Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!

2017 ended with a bang for us. Christmas was fabulous. We had a great time celebrating with Ed’s parents, friends, and the kids. The kids were so fun at Christmas this year, enjoying every minute of the holiday. We did spend about 4 hours opening their gifts and putting batteries in things, but I digress.  I did a horrible job of taking photos of the things we did – baking (and eating!) lots of cookies, Christmas Eve service at our church, completing our Advent Event, reading the Christmas story about Jesus, eating appetizers for Christmas Eve dinner, lots more eating on Christmas day, and so much more – but Ed did get these few of Christmas day. Ya’ll, I felt like we had SO many presents and while our kids were blessed for sure, I had to step back and realize this was Christmas for 4 kiddos AND included gifts from family friends, both sets of grandparents, us, each other, and uncles and aunts.

Ed left on the 27th to head to our annual winter conference in Baltimore with college students from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, part of West Virginia, and a few other places. Overall, there were close to 1200 students and staff there! We highly value this conference and are constantly amazed at how students’ lives are changed in just this short period of a few days. They have speakers come in to share from God’s Word with the students, have amazing praise and worship, have seminars and breakouts on all kinds of topics, have a day of outreach where they go into the community to have spiritual conversations with others, and ring in the New Year praying for the coming year followed by a HUGE party. It is so much fun. Ed’s life was radically changed at a winter conference when he was a college student so we know just how valuable this time is.

While I could have traveled there with the kids, that would have required us staying in one hotel room for 5 days, renting a car to get there or navigating the train (which is how Ed traveled there), figuring out how we would eat each meal (since food isn’t included), not being able to interact well with the kids due to naps and feeding schedules, and getting back the day before school resumes for the girls. Thinking it would be too crazy, we opted to stay here. We asked my mom to come up to help me with the kids for the week (especially since they were out of school), but at the last minute, she got the flu and couldn’t come. I knew her not coming would make the week rough, but I had no idea what was in store.

The day before Christmas eve, we traveled into the city with Ed’s parents to spend the day touring and exploring. We were transferring between trains in a subway station and riding up an escalator, when Emerson’s foot got stuck. She wasn’t playing on it or doing anything she wasn’t supposed to, but her rain boot caught the step and when she pulled out her boot, she was screaming bloody murder and her boot was demolished.

At first, it looked like her foot was okay, but she kept screaming about it hurting so as we looked closer, we realized a big chunk (almost like a bad road rash) had been taken out of the back of her foot. After returning to our neighborhood later in the day and her saying it still hurt, we took her to Urgent Care (which is becoming like home to us after the whole stitches incident I shared about here) where they did an x-ray and thought she just had a bad sprain and the gash on the back that we had to treat. They thought it would get better in a few days. She started to put weight on it the following day so we thought we were heading in the right direction.

The day Ed left, I realized that she was actually walking funny and trying not to put weight on her foot. I realized her foot was hurting her pretty badly (she is soooo tough and hardly complains!) and so we talked to Urgent Care and decided to take her to the orthopedic doctor (that she had just visited a few months prior with her broken arm).Upon a visit to the orthopedic doctor, they determined that she has a growth plate fracture and a soft tissue injury (the gash that took off a few layers of skin) to the back of her foot. They would have put her in a cast but couldn’t because of the soft tissue injury, so they put her in a boot that she has to wear all the time. They also started her on antibiotics to keep infection away for the soft tissue injury.

We had plans to go with friends to do some fun things with the kids this week, but due to her injury and not being able to walk a lot and me not being able to take out 3 kids who all need a stroller, we had to put that on hold. Add to that the fact that it is SUPER SUPER cold in NYC this week (we are talking feeling like 0 degrees outside), we have been stuck inside for most of the days Ed was gone. It has been a great lesson to the kids about “when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade” and it has been a great lesson to me about how the Lord sustains you even in rough circumstances. Has it been easy? Heck no. Have there been lots of meltdowns? Heck yes. Have there been lots of tears shed by all parties? Oh yes. But we have made it through and are even able to look back to see how the Lord was gracious to us in the midst of all of this. Here are a few ways we saw the Lord sustain and be gracious to us:

1 – I knew I couldn’t take all 4 kids to the orthopedic doctor for lots of reasons – its a small waiting room and no room for a single stroller, much less a double stroller, all visits there have taken us at least an hour, Brynn would freak out being still and quiet that long, etc. – so I embarked on trying to find someone to watch them. After lots of calls to sitters and friends, my friend Wendy graciously agreed to watch all 3 of the kids for a few hours for us to go (thought the office is just about 1.5 miles away, with taking the bus and an hour office visit, we were gone over 2 hours!). I am so, so, so thankful that she was available, willing, and that my kids know her enough to be comfortable there.

2 – Stephanie, a dear friend who is in our church small group, came over to hang with us one day and sat with the younger kids for me to run to the store with the two older. She also came over another day to sit with the younger kids while I took the older girls to the movie to get them out of the house (but yet do something that didn’t require walking!). She and her husband also gave us a ride to and from church on Sunday, helped carry Emerson in the stroller up the stairs to church, and helped get the kids to their classes. I am so thankful that the Lord brought us together only a few short months ago and have knitted us together and provided so much community and friendship through them.

3 – Beth, another dear friend who has become like a sister to me, came over with her daughter for a playdate one day and even brought a teepee for the kids to play in (and left it for them to keep playing in!), brought a few crafts for the girls to do, and kicked me out so I could run and pickup something. She stayed a long time and felt like she was overstaying her welcome, but let me tell you, it was such a blessing. She has also continued encouraged and texting me daily to see how I am doing. She also encouraged me to focus on doing little things for the kids that make this time special, even if we can’t get out, like cereal for dinner or sleeping in a blanket palette on the floor – things that they don’t normally get to do but that make this time feel special. This was a huge encouragement and one that I think helped us all survive.

4 – My mom randomly texted me one evening and said she knew I had planned on cooking, but that she had ordered McDonalds for us and it was being delivered soon. Ed doesn’t like McDonalds, so not only was it a rare treat, but she also sent milkshakes. My sweet kids were so excited they had their own milkshakes as we usually make them share 🙂

So many friends graciously texted, called, and prayed for us and I firmly believe that all of these things were God’s sweet blessings that have carried us through. I know that this is so, so small in comparison to some trails people are facing, like death of loved ones, cancer, loss of jobs, etc., and it was helpful to talk through this with the kids and spend time counting our blessings and talking about what we are thankful for, like having a warm place in this nasty cold weather.

Emerson goes back this Thursday for a followup and I am interested to see what they say since she says it doesn’t feel any better. Please keep praying it would heal and not cause any long-term damage. And pray for us as Ed leaves again Friday for 3.5 days for a conference to get trained for leading the NYC Summer Mission this coming summer.

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