But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children's children . . . Psalm 103:17

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter pics, finally!

Hi everyone!

I, Carrie, am writing this post, so you can KNOW it's TRUE!!! I told Gavin he should put "P.S. Happy April Fool's" at the end of his "Allergies" post, but he didn't listen to me. He's so bad!! He always does something goofy for April Fool's. The ironic thing to me is that last year a number of our friends thought the quint news was an April Fool's joke; that we were indeed pregnant but were making up the five babies as a joke. :) Honestly, it felt like a very bad joke by the Creator. I was terrified and angry at times; I had to really cling to God's promises and revelation of His character in His Word. Lots of other believers surrounded us with prayer and with Scriptures and were a tremendous encouragement. 

Still, my faith was very weak in many ways. I thought, "How will I ever survive the sleepless months? How will we EVER afford all those cribs?! How will we ever afford all those diapers?" I went to the Boutique (a freebie exchange for missionaries) and picked through their baby and toddler clothes. 

When someone gave me unpackaged disposable diapers I was so thrilled you would have thought it was a $1,000 bill. It was the first "proof" that God was providing for the quints' needs bit by bit. I even wrote it down in my journal. We haven't had to buy a single diaper since then. They just keep arriving from friends and people we've never met!

Someone else tithed their tax return to us, proof that God would provide financially as well. And that was just the beginning! So many have been truly very generous, some sacrificially so. It never fails to touch us deeply and humble us. 

I quickly learned that clothing also would NOT be a problem. So many people offered us beautiful hand-me-downs, and my brother and sister-in-law collected, washed and ironed dozens and dozens of gorgeous outfits. Closer to the babies' birth new clothing was pouring in all the time, too! We still get a couple of outfits each week. Our children are truly blessed and well-clad (even if Mom is still in her bathrobe, as I am at this moment). 

And the cribs? I think we've been offered 15-20, no joke! I have often said, "I'm really glad I worried about THAT!" (Tongue in cheek, of course, making fun of myself!) 

Which brings me to one of the most critical blessings, in my mind: sleep. Wow, has God provided rest for His children! (Psalm 127:2) We've had amazing volunteers from the beginning who have given up a good night's sleep once a week, sometimes even more often. The babies have also been pretty good sleepers, thank you Jesus! When I read the above verse about rest for the first time I had to chuckle that the verse following (Psalm 127:3) talks about children being a blessing and heritage from the Lord. :) He knows that children and sleep are often in direct competition!

What I did NOT expect in this whole journey was how incredibly difficult the NICU days would be. I thought I would have it "made in the shade," resting and recovering while my children finished developing and growing. When it turned out to be an agonizing roller coaster, wondering if Seth would even survive, I shudder to think what our physical, mental and emotional state would have been if we hadn't had the prayer support of so many hundreds/thousands of people and, once again, God's assurances in His Word about Who He is and what He can do (anything!). 

Looking back, I am astonished at all God did for us in answer to your prayers and in His unmerited kindness: It is almost unheard of that all five quints born that early in the pregnancy would get out of the NICU without retinopathy of prematurity, brain bleeds, or even a single infection (aside from Seth's minor cold when the other babies at home had it too). And in all these months at home they've only had that one cold despite people continuously coming and going from our house. 

However, I feel badly talking about God's mercy to our little crew when I know others of His children have been carried along a much rougher road . One of my girlfriends, Nicole, said of Hebrews 12:1 two years ago exactly: "For some of us, the race God has marked out for us isn't the one we would have wanted to run." She and her husband and preemie kiddos have had more than their "fair share" of suffering and uncertainty. And yet I know they are every bit as loved and precious in His sight as we are. (If "deserving" had anything to do with God's mercy and grace, I would say they are even more precious than we are! What a delightful family.) :) 

Hebrews 12:1-2 leads very nicely into our Easter pictures. After all, there wouldn't be adorable jellybean-print Easter outfits and celebrating life at all if it weren't for Christ's resurrection from the dead. Our redeemer lives. He is risen INDEED! 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne."

Undeservingly but gratefully IN Him, for all eternity,

On the way to church Sunday morning:
Marcie (sitting next to me)

Seth contemplating the passing road (sitting two over from me)

Isaac entertaining the other three: David, Will, Grace (sorry, no pictures of them in their seats!)
Gavin with Marcie, Isaac, his mom (the original Marcie) and me in the van still

David and Isaac - note the bow tie! The boys' bow ties matched the girls' skirts.
Thank you Jennifer (a.k.a. The Lady Who Made the Christmas Stockings) for making all the outfits!!!

Deb and Will
(If Deb hadn't stayed overnight and helped us get out the door, along with Mom and Dad Jones, Sunday's church attendance would not have happened nearly so smoothly or happily!)

Grace and me

Gavin and Seth
All out finally, ready to go into church
Marcie and Marcie, Gracie and me, Gavin with Seth and Isaac in front, Deb with Will, Larry (G's dad) with David
In the church nursery:

Amy, on the right, kindly arranged for the baby nursery population to triple, thanks to our kids. She is holding Grace, Gavin is holding David, Seth is sleeping in the swing, the Marcies are still together, and Larry has Will.
Faith Bible Church members, we could use extra volunteers for nursery duty Sunday mornings! :)

Gracie being visited by a new little friend
Will loved sucking on his bow tie, hence its sopped and crooked appearance
Seth seems concerned about Marcie, but Isaac is looking out for her.
Karen is caring for Seth, who was very sleepy by the end of the service!
Grandpadad Neal came to help out too (my mom was also there, but somehow I missed getting a photo of her!)
Will is less interested in the book than his little girl friend is.

Our friend Robert meeting the quints (specifically Will) for the first time.
His wife Sandy has made us many delicious meals, and they've been praying all along.

A beautiful picture of both Amy and Gracie. My little girls overwhelm me with their beauty!

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

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