Maybe your mind doesn’t work this way…feel blessed! I’m a planner by nature and it’s very hard for me to shut that off and just be. But every morning (at least I shoot for every morning) I practice just being with the Lord. I read some of His truths, pray, connect with Him and ask Him to order my day. Why? Well, it’s really the only way to help that overwhelmed feeling.

Every morning I spend with Him I realize, “God’s Got This!”, as a bracelet a friend gave me says. He reminds me He loves me, He loves my family, and He knows our life better than I do.

And you know what He always tells me? …..You are Enough.

So, fellow mamas, let that sink in.                             You. Are. Enough.

You aren’t enough because of what you can accomplish. You aren’t enough because you wake up energized and ready to face the world. You aren’t enough because you check everything off the to-do list. You aren’t enough because your kids are well dressed and well behaved. You aren’t enough because your house is beautifully decorated and clean.

You are enough because of what He has done and still does for you. You are enough because He has placed you in this very position at this very point in time. You are enough because He gives you His strength, peace, and knowledge.

So the next time you wake up feeling overwhelmed, maybe even discouraged, tell yourself, “God says, I am enough” and rest in that overwhelming sense of peace!