SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Friday, February 26, 2010

Table Talk

This was a recent "conversation" at our dinner table:

Gabe: Dad
No response
Gabe: Dad
No response
Gabe: Dad
No response
Gabe: Brycie!
Bryce: What Gabe?
Gabe: I want Dad.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Birthday weekend

Last weekend we enjoyed being descended upon by almost all of our adult children and their spouses (Joey and Jamie being the understandable exception). Gabe was over the worst of his illness and was left with a very runny nose and a cough. I missed joining everyone at the high school basketball game but had extra time to prepare for the masses. The main event of the weekend was the celebration of Keith's 46th birthday. What a testimony to his dedication to, and love and devotion for his family that his children would make such an effort to be with him.

I think they all genuinely enjoy being together, too.

I suppose every family has its unique dynamics. But, I see the same development and growth in the relationships of our family as I see in any relationships and they all go through similar ups and downs and trials. Some siblings clash right from the beginning and seem to be always butting heads no matter how hard you teach, chasten, mold, and correct. Then, they're suddenly best friends spending hours talking and actually sticking up for one another in public.
(Seven of our eight boys)

Keith told me something about twenty years ago that made a difference in my thinking concerning raising children. He said, "Our children WILL love each other." I thought he was crazy. Children seem to naturally have adversarial relationships with their siblings. How could he say so definitively that they would love each other?

I try to ponder new ideas and mull over them before coming to conclusions and, although my initial inclination was "that's impossible" I didn't give up on the idea. I thought about my own sibling relationships and about what made me like or dislike my siblings, and them me. I thought about ANY relationship for that matter. And what I realized is that we like, or love, people who are good to us. We (or children anyway--adults tend to get complicated) love people who love us.

I theorized that if we worked to direct our children towards displaying kind and loving behavior to each other they would naturally have positive feelings toward one another and therefore, in a child-like way, they would love each other.
(Priscilla loving all of us!)

I saw all this as MY responsibility for what I would and would not allow from them. I thought of the way I treated my younger sister. I annoyed her! Terribly. I don't recall any really mean behavior but I was downright annoying and I knew it. When she would complain our mom would just tell her to "leave her alone" or to "stay away from her". Looking back, I think that was a mistake. I should have been dealt with and made to stop the behavior, because I was violating God's command to love one another.

Therefore, in my own family, it's been my goal to get to the source of the behavioral problem when two of the children aren't getting along. Often the problem is on both sides. Perhaps one is the initial cause--i.e. child #1, "I can play the piano better than you can and I'll always be better." But, then it's followed by a reaction, child #2 taunts #1 and plunks on the piano keys while #1 tries to play. In this case, child #2 came to me in distress. Eventually the whole story came out and both were found guilty and the matter was eventually resolved. I don't know that it caused them to love each other, but not dealing with it and changing behavior certainly fuels the likelihood of them NOT loving each other.

I'm sure there are hundreds of stories and examples where I have failed and missed things and handled them wrong and believed the wrong child and favored someone and, and, and, but the principle stands. And I believe, with 5 of our 11 now adults, that they genuinely love each other. And love does amazing things. It sets an example that gives the younger members something to immitate and creates an overall atmosphere that is inviting.

It is incredible to raise a child, love them with all your heart and more, pour into them more of yourself than you thought possible, and see them leave and cleave to another. It is a most satisfactory, wonderful, blessed, yet somehow heart-wrenching experience. Seeing them start to raise their own families is a wonder that I'm only just beginning to feel.

It all gives me a wonderful appreciation for the time I have with the younger ones who are still home. I used to think, with the birth of each child, "I'm going to get this one right, with no mistakes." I know I can't do that, I always knew I couldn't, but I sure wanted to try.

I no longer think quite like that, but I am encouraged to keep going, to work harder, and stay on course. This takes more work and more crying out to God than it ever did, because my flesh is older and weaker. It would be easier to settle into a comfortable routine for me and just "get through" these last years, and sometimes I feel tired and tempted to do that. Then I look into these faces, and remember their older siblings, and remember being young myself, and I pray and ask God for youth and vitality and freshness. Then it's easy to say, "Sure, pull out the trundle bed and have a slumber party!"

I suppose the order of my home (OK, rather the lack of it) proves that I haven't quite settled into my own rut and abondoned the priority of letting kids be kids and making it fun! But, I am tempted.

Most of all, as I watch our family grow up and out, I am more and more thankful for my husband. I see his hand and influence all through our home and family and our relationships. I see his care and passion influencing and guiding and directing. I see God's presence in his spirit that keeps him fueled and rejuvinated every day, giving him the strength to encourage, help, and love me. The candles may create a near atomic glow and the smoke may be choking but they're evidence of maturity and wisdom gleaned with years of immersion in the word of God and working out His principles practically every day.

I am blessed with another year, or even just another day, with him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I thought my season for sleepless nights was over. I don't do slumber parties or lock-ins. I don't have to cram for finals. I'm not walking the floor with an infant (or infants :). I have reached the time in my life, or so I thought, when I can be guaranteed sleep!

Then came last night. With as many children as I've had you'd think I'd have had my turn with the croup. Nope. Gabe was the first. I spent hours in a steamy bathroom holding my wheezing (actually stridor-ridden) boy while my head nodded.

How did I ever think staying up all night was 'fun'?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Baby Face

I paged through my photo albums to see if there is any resemblance between Joey as a baby and his babies. I don't know if the babies look similar, but the poses sure do.





Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Next Generation is Here!

Thursday evening our first grandchildren were born!
Carson Isaac, born 9:18pm, 20 inches, 6 lbs 12 oz
Keira Faith, born 10:00pm, 21 inches, 7 lbs 5 oz
Proud parent, Jamie and Joey!! (Jamie has Keira, Joey has Carson--can you tell how Joey's baby siblings liked to be held?)

Knowing that the babies were on their way we headed to Joey and Jamie's Thursday evening; and since the hospital was on the way we stopped there at about 10 pm. Joey came out and gave us the news at about 11 and at about 12 Keith and I, along with Jamie's parent Terry and Landy went in to meet the grandbabies. It was pretty special meeting them together as they are the first grandchildren on both sides of the family. (It would have been a good time to have my camera with me. But, I think Joey and Bryce took some photos that night.)

I returned to the hospital on Friday with Aunt Susie and she was overjoyed to get to see her great-great-niece-and-nephew! She LOVED holding Keira. Carson was a little fussy so Joey kept him.

A few views of Carson. I love the bubble one!

Keira had been wide awake and very "photographable" on Thursday evening but slept peacefully during our visit on Friday. I only took two pictures of her alone because she just didn't change. I can't imagine she could be any cuter, though.

I keep hearing, "You have quite a few grandchildren coming, you're going to have your hands full!" I wonder how it is that my hands are going to be full. I don't recall my or Keith's mother 'having their hands full' when our children were born. I don't see my daily life being too different, especially with some of the families living several hours away. However, when we are able to be together I very much look forward to having my hands full!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Michigan Tech Ice Sculptures

I've had requests for pictures from our day in Houghton. Here are some of the sights. The theme had something to do with 'games'.


Ahhh, sun!

Tuckered out

Family Tree

How appropriate that Shane's studies pushed us to look into our family roots at this time when we're anticipating the emergence of new shoots and branches.

I found the sought-after family records from my Irish past and, sure enough, my great-great-great-grandfather Benjamin Broderick and his wife Margaret (although I found a later census after she is widowed and living with a daughter's family that lists her as Mary so I'm not sure on the name) left Ireland with at least two daughters during the 1840's potato famine. The two-year-old died on the "difficult passage" and Maggie lived on to become the grandmother of my grandmother.

As I traced this part of the family I realized that I was following my maternal side through the mothers all the way back to Ireland. I know with a certainty that Ellen is the sixth in line of the first daughter of the first daughter. I'm sure records don't exist to follow it back any further on the Emerald Isle but it's fun knowing where the line began and that it continues to flow: from Broderick to Lynch to Heidenreich to Quisley to Johnson to White to Kleven and maybe on to Ellen's daughter some day.

We found a family that spread out and then joined together again with great-great-grandmothers who turned out to be sisters. We found a couple in the Netherlands who were persecuted for their faith, the father burned at the stake and the mother stripped and drowned while their young son watched.

An ancestor of Grandma White is registered with the Union Army and one of Papa White's with the Confederate Army. They both come from families that date back to pre-Revolutionary times and had their own influences in the founding of America. Keith's family represents the early settlers and formers of our country. My side represents the immigration of Europeans in the late 19th Century from Norway, Germany, Russia, and Ireland.

While I find this intoxicatingly interesting I ground myself in knowing that these lives are almost all boiled down to dates. The date of birth, date of marriage, date of death. Snippets of information beyond these bare facts flesh out the stories just a little but the their real lives are mostly derived in our imaginations or from relating the stories of others. I can only assume that Benjamin and Margaret left Ireland because they were poor laborers in need of food and a better life. I imagine cramped and overcrowded conditions on the ship with insufficient supplies that led to their daughter's death. But that may not really be their story. It's someone else's certainly and it may be theirs, but I'm only guessing.

Real life happens now, and here, and as much as I enjoy the exploration of the past my real life is relating the history to my children to help them put pieces together to understand the present and help shape the future. It's enjoying Gabe use his new speech capabilities to say, "Lisa, listen, I sing a song," and then sing it. It's watching Bryce and Owen play basketball and having 20 minutes discussions on the merit of final scores compared with the attitude while playing. I use history and relate to the younger boys stories of older brothers, or players they didn't know, talking about influences and effects of hearts and attitudes on others--teammates and fans--that doesn't connect at all with the score of the game or the fairness of the officiating (they both won by the way, so this wasn't a "you should have" discussion--their attitudes were good and I told them so but we were anticipating times to come when they might be tempted not to be so good).

The boys love to play, so much that during their school breaks they would flip a stool and play a make shift one-on-one game. I want them to enjoy playing "real" games with the same love and enthusiam, because they just love to play.

Real life was spending a Saturday with our high school boys and younger ones, and joining our married children for a walk through Michigan Tech's winter carnival ice sculptures and sites. We try to go every year. Our younger children will grow up with memories of these trips that the older ones didn't. The older ones have some trips the younger ones don't. But I think the real memories will be the time together, the enjoyment of the event, not the details.

Soon, there will be a few family details to go into a book, a new date of birth with genders and names. Those are important things and we're all excited to know those details. But the real joy will be fleshing out the relationships and living our lives with these people.

I still enjoy the history and knowing a little of what's behind us and what made us. And, when I see Mr. Gabe with his little auto cap I can't help but wonder what young Benjamin Broderick might have looked like when he was a "wee lad".

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not my fault

Last week I was chatting with Joey (OK, we were texting) and he was mentioning something about hoping the babies would come by the weekend. I told him to take it easy, they had a lot of time left.

My assurance called for an explanation and I had two for him. I explained that, first of all, I started reading "Anne of Green Gables" to Lisa in December and when we started the book I told her that the twins would be born after we finished the book. Secondly, I was not yet finished with the quilts that I had meant to send over with Dana and the babies couldn't come until they were done.

Joey made it clear that I was to get moving on the sewing and double up on our bedtime reading--pronto!

It brought me back to my own waiting game that I played seventeen years ago as I watched the January 16 due date for our sixth child come and go. That due date was a full week behind me before I resigned myself to a pile of sewing/mending that I knew should be finished before the baby came. I especially needed to finish (OK, start and finish) sewing a Bible cover that my six-year-old had been asking me to make. I finished the mending in the afternoon and after supper I reluctantly began my final project. Keith asked me what I was doing and I told him,
"God isn't going to let me have this baby until the Bible cover is done."
I had to take a few breaks to give baths, brush teeth, and tuck little ones in bed. But, at 10 PM I sewed my last stitch and snipped my last thread. I turned off my machine while uttering a satisfied, "There!, and threw the cloth zippered case to Keith for his inspection.
"I'm done," I told him, "now we can have the baby."
I stood up and headed for the bathroom. Halfway there my water broke. Really. Talk about a sign!

So, for Joey and Jamie's sake, I delighted Lisa with an extra half hour of bedtime reading to finish the book and had a two day sewing marathon to finish the blankets. Here they are, positive proof that I am NOT the hold-up.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

History lesson

I was hunting for one of my geneology booklets yesterday. I wanted to look up the dates of the immigration to America of some of my distant relatives. I couldn't find it. I know it's "somewhere". I remember sitting on my bedroom floor, when my bedroom was not where it is now. I remember paging through the Lynch family memoirs, and reading about a man who died in a horse riding accident, and about my great-grandmother Lucille Ione who died of cancer when my mother was only three.

I couldn't find it. But I ran across my "England box"--a box of trinkets from my year in England. I flipped open my journal and turned to February 3. It was not reminiscing time, it was school time, and my mission was elsewhere, but I couldn't resist looking back on the pages from that date twenty-nine years ago. I read quickly, I wrote a lot that day. It's embarrassing to read the words I wrote as a teenager. Embarrassing, but helpful as I continue to raise my own teenagers. It helps me to see back into that world, which is now their world--seeing things from their naive and fresh and uneducated eyes. The "older generation" can say all they want about how much youth have changed and what a turn for the worse we are taking. I'm guessing they don't have journals to remind them of what really was.

As I skimmed along I came upon a description of a memorable event of that day. I was with the AFS/UK group working on a Youth Conservation Project in Edale, England. We were staying in a Youth Hostel putting much more energy into relationships and fun than we put into work and conservation efforts. How they thought a group of 42 foreign exchange students could repair stacked stone walls and leave them to stand the hundreds of years test of time that the generations of bygone Brits have done is beyond me!
I smiled as I remembered the day and the event and this morning I went to a dusty photo album and found the moment that was captured on film. Lynn and I (the two on the right) started the mud fight in an area where we'd been gathering stones.

Not only does my journal betray my youthfulness but so does the photo. It brings back the memory of the two of us, Lynn and I, upside down with our heads in the bathroom sink trying to get the dirt and twigs out of our hair. The journal reminded me of our load of laundry that stopped up the machine and failed to drain. Our remedy was, of course, to go to the house supervisor--someone else to fix the problem.

It sounds like my house, children impulsively doing things that cause many minutes or hours to undo what's done and is beyond their ability to undo themselves. I will try to remember my mud fight and be a little softer and gentler as I teach and train them, not only to think before they act but moreso to consider the consequences and make sure they are prepared and able to accept them.

I never found the geneology. The Lynch family tree did not surface and we did not learn in what year our Irish ancestors came to this country. We're learning about the great Potato Famine of the 1840s and are intrigued to know if that event in history helped make us who we are.

We're not only learning about the famine, but about the political unrest and bitterness between the Irish and the Brits. We're tying it into the revolution of the French peasants just a few years before and the American revolution a few decades before.

And I began to reflect on history, and how our reasons for our reactions to things are not so very subjective, but colored deeply with perceptions and attitudes. Our American forefathers staged a revolution and fought for freedom over the right to vote and the "unfair taxes" of that day. We live in a time and place where every tangible thing is taxed. There is hardly an area in our country that doesn't have a government fingerprint on it. We have the right to vote, but generally fewer than half do. The attitudes and perceptions have changed. There is acceptance for things now where there wasn't before.

So, I look at my personal life and view my own history and wonder how my attitudes and perceptions have changed. I can see that some are definitely not for the better. I think I need to reread my life and put some things back in perspective, and maybe see the fun and joy in the mudfight rather than fret and moan over the clogged washing machine.