Question

The question asked.

“Are they all yours?”

We were in line waiting to use the restroom.

My smile and head nod, not enough of an answer for her.

“Were you trying for a boy?”

Thankful the stall door opened and my no” could end the conversation.

The truth is the story of our family cannot be shared in three second sound bites.

The girls know that. They don’t discuss details with curious strangers.

If asked they tell of their five sisters.

Yes there are six of them, no twins.

They often throw in a line about how the dog is a girl too.

It doesn’t matter they didn’t all come from one womb. They are woven together.

In those brief interactions with others, I struggle with the desire to summerize all that is our family.

Yet, these fierce, loyal, loving young ladies have come to understand what is taking their Momma year’s to accept -nothing needs explained.

Next time maybe I need not wish the inquiry away.

Joy in the knowledge that my daughters know what family is.

Sydney at 12

Dear Sydney,

I wish you were reading this on your birthday!

With the busyness of April and May, the days slipped away and almost a full month later you finally get to read my birthday mushiness. I’m sorry for the lateness kiddo. I promise I will do better next year.

You’re simply the best bonus daughter a step-momma could ask for.

Loving, kind, patient, hardworking, dedicated, funny and pretty darn smart.

Being a part of this loud, opinionated family can certainly challenge one’s patience yet your  approach is always level-headed.

The back and forth between homes with it’s changing rules and shifting boundries could be a struggle for anyone and you navigate it all with an unending reserve of grace.

Your ability to embrace my extended family has left me teary eyed. 

I am easily filled with hope for our tribe of eight when you are around.

Thank you Sydney Rae for allowing me to play a small role in your life.

I’m always here should you need a Starbucks run or a dance party in the kitchen.

Happiest of birthday’s my love!

H

 

PS-

This may just be the most perfect birthday song ever. I hope you get what I am saying with this pick.

 

 

 

 

Trust Fall

A year ago I sat in the sterile office of a specialist.

He told me tests I had taken revealed 80% of the hearing in my right ear was lost.

A silent virus had infiltrated.

A mistake at the urgent care meant weeks wasted on medication that never could have cured me. Time had been of the essence.

I was faced with the looming possibility of a lifetime of asking others to repeat their words.

In the midst of the tears I chuckled at God’s timing. No sooner had he given me six girls then he had rid me of my ability to hear them clearly!

I left with a high dose of steroids and a reality check.

Ten days later I returned and was told what I had already known to be true. The medication had worked and my hearing was “mostly” restored.

Leaving giddy, tucking away the specialists final warning- I would forever be prone to these types of inner ear infections. If left untreated the ear would go deaf.

Too many times to count during the previous months have I grown anxious.

When the ringing begins, when the world feels like it exists in a tunnel, I ponder the purpose of two ears.

I immediately feel selfish for fearing the possibility of such an insignificant inconvenience.

Such is the story of my life.

There is safety in the fear. Who am I without the worry?

Yet he calls me closer to the edge. He provides the possibility of the unexpected.

So I shall learn to trust in the timing of those things small and those things big.

And when he takes the moments to teach me, to lift me from my comfortable existence, it is then I will learn to fall completely into his arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly’s 10th

Dear Molly girl,

Boy, do I love you!

I love your spunk.

I love the sunshine you bring to every room you enter.

I love your thoughtfulness and the way you examine our faces for reactions.

I love your crazy bursts of energy and your appreciation for a good, salty snack.

Mostly though I love all of the million and one little things that make you the best Molly I’ve ever known.

You’ve had one pretty big year.

You’ve moved twice and you’ve added three sisters, the best dog ever and a stepmom to the mix. That’s a heck of a lot of change, but you have managed it with such sweetness!

Thank you Molly for letting me be a part of your year. I’m so excited to see what 10 has in store for you!

Never forget how awesome I think you are.

I love you to the moon and back.

Heather

P.S.- Here’s your first ever birthday song. It pretty much says it all.

 

 

Anniversary

It’s not a fairytale.

It’s dirty socks found on kitchen chairs, next to toilets and in the dog’s cage.

It’s six lunches needing packed.

It’s scooters left out behind parked cars and its cold showers.

It’s the sounds of little girl’s laughter creeping through closed doors well after bedtime.

It’s tears by the tub-full and grace upon grace.

It’s “I love you” spoken when least expected.

It’s the desire of a man and a woman to live out this vocation with sometimes painful honesty which means it’s acceptance that what was broken can’t be made whole again.

It’s the understanding that no amount of family meetings or vacations can bring back what six girls lost when their biological parents parted ways. But, it is the belief, that while not perfect, not a fairytale, it is a home.

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs

Her pictures are an incredible gift.

I have placed them throughout my home and in moments of struggle or frustration I find my eyes fixed on them.

Yesterday, amidst the busyness of life in our home, I was notified that our wedding was featured on Spoken Bride.

Robin’s photographs again appeared when I most needed the reminder.

There are some days more precious than words could ever describe; praise God for the Robin’s in this world who capture them with a camera.

http://www.spokenbride.com/blog/2018/5/16/heather-matthew

 

 

Birthday letter #1

Dear Sydney,

You are 11!

This year has been a joy. I’ve enjoyed every second, learning about who you are, what makes you tick.

The learning isn’t over. We get to spend the rest of our lives figuring each other out.

What I have discovered is that you are one hardworking, young woman.

Your dedication to schoolwork is incredible.

You have boundless energy. How do you manage to spend hours jumping on the trampoline after school and never get tired?

You’re motivated to try new things and you have a bit of wanderlust. I can’t wait to share that with you. There are places I want you to see and places I want us to discover as a family.

I love how you always offer to do Zoey’s hair in the morning,

the way you appreciate order,

how you put up with my stories,

and your newfound love of Kevin Henkes books.

But mostly I just love having this front row seat, watching you grow.

Thanks for hanging out with me this year, for putting up with me through all the transitions of the last 12 months and for making your daddy who he is today. No doubt Syd, you as the first-born played a special part in making him the man he is.

I love you so much.

I look forward to your new year.

Happiest of birthday’s beautiful girl.

Love,

Heather

P.S. of course you get your own birthday song. I promise I’m not going anywhere. Just hold on, this is home.

 

 

 

 

 

One

An engagement, a wedding, two homes sold and one purchased, a year come and gone since that evening.

A good Friday service, then to a local bar for dinner and music, and twelve months later we sleep with our six girls under one roof,

nearly six months into our marriage.

On that night if you were to have told me where we would be today, I would have believed you.

My heart knew.

It wasn’t just that evening of laughter and good conversation that led me to know he was the one.

Four years of work lead up to that date.

Relationships with others that helped me to learn.

Nights of prayer.

Lord, I give up. I place this in your hands.

When it was time, Matthew arrived.

Finally unencumbered by the “stuff” that weighs one down, we only needed the minutes alone together to know this was the start of the grandest adventure.

Many a night now I fall asleep mid prayer.  He and I whispering words while children sleep in rooms above.

Matthew says I take a deep breath and he knows then he has lost me to slumber. On those nights he finishes the prayers for both of us.

A broken women’s prayers all those years ago, answered now in the form of a man who speaks her prayers when she cannot.

Grateful.

 

 

 

Home

“It’s just a house”, Sid reminds me.

People make a place a home, not the walls or windows.

Yet these walls provided shelter, these windows light.

As the boxes are packed and a new house takes shape, I am reminded of the blessings of the place we leave behind.

A house that had been purchased to raise a family of five.

It rather quickly became a shelter for four.

Straddling the world of what was and what is, a daily, tangible reminder of possibility.

I could raise these girls here.

I could pay the mortgage, change the air filter, mulch the beds, clean the house and still dance in the kitchen.

Late nights spent sitting on the cool tile of the bathroom floor, holding back little girls hair as sickness overwhelmed them. I could parent alone.

Days listening to the sounds of laughter as my children played with their neighborhood friends. I could find joy in the moments of my day.

Evenings, after girls were tucked safely in bed, when a knock on the door meant a visit from my own dear neighborhood friend. A chance to connect over a glass of wine and the knowledge that I was safe. I could share my fears wrapped in the cocoon of this house with those who sought the best for me.

On February 23 we will say good bye to what was.

A new world of possibility exsists in a place where a family of eight will take up residence.

He and I will now do this together. Maya Angelou quote about home via Hurray Kimmay Blog

Family

I can’t recall why all six had to be at the doctor’s office that day when only Molly was in for a visit. But a few weeks ago as I sat in my office at work, a text from Matthew stopped me mid sentence. A few words about the appointment taking longer then expected, a comment about how well the girls were enduring the wait and then this image

We stumble over one another quite often.

Meals can be burdensome with taste buds of eight taunting us with their differences.

Most mornings we debate the benefits of a sugary cereal breakfast that they will eat versus a warm plate of food no one will touch.

We still can’t quite seem to get an evening routine down.

But here, in this picture, is the image of what we strive for.

Bored out of their minds, leaning on one another and technology, they are a family, they look like the sisters God intended them to be.