Her Room Looks Empty

Her room looks empty.  Her dresser is bare.  Her bags are packed.

This is happening.  My firstborn is leaving home.  It isn’t her first adventure, but it is her longest so far.  Seeking God and helping others is her mission, taking photos along the way.

                How can I say goodbye to my right arm, the joy of my heart, and my best girlfriend?  I fear I will be overcome with testosterone and daily tasks without her.

  But I know that it is her time to fly. 

God’s timing is perfect, and His grace is sufficient for me.  She graduated two years ago, an amazing student.  She stayed to save money and help me through my hardest pregnancy and recovery yet. 

                She is a second mother to the others.  She diapered them, fed them, washed them, dressed them, educated them, had fun with them, and loved them.  They are the children they are today because of her.  I am a sane and happy mother of 10 because of her. She had a job and was a leader at youth group.  Many have been blessed by her! 

                “What will we ever do without her?”  my heart keeps asking.  “How will I bare the emptiness?”

                The truth is, we are not becoming smaller as a family, we are expanding.

We are not losing Areli, we are going to be seeing a whole new world through her eyes.  Her room won’t be empty!  Two little girls will being filling the space with feminine joy and enthusiasm soon.  And what a good change it will be.  Four year old Annalise is still in a crib in her brother’s room.  10 month old Aria will be a wonderful roommate now that she sleeps like an angel.

All the children will take a step up and grow in maturity. They will learn new skills and take on new jobs.

                Areli will be going to the same missionary school that I attended just a brief 25 years ago.

  25 means double grace, and there is double grace on her life.

To live…to love…to learn…to grow…to embrace each moment!  Our hearts are going with her, and our prayers are surrounding her. 

 One of her walls looked awfully bare. So I pinned up some photos of Areli and the family. Aria will be able to lay on her new changing table and see that beautiful smile everyday. 

We are so proud of you Areli!  It won’t be long until we are all together again.

Oh, the Love of a Sibling!

 

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It is such a gift to have siblings…lots of them!  My firstborn was a girl, Areli.  When she was 18 months, our second child, Cole, arrived.  Areli took to him right away.  She couldn’t say, “baby” but she could say “boo-boo.”  Boo-Boo became his name for the next two years.  Areli and Cole cannot remember life without each other or “our chuthers” as they used to say.  They were always best friends, like peas and carrots.  They still are.

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Two years after Cole, Cadin came along.  They were a happy trio, getting into trouble and playing pretend.  Cadin was always his own person, however, having different tastes than his older brother.

Ashlyn was born 18 months later.  Her development was very delayed because of a chromosomal abnormality.  She didn’t crawl for a long time and didn’t sit up until she was almost two years old.  She didn’t begin to stand and walk until she was nine.  Her world until that time was on the floor.  God provided three little boys to take turns sharing the floor with her.  Chai was born when she was 18 months, Cooper two years later, and Calvin two years after that.  Oh the fun fellowship they shared, exploring every inch of the space underneath things and “cleaning up” any crumbs that fell there.

Ashlyn and the boys

Cooper and Calvin have a special bond because they share a room and a bunk bed.  They are now 7 and 5, and they are hyper, little balls of energy.  We call them C&C Music Factory.  If I want a peaceful outing to the store, I must only take one of them along.

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My children love each other!  They never lack a friend to play with.  It is true that sometimes they express hatred rather than love, hurting the other just for the sheer enjoyment of it and denying that they are related at all.  But I know that when the immaturity of this season passes, they will be deep and earnest friends for the whole of their lives.

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Each new baby was welcomed with such excitement and enthusiasm that we had to protect the vulnerable little thing from being loved on too much.  It was so sweet to see a normally wild boy get quiet and still when it was his turn to hold the baby.

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Areli was always a natural mother.  She got to be present at the birth of four of her little brothers.  She was enchanted with it all.  Childbirth can be intense at times, but witnessing it only seemed to increase her love for babies and her desire to be a mom someday.  When Calvin outgrew the newborn, eat every few hours at night stage, he slept in a crib in Areli’s room.  She was so happy to have him there.  She would change him and clothe him and snuggle with him. She would even comfort him if he cried during the night and she wouldn’t tell me about it until the morning.  A sister like that is worth more that her weight in gold!

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Calvin turned two, and no new baby arrived.  Cooper, age 4 at this time, began talking to me about the fact that we really needed a baby.  I told him to pray about it.  He did!  After a few more months had pasted, Cooper came to me exasperated.

“I prayed for a baby, but I don’t think God heard me!  We don’t have a baby yet!”

I encouraged him to keep praying and that God knows the perfect time for everything.  More prayer seemed to increase Cooper’s vision.  Soon he was reporting to me that God had 10 babies for us, 5 boys and 5 girls!  They were up in heaven, just waiting for God to send them down.

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This seemed rather far fetched, so Daddy told him, “Perhaps you are talking about the children that you will have someday when you get married!”  Cooper didn’t seem so sure.

Not long after that, Chris and I announced to the children that I indeed had another baby in my belly.  Cheers erupted!  They all wanted another baby to hold and snuggle and change and dress.  They were all so excited, none more than Cooper.

“I hope it’s a boy!” he announced.

Since we already had 5 boys, the rest of us thought a girl would be nice.  An ultrasound revealed that the baby was indeed….another boy!  Cooper was overjoyed!

“Now we only need four more boys, and 5 more girls!”

I have always encouraged my children to pray to God and listen to His voice.  Cooper had always been great at this, possessing that child-like faith in great measure.  I didn’t want to tell him that he was not hearing God’s voice, because how did I know?  In my own walk with God, His words were usually somewhat surprising to me when they came, interrupting my own thought with an altogether different message.  I have found that His thoughts are truly not like our thoughts; that His ways are not like our ways.  He is constantly trying to get us out of that box (or cage), encouraging us to jump off of that cliff, and teaching us to fly with Him above the logical and obvious.

So Cooper’s ambitious vision for brothers and sisters does seem like impossibility, considering my diminishing fertile years.  We had seriously looked into adoption a few years back, but right now, that seems impossible as well.  How do I feel about the fact that Cooper thinks I should give birth 9 more times, or have triplets 3 times, or have two more babies and adopt seven, or any number of other scenarios?

I know that God knows what He is doing and His ways are mysterious beyond my comprehension but far better than what I could ever imagine!

So I just say, “Keep praying Cooper…keep praying!  You never know what God might do…for the love of a sibling!”

 

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